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The Art of Writing: Adding Craft to Content, by Holly Sinclair

June 12, 2017 | Nikki Bisel

A woman with shoulder-length brown hair smiling at the camera, wearing a denim jacket and a graphic tee with the phrase "What is Marketing", standing in front of a red brick wall.

When you begin to write, you discover the deepest thoughts your mind and heart wish to express.
Any writer will say that every writing project begins with a singular thought or idea, but what comes after that thought is where the magic begins.
Unlike some components of marketing, writing content isn’t a matter of plugging in a specific code to achieve a certain result. It’s a process — a journey from idea to creation. And as a writer travels the road of copy, he/she often unlocks the mind’s boundless capacity to think, feel and share.
To better understand how this feeling of exploration, creation and empathy are woven into each blog she touches, we sat down with Seafoam’s Writer, Holly Sinclair, for a chat. Here’s what she had to say…

Q&A with Holly Sinclair

What is your job role at Seafoam Media?

I am the Writer at Seafoam Media. It is my job to identify each client’s audience and voice, and then write copy that suits their purpose and their brand identity. Sometimes, this is as simple as writing a sentence or two on a “Services” page. Other times, it’s brainstorming topics that will engage a company’s audience.

No matter what I’m writing, and what platform I’m writing it on, I get to have fun! Throughout the course of my day, I research all kinds of subjects and play with words to my heart’s content. It’s a dream job for me.

Why is writing important to the marketing industry?

I’ve heard that saying, “content is king,” but because I started to write long before the online marketing boom – long before I had my own computer, in fact – I don’t work with that phrase in my head.

I believe writing is important to marketing because communication is important to marketing. It’s not enough to throw a bunch of words on a website. You really have to know who it is you’re representing, who it is you’re talking to, and the most important message you want to convey.

Content for content’s sake doesn’t work; relatable communication does.

In terms of writing, can you explain the most interesting thing that happened in the last decade?

Decade? I’d say that, when it comes to writing, you think centuries – not decades. Writing is one of those timeless arts that constantly reinvents itself. From Shakespeare to Hemingway, or Jane Austen to J.K. Rowling, each new generation has something to add… and now, it’s the digital generation’s turn to make a mark on composition style.

I will say that writing for the web is different than writing for the page. While print readers will soak up long passages of prose, that’s not necessarily what online surfers and scanners are looking for.

Then there are the limits of SEO. When I write, I sort my thoughts into easily digestible chunks and keep a few keywords in mind so that my content is seen and received. I think about readability, I think about focused titles, and – as always – I think about tight, well-crafted prose.

Consider it this way: Most people, in their misguided youth, write bad poetry. They take a pen or pencil and pour vague, self-pitying words out onto the page. I was no different. When I began studying poetry in grad school, however, I began to write in recognized poetic forms: the sonnet, the sestina. The limits of these forms make writing into a puzzle: can the writer express deep feelings within the confines of rhyme, line, and stanza?

As the practitioner becomes more experienced, what were confines become more like the lines on a sheet of music or an artist’s canvas: It’s a surface on which to express wisdom.

Online chunks of information, when done well, go beyond mere slogan to say something a little more meaningful – a little more engaging. That’s the power of online content, I think.

How has your role evolved since you’ve been with Seafoam Media?

I’ve only been with Seafoam Media for a couple of months, but already I’ve become better at using the confines of SEO to my advantage. Actually, I’ve been influenced by the SEO and developer geeks on the team. I love learning about how content functions online, how it’s noticed and read, how it communicates with other pieces of the marketing puzzle. I’m thrilled that I get to add a new, forward-looking chapter to my writing life.  

Are there any unique qualities about your role as it pertains to Seafoam's marketing strategy that you'd like to share?

Seafoam Media prides itself on being a little quirky. I like to think that that’s why they gave a writer like me a chance. Although I wasn’t raised in the briar patch of online marketing, I earned my writing credentials in other ways: as a poet and an educator. If I can turn a phrase in a unique way, and put that message in the capable hands of a web developer… suddenly we’re adding craft to content and content to craft.

Are there any lessons you have learned so far that will make you better at your job as time goes on?

I’m always looking for those beautiful points of connection between Strunk & White on the one hand and Ken McCarthy on the other. I’ve learned a lot more about just how revolutionary online content and marketing can be, and I’m excited to bring a little old-school style to this space. Maybe even poetry – who knows.

A woman with shoulder-length brown hair smiling at the camera, wearing a denim jacket and a graphic tee with the phrase "What is Marketing", standing in front of a red brick wall.
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