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Say It Like You Mean It

Link Worthy // five

link-worthy-fiveEmotional intelligence, as it turns out, is as important or arguably more important than traditional intelligence. EQ is the new IQ. Once you get past the corny nature of these videos, you’ll see the value of this emotional intelligence training.

Is your attention focused in the right direction? Bernadette Jiwa, a gem as always.

“Making things is an art. Making things meaningful is an art and a science.”
—Bernadette Jiwa in Meaningful.

A fascinating and educational look at how to pair typefaces. “You have to become an expert in the subject you are working on and put yourself in the audience’s shoes and help them find the best bits of content. That’s the mark of a real designer.”

Organic Valley nailed this campaign.

Jump start—it’s only up from here.

“But it’s hard to resist a generous question. We all have it in us to formulate questions that invite honesty, dignity, and revelation. There is something redemptive and life-giving about asking better questions.”
And on love:  “Love is something we only master in moments.”
—Krista Tippett, a master of the interview, shows us how to better connect in her book, Becoming Wise

Are you a procrastinator? Watch this. (Your distraction monkey wants you to.)

Need some blog ideas for targeting your keywords? Look no further. So cool.

Three Good Things // three

//THREE GOOD THINGS: a regular feature in which I share three good things about my month, mostly personal, in the hopes that you will also reflect on the good in your life.//

home office Jamey Jones

Okay, so it’s been more than a month. I’ll reflect on the past couple few months. They have been filled with movement, settling in, and interestingness.

Let’s do this.

One good thing about my months is that I have been working on a very interesting project with an  intelligent, colorful, and passionate researcher. Can’t talk about it, but the science part of my brain is so pleased.

Another good thing about my months is that I am almost about to pop. Baby boy will be here any day now. I will be off radar for a bit, soaking up some mama bliss.

One more good thing about my months is that I moved (because all pregnant women move during the third trimester!), and my new home office is everything I could ever want it to be. I work inspired every day. I am so grateful.

Trim the Fat—How to Write Clean Copy that Connects

write concise copyYour clients and customers have less time than ever before. When they arrive to your website, sales page, or blog, they want to know, right away, what’s in it for them.

You want to connect to your audience in a way that feels authentic, but in order to get your message across, it can sometimes feel as though you are writing a novel. There are so many details of your story that you want to convey! And so many nuances of speech you’d like to include to make it sound, you know, like you.

By the time you get to the end of writing your About page, your latest blog post, or even your next social media campaign, you may feel as though you’ve said enough, but is it possible that you’re saying too much? (Hint: You are almost certainly saying too much.)

Don’t get me wrong, your story is important. But it’s the heart of your story—the essence—that will grab your readers’ attention.

3-Step Clear Copy Method

I have a three-step process that I use to write clear, concise copy that honors the writer’s story and intentions. You can use it to get to the heart of your message so that your readers stay with you to the end. It involves three simple steps: brain dump, trim the fat, and add meaning.

Brain Dump

I give you full permission to begin writing about your topic without worrying about perfection. Just get it out. Stick to a general outline with beginning, middle, and end in mind, but don’t worry about getting it perfect. Write what you think is important for your audience to hear. Most important, don’t overthink it. Just let it flow.

Trim the Fat

Time to work. Get your red pen ready, or whatever finger you use to hit delete. Be on the lookout for extraneous words. Often, phrases at the beginning of sentences can go. For example, when you read a sentence that begins, “Now I want you to . . .” or “I think that . . .” or “In my opinion . . .” or “Go ahead and . . .” get rid of it! Be direct. If you want someone to do something, don’t beat around the bush. Notice the difference in impact of the following two sentences:

It would be best if you could eat a healthy breakfast each morning so you have plenty of energy to face the challenges of your day.

Eat a healthy breakfast so you have the energy to face the day ahead.

The last two sentences say the same thing, essentially, but one takes twice as long to read. (That’s twice the chance of losing your reader to fatigue or boredom.) If your sentences look more like the first, your readers will get tired. Learn to unpack your sentences. Ask yourself, “How could I say this in the most concise way?”

