20 Types Of Content You Don't Realise You're Sharing

We all know, or should know, that content is king. What many of us do not realise is that content is more than just our blog posts. Promoting ourselves, our companies, and our brands on the Internet is the way we do business. Everything we share is content. 

The truth is that everything we do online reveals us. The rule of thumb is to act online the way you would act in real life. Imagine that you are literally standing in front of friends, family, co-workers, and strangers and then consider if you would still share the content. 

Content is anything that others can find out about you online, and includes: 
  1. Private emails
  2. Professional emails
  3. Your website
  4. Your blog
  5. Your blog posts
  6. Your grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  7. Your about page, your contact page, your services page
  8. Your profile pictures on private and professional platforms
  9. Your ‘about you’ descriptions on every social media platform
  10. Your backgrounds on social media
  11. Your themes on social media
  12. Your photographs on social media
  13. Your shared quotations, images, and cartoons on social media
  14. Your shared articles and links on social media
  15. Your reviews of anything
  16. Social media updates, including personal Facebook statuses, tweets on Twitter, pins on Pinterest, LinkedIn updates, Instagram pictures and videos, YouTube videos, Google+ posts, Tumblr posts
  17. Responses or lack of responses on social media platforms
  18. Infographics you create
  19. Your services and products, including courses, ebooks, webinars
  20. The brands and people you follow
    You are your content 

    So think carefully before you post that crazed political rant, dubious link, unintelligible update, drunken photograph, selfie #923, super-religious quotation, anti-religious ecard, or that unflattering comment about your co-workers, company, friends, or family. If that is how you really want to be perceived, go ahead, but please check your spelling and grammar before you do. If you do care about how others perceive you, don't post it.

    If you want to learn how to blog and write for social media, join us for  The Social Brand, our social media workshop.

     by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter. 

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    3 Reasons To Invest Precious Time In A Good Book

    Guest Post

    Why do we bother reading books? In a world where technology just doesn’t stop advancing, a lot of us have stopped reading paper books. We’re so busy with other activities that we forget how soothing reading can be. How many of us have time to read? How many are willing to make the time to cuddle up with a good book on a rainy day? Truth be told – very few!

    1. Wonderful things happen inside our brain when we read

    Experts at Washington University performed a study on the effect reading has on the brain. They used brain scans to monitor brain activity to see exactly what happens in our heads when we’re reading a good book. Psychologists found that when we read, our brains takes the scenarios envisioned and tie them to situations and experiences that have actually happened to us in real life. A fresh mental synthesis is created, proving that reading books creates new neural pathways. Reading may have a transformative effect on our perception of the world. 

    2. Deep reading has a positive effect on our personality

    Studies have proven that deep reading can foster our sense of empathy. The books we read could increase our level of compassion thus making us more alert to the personal lives of other people. Recent research has found a decrease in empathy levels among teens from advanced western cultures. Experts hypothesise that the internet and virtual reality technology can do more harm to the brain than good if used inappropriately. Our brains may develop a fear for human interaction. 

    Rationally, we understand that reading books is crucial to our education, but few understand their emotional role. Books can open up historical landscapes, create surreal plots with fabulous twists, as well as stir our imagination. 

    3. Books reinforce our sense of self

    There are so many books out there that can restore our confidence. Self-help books, in particular, may change our lives. All we have to do is let them exceed our expectations. If reading declines, the nature of our species would change forever. We would become less creative, less imaginative, less empathic, and less interesting. We shouldn’t let that happen because we need to use our brains to develop greatness. And books can help us achieve that goal.

    Technology offers alternatives, and while it does feature drawbacks, it also comes with up with solutions. Tablets, e-readers, Kindles and Smartphone are common devices that we use to read. An Apple store is more crowded than a bookstore nowadays, and it is understandable why. However, nothing compares with feeling a paper book in your hands and turning the pages ones by one. 

    Reading books can be fun, educational, and interactive. The activity should be supported by as many people as possible. Parents should instil a passion for reading from an early age. Set an example, be a role model, and the new generation will appreciate books once again.

    By Christopher Austin and LoveReading.co.uk!


      Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

      ‘You Had Me At Hello’ — 5 Ways to Capture Your Audience's Attention

      First sentences must seduce. The opening line of your copy is like a corporate pick-up line — it must draw your audience in and it must draw them in immediately. 

      It doesn’t matter if you’re writing a magazine article, internal business communication, press release, or copy for your website, that all-important opening determines if people will keep reading or give up.

