By Isabel Gutiérrez
When it comes to writing your content, do you tend to procrastinate? Do you find yourself directing your attention to other activities? Maybe it’s time for a cup of tea, answering emails or checking your Instagram account to see if you have more followers. If you feel related to this, don’t worry. We’ve all been there.
The reality is writing doesn’t get any easier unless you start writing. It’s as simple as that. So, make it part of your tasks, dedicate it a couple of hours a week and just sit down and write. After all, your content is the backbone of your business’s marketing strategy. No content, no awareness, no engagement. It doesn’t sound good, does it?
A lot of people tell me that they find writing really hard because they are not creative. Well, let me clarify something. We are all creative because we are born creative. Remember when you were a child and used the kitchen pans to build a tower? Creativity is more than just the ability to produce a fantastic piece of art, music or writing. Creativity is our capacity to solve a problem. To look at a challenging situation from a different perspective and find a solution.
And this is exactly what your content does. It solves your customer’s problems. It also informs, inspires, educates, entertains and delights. Your content is your business’s vision expressed through words. You want to share it with your customers, don’t you?
So, how can you make the writing process a little easier and more enjoyable?
Here are my top ten tips to help you become more confident and write more efficiently:
Structure your information clearly
Plan every piece you write in advance, so your messages are clearly laid out and in order of priority. Make sure there is a beginning, middle and end to your story and always close it with a call to action. Add white spaces between your ideas as well as relevant photography to make your page more eye-catching.
Use bold and different typefaces where applicable
Make the most important information stand out by highlighting it in another colour. Ensure you use different font styles for your headline, subheadings, quotes and main body copy. This will help your readers skim the content but still take away the most important messages.
Keep your sentences short
This applies to any type of writing you do. It’s the first thing my editor picks up and always cuts my words by half. Gulp! Our reading habits have changed and long, wordy paragraphs don’t engage as well as the short ones. Shorter and more direct sentences give your content more impact. Vigorous writing is concise. So try to keep them between 13 and 15 words. Basically omit anything unnecessary.
Use plain English
If you are a solicitor or architect, you may feel tempted to use some industry-related jargon. This could actually make you sound more snobbish than knowledgable. Stick to plain English. Make your content inclusive and available to everyone who would benefit from it.
Use active and not passive voice
What’s this? There are two ways you can talk about an action:
Active: We offer great incentive packages
Passive: Great incentive packages are offered by us
I bet you agree with me the first sentence sounds a lot better. This is because it is more definite and concise, giving the reader an immediate understanding of who is taking the action. It conveys authority. And this is what you are in your field, a leader.
Address your reader directly
A good writing piece creates an instant connection with the reader. It is, in essence, a written conversation. Regard your reader as you would do face-to-face and employ ‘you’ within your sentences. This creates a bond and makes your reader feel part of your message.
Inject your tone of voice
This is the unique way you talk and as important as your logo and visual identity. In my blog post, Your tone of voice: why it is very important and how to define it, I explain in detail how to establish your distinctive way of communicating your services and brand’s personality.
Edit and check your grammar
Give yourself time to go through your copy and pick up any spelling mistakes you may have made as well as grammatical errors. This is the time to be pretty ruthless on your word count and remove all the clutter. If you want to polish your grammar, there is a really useful little book, you may want to add to your library called The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E.B. White.
Write a killer headline
The title or headline of anything you write — web pages, social media posts or articles — is as important as your body copy, so it requires thoughtful consideration.
There are few important rules when it comes to headlines:
They must pass the blank-sheet-of-paper test. This means, if there was nothing else written on the page, your reader would still know what your content is about.
Include your keywords. This will boost your SEO and allow people searching for that word to find you.
Keep them positive. No one wants to read something sad or fearful, unless they’re looking at the news.
Use formulas that work:
[Number] reasons why X matters
How to X
What everyone is saying about X
Don’t compromise on X
X ways to
Ask a question. This is the best way to engage with your reader as it starts a conversation
Awake interest. We, humans, by nature, are nosey. Prompt your reader’s curiosity by mentioning a secret or trick you may know. What personality traits successful entrepreneurs share?
Capitalise your words. Make it as bold as possible by capitalising the first letter of every word. There is no way your reader can miss it.
And always write it at the end, so it captures the essence of your copy.
Everyone else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde’s wise words are today more relevant than ever. Ignite your content with your brand’s personality. Use your tone of voice and write in the way that comes more naturally to you.
And finally, never doubt yourself or your capabilities. Don’t let your fear of ridicule or being a fraud stop you from writing what you are an expert of. You know your trade, you know your skills, you know your customers. Simply, you know your stuff. This is more than enough to write valuable content and become a confident writer.
What do you most like and dislike about writing? Share it with us.