Survivial Skills for Freelancers

A Trump-free Twitter rant: and how brevity improves writing

Ever since I attended Jonathan Pollinger’s Twitter for beginners workshop, way back in 2012, I’ve had a soft spot for the previously pithy, fabulously witty, micro-blogging platform.

This week, Twitter tumbled from the top of the tree – for me, at least.

Yesterday (8 November 2017) the social network announced that its trial of a 280-character tweet limit – double the previous 140-character count – will be universally expanded.

According to Twitter’s Product Manager, Aliza Rosen, this is why they did it:

The platform’s user numbers had been steadily dropping, and they needed to do something to reignite the love for the network – an edit button, perhaps? – but not that!

Anything but that.

By doubling the character count they’ve removed their greatest USP. Without the limit, they may as well be Facebook.

Size matters

Brevity was the one thing Twitter had that no other social network offered. And it was better for it. You could scroll through your timeline and efficiently extract chunklets* of insight, bite-sized news updates, thought-provoking quotes and interesting soundbites.

There isn’t a writer out there who doesn’t benefit from the discipline of the old-school – I can call it that, right? – Twitter mentality.

Make every word count

When competition for readers’ attention is fierce, tight word counts keep our writing lean.

Get in the habit of cutting the fluff and stuffing from your writing, and your message will benefit.

Lose the jargon and meaningless filler words** and your writing will be punchier, pacier and easier to read.

If there’s one thing we can learn from pre-280 Twitter, it’s that.

*Yes, I made that one up. Deal with it.

**Words such as THAT, JUST, REALLY and VERY rarely add to your writing. Edit fearlessly.

Cut the waffle: the benefits of plain English

A short, punchy message increases your chances of being heard above the social media chatter.

So why do so many people use long words and complicated language in their blog posts and updates?

Maybe it’s hardwired from our school days. Teachers’ requests for a 5,000-word essay struck fear into our hearts and we resorted to padding and long words in an attempt to sound more knowledgeable than we really were.

It didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now.

Using plain English, and clear, concise language can make the difference between winning and losing business, or a potential client choosing your company over a competitor.

So, when every character counts, here are 18 waffle-busting ways to get straight to the point:

Instead of writing this… write this
as and when when
we will endeavour we’ll try
in due course soon
we are able to we can
in a timely manner on time
additional information more details
in order to to
we have a requirement for we need
regarding about
a significant number lots
in close proximity near
per annum a year
please advise tell us
prior to before
until such time until
please ensure make sure
at the end of the day ultimately
utilise use


Everyday vs every day: tips to remember the difference

Do you know when to write EVERYDAY and when it should be EVERY DAY? These simple tips will help you get it right.

Driving up the M5 recently I overtook a Poundland lorry emblazoned with the company’s slogan: Amazing value everyday!

If I hadn’t been driving, I’d have thrown large objects in protest. Because what it should say, of course, is Amazing value every day!

Confusing everyday with every day is a common mistake, but there’s a simple tip to make sure you get it right.

If you can replace every day with each day, use every day. For example, ‘I watch TV every day’.

Everyday is an adjective meaning ‘commonplace’, and is used to describe a noun. For example, ‘an everyday occurrence’ means something that happens every day.

Remember, Poundland: your stock may be cheap, but good grammar costs nothing. Unless you paid an expensive ad agency to come up with a bum tagline, of course.

Everyday vs every day: tips to remember the difference

Everyday vs every day: tips to remember the difference