      Here are five tips for nailing that first line:
      1. Keep it lean. The very first line of this blog is just four words long. The establishing sentence is a hook — it must be crisp and confident. Example:  The rise of the hybrid author is disrupting the publishing industry.
      2. Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em. Don’t waffle in your first lines. Let the reader know what valuable information you’re going to share. Example: You can find the right man with online dating.
      3. Ask an intriguing question. Another way to hook the reader is to pose a question that your target audience wants answered. Example: What if you could write a novel in just 30 days?
      4. Start with a statistic. You can use some of your research or metrics to craft a powerful opener for your email or press release. Example:  3,654 sales in January alone without a single store — Acme’s online experience is proving a hit with customers.
      5. The disruptive sentence. A touch of the subversion or misdirection is great way to take the reader off guard and entice them to read on. You take them in one direction and then pull the rug from under them. Example: If you want to know the secret to weight loss, you’ve come to the wrong blog.
      The first line is found after the last line

      The trick to writing a great opening is not to agonise over it before you start writing. First finish your draft, then spend some time brainstorming or free writing some ideas. You’ll find it when you have a sharper picture of your story, your audience, and your message.

      If you want to improve your business writing skills, join us for The Plain Language Programme

       by Anthony Ehlers

      If you enjoyed this post, read:


      Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate 

      The Three Mistakes Writers Make That Stop Us Reading Their Books

      It's a lazy Saturday afternoon and I'm looking forward to reading a book. I make a cup of coffee, retreat to my room and settle down. After 10 pages, I feel uneasy. After 20 pages, I feel trapped. After 30 pages, boredom overwhelms me and I toss the book aside.

      I know I'm not alone with this problem and I decided to ask other readers what made them stop reading a book. The most common response was that they just did not care. Even if the book had a great premise, everything hinged on the execution. 

      Slow beginnings with backstory and detailed descriptions were a problem. Pretentious, stylised, literary writing was another. But mostly, they abandoned books because they felt no emotional connection to the protagonist. Some even said they were not sure who the protagonist was. 

      Why does this happen?
      1. Writers start at the wrong moment in the story. Authors need to introduce the protagonist in the opening scenes. I am not interested in the weather or minor characters. I am also not interested in your protagonist’s backstory until something meaningful happens to her. Once it does, and if I really need to know, you can tell me how she ended up there.
      2. There are unrealistic or weak stakes. A character who is worried in an abstract way about Earth being destroyed by corporations is not good enough. However, I will care about her if her farm has been flooded because of global warming. 
      3. There is no reason to empathise with the protagonist. I do not have to like her, but I need to find redeeming qualities, or understand her motivations, early on. If she is planning to kill someone, give me her reason for doing so. She should not be perfect, but I have to care about her to carry on reading.

      If you think readers may stop reading your book because of a weak protagonist, ask yourself these five questions. Who is she? Why do we care what happens to her? What does she want and what is she doing (straight away) to get it? What is at stake for her? Who stands in the way of her achieving her goal?

      Make sure you have good answers for each one. If you do, you will have one of the basic requirements for keeping a reader interested: a motivated protagonist with a story goal.

      If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

       by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on PinterestFacebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter. 

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      Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

      International Coffee Day - 29 September 2015

      29 September is International Coffee Day. The day is used to promote fair trade coffee and to raise awareness for the plight of coffee growers. 

      Writers love coffee, and in the past we have posted about The Coffee Club - 10 authors addicted to coffee and The Top 10 Quotes About Coffee

      Today, we thought we would share this educational infographic from ilovecoffee.jp with you. Happy International Coffee Day!

       by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and  Twitter.  


      Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

      Social Media 101: What is Instagram?

      Amanda Patterson has written about the importance of  blogging,  Facebook,  Pinterest,  YouTube,  Google+,  Tumblr,  LinkedIn  and  Twitter  in our  Social Media 101  series. Today I am going to talk about Instagram.

      What is Instagram?

      According to Wikipedia, ‘Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them on a variety of social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.’ But I promise you it is more fun than that. Seriously, this is the platform that celebrates the ‘selfie’ and food porn. It is a phone-based app that allows you take a picture or a short video with your phone. You then apply filters to it, making the picture look more professional and you look a lot younger. It was also the fastest growing platform in 2014.

      Why is it important?

      A beautiful, well-styled picture is worth a thousand likes. Well not right away, but give it time. Instagram allows people and brands to share their stories in a visual format, a perfect square to be exact. It is great for reaching the millennials, but it is certainly not limited to them. In addition, users are more likely to interact with brands on Instagram than on Facebook or Twitter. Instagram users can be considered early adopters of trends.

