There’s something a little bit mythical about being a writer. When your profession is actually, “writer,” as mine has been for the past few years, people will often sigh longingly and say, “I’ve always wanted to be a writer,” then ask, “What’s your best advice for someone to get into writing?”
The best advice I can give any aspiring writer is to write.
That sounds so obvious but people tend to try to find all manner of hacks to improve their writing skills without doing this simple, most obvious practice. You can be a great writer, if you will take the time to write every single day. That’s it.
People will then ask, “What do you write about?” or “How do you come up with ideas?” There are ideas everywhere! Take a cue out of James Altucher’s advice and try to write down 10 ideas a day for your business, for someone else’s business or even just about writing prompts or stories you could write. Journaling is a great entry point to writing, too, by the way.
If you want to be a good writer, write.
From there, I can give you plenty of other advice that’s specifically related to business writing, or rather content writing, for your marketing and PR efforts.
While taking the time to write blog posts, editorial pieces, articles, reviews, white papers, and guest posts may just seem like just one more thing you have to do in your busy day, the reality is that creating this kind of consistent presence within your industry can become invaluable for you. I often advise my clients to go this route for two reasons; one, you create really great content to promote your business and two, you get in the habit of writing which in turn, makes you a better writer.
And when you’re a better writer, you’re frankly better.
You communicate better, you read more, you look for stories, and you notice life around you more – always looking for the opportunity, idea or angle to create a great piece of content.
Developing your writing skills will make you a little more awesome.
Aside from your general personal awesomeness, here is a look at a few other tips and tricks to establish yourself as a leader, promote your brand awareness and craft unparalleled content.
1. Deliver On the Title
Click bait titles have become all too common in the online publishing atmosphere and readers are slowly beginning to catch up to this trend. While a catchy title will bring in more traffic in the beginning, it is not going to result in long-term leadership. While lists do very well, you need to deliver on the list and provide real value. Provocative and controversial titles are a great way to get people to engage with your content, but ensure you’re delivering what you promise, in fact over deliver on your title and promise and don’t be controversial just for the sake of a hook. Really put the meat behind your hook or you’ll lose traffic, and credibility, quickly.
2. Make Your Writing Actionable
Fluff is great on a bunny, but bad in a story. That sentence right there was fluff. People will pick up on worthless filler content and stop reading your work if you don’t deliver the goods. We live in a share economy now. People and businesses that thrive are based on sharing, i.e. Uber, Airbnb, even Tesla share open source information about the engineering of their electric car. The new medium in today’s share economy is give more than you take. Don’t hoard your knowledge or insights, give them away freely. Your readers want information that is actionable and applicable to their life. Giving them the story and the solution, along with something to do at the end of the articles will engage them on multiple levels, which means a more powerful message. Share what you know and you’ll be a better writer and create more valuable content.
3. Be Accurate with Sources and Statistics
Many people writing content are making the mistake of blatantly, or inadvertently, plagiarizing. When you wrote papers in school, you had to cite sources. The same goes in the online world. Even if it’s easier to get away with stealing other people’s ideas, quotes or research, it’s the wrong thing to do and it weakens your credibility. The great thing about the online arena is you can simply hyperlink or mention sources, no bibliography or references section necessary. It’s far too easy to be so lazy that you plagiarize. You have the power to check on facts, numbers, and statistics. If your information is not backed up with hard facts and linked to them, you’re making a mistake and missing an opportunity to provide some real value. Back up your writing with relevant sources and statistics.
4. Make the Information Easy to Digest
Information is all about aesthetics. The human eye tends to naturally move about the screen looking for visual clues on the overall goal of the page, and this means that information must be broken up to become digestible. Anything that breaks up blocks of writing such as subheadings, lists, quotes, numbers, and media will liven up the page. Take the time to organize your writing accordingly.
5. Tie Your Writing Together
Finally, it is important to think of your content as an ongoing storyline. The more you can reference your own writing, the more engaged people will be with your website. Stick with the theme, brand and voice of your site and your culture overall to keep thing cohesive. Another important part of your writing is to keep not only the tone and voice consistent, but the timing, too. Get yourself on a regular posting schedule so readers know when to expect another great piece from you and your site.