The news is out – content is king. Everyone is writing, posting to social media and gating their content. Inbound marketers are using those outlets to find and woo their ideal buyer persona.
Sometimes, the content we are posting is great. Other times, it's the exact same thing someone else just posted or what we’ve written is bad. Typo bad. Run-on sentence bad. Tired and boring bad. Hard to read bad. Too casual and filled with slang bad.
We recently had an internal blogging contest, where we encouraged the members of our team to create a topic specific to their job role and to take a shot at writing it up. Even if they can’t write. And, here is an insight – they’ve been our best-performing blogs to date.
You know your job best. A great content writer can look through the lense and write a solid piece about most topics. But there really is nothing like specific, insider knowledge. And at the end of our contest, I was asked several times, “This was fun! How can I become a better writer?”
Learn Content Writing Basics
Non-writers fall into typos, grammatical errors and mishaps in punctuation. But the more you write, the better you’ll get! Every odd sentence or misspelling clouds your topic, so practice often to really improve your work. And read the first piece I wrote in this mini-series on Blogging 101.
Here are some more quick tips to skip the newbie phase:
Do a little research. Google “comma splice,” write some examples on post-it notes and hang them on your computer monitor. If you think there are too many commas in your sentence, there probably are. Split it into another sentence.
Only use one space between sentences (college is over).
Alot is not a word. It is two words. A lot of people get this wrong.
Too many people don’t put enough o’s in the word, “too.” An extra O means there is a lot of something. And use the one with the extra O at the end of a sentence, too. With a comma, please!
Always adhere to the way a company or person spells their name. Pull up their website and if they capitalize a letter in the middle of their logo then you should, too. If they capitalize the letters in their products or there isn’t a space between the words, follow their lead.
Only use a word once in a paragraph or section, unless it is an unavoidable product name. It makes your text more interesting.
- Use bold, underline and italics sparingly. Maybe once or twice in a blog post. Your copy should speak for itself without needing to draw extra attention to it.
Good writers use action verbs
If you want your audience to do something, tell them! I think this is hands-down the best piece of content writing advice I’ve ever received. It was a moment, so I’ll pass it along.
Do not say, “It is important to remember to try to have your audience do something that you wanted them to do when they finish reading.”
Say, “Make your audience do something.”
Yes, it messes up your word count. But look at how many fluff words were in the first sentence. Be decisive. Be specific. Use action verbs. Start sentences with a bang!
This, that and the other
Do a quick “Command F” on your keyboard and search the number of times you say, “that.” It is a fluffy, nothing word. Challenge yourself to eliminate as many fluff words as you can. Our college professors drilled rules into us about how paragraphs are started –
“In addition to that,” it’s fluff.
“On the other hand,” it’s nothing.
“And to this point,” be specific.
Again, I’m sorry about your word count. But you’re an expert. You have more to say! Swap every, “this, that and the other,” for an action verb.
I recently edited a book for a friend and gave her “that” feedback. She found 20% of just one page was a fluff word. Horror dawned on her face as she realized possibly 20% of her book was this, that or the other – words that mean very little to nothing. She is an excellent writer naturally and her book is lovely, but she had the same moment I had 15 years ago. And now her 80% book is a 100.
Use a professional content writer
If you have access to an inbound marketing agency, use them. There are content writers on staff that write successful, revenue-generating content for multiple clients, across multiple industries. Even if you want to write your own content because it is highly technical or heavy in industry lingo, run it past a content writer and ask for their input.