Writing & Photographing For CoastalGuide



Scope of Project:

Writers for CoastalGuide are writing semi-permanent, infrequently updated articles to be placed in our online travel & relocation magazine about the region from US Hwy 17 to the Atlantic beaches. Don't feel that it has to only be the high points. We get a lot of kudos for digging out community history and hard-to-find points of interest.

The focus is "TOURISM" with the sub-headings, History, Ecology, and Relocation.

Some words of caution: Go for the items that will stand the "test of time." Use a 5 year minimum as a rule of thumb, that is: Is it likely to be there 5 years from now? Writers term this dateless style as ''evergreen.''

Long shelf-life articles, a.k.a. "Evergreen."

Writing in evergreen mode may require some rethinking of topics. Restaurant reviews or even mentioning businesses by name can quickly make a page outdated. But with forethought, there are some simple fixes which greatly reduce future maintenance; "Historian John Doe" becomes "a local historian" or "$5 admission" becomes "a nominal admission fee." Only mention business names if they are local institutions and have been there for decades and is likely to be there for years and years to come. Pay particular attention to this when planning to write about events, which come and go even more frequently than physical points of interest.

Since CoastalGuide is a business and does NOT receive any funds from state or local governments, our writers are free to mention private attractions that they feel are significant resources for the community. We will not do a free, full-blown advertisement for them, but they can certainly be featured as a general "must-see.". Sanitary Seafood in Morehead City would be a good example. One wouldn't be doing their job of promoting the Crystal Coast without sending visitors by that establishment.


The PAY:

  • $15 per article
    (750 word minimum plus one in-context picture)
  • $1 per additional photo used

Pictures:

We need pictures to go with your articles. Your own digital camera will be fine as long as it's taking sharp, clear photos. You may also be able to find public domain or Flickr photos that have been released for COMMERCIAL use. If so, you must include the source so we can give proper credit. Another source would be the attraction itself. Many have press kits with stock photos. BUT we can't use photos that are "wintery" looking. Dead trees, people in heavy coats, etc. just do not work when our readers are usually reading in June or July.

Copyrights:

The author grants to the Publisher, CoastalGuide LLC, exclusive first publication rights in the Work, and further grants a non-exclusive license for other uses of the Work, including any derivative works created therefrom, for the duration of its copyright and all extensions and renewals thereof, in all languages, throughout the world, and in any form or medium now known or hereafter developed. The author retains all other rights to his work, including the right to re-license its use as a reprint ("second serial rights"), to publish it in foreign markets, to license a movie or product spin-off, make derivative works, and so on.

In other words, CoastalGuide LLC gets to use the work first and can do anything with it BUT the author has only sold the "first copy" and not all rights and remains free to do anything with his own copy  — including selling it again.

Points of Interest:

EXCLUDE the usual waterslides, putt-putt, and commercial petting zoos. DO look for state parks, wildlife areas, ferry rides, lighthouses, shipwrecks, plantations, historic walking tours, historic sites.

Consider doing individual "breakout" pages for the major attractions, major yearly events, and major points of history.

Avoid writing specifics that need updating, such as phone numbers, hours of operation. IF the attraction has a website of its own, list it, and we will link out for that kind of info.


 

The Likely Audience:

  • female (60/40 female vs male users)
  • works full-time
  • is family decision-maker or "recommender"
  • 35-55 yrs old
  • some college education
  • middle-class income
  • probably caucasian
  • has children in grammar school and high school
  • has a dog
  • likes outdoor activities, but not too extreme
  • lives in western or central NC. Or, if out-of-state; VA, Pennsylvania, or Ohio
  • loves the water, even if it is just looking at it

She is researching a family vacation or the location of a likely job transfer. The writers she likes are those that tell her about the area without all the usual tourism or real estate company hype. However, she's not really expecting any negative information, she knows the sites are likely to be circumventing that. As a recommender, she really wants upbeat info anyway. Whether vacationing or relocating, she's trying to get the real flavor of the area so she can convince someone else that it's worth a visit.

The family as a whole is only vaguely aware of the region. They've heard of the Outer Banks, Cape Hatteras, Atlantic Beach, and maybe Wilmington, but have lots of misconceptions about the area. Some assume its like Virginia Beach or even Myrtle Beach. For many, all they've ever seen of "coastal" NC is along I-95. They've heard, however, that there are small towns and much history if they find the right place to get off the interstate. Still, they have no concept of the distances here. They think Charlotte and Asheville are near the coast. They do know a little of the area's geography, main attractions, and ties to history ...the Lost Colony, Kitty Hawk, and the Wright Brothers have made an impression sometime in the past. They aren't looking for big cities, theme parks, big industry, fabulous 5-star resorts, or honky-tonk beaches (like Myrtle Beach).


