Content marketing works–blogs, newsletters, fresh web content and social media—it positions you as an industry expert and increases your SEO value, helping you show up in search engines. It takes a commitment, with steady, quality posts that inform, enlighten and entertain.
It’s a whole lot easier if you’re a good writer
But let’s face it. Content marketing’s a whole lot easier if you’re a good writer. Can you become a better writer? Absolutely. A good place to start is by paying attention to the writing of your favorite authors and columnists. Think about what makes the message compelling and why you look forward to reading these columns every week. It doesn’t have to be anything scholarly. I’ve become a sports fan over the last few years and I never miss Scott Ostler’s columns. A seasoned expert with a deep respect for sport’s traditions and rituals, he’s also thoughtful, funny, clever and is able to consistently come up with insights that set him apart from many of his colleagues.
Here are 3 tips for becoming a better writer:
- Use as few words as possible to make your point. For most business writing, less is more. Think economy. My time-tested method for getting rid of excess is to draft something one day, then come back and edit it the next. You’ll be amazed at the clarity that 24 hours provides. This does require being proactive; this will not work for those who put everything off until the last minute, but this is the single most effective editing tactic I know.
- Don’t use big words when common, everyday words will work. This is about communication, remember? You’ll turn your readers off with pretentious vocabulary. Write as if you were talking to someone. Your goal is to make your writing accessible.
- Improve your vocabulary. I just read an article pointing out how overworked the adverb “very” is. Rather than using very + an adjective, select a more descriptive adjective, one that creates a visual for your reader. This chart provides some excellent alternatives to the overworked very/adjective combinations. Rather than saying ‘very capable’, say ‘accomplished’. Rather than ‘very neat’, say ‘immaculate’. These words are common adjectives with which everyone’s familiar, yet they are more descriptive than their antecedents.
Finally, here are two quotes about ‘Very’. I heard the Mark Twain quote years ago and always subconsciously apply this to my own writing.
- Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. –Mark Twain
- ‘Very’ is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen. —Florence King