Add Meaning

Once you’ve trimmed the fat, read through your piece. You fill find that certain words or phrases come to mind that help not only connect one sentence to the next, but also connect you to your reader. Set an intention of connection. Take a look at the difference between the following two paragraphs:

To write with your reader’s most nuanced desires in mind means to forget your “5 Tips for Success” and your need to make money this week. When you sit down to write for your business, do it as though you are sitting down with your customer to sip coffee and chat.

To write with your reader’s most nuanced desires in mind means to forget your “5 Tips for Success” and your need to make money this week. How does your client want to feel? When you sit down to write for your business, do it as though you are sitting down for coffee with a good friend who needs some support.

To add meaning, simply ask this question, “Have I meaningfully improved my client’s life in any way?”

Simple as ABC—Always Be Concise

Your message will go far when your readers take the time to listen. They will do so when you are crystal clear, concise, and meaningful.

I’d love to help you trim the fat from your copy. Need some edits or  copy written from scratch? Browse my services here and send me an email to let me know more about your needs.

Link Worthy // four

Link Worthy Jamey Jones“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”
—Mark Twain

I adore Bernadette Jiwa’s perspective on branding. It’s not all about SEO. Read why. Two more of her gems here and here.

And from Bernadette Jiwa, I was referred to this insightful read on being great.

Proper title capitalization is often overlooked. Get it right in no time flat with this tool.

Food for thought from Elizabeth Gilbert: “I’ve never met a bored person who isn’t also boring.”

On consistency, from this fascinating read on how the Simpson’s is made: “Characters are drawn to match a model sheet—a guide of established poses and expressions for the show’s characters. Whenever Homer shouts with joy, the style sheet explains, his mouth opens in just this way.”

Zen Habit’s rules for getting organized and decluttered.

40 hilariously honest advertising slogans.

Crave the background noise of a coffee shop without the $6 latte? Your wish is granted.

It’s like an oracle for your business.

On showing up and being seen. What it takes. Brené nails it, yet again.

Oh great. This means I’m doomed: Study confirms that ending your texts with a period is terrible. Guilty as charged.

The creative process, simplified.

Words to remember: “It’s preposterously uncomfortable to be inauthentic.”
—Jim Gordon in On Being interview with Krista Tippett.

Sometimes the truth hurts: “[Social media] is contrived images and edited clips ranked against each other. It’s a system based on social approval, likes, validation, in views, success in followers. It’s perfectly orchestrated self-absorbed judgement.”

Ironically, words I absolutely live by: “. . .but words rarely change things. Actions do.”
—Seth Godin

Three Good Things // two

//THREE GOOD THINGS: a regular feature in which I share three good things about my month, mostly personal, in the hopes that you will also reflect on the good in your life.//

three-good-things-baby

This month has been full of good sprinkled with a little downright difficult. That’s life, right?

Let’s do this.

One good thing about my month is that I am officially launching my website. (Ta da!) After many, many months of painstakingly figuring out how the heck to code a custom WordPress website from scratch (with the amazing help of Web Designer Beauty School), I have finally birthed this baby.

What a challenging, rewarding, and empowering experience it has been to figure it all out. It feels amazing to say, “I built this.” Thank you for making that possible by simply being here.

Another good thing about my month is that I found out I am having a baby boy. (Surprise! I’m pregnant.) Not only am I birthing a website, but I’ll also be birthing a human. Change is a-comin’.

One more good thing is that spring is right around the corner. While Florida winter is what most people would call autumn, I always welcome the warmth after a frigid Florida February. Wah, wah, cry me a river. I know.

What were three good things (or one good thing!) about your week? I’d love to know. Send me an email to let me know.

