Here I am on my grammar high horse again, but I think, as a professional copywriter, I am allowed to have a strong opinion about this subject.
It pains me when I see people and especially businesses use bad grammar in their written work. To me, and hopefully many others, it is poor form, looks unprofessional and even lazy.
I do appreciate not many people have studied English language to the extent I have or are writers by trade, but any company that struggles with writing, punctuation or understanding the correct use of colloquialisms (or whether they should be used at all!) would do well hiring a copywriter to be in charge of their internal and external literature (wink wink, nudge nudge).
Seriously though, if you are trying to advertise to the public, do it right, do it professionally and do it well. Otherwise, you could put off a lot of potential customers without even realising it, simply for the wrong use of an apostrophe!
Our quote this week has been inspired by World Book Day. Despite my daughter insisting on going into school wearing a Moana costume, making it look as though my kids only watch Disney movies and don't read any stories, we have read to our girls since the day they were born.
My four-year-old (the Moana fan) has hundreds of books and never goes to sleep without reading at least two. If she had it her way, she'd read all night long. And my second daughter (whom I dressed up as a star from Oliver Jeffers' How To Catch A Star, much to her humiliation) loves books too and she has only just celebrated her first birthday.
Why am I banging on about this? Because I agree that books are integral to children's education and development. Not only does reading obviously improve literacy and give them the confidence to write well (a difficult task when people so heavily rely on auto-correct these days), but it also increases their knowledge of the world, their understanding of social dynamics and, of course, their imaginations.
So, this quote from Dr Seuss seemed perfect this week.
Open a new book with your kids, teach them real use of the English language, and most importantly, unleash their imaginations.
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Everyone always assumes that as a writer, I must be a creative person. It's what I'm always told, but I've never really thought it to be true. I can't knit, my craft skills are not great, and I'm a terrible drawer. So I never really associated creativity as one of my interests, let alone my ability.
However, it's taken me 31 years (and 356 days) to realise that I AM creative, and more importantly, I LOVE it. I frustrate my husband no end when I list my hundred things to do in utter panic, but most probably because I prioritise things like creating photobooks, baking extravagant cakes and making scrapbooks full of memories as much as I do sorting out bank accounts, phoning solicitors and doing the laundry. They are all equally important to me.
So with limited time in my life (thanks to my two bubbly kids and a freelance career), it'd make sense to cut the stuff out that isn't important to most people - like making jam, painting a 'pin the tail' picture for my daughter's birthday party and endlessly filling in baby books. But to me, they ARE important. Maybe my life wouldn't change if I didn't do these things, but I would miss out on a lot of enjoyment. As much as they appear on my 'to do lists', they are things I want to do really, much more than folding clothes and cleaning the bathroom.
So I have decided that I should prioritise being creative, even if it does mean I take on a lot more projects. It helps me feel fulfilled and productive, and it makes me proud to see the final result.
Moreover, I think it's valuable as a copywriter to be creative. I can write an engaging introduction that no-one else may have thought of; I can produce descriptions that bring an ordinary scene or product to life; I can look at a content project and see how articles, features, nibs and blogs will all fit together in a way that remains exciting to the reader.
So, in the interest of my career (of course), I will encourage this creative spark and leave the dishes for later. After all, 'the more you use, the more you have'.
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For my Quote of the Week, I thought I'd go back to a classic remark from Ernest Hemingway.
Sometimes people think they sound more expressive, intelligent or meaningful if they convolute their sentences with lots of words. However, the best way to express yourself is to write simply, so the person reading really connects with your thoughts.
This isn't easy to do - and is the biggest reason why businesses need proofreaders like me - but it is essential in the world of copywriting. If you want your customers and clients to understand what you're selling, don't confuse them with sales patter!
If you need a proofreader to simplify your content or a copywriter to concisely sum up your USP and attract more business, get in touch with me today.
Today is my eldest daughter's birthday, so I thought I'd pick a quote that has summed up many of my experiences since she was born four years ago.
Anyone who has had a baby knows they transform your life forever, but I don't think you ever realise how much your path will chop and change till you become a parent. Nothing is quite the same and your journey will never be as linear and straightforward as it was when you were child-free.
I've changed my career and my direction lots over the years, and I am now, for the second time, coming off maternity leave to venture back into the working world.
But instead of being nervous or fearful, I want to be excited and hopeful.
As Linkin Park says, 'The hardest part of ending is starting again'. Well, I've done that ... twice. So the rest should be straight forward!
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I've chosen a profound quote this week, but after a bit of a health scare last Friday, it seems relevant at the moment. Obviously, everyone should appreciate what they have in all areas of life - their health, the people around them, their happiness, their opportunities and so on.
However, this quote is also relevant when it comes to work; you may never be satisfied with what you've achieved and brush past each accolade in a fruitless aim to always be better, or you may not realise how successful you even are.
I know I'm the biggest culprit at always wanting to improve on things, never feeling like I've done as much as I could or well enough, and continuously pushing myself to do more. But coming back to work from maternity leave has shown me how much I did before and how well I balanced the working life and being a full-time mother. It's not bloody easy, but I'd like to think my mum friends and my clients never felt I was lacking in either area - and probably didn't even know I juggled anything else at all. For that, I can finally say I'm proud of myself.
And as I try to do this again (albeit with TWO kids), I hope I can be a bit more forgiving on myself and have a better appreciation of what I'm actually achieving at the time - and not years later.
Maybe we should all give it a go?
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The first Quote of the Week of the year, and my first since checking out on maternity leave last January, so today's mantra has to be profound.
I hope this is the right quote to do that.
For me, the quote has a lot of significance - returning to work is always a terrifying prospect for someone who has been out of the working world for several months, but perhaps scarier still when you are returning as a person who has changed in the absence.
I am now a mother of two; a professional juggler of duties, tasks and emotions; and a spring that is continually stretched. But I return to work with better organisational skills, a greater perspective, bigger priorities, and a stronger need to do well and make my girls proud.
In many ways, the jobs haven't changed at all and diving back into writing should - and will - come easily to me, having done it for so long. But I hope my daunting return teaches me how much I have changed over the last year, and I hope the 'new me' is not just accepted by past and future clients, but celebrated for the improved skills, efficiency and outlook I have as a working mother.
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Another great quote from Steve Jobs, this helps me stay focused when working. The fab thing about freelancing is being able to choose projects that really inspire or interest me, which is how I've found myself specialising in content about travel, food, parenthood, property, health, fashion and fitness over the years.
Writing about topics I love really makes the job easier and the words, somehow, just seem to flow!
If you'd be interested in having me writing on one of the above topics for your business, take a look at my copywriting services here.
This is a great quote by Zadie Smith, and I couldn't agree more with it. I think everyone finds it difficult to edit their own work, because sometimes we read the words we meant to say and not the ones we actually wrote. The trick is to take yourself out of the situation, put some distance between the writing and the reading, and come back to the text with fresh eyes. If you can read every word like you've not heard them before, then you'll be able to edit professionally.
That is why it is far easier editing other people's work, as you can see it from a new perspective, offering constructive criticism and providing changes that will make the content read better and make more sense.
If you're looking for editing help for your white papers, website, brochures or blogs, get in touch with me at Natasha Al-Atassi Copywriting Services to see what I can do for you.
Web writing is a very important skill these days, helping businesses to rank higher in online searches and attract greater traffic to their website. While many may not see the value in hiring a professional for their website content, it could end up costing them more in the long-run not to.
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Read my thoughts and ideas on the latest search engine updates and copywriting trends that could improve your business marketing plans.