      How to set up an Instagram account
      1. Download the app and set up a profile for yourself or your brand by visiting https://instagram.com/ 
      2. Instagram will assign a username to you. Mine is, for example,  https://instagram.com/miajou/ 
      3. Edit your profile, add a picture and write a bio.  
      4. Find other people to follow and start building your following.
      How to use Instagram
      1. Open the app on your phone, choose the camera setting and take a picture. You can also choose a picture from your gallery, although I find it better to take the picture in the app. 
      2. Once you have a photo you like, choose a filter. 
      3. Add a relevant caption and appropriate hashtags.
      4. Once you are done, you can choose to share it to certain other platforms and you can tag your location. 
      5. Find other users to follow. Search hashtags that are appropriate to you or your brand. 
      6. You can tag other users by typing @ before their username, for example if you want to tag me you’d type @miajou 
      Instagram Tips
      1. Beautiful images are key on this platform. Take the time to style your shots to create the most expressive image.
      2. Hashtags are very important. They help new users find your profile and brand. Search for the hashtags that are most used for your interests or industry.
      3. Unlike Pinterest, the images don’t link back to your website. Be sure to include a link to your website in your profile.
      4. Authenticity and honesty are the key to succeeding here. The community is mostly positive, but they tend to embrace and be more welcoming of ‘real’ people and honest brands.
      5. Grow your following organically. Be careful of fake accounts that promise you hundreds of followers in return for following them or accounts with only a few photos and a huge following.
      6. Post content regularly, but don’t flood your followers.  
      7. You need to download an app: http://regram.me/ to ‘regram’ a post.
      8. Instagram now has a new private message function that allows you to send a message directly to another user. 

      If you want to learn how to write for social media,  email news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

       by Mia Botha

      If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

      1. How To Conquer The Dreaded Blank Page
      2. 10 Poses To Show Character Development Through Body Language
      3. Protagonist vs Antagonist Worksheet


        Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

        Banned Books Week - Remembering the 10 most challenged titles of 2014

        27 September - 3 October 2015 is Banned Books Week

        What is Banned Books Week?

        Banned Books Week is the book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookshops and libraries. More than 11 000 books have been challenged since 1982. (Have a look at our previous posts 2013, 2012, 2011)

        The 10 most challenged titles of 2014 were:

        1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs / alcohol / smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: 'depictions of bullying'.
        2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: 'politically, racially, and socially offensive', 'graphic depictions'.
        3. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: 'promotes the homosexual agenda'.
        4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: 'contains controversial issues'.
        5. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris. Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: 'alleges it child pornography'.
        6. Saga by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. 
        7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence.
        8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Reasons: drugs / alcohol / smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: 'date rape and masturbation'.
        9. A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard. Reasons: drugs / alcohol / smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group
        10. Drama by Raina Telgemeier. Reasons: sexually explicit  

        If you want to find out which books were the most challenged over the past 14 years, follow this link: The Top Ten Challenged Books Lists: 2001-2014

        T-shirt from Zazzle

         by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and  Twitter.


        Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

        October 2015 - In Writing




        Writers Write

        How to write a book


        Writers Write

        How to write a book


        The Plain Language Programme

        Advanced business writing


        The Social Brand

        How to write for social media


        kids etc.

        How to write for children


        Short Cuts

        How to write a short story


        If you want more details, please email news@writerswrite.co.za


        Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

        5 Bestselling Storytelling Lessons From Jackie Collins

        I think millions of fans were shocked by the sudden passing of Hollywood novelist, Jackie Collins, a writer hailed as both a ‘raunchy moralist’ and ‘the Marcel Proust of Hollywood’.

        While I was devastated, the first thing I did was start re-reading some of my favourite titles by this bestselling author. I realised I’d learned so many page-turning storytelling secrets from her over the last 20 years that I thought I’d share them in this blog post.

