Want to improve your writing, but not sure where to start? Here are nine tips from pros that’ll help you become a better writer in no time.
Writing has always been a powerful online tool. And with over 211 million pieces of content created daily, there’s no shortage of articles.
But while content is a great way to communicate ideas, thoughts, and emotions, truly inspiring content is hard to come by. In fact, 60 percent of marketers say creating engaging content is a huge challenge.
If you want to create better content, you need to write posts that not only reach and inspire your audience, but convince and convert.
So how do you improve your writing, and create content that people will want to read and share? And how can you amplify your content to build business authority, no matter your industry or niche?
Below are nine ways to write better content according to the pros.
1. Focus on Authenticity, Not Perfection
It’s no wonder modern marketers pay so much attention to blogging and other forms of content marketing. It offers an easy and effective way to speak to your audience, share value, build authority, and create relationships.
But to do that, you need a human element. In a FleishmanHillard survey, 55 percent of respondents said they want a mix of humor and informational brand content. And not shockingly, people said they trust that content when it comes from brands they like.
So how do you become a better writer that’s known and respected? Lose the pretense, and focus on authenticity. While this can be a difficult step to embrace, especially for Type-A personalities, there’s a huge upside.
When you step out of your perfectionist (everything must be written in the exact right way) mindset and allow content to organically happen — you build confidence in your brand and raise that know, like, and trust factor. Why? Because people connect with real people.
Steve Gutzler, president of Leadership Quest, a Seattle-based leadership development company, puts it this way: “Don’t fixate on perfection, but instead on authenticity. Also, nothing builds credibility like competency in a specified industry. Become a student and a passionate observer in your field of expertise.
“Stay green; always growing! Don’t shy away from sharing solutions that are new and fresh. People are thirsty for new paradigms in the marketplace that disrupt norms. And certainly, don’t be intimidated by other people because the world is waiting for your knowledge and unique perspective!”
2. Never Stop Writing
In 1960, Maxwell Maltz published a book called “Psycho-Cybernetics” on behavior change. In it he noted the length of time it takes is about 21 days to form a new habit. You’ve likely heard this from Tony Robbins or Brian Tracy when discussing the challenge to implement change.
The same holds true for habits within our writing. If you want to become a better writer, you need to start writing… and never stop. Inspiration is all around you. When you begin to incorporate writing into your daily routine, you’ll find it easier and easier to sit down at your computer and hammer out that next post.
So how do you find the inspiration to write, write, write, and write some more? QuickSprout founder, Neil Patel suggests:
“Start by writing down ideas as they occur to you. Make it a habit and keep doing it consistently by installing a note-taking app, like Evernote, on your mobile device.
“It doesn’t matter whether you’re having lunch with friends or waiting for a doctor’s appointment — ideas occur to us all the time. You need a way to capture them when they do so that you can turn them into a great blog post in the future.
“James Altucher recommends that you write down 10 ideas per day. Make this a daily practice and you’ll become a better writer. What’s more, you’ll never run out of ideas or experience writer’s block.”
3. Push Past the Fear and Hit Publish
Opening your content up to the world can be the scariest thing you ever do as a writer. As copywriter Beth Hayden puts it, “Sometimes when we publish something, it makes us feel like our insides are hanging out, for all the world to see. We feel vulnerable. We feel naked. We feel… terrified.”
But pushing past that fear and hitting publish can also be the most rewarding feeling. Scientists have found that repeated exposure to what we fear most lowers the psychological fear response. This makes it more manageable or in some cases, the fear disappears altogether.
The idea is that the more you expose your content to an audience eager to consume it, the easier it will become to do it repeatedly. And as I mention throughout this article, practice also makes perfect.
Jacob Warwick of ThinkWarwick Communications is a huge proponent of getting your work out in front of the public.
“The number-one way to write better content is to start publicly sharing your writing, even if the thought of doing so terrifies you. Write more about your emotions. If you’re scared or nervous, embrace it.
“Don’t be afraid to share your shortcomings or faults. We all have them, but we often only share the best times, the Instagram-worthy moments. While your insecurities may paralyze your writing, when you conquer that fear, your readers will feast on your vulnerability and appreciate the courage you mustered to share your writing.
