Language Audit For Your Marketing Content

I love helping people fix their words, giving them the power to make their words stand out. I had the opportunity to do that last week for a woman who wanted guidance on how to improve the wording in her marketing emails. As I put together my recommendations for her, a lightbulb went on in my head – why not offer people a Language Audit.

This year I’ve been concentrating on my content training courses, but a course isn’t for everyone. Some people want to learn as they go, and my Language Audit service will give them the opportunity to do that. Basically, I’ll be their writer on top, who they can call on as they create their document for advice on how to add sparkle to the language in their documents.

How the Service Works

You can send me your documents as you create them, so you won’t lose momentum while you’re creating your marketing content. Or you can wait till you’re finished all your documents and send them in a batch before you release them to the world.

I will them draw up a few practical guidelines that you can act on straight away, to help you improve the wording of your documents. This isn’t an edit; it’s about helping you make changes yourself, so you can improve your writing skills and enhance the quality of all the content you create.

Ways to Improve your Language

The guidelines I give you take three forms. First, I’ll highlight ‘weed words’ for you to get rid of. These are words that are used so often that they’ve almost lost their meaning and they lessen the impact of your sentences. If you have too many adverbs or adverbs or too many crutch words like ‘actually,’ ‘obviously’ or ‘seems.’ I’ll flag that and you can weed them out, so your blooms will shine.

This is a pic of a purple weed, with thin leaves spreading outwards on a purple background.
Weeding Out Words: Watch out for words that weaken your language and pluck them out of your content.

I’ll then guide you on words that will strengthen your content, words that create vivid images and evoke colours, sounds and scents. I’ll also encourage you to use action words that convey a sense of purpose. For example, if you say ‘The photographs are taken by me,’ I’ll encourage you to change it to ‘I take the photographs.’ It immediately sounds more proactive.

Some people have problems cutting down the length of their content, because they’re so enthusiastic about what they want to say and they’re afraid their message won’t come across. I’ll highlight ways that they can be more concise. Often, it just means something simple, like cutting down the length of your sentences, or cutting out repeated words. You’d be amazed the difference these changes make.

Why Avail of a Language Audit

This is a great option for time poor people who’d rather learn on the go, and it’s also a budget-friendly way to avail of great content advice. The price of this language is €75 for 5,000 words You don’t have to worry how much content makes up 5,000 words. I’ll set up a tab for you and let me know when you’ve reached your limit. But you’ll usually be covered for all the marketing content you create.

I hope this Language Audit service will be of value to you – it’s an efficient and effective way of improving your writing skill. You can find out more about it by dropping me an email on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie.

How I Showed Entrepreneurs to Write Brilliant Content

Today I am feeling happy and relieved. That’s how you want to feel after you’ve done a presentation. The presentation I gave was for Network Ireland Waterford, an organisation for women in business. They were running a Let’s Talk Digital event; I talked about creating brilliant content and Linda O’Connell from Digi Nomad demystified SEO. 

It was delightful to get back into the content training game after the summer. I gave people a whistle-stop tour of the storytelling module on my content training course, showing people how to use the storytelling techniques of bestselling authors to create brilliant content.

Why Bother Writing Content

Before I launched into the techniques, I talked about why brilliant content is worth writing in the first place. It comes down to this. If you invest time in telling an interesting story, it will stick in people’s minds when they’re reading it.

They’ll remember you and ultimately they’re more likely to buy from you. It also saves you time because once you’ve written your story, you don’t need to keep creating content from scratch every time. And it does actually get results you can measure.

This infographic from SEMrush demonstrates the importance that companies put on content and the results they see it giving them. It shows information with percentages in coloured bubbles. For example, it says 84% of companies have a content strategies but only 11% of companies regard it as excellent.

First Storytelling Technique: Character

Then I launched into the three storytelling techniques. The first one is character. I believe that by treating customers as characters in your story, you can get under their skin, understand them better and create content that speaks to them. Authors create character sketches, or profiles of their characters, to get to know their characters.

You can a character sketch for your customers, to figure out what they buy and how they buy it. Above all, you can identify a problem they have that needs solving – and demonstrate how you can solve it.

Second Storytelling Technique: Plot

The second storytelling technique, plot, will help you tell the story of how you solve your customers’ problems. In the presentation, I talked about the three-act structure, the classic plot structure of beginning, middle and end: First, you set the scene, then you get to the heart of the action and finally you reveal the solution.

In the case of your customers, you would first lay out the problems and then talk about the actions you took to solve it. Finally, you reveal the solution you arrived at, and what outcome you achieved for your customers, both practical and emotional.

Third Storytelling Technique: The Senses and Language

The third storytelling technique centres more on the words you use when you’re telling the story. It’s called Language and The Senses, and it helps you to describe your services more vividly. You draw on all of your senses to create memorable product descriptions. You can have fun writing product descriptions comparing your product to a food, a song or a smell, and this helps customers to feel as if they’re holding your product in their hands.

