These days we’re all marketers. If you’ve got a website, if you’re publishing a newsletter and/or a blog and posting to social media, you’re involved in content marketing. It’s a great way to build an audience and increase visibility. One catch–you have to be able to write. If you’re a crappy writer, content marketing’s not going to work for you, but you can become a better writer.
Give your writing time to percolate
If you’re using Twitter successfully, you’ve already learned a valuable lesson in consolidating your thoughts into simple 140-character bursts, and editing is key to good writing. My methodology is to give myself plenty of time before a deliverable date to draft an article or blogpost. I like to come back to it later, preferably in 24 hours, and edit the hell out of it. You’d be amazed at the perspective and objectivity that time provides. I wonder why I used clumsy sentence structure or took so long to make a point. This method provides so much clarity; it allows me to quickly make edits, tightening up an article to make it more compelling.
Less is always more
When it comes to effective business writing, think fewer words and simple sentence structure. Forget elaborate adjectives and vocabulary. Make it accessible. Make every single word count. I just read an article by a financial expert and his recommendation was to pretend that each word costs you $100. If you have to reach into your pocket and shell out $100 each time you use a word, you’re going to make sure that every single word is mission-critical; you’re going to make your point quickly and as persuasively as possible. (To think about: Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was just 272 words, and who doesn’t recall “Fourscore and 40 years ago . . .)
A few other tips to keep you on the straight and narrow
- After each sentence or bullet point ask yourself “So what?” If you can’t provide an answer, it’s irrelevant, so lose it.
- For a lengthier email or report, clearly define your primary message, frontloading it so it lives in the first paragraph. Don’t be so arrogant as to assume that anyone’s going to read every word.
- Make sure that the contents of an article or email are clearly defined in the subject line or title.
- If an image will help summarize or illustrate a point, use it.
- People have extraordinarily short attention spans. Share good information that clearly informs, entertains or solves problems.