Starting out 2019 with a goal to put your business on the map? Having consistent, high-quality content is still one of the best ways to attract readers and to convert them to leads, customers and supporters,
Here are a few principles for content writing that will help you start the year right:
- Keep your eye on your reader:?It’s?a?common?pitfall. You get so caught up in what you want to get across that before you know it you’ve lost sight of the people you’re trying to reach. Have a clear picture of the concerns of your readers/ community/ potential clients in mind as you write. Keep asking yourself, ‘So, what? Why should they care?’
- Don’t leave you out of it: On the other side of the coin, make sure that you inject a bit of what makes your brand unique. Give your perspective, your voice, your story. Having clear?guidelines for your tone of voice and brand will help you to be consistent about it.
- Stay out of your way: When your content is on fire there’s a certain momentum to it. You’ll know when you’re in the zone because you’ll get a buzz from writing it. When you’re excited about what you’re writing about it’ll come through. Keep your internal editor out of this stage of the process, and don’t get distracted. There’ll be time enough later for editing your grammar, sentence structure, rogue words, relevance, etc.
- Tell a story: People engage with personal stories. It’s a great way to connect with your potential customers and to inspire them to see the possibilities. Collect story ideas .. about yourself, your brand, your staff, etc.
- Be concise: Editing is your friend. When I’m ‘in the zone’ I often go over my word count. Later, I return to it a second and third time to tighten up the copy. It?s hard to be brutal with yourself, especially when you feel wedded to a particular turn of phrase or description. Ask yourself, ?Is this paragraph necessary?’ ‘Do I really need to say it this way?’ ‘Will my readers understand or care??
- Keep it simple: Simple doesn’t mean dumbing down your writing or eliminating jargon. It’s more a matter of understanding the language that your ideal client would respond to. The aim here is for clarity.
- Have?them?at?hello: With some content, you need to have your readers at your headline and your opening?sentence or they’ll click away. Headlines should be snappy and snag their attention. Go for the straightforward headlines rather than the clever ones.
- Tackle your grammar gremlins:?Bad memories of school grammar lessons? Thankfully you don’t have to return to the classroom to address simple grammar issues nowadays. You can sort out common grammar mistakes with online resources, such as the Oxford dictionary, Grammarly and plenty of articles to help you check your use of its and it’s, for example.
- Read it out loud: Things often sound better in our heads. By reading it aloud you can spot the sentences that don?t quite flow or words that seem out of place.
- Get someone to proofread it: After toiling over your content you’re bound to miss something. Having an external eye to check your copy will help give a fresh perspective. Get a colleague or friend to have a look before going live.
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