Making an Impact—Food & Spirit

// MAKING AN IMPACT: a regular feature about businesses that make a positive impact in the world while engaging customers with good design and clear copy. //

This month, Making an Impact focuses on the brainchild of Deanna Minnich, PhD, MS, FACN, CNS, RYT, functional medicine nutritionist and founder of Food & Spirit, the hub for nutrition information and training that goes beyond the cookie cutter diet program. Let’s dig into their design and copy, shall we?

I absolutely love their logo—it somehow distills their somewhat complex philosophy into one appealing image. The vibrant background header images on the homepage display as a slideshow that changes every few seconds. Nourish your root, indeed.

Food and Spirit

Food & Spirit is a “full spectrum approach to whole-self health.” Minnich’s approach is “to see you as a multifaceted being comprised of 7 Aspects” derived from ancient traditions: ROOT, FLOW, FIRE, LOVE, TRUTH, INSIGHT, and SPIRIT. “Every program that we offer taps into your 7 Aspects to create healing and bring forth your inner potential.”

This beautiful chart says it all. It shows how each of these aspects of our being is connected to our food and health. Click here to download.

Seven Systems of Health

What I really love about her philosophy is that, in her words, “I appreciate the scientific, logical, and nutritional aspects of food as much as I believe and feel that our spiritual, creative, symbolic connection with food is essential.” Yes! This so resonates with me, and likely with many other people looking to heal or to teach nutrition.

Food & Spirit’s site isn’t fancy, but the rainbow colors, although bold, speak to their all-inclusive philosophy. Their Whole Detox program, which exists as a separate site linked to from the navigation bar, displays another colorful graphic that says so much in so little space.

Whole Detox

The Whole Detox site scrolls over beautiful anchored background images, giving us a peek of color as we read text about the program and about her latest book, Whole Detox. (By the way, if you have ever wondered if detox programs are a hoax—many of them are. But not all. Deanna Minnich’s program is the real deal. I get no kickbacks here. She just knows her stuff.)

On the Free Gifts page you see the graphics below. When you hover over the button, the words “click here” appear, so you know just what to do.

Food & Spirit Freebies

Constructive Feedback

I’d love to see the font size a little larger. It’s a bit small, which makes it less enticing to read. Also, she has nine buttons on her navigation bar, which makes it a bit crowded and less streamlined. She could stack some of these options to make it easier on the eyes and brain, keeping these six main buttons: Home, About, Programs, Products, Professionals, Contact. Concise navigation is key.

Overall, Food & Spirit is a great site that includes eye-catching designs and colors, functionality, and copy that connects straight to the heart. You can tell Deanna is passionate about what she does. Her site shows it well.

Link Worthy // three

link-worthy-Jamey-JonesFeeling burnt out? Here are 5 uncommon ways to keep burnout at bay.

“Your vocabulary affects the way you think (and vice versa).” Oh, Seth.

Here are four questions to ask yourself about your customers that will change your value story.

Five-minute ritual to increase productivity. Are you accountable to yourself?

An article with legs: Are you utilizing analogies to sell your ideas?

You can’t win if you haven’t failed.

I love how Brené Brown makes us think in new ways about old problems. This talk is so worth your while.

On the challenges of taking a brand international. Check it out for a good chuckle.

You are ending your emails to clients all wrong. Here’s why.

Three Good Things // one

//THREE GOOD THINGS: a regular feature in which I share three good things about my month, mostly personal, in the hopes that you will also reflect on the good in your life.//

three-good-things-graceThis is the first blog of a series I’d like to do on-the-regular. I have found that one simple question, when asked of anyone, anywhere, can help you get a well-rounded glimpse into what makes that person tick:

What are three good things about your day today?

I want you to get to know me—and me to get to know you—by answering this question. But instead of focusing on today, I’ll stretch it out to the previous month.

Short and sweet like.

Here goes.

One good thing about my month is that I attended an amazing Yoga Nidra with renowned yoga teacher Amrit Desai. This was my first Yoga Nidra experience, and I was blown away.

Yoga Nidra is yogic sleep. During Yoga Nidra, we enter a similar experience as sleep except that, instead of the subconscious taking over, we remain consciously aware. I left the yoga studio in pure bliss. Everything was, simply, just right.

