The content writing industry has exploded in recent years. Blogs, websites, social media posts and email newsletters are all competing for attention. And with the increased competition comes an increased need for skilled writers to create engaging content that will keep readers reading. But how do you become a better writer? Here are 13 tips for improving your skills in this competitive field.
1. Know Your Story Before You Start To Write
Before you sit down and start typing, you need to know what your story is. What point or message do you want to convey? How will it further your business objectives? In addition to this, be sure that your opening paragraph will draw the reader in as there’s nothing as important as a great opening line to keep people reading.
2. Know Your Audience
It’s all about the audience! If you don’t know who they are then how can you possibly communicate with them effectively? The more familiar you are with their likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, the better chance you have of really connecting with them through your writing. When it comes to social media posts, for example, you need to know what type of media they like and if there is any way for you to adapt the content to suit their needs – which brings us nicely onto our next point.
3. What can I adapt?
Adapting content and working with different types of media will not only increase your chances of engaging an audience, it also shows that you are forward-thinking and willing to embrace new ways of communicating online. Email newsletters, social media posts, blog articles; all these formats exist in written form but can also be adapted into images or videos (or a combination). When adapting content look at each medium separately and ask yourself how this could be best presented via photos, infographics or video. Then do the same again with each medium.
4. Know your Numbers
Statistics are a great tool for backing up claims within your content, but only if they are relevant and useful to the reader. It’s no good using statistics that are old or irrelevant to today’s market as you will lose credibility rather than gain it. On the other hand, if you can use first-hand research that backs up your arguments then that is much better. What first-hand research can you use? Well, surveys, testimonials and case studies should all be fair game here!
5. Give Your Content Personality
Just because writing skills are important it doesn’t mean every line has to sound the same or be written in a monotone voice adding personality actually helps engage readers, especially online where there is a lot of noise and competition for attention. So inject some personality into your content to give it that human touch that people can really relate to.
6. Go Against the Grain
Being different is a great way to stand out from your competitors and attract an audience who appreciate something unique or different. If you have been tasked with creating content about a particular product or service then why not approach this from a new angle? Try thinking outside the box and come up with ideas others haven’t thought of yet – it’s easier than you think!
7. Proofread Your Content
To err is human but this doesn’t mean you should excuse errors in your writing. It may sound like nagging but proofreading your content before publishing is a must as it will give you that extra level of credibility. As well as simple spelling and grammar mistakes, be sure to check for any inconsistencies within the writing or factual errors that need correcting.
8. Avoid Jargon
Do as you would be done by! If your audience doesn’t understand certain terms then don’t use them as readers will quickly lose interest if they think they are too stupid to know what you’re talking about. You may know what these words mean but not everybody else does so avoid using industry jargon whenever possible; find alternatives to make your copy easier on the eye and more accessible for all readers.
9. Less is More
Long-winded sentences filled with lots of waffle will quickly bore readers. By keeping sentences short and to the point you will not only get straight to the point, but improve your writing style in the process. Keep paragraphs short too; there is no reason why any one paragraph should run for more than four or five lines at most.
10. Talk About Yourself
Talking about yourself may be seen as inherently egotistical but it can also help build rapport with your audience if done correctly. The key here is to talk about relevant experience within your niche so that you come across as an expert rather than someone who cannot get their own name into print! This approach works particularly well when combined with tips 9 and 11 (below).
11. Rant Sometimes
Ranting has become a hugely popular content writing technique and it’s not difficult to see why. Ranting can be filled with emotion which is great for engaging readers; this emotional aspect makes the rant feel true and honest because few people write about their own experiences without feeling anything. This means your rant can help foster a deeper connection between you and your audience as well as bring them along on your personal journey (usually involving some sort of product or service).
12. Use Co-Authoring to Your Advantage
Co-authoring articles – where two or more writers work together on the same piece – is another great way to expand your network, share knowledge and improve your writing skills. You might want to co-write a guide or instructional article for example but you could also co-write an article on your blog. This approach looks more professional than simply writing guest posts for other blogs, plus it can help you get to know other bloggers in your niche which is always a good thing!
13. Improve Your Vocabulary
Sometimes simpler is better but there are times when using words with wider connotations will improve the quality of your content. This is particularly true if you are writing about more complex topics so get out those dictionaries and learn some new phrases! A great place to start learning interesting new words is WordSurge. It’s very informative but also incredibly easy to use so even if you think your vocabulary skills are limited give it a go today!