Think About

Below are some topics and keywords to think about. This isn't meant to be some sort of "must use" list, we are listing them to help establish the writer's mindset in the project.
Topics:
  • Antiques
  • Art - Galleries, Art Councils
  • Attractions, Points of Interest
  • Accommodations - Bed & Breakfast
  • Accommodations - Cottage/Condo Rental
  • Accommodations - Hotels / Motels
  • Accommodations - Allowing PETS
  • Camping
  • Canoeing / Kayaking
  • Crafts - Local Artisans
  • Entertainment & Nightlife
  • Events
  • Fishing - Fresh, Surf
  • Fishing - Charter
  • Genealogy
  • Golf / Golf Packages
  • Historical Sites
  • Hunting
  • Maps
  • Marinas
  • Music
  • Museums, Aquariums
  • Nature - Birding, Gardens, Trails
  • Outdoor Sport - Bike, Hang Glide
  • Outdoor Sport - Surf, Sailboard
  • Restaurants - General Overview of area. NOT individual reviews.
  • Retirement Possibilities
  • Shopping
  • Things to Do (Family Oriented)
  • Things to Do (Couples / Singles)
  • Tours
  • Transportation - Airport Info
  • Transportation - Auto Rental
  • Wedding / Honeymoon

Keywords
  • family beach
  • cottage rental
  • beach cottage
  • beach real estate
  • vacation rental
  • beach resort
  • beach vacation
  • beach access
  • beach regulations
  • near the ocean
  • lighthouse
  • aquarium
  • historic
  • civil war
  • fort
  • ferry
  • retirement
  • relocation
  • real estate
  • fishing
  • golf
  • barrier islands
  • intracoastal waterway
  • boats
  • dockside
  • marsh
  • estuary
  • bay
  • sound
  • river
  • bridges
  • colonial
  • plantations
  • waterfront
  • walking tour
  • historic district

 


Copy Writing for web pages

Reprinted here by kind permission of Ted Ulle, a friend of mine from The Mews Group

It's generally known that reading on screen is slower and less comfortable than reading print. For me, this means that the job of keeping someone reading becomes much bigger. You've got give them a strong "hit" much more frequently. You can't afford to stretch out with long descriptive passages, elaborate sentences with lots of modifying clauses, or dry abstracted copy with no real meat but only corporate style market-speak.

I find that MS Word's grammar check is essential, especially the grade-level it provides at the end. I always aim for below 9th grade.

Here's a top-of-the head list:

Things to use:

  • Short sentences
  • Bullet points
  • VERY frequent subheads (hint - search engines like H tags)
  • Active voice
  • Precise nouns and verbs, instead of adjectives and adverbs
  • Anglo-Saxon roots rather than $10 Latinate words.
  • Redundancy - don't assume that a person reading paragraph 10 has already read paragraph 2. If there's an essential backward reference, spell it out.

Things to avoid:

  • Doubling both the verb and it's object. ("The results demonstrate and prove both the theory and its execution.")
  • Making the reader carry any information in their head from one part of the sentence to another ("Product ABC, from the days of its first release, and through the many years of testing and upgrade, has always been rated number one." -- THAT HURTS!)

Copy that takes 1 minute to read may require 10 to 100 man-hours to create. But it can work for your website for many years, and repay that investment many times over (cliche! - avoid!).

One of the debates in copy writing is about total copy length. Many people say to keep it short and sweet. But the print world already knows differently - while many people will always abandon your copy early on, you're not writing for every one, you're targeting. Your BEST prospects want to read more - often a lot more.

However, the web is a medium that is not kind to long pages. What can we do?

Make use of hyperlinks - the very technology that spawned the web, it's breath and soul!

So don't throw away all those words from your print copy. Yes, give the casual surfer a nice, quick overview - but use those inline links intelligently. Allow the hot prospect to drill down for everything they want to know and more.

What's an A4 sheet? It's a kind of limitation to the print copy writer. But the TOTAL amount of copy on a website has no restriction at all! And the total amount of copy you can use on a site is nearly infinite - just don't put it all on one page.

When you put this style of hyperlinked copy together with search engines, you can have some real magic. Cut out those two or three paragraphs about widget anomalies and create a small page dedicated to widget anomalies.

When they were buried in your copy along with everything else, "widget anomlaies" was one keyword phrase among many. And those paragraphs probably scared away some readers who don't care about anomalies at all.

But give that copy its own page, with "Widget Anomalies" as the Title, and in the Decription, and in the Head - now we're cooking!




   

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