Another good thing is that we put up our upside-down Christmas tree. That’s right. We have an upside-down Christmas tree. I giggle while assembling it (it’s fake) and immensely enjoy decorating it. Christmas is overrated (and magical, all at once). Why not invert our perspective?

One more good thing is that I watched a 3,500-pound hippo (which is on the small side, apparently) eat his lunch literally right in front of my face. My family visited the local theme park/zoo where I watched animals as my son and husband rode roller coasters.

The hippo’s delicate movement through the water was mesmerizing. And the way he chomped down a whole cantaloupe hinted at how such a graceful creature could be responsible for 2,900 human deaths each year. Those tusks!

It was a great month. I have a lot to be grateful for.

What were three good things (or one good thing!) about your month, week, or day? I’d love to know.

Link Worthy // two

link-worthyElizabeth Gilbert on your creative genius. So. Good.

Because finishing is sexy.

If your blog doesn’t include your personal touch, you’re missing the point. (Note to self.)

Lasting relationships come down to two basic traits.

An inner dialogue—who’s in charge?

The secret to great writing.

On how to love. I mean, really, how to love.

There is just something about a physical book.

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement.

“We are not playing a game to have our blog rank higher than someone else’s blog. We are not even playing an SEO game, because that game’s sorta rigged, and we’re not gonna be able to win it for long anyway.

No. we’re playing an infinite game. I’m throwing this ball to you so that you will throw it back. I am connecting with you so that you will connect with her. I am weaving together the fabric of a community.”
—Seth Godin talk

Making an Impact—buildOn

// MAKING AN IMPACT: a regular feature about businesses that make a positive impact in the world while engaging customers with good design and clear copy. //

Jim Ziolkowski’s non-profit buildON “is not a charity, it’s a movement.” This statement speaks volumes and is prominently displayed on buildOn’s About page. This simple statement invites the reader to not just send a check, but to become a part of something larger than any one individual. It’s inclusive and intriguing.

Their clever tagline, “We build hope. We buildOn.” also speaks to the essence of their mission:

“Our mission is to break the cycle of poverty, illiteracy and low expectations through service and education. We empower urban youth to transform their neighborhoods through intensive community service and to change the world by building schools in some of the economically poorest countries in the world.”

buildOn pairs impactful messaging with clear and organized with subcategories that keep the reader interested and engaged.

And to please the eye, the navigation bar changes upon scrolling. Top of page:

buildON impact

As you scroll, the background fades to white:

buildOn design

BuildOn’s statistics are made fun with design. When you click on “U.S. Impact” the following stats are highlighted:

buildOn statistics

And when you click on “International Impact” new stats appear:

buildOn statistics

Take Action

buildOn’s Build a School page encourages us to “mobilize friends & family” to raise money to build a school. They ask me to simply fill out my contact information to “Contact Trip Guide,” which makes me feel adventurous. On their Build a Community page, you can type in your fund raising goal to learn how many children will miss fewer days of school, how many hours of service will be contributed to the community, and how many dollars will be saved by the community.

Constructive Feedback

As we saw in a previous blog, lowercase treatment of buildOn’s name is somewhat. When other publications write about buildOn, they will not likely begin sentences with a lowercase ‘b’. ‘As a result, their branding will not be consistent. The big question—does it matter? Factors such as these should be considered when you’re in the early stages of creating your brand.

What’s Your Story?

People won’t remember your name, but they’ll remember your story. buildOn’s Founder Story, a page of its own, invites readers into Ziolkowski’s experiences with poverty in third-world countries. His own brush with death and subsequent realization that his survival was privileged—that natives in his situation would not have had the means to pay for the care they need to live—appeals to our emotions and plants the seeds of buildOn’s story.

Where did it all begin? What did you tell yourself about why this work is important? Your story will appeal to the needs and desires of your true customers. Consider it carefully.

© 2016 Jamey Jones │ All rights reserved.