More so, pay attention to each word you choose to use. There is a big difference between inspiration and motivation, although many people think the words are interchangeable. A thesaurus and dictionary [are] a must.”
4. Create the Right Content
It’s not enough to set a goal to “write better content.” You need to pair that goal with providing the right content to the right people. Part of that comes from knowing the type of content your audience wants to consume.
In a HubSpot survey, 55 percent of respondents said video content is the top content they will consume as opposed to simply skimming.
But does that mean video content is right for your audience? Not necessarily. It also doesn’t mean that simply pushing out promotional content is the right idea either.
And what about the quality of your content? Does it matter if you write and share new content regularly? Of course, it does. In fact, low-quality content devoid of value can damage and even kill your business.
Sharing content that:
- Doesn’t bring value to your readers
- Isn’t written with a specific reader in mind
- Is missing a clear call to action
- Isn’t supportive of your goals
….is hurting your reputation. And worst of all, you’re losing business opportunities because of it. Get clear on the type of content your audience wants as much as the stage of the customer journey they’re in.
Are they new to your company, showing interest, and ready to learn more, in the consideration phase, or eager to decide? Write content that becomes the answer your audience needs to make an educated decision.
5. Provide a Solution Your Reader Wants
Do you write for your reader? Or has your content been spur of the moment, and written based on your likes up until now?
If you haven’t taken the time to get to know your audience, it’s going to be difficult to provide the solution they need. This is an all-important fact that many writers miss and Ana Hoffman points out.
“The bad news is your audience doesn’t care about your product or service. They only care about how your product or service is a solution to their problem. The good news is you’re in business to provide solutions. You’ve got answers. You’re the person with the plan.
“Show that in your content. Strive to have a reader walk away from your content with a solution to her problem and she’ll come back, again and again.”
6. Focus on Your Strengths
Being an authoritative writer doesn’t mean you write about everything. It means you play to your strengths and become well-versed in the things that matter to your reader.
- What am I an expert on?
- What do I know that nobody else does?
- What’s the most valuable piece of knowledge I can give my audience?
To become a better writer, and connect with your target audience, stop focusing on your weaknesses. As writers, it can be a tendency to try to fix what’s broken. But that only exacerbates the problem.
Omneya Salem says, “I have tried for years and years to work on my weaknesses and improve what I was not good at. I must say, I did grow and improve. But, my growth was at a very slow rate and with gains that didn’t meet my expectations. I was still ‘not good’ at what I used to be bad at. Basically, focusing on improving my weaknesses consumed a lot of my energy, time, and attention from excelling.”
To excel as a writer, stay laser-beam focused on how to improve what you already do well. The more confident you become in your writing, the less likely you are to worry about what you’re not doing or the skills you don’t have. Instead, those perceived crippling weaknesses will become transformed into game-changing strengths.
7. Make Every Word Count
We live in a very hectic and fast-paced online world. It’s one where attention spans are dropping at an alarming rate. In a Microsoft study, it was found that our attention span has devolved from 12 seconds in 2000 to a total of eight seconds today. This means every word, every sentence, and every phrase counts.
If you want to write content that connects with your audience, you must grab their attention quickly. And if you don’t? It’s a world of instant gratification where an article other than yours (read: better than yours) is just a mouse-click away.
Enticing and engaging your readers requires that you include a handful of data-backed elements.
Write Better Headlines
Better headlines aren’t just for blog posts, Headlines or titles are found in social media, emails, videos, and more. They can be the difference between a post gone viral and one that never sees the light of day.
To improve your headline writing skills, take a few tips from writer Corey Wainwright:
- Have fun with alliteration
- Use strong language
- Make the value clear
- Make it visual
- Focus on the “whos,” not the “whys”
- Use the type of headline your reader wants
Write Longer Content
BuzzSumo teamed up with Moz to analyze over 1 million articles. What they found is that long-form content of over 1,000 words consistently gets more shares and links than shorter form content.
As you begin to write more, make it a goal to extend the length of your content. This doesn’t mean stuffing content in for the sake of it. Do your research, find interesting tidbits to share, and become a significant resource for your reader.
Write Content That Captivates
Avoid long introductions. Instead, be quick and direct — tell your readers what they’ll get from your post and how it will solve their problems.
Then, once you have their attention, make sure to hold it to the end. Keep your writing informative, interesting, and provocative.
Write Easily Digestible Content
Your content should have an easy ebb and flow. Your words should roll off the tongue and place your reader in the narrative. But too often, I find writers get lost in their own words. Instead of feeling the words, they stumble over them.
To avoid this, read your content out loud. If you find any awkward, hard-to-read sentences or paragraphs, change them. Simplicity is a skill that will evolve with your writing over time. So is keeping your writing interactive and interesting.
Work to structure your content in a way that it speaks the language of your audience, but still presents your ideas in an interesting format.
According to Geoffrey James, neuroscience plays an important role in understanding how the human brain consumes content. “The brain uses neurons in the left visual cortex to process written words as whole word units. The brain combines these words and their stored meanings to remember and understand information. This relationship between word usage and perception is hugely important in business. When you train yourself to speak and write using clearly defined words arranged into concise sentences, you’re training your brain to think more clearly.”
You’re also training your audience to clearly understand your content. So lose the mumbo jumbo, business buzzwords, and long fancy paragraphs. Speak clearly, articulate your thoughts, and write with clarity.
8. Get Active in Groups, Chats, and Tribes
Relationships matter — every marketer knows that. They push you, challenge you, and encourage you to write better… and more often.
Connecting with like-minded individuals and establishing supportive relationships will help you learn and grow. In a study done by Jostens on the power of peer influence, they found that students who had positive one-to-one interactions were more motivated to learn. They were also more inspired to pursue social and academic goals, developing an intrinsic desire to continue learning.
This is no different with adults. Surrounding yourself with writers you respect will push you to be better. It forms a foundation in your mind of what can (and will be) achieved when you commit to learning.
So, join a few industry-related groups or tribes and start interacting. You can begin with these:
- Facebook Groups
- Twitter Chats
- LinkedIn Groups
- Google Plus Communities
Take the time to read their content, identify what you like about their style. What speaks to you as a reader and what intrigues you as a writer? To add this to your daily and weekly to-do’s, do this:
- Find five to 10 of your favorite writers
- Add them to a Twitter list
- Follow them, read their content, interact with them
- Write down two to three traits of their writing that inspire you
Now mix those into your writing style. No, I am not suggesting you steal their voice. Only that you find your own. Problogger’s Darren Rowse suggests experimentation as the best way to find your groove and unique style.
“Most successful bloggers that I question tell me that on top of any natural ability that they have that they’ve spent years experimenting with different styles of writing, different types of posts, different topics, different voices, and different approaches to communicating that shape who they are today.”
He goes on to explain that, “One of the best ways to develop your writing and learn to consistently produce compelling content is to practice writing in different styles and voices.”
The bottom line? Don’t be afraid to try something new.
9. Be Consistent
Consistency matters. Whether it’s your tone of voice, message, timing, or the platform — consistently creating quality content is key to building authority, credibility, and likeability.
As a blogger, the benefits are endless. Blogging increases your odds of acquiring leads, earning traffic, and building rapport. In Hubspot’s recent “State of Inbound Report,” companies that publish 16 or more articles per month receive 4.5 times the leads than those blogging four times or less per month.
And B2B companies that blog 11 times or more per month receive three times more traffic than those blogging only once or less per month. Add those statistics to the fact that no reader will read your blog, or engage with your content if you don’t post on a regular basis, and you have a huge reason to get writing.
Plus, the added benefit as I listed above is the improvement you make to your writing by incorporating this habit.
Writing is like a muscle, the more you work it, the stronger your skills become. Letting it go one day will easily slip into two and then three. To avoid this, add writing to your calendar. Make a date with yourself to start with 500 words per day. Then work up to 1000.
You’ll be amazed at how quickly your writing evolves.
You don’t need a degree to write great content. You don’t even need a lot of writing experience to grow a huge following and become an authority.
You just need to care about your audience. Know who they are, what they need, and what problems they’re dealing with. When you know that, you can begin writing content specifically designed for them.
As you do that, your writing will steadily improve. Before you know it, you’ll write your best content ever and breeze through your posts!