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Make Your Site Sell! 2002


Make Your Words Sell



Brian Carter, acupuncturist, herbalist, and author

Online Writing for Acupuncturists

by Brian Benjamin Carter

Hey, Acupuncturist!

Are you...

  • Starting your own website?
  • Writing an article for a wonderful online journal like the Pulse? :)
  • Or even just emailing patients or prospective patients?

Then you need to know how to make your words work on the World Wide Web.

Why Listen to Me?

I've been in web design for 10 years, and I've been writing about Chinese Medicine online for 3 years. I've written (as of June 2002) and published more than 100 articles, and they've been read and enjoyed by more than 20,000 unique visitors.

That's a pretty awesome audience- nothing to sneeze at! Plus, it's opened up unexpected writing and networking opportunities. This never could have happened so fast, or so affordably without the World Wide Web. I think it's about time to start passing on my secrets. I'm putting on my Yoda hat... are you ready?

Jump to:

Why Should You Write on the Web?

Because you can...

  • Reach gobs of people both near and far... peers, M.D.'s, and future patients
  • Generate some good old-fashioned career "mo" (momentum) with the amazing power of the WWW, and...
  • Save time and money

It's an astounding opportunity that's overlooked and under-used... I would love to see acupuncture flourish in the U.S.

I'd love to see your practice and/or writing career explode as a result of smart online writing!

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The Basics

First, the basics of good writing… you can learn these at your local high school. Just kidding! But seriously folks, some people have more trouble at writing than others… Some suggestions:

  • Frequent reading pays off because you see good grammar and spelling in action.
  • Use your your word processing program's grammar checker.
  • Find a pre-publishing proof reader.

Online Writing that Works

I've learned some valuable lessons about...

  • What NOT to say,
  • What TO say, and
  • HOW to say it!

The web is a different animal… people read and act differently online than anywhere else. There are special tricks and tips for writing on the web.

What Great Web Writing is NOT

Great online writing is NOT...

  • Scientific or scholarly literature
  • The King's English
  • Strunk & White (they wrote the classic "Elements of Style" - sorry guys)
  • What your 12th grade English teacher taught
  • What your Practice Management Guru advises

Personality Sells!

I try to emulate people like Dave Barry. Ok, so he's a humorist and you're a "Health Professional"... so what? He's got personality. More importantly, he conveys it. People like real people- you've got to seem like one online... even if you're not. Kidding again!

Start an E-Newsletter For Free

You can start an online newsletter for free… Email newsletters are a good way to stay in touch with patients, inform future patients, and keep yourself visible. There are some great and reputable email-group providers out there that manage the whole thing for you! I used Topica.com until I could afford to pay for a better service like Constant Contact. Compare this strategy (free and automated) to the cost of publishing your own snail-mail newsletter monthly. Oh, the headaches of layout, printing, and cost... Yuck!

How'd I Get So Smart? The Bible of Online Selling

Apart from being born full-grown with natural wisdom and insight, and being Albert Einstein's long-lost orphan-daughter's grandson (no, not really)... Many hours of brainstorming showers ("Everyone has great ideas in the shower… not everyone acts on them" - Jim Collins).

I must confess that equally as many of my good ideas come from the Bible of online selling, Make Your Site Sell! 2002 (MYSS! 2002). It's like the Bible in both authority and length; I haven't even read the whole thing yet, because its 4 books are a total of more than 1000 pages. It talks extensively about what makes the difference between a good site and a bad one. And it keeps giving me more good idea... like a spark-plug. Check it out.

For more about MYSS! 2002... Go to:

- or -

  • Download a free introductory copy (limited version, but still plenty of good info). It's 1.6 megabytes... so if you're on a slow connection, be patient! Less than a minute though for you high-speeders. You'll need WinZip to unzip it... you can get that for free here. Read the ReadMeFirst.txt file first!

If it seems like MYSS!2002 covers more than you need, stay tuned- I'll talk about a more specific resource for online writing later.

To Qi, or Not to Qi - Writing Chinese Medicine

The question is, when writing for the public, how much Chinese Medicine language do you use? Do you say qi, or "energy"? Do you write spleen, Spleen, Spleen-system, or "digestive function"? If we rephrase everything in English and leave out the chinese medicine concepts, are we betraying the medicine and fostering inaccuracies? But if we use CM terms all the time, don't we run the risk of turning off M.D.'s and skeptical future patients? I prefer a middle of the road solution. I don't go into all the pathomechanisms until they already understand the basics of CM… in your practice, if you've noticed, each patient has to be educated. When you write to who knows who, you have to take into account the lowest common denominator… the patient who knows nothing about CM.

Common Patient Misconceptions

You know how when you tell them you're treating their Liver, they start to think that something is wrong with their liver organ? If they escape from your office with that misunderstanding, it may get back to their MD who will decide you're a duck. I mean a quack. In this case and many others, we have to over-communicate. It's rather redundant, though, isn't it... to say the same thing to 500 patients? You could write a Frequently Asked Questions brochure or handout for your patients on these recurring topics.

More Web Writing Style

Another great tip I got from MYSS! 2002 was the fact that text on the web reads better when it comes out more like the spoken word... and it's ok to start a sentence with 'And', or use those three little periods... so that whatever comes to mind gets written as is. That's right, you can exorcise your English teacher. Just visualize stuffing a chalkboard eraser in his mouth the next time you hear him yell 'Fragment!' (But if your oversight committee won't adjourn, it's perfectly fine to seek professional help.)

If you want to go deep with web-writing, go to the experts. The same company that offers Make Your Site Sell! 2002, offers a resource called Make Your Words Sell.

Do I need to tell you why selling is relevant?

  • You want to write on the web about your practice and your medicine,
  • You want to get your message across, and
  • You want them to respond.

...right? Well, then you need to "sell" them. Hey, if you're like I used to be, you hate the idea of selling anybody anything. But the fact is, selling is just communicating. And you want to communicate- that's why you're reading this article.

- or -

More About Online Writing for Acupuncturists

When I opened up the Pulse for columnists, I had to come up with some writing guidelines. As I was writing this, I realized I should probably include those for you to see... if you want more, just head on over to Writing for the Pulse... Writing Guidelines.

And don't forget... EDIT EDIT EDIT. One of those Strunk & White guys (I forget which) edits 9 times before publishing. That's a bit anal, I think... I edit 3 or 4 times before publishing. You'd be amazed how much you can improve your article or webpage the 4th time. Make sure you go away and come back to it fresh between edits.


Writing for the web is different. It's not a scholarly paper. It's not the evening news. It's more like a commercial, or a Seinfeld episode. You've got to grab their attention and keep it. Be personable, unique... weird, even. I know, that comes natural to you. Kidding again! (By the way, instead of writing "naturally" which would be the correct adverb, I realized that it threw off the flow, and changed it to "natural." It's wrong, grammar-wise, but it's right for the web!)

I wish you E-njoyable Writing!


All information herein provided is for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of appropriate local experts and authorities.
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