        1. Sinners. In this early novel, Jackie creates a fascinating love story by keeping the main characters apart as love interests for most of the story. Just when it looks like they might get together, fate and other lovers get in the way — until they’re united in confronting a deadly stalker. This created sustained tension throughout the whole narrative and kept you turning the pages. Lesson: Keep the lovers apart for as long as possible.
        2. Lovers and Gamblers. In this epic novel, Jackie exposes the seedy world of celebrity in Las Vegas and Hollywood, but in a dramatic chain break she has a private plane crash in the Amazon, forcing her main characters to fight for survival in a different kind of jungle. Lesson: Bring in the dramatic and unexpected twist for a spectacular conclusion.
        3. Hollywood Husbands. In this glitzy saga, Jackie introduces a dangerous antagonist early on in the story — a nameless young girl who takes revenge on her tormentors by starting deadly fires. The reader knows she’s grown up to be a powerful young woman in Hollywood’s fashionable circles, but she could be one of five or six characters. Lesson: Hide the antagonist’s identity until the very end of the story for nail-biting tension.
        4. Lady Boss. In her famous Santangelo series, Jackie has Lucky Santangelo take over a studio and the destiny of five powerful superstars. This is where Jackie excelled in most of her novels — in telling multi-cast storylines in much the way soap operas or telenovelas do on television. The reader becomes immersed in the fictional lives of the characters, and lives every emotion with the characters. Lesson: A braided storyline creates emotional impact and will support a story with multiple characters.
        5. The Power Trip. In one of her most recent books, Jackie assembles a small group of celebrities on a Russian billionaire’s new yacht for a maiden voyage — as they sail through the Sea of Cortez, old tensions  and secrets flare and lusty new romances blossom, all while a group of pirates plan to seize the boat and hold it hostage. Lesson:  A contained thriller is a great way to create tension and conflict in a story— because there is no escape for the characters.

        In all her books, Jackie wasn’t afraid of big stories — sometimes she went over the top, but you were willing to follow her simply because she wrote such compelling, idiosyncratic, outrageous characters. She also created some truly creepy villains — like the perverted Herbert Lincoln Jefferson in Sinners or Deke the evil twin in Hollywood Wives. She understood the value of a strong, wily antagonist in all her novels.

        I guess what I learned from Jackie Collins — and perhaps the most important lesson — is to treat your writing like a fearless adventure and to have fun with the story.

        If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

         by Anthony Ehlers

        If you enjoyed this post, read:


        Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

        Seven Points To Consider When You Write An Epistolary-ish Novel

        I have been doing research into books that use letters, because I want to do something similar in my novel. It is interesting to note that it works better in some stories than in others.

        Wikipedia says, ‘An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used. Recently, electronic "documents" such as recordings and radio, blogs, and e-mails have also come into use. The word epistolary is derived from Latin from the Greek word ἐπιστολή epistolē, meaning a letter (see epistle).
        The epistolary form can add greater realism to a story, because it mimics the workings of real life. It is thus able to demonstrate differing points of view without recourse to the device of an omniscient narrator.’

        Some books use letters to tell the whole story, some use it as a device to depict a secondary storyline or events that happened in the past. It can, of course also be diary entries, post-it notes or text messages.

        Consider this from the examples I have recently read:
        1. Letters and diaries give us unique insights; they offer interior monologues of the most intimate kind. Your character’s thoughts and viewpoint written by their ‘own hand’, as it were, and we all know the writing never lies. People put things into writing that they wouldn’t say to anyone else. But, in a letter, your thoughts are especially crafted and written for the benefit of the reader.
        2. Unless you are using multiple letter writers, you are limited to only one viewpoint. If you are using multiple writers, you have to be able to change your writing to create separate identities. In The Book of Human Skin by Michelle Lovric, she uses different fonts, different writing skills and vocabularies to separate the characters. In The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, also use multiple letter writers who all reveal bits of themselves and the story as the telling progresses.
        3. It makes you tell. We don’t use action and dialogue in letters or diaries. You can, but mostly we don’t write letters and diary entries like that. Even though you can’t show, some writers can pull off ‘the telling’, if they have an entertaining, engaging style. Consider the old favourites like Adrian Mole, Bridget Jones and Spud.
        4. Using social media on the other hand, is all about sharing personal information. It is almost the ultimate showing tool. Consider Lauren Beukes’s use of social media in Broken Monsters. She uses text messages and even call-logs to show the story. In Night Film by Marisha Pessl, she even uses screenshots to show her story.
        5. SPOILER: Gillian Flynn used Amy’s fake diary to frame Nick in Gone Girl. Everyone believes the written word. No one would lie in his or her own diary, surely?
        6. In The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky and The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick, a naïve narrator writes and confesses to an unknown or unresponsive receiver. Events are told through not only the limited perspective of a letter, but by a naïve narrator. This is hard to do, but obviously not impossible as both of them certainly did it well. 
        7. In her memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson even uses a series of Post-it Notes to tell a part of her story. It is funny and ridiculous and over the top. 
        These are only a few examples of what you can do with letters and text. Facebook updates, tweets, and even fridge poetry, can help you. What is your favourite epistolary-ish novel? 

        If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email  news@writerswrite.co.za to request a brochure.

         by Mia Botha

        If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

        1. How To Conquer The Dreaded Blank Page
        2. 10 Poses To Show Character Development Through Body Language
        3. Protagonist vs Antagonist Worksheet


          Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate