Writing is like country music. You either love it or hate it (I’m in the former camp.) But whether it’s the bane of your existence or the love of your life, writing is an essential skill everyone should have in their arsenal. Especially when it comes to content marketing. Today we're going back to the basics and sharing content marketing tips on how to write well.
Why it matters
Let’s get one thing out of the way. Everyone can write. Like any acquired skill, it takes time, work and practice. We’re not talking Hemingway or Shakespeare — just solid, concise writing that will help you achieve your business and content marketing goals.
Good writing is invaluable. It drives your content strategy, whether in a blog post, email, Facebook ad, white paper or business plan. As an entry level coordinator, it will help you draft emails, business communications and marketing pieces, making yourself an invaluable resource to the company. As a CEO or executive, clear concise writing enables you to communicate your vision, business goals and purpose to your company, shareholders and customers.
Why blogging matters
Blog posts drive traffic to your website. Every time you hit publish, it’s one more indexed page on your site, and one more opportunity to be found in search results (when properly optimized.) Blogging also humanizes your brand. It’s a chance to showcase your company’s values and establish yourself as an industry expert. When done consciously and done well, blogging is a key tool for your business.
How to write a blog post (or any piece of content)
People are intimidated by writing. Sitting down to write content from start to finish is overwhelming.
So I'm going to keep it simple. For today's content marketing tips, we’re not talking content strategy, SEO or how to distribute your content — we'll save that for another day. These are step-by-step instructions on how to produce a piece of content from start to finish. Apply them to a blog post, infographic, press release, white paper, eBook or report.
- Brainstorm. Get all your ideas out on paper. What do you want communicate? Who’s your audience? Are you addressing employees, coworkers, customers? What do you want them to walk away with? What's the next action you want them to take? Having the purpose solidified will help guide your writing rather than just winging it.
- Outline. Once you completed your brainstorm, compile it into an outline. This is a key step most people miss. While it seems like all lot of initial work, an outline will help you organize your thoughts and make the actual writing process much easier. Trust me, it’ll save hours of staring blankly at your screen.
- Embrace the ugly first draft. I’ll let you in on a secret. No professional writer gets it perfect on the first draft. We just don’t. It’s during the editing phase where truly great writers shine. Don’t agonize through every sentence or try and nail the opening line on the first try. Just get it all out, even if the sentence structure and grammar isn’t perfect. You’ll tackle that later. (p.s. the ugly first draft is also the secret to beating writers block — just do it and get it done. You can clean up the word vomit later.)
- Leave it alone. Forget about it. Once you hit the final word count, take a break. Work on another task, leave it for the day, or go take a walk. Especially if you don’t enjoy the writing process, taking a quick break will refresh you and help you get a new perspective.
- Edit, edit, edit. Go back to your first draft and read it through. Edit out any unnecessary filler words. Look for long, run-on sentences. Be direct whenever possible. Spell check is your friend. Don’t rely on the Wordpress editor or Google docs. Read it aloud — it will help you catch mistakes and long winded sentences. If you’re struggling to read it aloud, it probably needs some work.
- Keep at it. Consistency is key in writing and content marketing. It's the key to finding your voice, building a following and improving your skills.
P.S. We’ve been successful in launching employee blogging programs to motivate employees to create great content — you can read about it here.