When your company’s blog posts, articles, emails and social media updates are poorly written, your target audiences will ignore them. That means you’re missing out on opportunities to engage with existing and prospective customers.
Here are 10 ways to improve your content writing.
- Spend more time on the headline. Content writers are often too quick to publish material with the first headline they can think of. Leading copywriters suggest spending as much time crafting the headline as the rest of the content. Creating informative, attention-grabbing headlines can increase readership substantially.
- Don’t bury ‘the lead’. In the language of journalism, the lead is the central idea or argument. It is almost always best to clearly state it in the opening paragraph. Readers won’t persevere if it takes 10 paragraphs to understand the crux of the content.
- Deliver what you promise. Together, the headline and lead make a promise about the type of information readers can expect further down. If you don’t deliver on that promise, you’ll undermine readers’ trust.
- Be relevant. Research your audience. Beautiful prose with an attention-grabbing headline and a clear, pertinent lead aren’t enough if the rest of the piece doesn’t align with prospective readers’ interests, needs or preferences. It won’t help them or your business.
- Speak your readers’ language. If you know your audience comprises only technology industry professionals, you may get away with using some ‘tech’ terms. For most audiences, however, keep the language simple.
- Remove redundant words and phrases. Writing economically aids readability and encourages readers to continue to the end of the content item. For example, use ‘to’ instead of ‘in order to’, and ‘during’ rather than ‘during the course of’. While you’re at it, delete unnecessary adverbs – they’re the words that usually end in ‘-ly’. For instance, instead of ‘extremely clever’, just use ‘clever’ or perhaps ‘brilliant’.
- Use the active voice. Readers usually find it easier to read sentences written in the ‘active’ rather than the ‘passive’ voice. For example, write ‘The CEO signed the contract’ rather than ‘The contract was signed by the CEO’.
- Borrow authority. Include references to authoritative third-party information or opinions that support your ideas and arguments. Be sure to attribute that content.
- Use contractions. Contractions can make writing more conversational and less stilted. Use ‘you’re’ instead of ‘you are’, and ‘it’s’ instead of ‘it is’.
- Never publish anything without reading it through several times to check for typos, spelling mistakes, factual errors and awkward language. Reading the content out loud can help you identify whether it flows easily or is too stiff and formal.
Learning to write clearly, succinctly and persuasively can be a huge asset for your personal and professional development, and the success of your business.