Language is also important in setting the tone for your content; in other words, what kind of atmosphere do you want to create. I talked about how to choose words to describe your business and your customers, to create either a chatty, friendly tone, or a more professional, polished tone. I also showed them how to avoid the pitfalls of corporate, clichéd language.

Finally, I gave a quick plug for my content training course, and if you want to find out more about how you can learn to tell your own brilliant business story, drop me an email on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie for more info.

How to Create Engaging Content For Your Website Homepage

Once upon a time, website homepages were pages you didn’t pay attention to. There’d be a few words of welcome on them and you’d bypass them as you chased down the information you were looking for. But now website homepages are all-singing, all-dancing affairs, designed to draw you in and keep you browsing.

Website homepages are now designed for scrolling, as more and more people browse using phones and tablets. Instead of just one block of text in the centre of the page, homepages now have several short snippets that give people information about the different parts of your website.

This pic shows the homepage of my own website, beautifully designed by Digi Nomad. You can see a typewriter at the top, and then some text. This is my welcome message, with the call to action underneath.  

That’s a lot of white space to play with, and you may be wondering how to fill it. The most important thing to remember is that even though the layout of your website homepage has changed, the purpose of it hasn’t. With your homepage you’re encouraging people to find out more about your business and to stay on your website.

Here are some ideas for types of content you can create that will help fill that white space and keep your visitors browsing.

Welcome Message

Your welcome message is still really important. It’s your first chance to introduce yourself to your website visitors and to tell them what you’re about. In your welcome message, hit them with your core message right away. Tell them what you do and what you hope to achieve for your customers. This shows potential customers what you’re about, and if that resonates with them, they’ll want to read more.

About Us

In this section, your goal is to bring people to your About Us page. You can do this by giving us a snippet of text from that page: your mission statement or your why, the reason you started the business in the first place. This will draw people in, and they’ll hit the Read More button to go to the About page and find out more about you. You can also tell people what information they’ll find on the page, so they’ll know what to expect.

Have a look at my Solutions for Entrepreneurs page to find out about my content training course, which will show you how to write your own web content.

Products and Services

This part of your homepage is the shop window for your products services, giving people the chance to choose the one we need. Give people a rundown of the types of products and services you offer and who’s likely to benefit from them. Some web designers create little boxes for each service, where you can include snippets of introductory text that will invite people to browse further.

Why Us

This can be a web page in its own right, but rather than create an extra page, you can add a section to your homepage telling people what helps you stand out from the crowd. Tell them how you go the extra mile with great customer service and how you offer them value for money.

Adding a Why Us is useful if your business is similar to many other businesses in your field. You can show people that the way you deliver your service is different – and better – than your competitors.

Calls to Action

For every section of your homepage, give people a clear call to action. Your web designer will ensure your contact details are displayed prominently, but you still need to make it as easy as possible for people to get in touch with you.

In each section, lay out what you would like people to do next. Do you want them to visit another page on your website? Do you want them to call you? Or do you want them to sign up to your newsletter? Try out different calls to action and see how they work.

I’d be delighted to show you how to write inviting content for your homepage. Here’s my call to action. Drop me an email on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie for more info.

How To Choose the Right Words For Your Business

I love delivering content training sessions because I get to talk about words. And I had great fun at a content training session last week, talking about one of my favourite things – how to choose the right words to describe what you’re doing. In last week’s blog post, I talked about setting a tone for your business with your language. This week, I practised what I preached with a pair of researchers who wanted to describe their project in user-friendly language.

The type of content training they wanted was quite different from the norm. Most people want to know what to say: these people wanted to know how to say it. So, the session focused on editing skills and on how to choose the right words. I began with a presentation where I talked about how to edit your text to fit your requirements.

How to Edit Your Writing

The main thing to remember when you’re editing is to figure out what central point you want to make with your content. Once you know that, you can decide what to leave in and what to take out. A lot of people feel overwhelmed by the amount of information they feel they have to put in, so deciding on a central point gives them clarity.

After you’ve decided what point you want to make, your next task is to trim down your sentences. Reading your text out loud weeds out a lot of errors, like overlong sentences, clunky phrasing and typos that spellcheck doesn’t pick up. I encouraged the two researchers to read their text out loud for clarity.


In this pic, you see a red pen hovering over a page with words on it, and there are corrections made in red pen on the margins.

I then showed the participants how to refine their text even more by weeding out words that weaken their language. This includes repeated words, crutch words we rely on too much and passive voice, saying that a project was run by Derbhile rather than the more proactive choice of saying ‘Derbhile ran the project.’

Fleshing Out Your Writing

Many people when they’re editing need to cut down their text. These two researchers had the opposite challenge. They’re naturally concise writers and they needed to bulk up. This can be more of a challenge because you have to add fresh text to what you’ve already written. I suggested they add muscle rather than fat. In other words, they would bulk out each paragraph with information they might have been holding back for fear their text would be too long. I advised against creating new paragraphs, as they would only be adding text for the sake of it.

