Allow me to let you in on a little secret. You don’t have to be the best writer in the world to produce effective content, but you do need to create that content if you want to be a successful marketer, so it’s important you do what you can to improve your content writing. The best part is, it get’s easier over time, I promise (and your writing will get better as well).
Here are some tips that have helped me along the way.
1. Know your audience
Here’s the thing, you’re typically not writing content just for yourself to consume, you creating it for others, so it’s imperative that you understand the ins and outs of who you’re writing for. Knowing your audience isn’t just a writing best practice, this is a business and marketing must as well.
Understanding your audience will help you focus in on your message and create your voice, which over time, will make the writing process easier for you, and the content better for those you are creating it for.
2. Stay organized
I, along with many other marketers, use a content calendar to organize the content I’ll be developing in the near future. It helps to develop monthly themes that I can write about to help me stay on track as well as ensure I’m not writing about the same material too much. For more information on how I put this together, I highly recommend that you check out my post titled, How to Systematically Create an Annual Editorial Calendar.
Along the lines of being organized, when it comes to the piece of content itself, I suggest you create an outline prior to diving in. I may be taking you back to your high school days with this one, but developing an outline can work wonders. Having a clear path for your content will help you write faster and more clearly.
Reading has helped me find my own style and voice more than any other way. I find the more I read, the better I write. Whether it’s a book related to your field or a fictional novel, it doesn’t matter. You’ll start to notice things that resonate with you along with things you’d like to incorporate in your own writing.
When you read, bookmark messages or highlights that grab your attention to save for a rainy day for inspiration.
4. Find your voice
Knowing your audience will help with this, but it’s important to really develop an understanding of the tone you’d like to use throughout your writing. I find it helpful to write like I talk and keep it conversational. Remember that it’s also OK to be opinionated; I actually think it’s important in many cases.
Trust me when I say it’s easier to write in your own voice and use your own personality that it is to try to mimic another.
5. Time your writing
Writer’s block is real. We’ve all experienced it and in the times when it’s the hardest, I’ve found the best way to refocus is to step away for a bit and when you get back, set small increments of time to put your head down and focus. Some people use techniques like the Pomodoro Technique to get this done, where others do it their own way. I know one of the gals on my staff will charge her computer to 100%, unplug it, and force herself to finish the content before her computer dies…hey, whatever floats your boat.
Knowing you have a finite timeline to finish something will help you focus. Start small, even if it’s just 15 minutes of concentrated time before you reward yourself with a break. You can build up from there.
6. Write without interruption
During your focus time, don’t pause to edit. If you have a thought process, just go with it. You may go back and read it and realize it doesn’t make any sense later on, but just get your ideas down on paper and work with what you have from there.
7. Writing the content
Use a compelling headline
Whether it’s the subject line of an email or the title of a blog post, you must create a compelling headline, because more often than not, people really do judge a book by its cover in the literal sense. You must create a headline attractive enough to make your reader want to know more. A/B testing is a great way to nail down what resonates with your audience. There may be some trial and error with this at first, but it’s important you lock it down if you want people to consume your content.
Make it easy for your audience to follow
If you’re writing a blog post, for example, create a post that is easy on the eyes and easy for your reader to consume. I’d recommend:
- Avoiding long paragraphs
- Using bullet points
- Using images to break up the text
- Using headers to break up various section of the post
8. Edit, edit, and edit
Your content is a representation of you and your brand, so don’t be sloppy. Once I finish a post, I step away from it for a few hours and then come back to look it over with a fresh pair of eyes. If you’re not great at editing, have another person give it a second review.
9. Use tools
There are many tools out there that can help you with your writing so do your research and decide which is better for you. Here at Duct Tape Marketing, we’ve dabbled with a few and here are a couple to kick off your exploration:
- Grammarly will help you instantly eliminate grammatical errors and will help to enhance your writing.
- Hemingway analyzes your writing and helps to identify ways for it to be clearer and easier to read.
- Focus blocks distracting websites, like Facebook and Reddit, when you’re trying to get things done.
There you have it! Those are just a few of my quick tips, but I know there are tons out there. What are some of yours?