Write about your expertise

hay & taxes

Q. I am a one-person shop. How can I promote my business by writing about it?

A. If you are self-employed or own a small business, use your website, blog and all available social media to promote your expertise.

  • Add relevant copy to your website and blog.
    • Write about your proficiency in your industry, not about yourself.
    • Divulge a good idea or 2 to show that you really know your stuff.
    • Be specific in your advice so that readers can actually take a step you recommend.
    • Limit your content to your experience, capabilities and expertise. Skip your pets, travels and rants.
  • Post your writing on other people’s blogs.
  • Prepare one- and two-minute presentations (for elevators and formal meetings) about your capabilities and qualifications.
  • If you cannot write well, invest in a professional writer (not a hungry English major).

Write evergreens

Q. What’s an evergreen?
A. In botany, an evergreen is a plant that is, uh, always green.
In writing, an evergreen is an essay that you write once and can bring to life again in future years.

Grand Canyon evergreen

Grand Canyon evergreen

Plant a tree. Watch it grow. If you plant a Japanese maple or Northern red oak, you can appreciate its life during spring, summer and fall. But if you want to watch a tree flourish all year, every year, plant a gold arborvitae or a densiform yew.

Write evergreens.

* Every Valentine’s Day you wonder about flower-delivery people. How do floral recipients react to a delivery of 2 dozen red roses? Does anyone actual kiss the person handing over the sterling vase with 3 long-stemmed roses? Do men or women tip more?

To report this story, get yourself a one-day gig delivering for a florist near you. Write the story immediately, while it’s fresh as a daisy. Then file it until February 1 of next year, when you can pitch or send it to a local daily or weekly. If you have a monthly in mind, tell your calendar to remind you to ship the piece before Labor Day.

And the following year, assuming you have retained copyright, sell it somewhere else. You can revive many essays for years to come.

* Every year, on the second Sunday in May, you regret that you haven’t written that Mother’s Day article that’s been percolating. TIP: Write it now. Send it to your favorite – or desired favorite – editor on, say, April 20.

Several of my essays, published ages ago, have seen new life as evergreens in digital media. These days, with online payment at zilch, publication with links to your website are nearly worth cash.

Happy Bosnian emerald arrow pine to you.

Dumbing down the content

above average Joe






Q. I write and edit the newsletter for an association that serves adults with special needs. Most of our articles address agencies, families and caretakers, so they are really above the heads of our direct clients. How do I write something that is simple enough for the clients but intelligent enough for everyone else?

A. It seems impossible, doesn’t it? It’s not.

Try writing separate stories for your separate audiences. As you write about an upcoming event, you can write one piece about attendance goals, costs and driving directions. Then draft an article for your clients that is simple and straightforward, explaining what they can expect when they arrive. If you use larger type, and perhaps a playful font like Comic Sans or Stylistic SF, you can make them want to read it, too. Include pictures.

Be respectful, as always. For clients whose special needs are physical, not mental, they can probably read as well as you.

Use the same techniques on your website, too.

College-application essays

need$ money
 I need to write my college-application essay. What do you recommend?

A. Start now.

Start early to write your college-application essay. Start as soon as you know you will need to write one. Allow time to reflection, prepare and revise. Give yourself time to start all over, if you feel the need.

Choose a fascinating topic. You know that your application includes your grades, awards, activities, and so on. Write about something different or unique that will educate, amuse or answer questions for admissions evaluators. Use the personal statement to show another side of yourself.

Present your information and ideas in a focused, thoughtful and meaningful way. Support your ideas with examples. Do more than list your qualities or accomplishments.

Proofread. Print the essay in horizontal (“landscape”) format and read it again. Proofread. Switch between Arial and Times New Roman and read it again. Print it in 18-point type and read it again. Proofread.

These tips work for writing all personal essays, too.

FAQ: Capitalizing headlines

Tel Aviv

Q. When writing a title, should I capitalize every word or just the first word?

A. For most press releases, books, magazine and journal articles, capitalize the first letter of the first word and the first letter of all other words in the title. Except: Use lower case (small letters) for articles (a, an, the) and prepositions (in, on, before and so forth).

A: Exception 1. If the name of the organization includes a capitalized preposition, like Living Beyond Breast Cancer, do capitalize that word.

A. Exception 2. On the internet and in e-mails, capitalize only the first word and all proper nouns.

A. Exception 3. If you or your organization believes in calming down the capitalization of America, as I do, then cut out the caps. In this case, capitalize only the first word and all proper nouns.