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Has your writing entered the 21 century?

~~~ Notes from Minnesota ~~~

Hey Freelancer,

Hello from Las Vegas!

I’m in culture shock.

When I left Minneapolis, workers sprayed chemicals on the airliner’s wings to remove ice. So much snow clouded the sky, visibility was reduced by a lot.

Then we hit Vegas.

Oy! It’s warm! Sunny! I fear my vampiric complexion could turn to ash!

Enough exclamation points, eh?

My point is I’m keeping ‘er short today because the folks down here are running me ragged. But hanging out with writers? Wow. It’s amazing.

While chatting with some pros last night, something occurred to me… something I wanted to share with you.

So enjoy today’s abbreviated issue of Writing Etc. And let me know what you think. Right? Wrong? Somewhere in between?

I can’t wait to hear…

Onward and upward,

Beth 🙂

P.S. I’m traveling. If you respond, it may take a bit before I get back to you. Just an FYI. 😛


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Has your writing entered the 21 century?

By Beth Ann Erickson

Once I advised an aspiring writer to “write like you speak.” Turns out, at the time, that wasn’t exactly a popular sentiment. But, I stood by that advice, telling everyone I coach to:

  1. Read everything you write aloud.
  2. If you stumble over your words, revise.
  3. If your mind wanders, revise.
  4. If you have to take a breath before your end punctuation… revise.

I’d also tell them, “Your first priority is to connect with your reader. Always write using your readers’ language. That means you may break a few grammar rules. It also means you must write in a conversational style, not necessarily literary.”

Again, I got into a bit of trouble over that one. But I still hold that sentiment.

Today I discovered my little deviation from grammar rules may have been more accurate than even I could have imagined.

Turns out, back in the day, I had to run all my websites through some software to make sure they were “mobile friendly.”

Today, many forward thinking website owners (and copywriters) recognize that many potential readers perform searches using voice technology. That means, they pop a button on their mobile phone, speak into the little microphone icon, and boom… search results.

This also means that if you own a website, write online content, or want to sell articles that will be read online, you’d be ahead of the game if you perform “voice search engine optimization” on everything you write.

This means you need to:

1. Use language that reflects oral speech.

2. Keep local dialects in mind as you write.

3. Have strong, relevant, conversational FAQs.

4. Conduct your own voice searches to see how your writing fares under these circumstances.

Writing conversationally takes more practice than I anticipated. But it’s well worth mastering that skill, especially as voice recognition continues to grow.

(Thanks to Bob Bly ( for pointing this out in his most recent newsletter!)


You can use any of these articles free of charge on your own website or zine. Just don’t make any changes and be sure to include this byline:

This article is courtesy of Filbert Publishing. Make your writing sparkle, write killer queries, get published. Subscribe to Writing Etc., the free e-mag for freelancers and receive the e-book “Power Queries.”



Published inWriting Etc.