Content is king. This a phrase you’ve probably heard preached throughout countless marketing blogs. We’re living in the age of content generation, which means writing skills are more important now than ever.
But what if you didn’t go to journalism school? Although having formal training certainly helps, almost anyone can become a decent writer with some hard work and determination.
If you’re tasked wth creating content for your business, or perhaps you just want to become a better blogger, here are six tips for creating better content.
1. Have a plan
All writers, even the most seasoned, have a plan before they sit down and begin writing. That plan could be a detailed outline, or it could be some ideas scribbled on a napkin. It doesn’t matter how fancy the plan looks, just as long as there is a plan. Having a plan allows you to build a simple framework for your writing, which in turn, makes putting pen to paper a lot easier. Here are a few suggestions for how to best “set up” your next content piece:
- Start with a list of ideas you’d like to communicate to your audience
- Trim down that list to two or three things that you think you can expand on
- Find examples for those ideas that will help support your argument
- Flesh out those points with connective sentences so your writing starts to read more like a story instead of a bulleted list
2. Omit needless words
If you went to journalism school, you’ve definitely had “omit needless words” drilled into your mind. This mantra applies to any kind of writing. Likened to “trimming the fat,” omitting needless words helps consolidate your writing so the only thing you have left is “the good stuff” — the stuff people want to read. If you think a sentence can be tossed, there’s a good chance it should be.
3. Stick to one idea
Most readers are easily overwhelmed if they have several ideas coming at them at once. Instead of packing in everything you think the reader should know, stick to one idea and emphasize the heck out of it. By doing so, your writing will have a more powerful and lasting effect.
4. Get personal
If you’re looking to add more flavor to your writing, then get personal. People tend to remember personal stories more than a list of facts. The greatest writers use examples from their own lives to drive in points. Also, your reader will have a greater sense of trust if they feel like they know you on a personal level.
5. Include action items
If you’re writing for a specific audience and want them to take action after reading your content, make sure to include some kind of “next steps” portion. This can include additional resources where your reader can get more information on a similar topic, or links to previous pieces of content that might benefit the reader.
6. Get a second opinion
Find someone you trust and let them give your work a good read. Iconic writers like Stephen King would call this person the “ideal reader,” because they’re probably a part of your ideal audience and can offer constructive criticism that could make your writing better. Remember, the first draft is never going to be great — it’s the tenth one, the one that has been under the microscope, that’ll be your best work.