If you’re serious about growing your business, you need amazing content. The great news about writing for your business? You’re already the expert! While writing engaging content isn’t easy (most business owners aren’t professional writers, after all), it’s one skill worth developing.
Here are 20 ways you can begin improving your writing skills today. Keep these tips handy for the next time you get a case of writer’s block.
1. Know your audience
- Speak their language, know their terms and don’t bog them down in lingo.
- Address their biggest problems and offer creative solutions.
- Take a look at your top 10 percent of customers. What can you write to attract more of them? Create a persona around the type of person (and business) you want to attract and write as if you were talking directly to them.
2. Tell stories
- Stories paint pictures and help people make connections with your business.
- When crafting your story, think about answering the question “why” and not “what” or “how.” Working your experience or opinion into your writing is a surefire way to produce unique content that helps you stand out from other businesses.
- Give examples of how customers could use your product or service to solve a problem, describe how a service/product is used or spotlight real customers who have used your services in the past.
3. Focus on quality, not quantity
- Producing mass quantities of poorly written content won’t help anyone and can hurt your business’s reputation.
- Focus on a few ideas that deliver real, actionable value to your readers. You are incorporating your call to action into your writing… right?
4. Write something you’d want to read
- What do you read every day? It’s no secret that great writers are also big readers!
- Expand your own reading list to other industries and formats. PDFs and podcasts count – not all writing has to live on paper.
5. Research other writers
- Do a little Googling and find other people who cover similar topics. What do they do well? What can you do better?
6. Be mindful of spelling and grammar
- Resources like Grammarly and Thesaurus can be a writer’s best friend!
- Interested in becoming a grammar geek? Check out Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl blog and podcast.
7. Determine what you want to be known for
- Complete this sentence: “I’m the expert in ____________.”
- Your writing should follow this theme.
- Ask your peers or customers what they feel you are the “go to” person for.
8. Use images
- Photos fill in the gaps where words fall short. If you’re struggling to explain a concept, images can help your readers understand.
- They also break up longer chunks of text and give the reader’s eyes a break.
9. Get a second set of eyes
- Everybody needs an editor. Everybody. This is especially true when you’re first starting out. Ask a friend or a trusted colleague for five minutes of their time. You’ll be glad you did.
10. Do your homework
- Never push out content just for the sake of pushing out content. Even when you’re writing about a topic you know inside and out, you need to do your research.
- Find out what others have already written on the topic and make sure your information is up to date.
- Attribute resources and links as necessary.
11. Always brainstorm
- Have you ever had a great idea in the shower? You’re not alone. Keep a running list of ideas, no matter how far-out they initially seem. You never know what you can use or iterate on in the future!
- Pick a way to capture ideas and be consistent with it. Great ideas are useless if you can’t find the sticky note you wrote it on.
12. Write a messy first draft
- Have you heard the Hemingway quote, ‘Write drunk, edit sober’? There’s actually some truth to that. Your first draft of anything won’t be perfect. That’s the point, it’s a first draft. Get your thoughts down first, then edit and refine.
- Check out what Ann Handley has to say about writing a messy first draft.
13. Stay tuned-in
- Populate your RSS feed with industry news. Find out where your customers hang out online and join the conversation. Check out new blogs that interest you. You never know what will spark an idea!
- Subscribe to newsletters from your clients, vendors and other interesting content providers.
14. Ask for feedback from your readers
- … and show that you’re listening – put that feedback to work!
- Ask for feedback via your blog and social media accounts. If you feel the feedback may be a bit more critical, ask for it in a form that isn’t public – like email!
15. Include a call to action
- For any content you create, define the expected outcome for your readers. In other words, what do you want the reader to have accomplished when done reading your article? Make your call to action obvious!
16. Make it shareable
- Ask yourself: Would I share this content with friends or colleagues? If the answer is no, rethink your message.
- Add Click To Tweets in place of short form quotes in your articles so readers can easily share your content.
- When adding images to your writing, think about how they would look on their own and not wrapped inside an article. Make the images uniquely shareable on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.
17. Get inspired by other experts
- Need direction on who to look up first? Check out content experts like Ann Handley and Joe Pulizzi.
- Read what other writers read!
18. Find out how your readers prefer their content
- Everyone is different. Executive-level professionals tend to like audio content because they can listen while traveling or working. Many small business owners gravitate to videos so they can watch and learn on their own schedule (which is very, very busy).
19. Be consistent
- Commit to producing a specific number of content items per week/month, but don’t overcommit. It’s better to produce slowly than burn out because you can’t keep the pace!
20. Have fun with it!
- Writing shouldn’t be a chore. You’re already passionate about your business, so let that shine through in your content.
- Think about adding humor to your writing. No one says business has to be boring!
Writing compelling content is the most important – and most difficult – aspect of marketing. Don’t give up! Try out some of our tips and share your own with us in the comments.