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The second edition of Ginny Redish’s Letting Go of the Words is good news for recent graduates, career-builders, or job hunters looking for online writing tips to build successful personal brands.
Letting Go of the Words is likely to forever change the way you plan, write, and format your personal brand on the Internet.
Ginny Redish’s Letting Go of the Words offers a clear, concise presentation of proven principles for writing and web usability, ideas backed-up by reams of research data and endorsed by today’s leading web usability experts.
Subtitled, Writing Web Content that Works, Ginny Redish’s Letting Go of the Words communicates proven strategies and best practices for improving the effectiveness of everything you write for online readers.
With the exception of the first edition of this book, no book comes as close to providing an in-depth, detailed, guide to the best practices involved in writing for online readers.
A visual guide to online writing
Letting Go of the Words could also have been subtitled, A Visual Guide to Web Content. It’s a book about writing that doesn’t have to be “read,” in the conventional sense of starting at the beginning and moving forward, reading page after page of text.
- If you’re in the middle of a task, like redoing your home page for your website, posting a press release, or creating a landing page for your next information product or event, you can go directly to the chapter and get immediate help.
- Visual storytelling and teaching. Letting Go of the Words is a visual guide because the annotated examples and before and after illustrations tell the story. Each page contains at least one, and often, several real-world illustrations that reinforce the lessons, best practices, and mistakes to avoid. Illustrations are accompanied by smiley-faces and call-outs describing best practices and mistakes to avoid.
One of my examples is an illustrated Chapter 3 Case Study titled, Revising a Poorly Designed Web Page. The series of 5 illustrations show the major improvements in readability that take place as a series of simple changes in type and layout.
What online writing and conversations have in common
One of the themes that resonates through Letting Go of the Words is the importance of viewing your blog and website as a conversation, rather than a podium to communicate your view of things.
Online writing success and strong personal brands begin with analyzing and understanding your website visitors, and anticipating the “questions” they’re going to ask. Often, these “questions” relate to specific tasks, i.e., How do I book a flight to Baltimore? or perform a task or achieve a goal in a field where you’re an expert.
If your website visitors are looking for personalized assistance, or are potential employers, they will be asking, How do I know you’re the best qualified to help me? By creating personas describing your blog or website visitors, and predicting the questions they’re likely to be asking, you can pave the way for better online writing and an improved personal brand.
Throughout Letting Go of the Words, the emphasis is always on maintaining the conversation, keeping it moving forward, by organizing your ideas, breaking your ideas into easily-read and easily-remembered chunks of information, and providing compelling reasons to believe your message.
Guidelines for effective online writing
For me, the two most useful parts of Letting Go of the Words were Chapter 8, Announcing Your Topic with a Clear Headline and Chapter 9, Including Useful Headings. In these chapter, Ginny Redish describes the importance of using a combination of nouns and verbs to write the way you talk.
Usually, headings are simply placeholders, nouns used to indicate the end of one topic and the beginning of the next topic. With a little thought, however, again–viewing the headings as parts of a conversation–you can create significantly better headings.
In Letting Go of the Words, headings within chapters are called Guidelines, which turn ideas into action. Chapter 8’s Guidelines include:
- Use your site visitor’s words
- Be clear instead of cute
- Think about your global audience
- Try for a medium length (about eight words)
- Use a statement, question, or call to action
- Combine labels (nouns) with more information
- Add a short description if people need it
If you’re looking for a concise, comprehensive, and visual guide containing hundreds of practical online writing tips for personal branding success will everything needed to take your writing to the next level in Ginny Redish’s Letting Go of the Words. Take a few minutes to use the Look Inside! feature of Ginny Redish’s Letting Go of the Words on Amazon.com. This could be the most important Holiday Gift book you give–or receive–this year.