The participants put their editing skills to the test by writing a description of their project in 250 words. I told them just to write the description first and only count the words after they stopped. I then suggested ways of bulking up their content to bring it up to 250 words. You can do this exercise in reverse as well. First write a description of your business in 250 words, then cut to 100 words and then cut again to 50. You’ll be left with the most important info, expressed in clear language.

Choosing the Right Words

The second half of the session was devoted to helping the participants use language that would set the right tone for their project. First they needed to come up with pronouns to describe themselves and their end users. Would they choose the friendly-sounding ‘we’ and ‘you pronouns?

Or would they create a professional distance by choosing ‘the project’ and ‘the users.’ Whichever they choose, I recommended that they make sure not to over-rely on these pronouns, as it can be easy to over-use them without realising it.

Finally, I asked them to come up with fifteen words to describe their project. If you remember last week’s blog post, I talked about the values words, the doing words and the senses words. They came up with a list and I encouraged them to refine it further, and not to be afraid to add playful words, ones that created a sense of excitement.

We closed off the session by editing a piece of content they had already created. Their content was good quality, which creates its own challenge, but I was able to spot repeated words, and words that were a bit vague. Above all, I encouraged them to remember that most people engaging with their project would know absolutely nothing about the subject matter. Simple, clear language wins every time.

If you’d like to learn how to add sparkle to your own words, I’d be delighted to work with you. you can email me on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie.

Fifteen Words That Tell Your Business Story

It’s not what you say but the way that you say it, that’s what gets results. Or at least, it’s not just what you say; it’s the words you use to say it. In this blog, I’ve been concentrating on the content of your business story, but the words you choose to tell that story are just as important. Because they’re the words that people will associate with your brand.

When I’m delivering content training, I’ve discovered that people aren’t just interested in telling their story. They want to find out how to pick the right words to describe their business, as well as how to tell their story. So, this week, I’ve decided to share my thoughts about how to choose words that will resonate with your customers.


This is a word cloud, with brightly coloured words on a yellow background. The words are scattered throughout the picture to form patterns. They include words like: coffee, aroma, home, value and estate agent.  

The language you choose to describe your business and to tell your business story has a subtle but powerful effect. It sets the tone for your content and creates a particular mood: one of calm professionalism or one of fun and laughter, depending on what effect you want to create. Like the colours of a logo, the words you choose tell people how you see your business brand, and they will pick up on that and absorb the message you’re trying to convey.

We’re now going to talk about how to choose words to tell your business story and about what effect those words will have on your customers.

Words That Describe Your Business And Customers

It may seem obvious, but you first need to decide how you will refer to your business and to your customers when you’re writing your content. Some people like to use ‘we’ and ‘our’ to talk about the services they deliver, and they refer to their customers as ‘you’ or ‘our customers.’. This sets a friendly tone and gives customers the sense that you’re talking to them one to one.

Other businesses prefer to be more formal. They talk about ‘the business’ or ‘the company’ and ‘its customers.’ This is a good approach for businesses that want to present themselves in a professional way, so they can be seen as authorities in their fields. There’s also the decision about whether to refer to people who buy from you as ‘customers’ or ‘clients.’ The word ‘customers’ tends to be associated more with retail and product-based businesses, while clients tend to be seen as people who use a service.

The Fifteen Words

Marketing gurus recommend that you come up with a list of fifteen words that describe your business, and I do this exercise with people on my content training course. These fifteen words then become people’s go-to words when they’re describing their business. They’ll draw on these words when they’re writing their content, and these will then become the words their customers think of when they think of that business.

Here’s a flavour of the types of words you can include on your list of fifteen words:

Doing words: These are practical words that describe what your business does. Say you’re an estate agent. You’d use the words ‘estate agent,’ ‘valuer,’ ‘seller,’ and ‘auctioneer’ to describe what you do. You may think it’s obvious what you do but it won’t always be obvious to your customers, so don’t overlook these words.

Value words: These words describe your business values, the principles that drive your business and that shape the service you offer customers. Weaving words like integrity, customer care, creativity or time into your content tells customers what values are important to you as a business. If they share those values, they’ll see you as a business they can trust.

Senses Words: With these words, you’re stimulating people’s senses. You describe what your products or services look, smell, taste, sound and feel like, so people feel almost as if they’re holding your products or are there at your place of business. You can use these words even if you don’t sell a product, by choosing a symbol that describes your services and using words that link with the symbol.

When you’ve drawn up your list of fifteen words, you sprinkle them through your content. These words convey the message and mission of your business and show customers what your business can do for them. Customers will associate these words with your business, and if you use words they like, it’ll influence their decision to buy. 

If you’d like some help finding your best words, I’ll be happy to chat to you. You can drop me an email on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie or call/message me on 0876959799.