Creating content has been at the forefront of many freelancers, small business owners, and huge corporations. Writing, however, is a skill. And it is one that is constantly evolving and improving over time.
Writing a tweet or a blog post shouldn’t be scary and worrisome. It can be fun and a great way to educate yourself even further on topics you are passionate about.
Content marketing has become one of the keys to great brand awareness, engagement, and conversions - it makes sense to be confident in your writing ability.
Sometimes it is knowing how to start; other times, it’s trying to stop using the same word repeatedly. Whatever your writing hurdle is, here are some ways that you can improve your writing skills.
Back to Basics
If it has been a while since you have put together a piece of content or written anything more than a shopping list, then it’s time for the basics. Online courses are a great option; it can help you start to get the confidence to go further. Before you know it, you will be looking for fast typing practice and planning content for the next 6 months.
Practice Makes Perfect
Just like every skill in life, the more you do it, the better you get. With writing, not only do you get better at the basics like punctuation or spelling, you can get more creative and learn when you can break the rules of writing.
There aren’t any shortcuts to this step, it really does take time and practice to get into a flow of writing. A key consideration for content marketing is that the content you produce will also need to meet SEO standards and readability too.
Try to write something at least every day. A paragraph about your day, get very descriptive about a leaf in the garden, or write a word association game down.
The Other Side
If you want to write well, you need to read often. Some of the most renowned writers will read whenever they have a spare moment. It is great for picking up new words, sentence structures, and even tricky topics.
Explore different media too. Poetry books, novels, blogs, news pieces, research articles, and guides. Look at how the language is different in each one. This will help you understand more about tones and tempo.
Reading will also enable you to sculpt your personal writing style further.
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” ~ Stephen King
If you are working in a team at your company, then you can work alongside someone to keep yourself accountable in your practice. If you are trying to improve your writing skills on a personal level, then find someone in your friend group who is also trying to learn a new skill and work together to keep each other on track.
Set a weekly or daily goal that you can be held accountable for. Check-in at a set time each week so that you can report progress or discuss any issues.
Find articles, poetry, and books that you enjoy reading. Then start to look at why you enjoy it. What makes you keep reading? Is there anything specific in the tone or the tempo that makes it personal to the writer?
Understanding what you like to read and why you like to read it can give you insight into why readers want to finish your content too.
Rather than just think about the content, highlight it with a pen. Re-write it. Print it out and put it on a pinboard. Writing is immersive and very creative - even a piece of content on a ‘boring’ subject can be interesting and creative.
It is important to have this conversation. Plagiarism is wrong. There is no need to copy other people’s work and pass it off as your own. Plagiarism is very specific as it uses the exact words in the exact formation.
Imitation of style can be healthy for practice, though. Once you have deconstructed and analyzed why you like specific bodies of work, you have likely found a style you like. Use some of those pieces of inspiration and guidance for working on that style.
It is important to note that when you are creating work for your company, there will be brand guidelines that you will need to adhere to, so you may need to prioritize that.
Developing your own style takes time, and using other styles to practice can help you find exactly what works and feels comfortable for you. You might have a specific turn of phrase that you use or a brand of humor that translates well when written. Lean into them and see where it takes you.
There are occasions where you ponder on a topic, and when you sit down, it comes together utterly perfectly. But most often, you are going to need an outline. Planning what you are going to say and how you are going to say it can produce incredible content.
It can be very helpful to first write down the goal for your content, followed by the main points, and then some of the body points.
This quick outline will help you form your content but will also help you to stay on track when you get off-topic.
Editing your own work can be a painful process. Not only because you have to face your mistakes, but if you have a word count to meet, like 500, during editing, you can lose 50+ words.
Editing is as much of a skill as the initial writing, which is why many content companies, publishing houses, and marketing teams have in-house editors. They are more ruthless and can sculpt the content perfectly.
Writing is fun, a great creative outlet, and essential for content marketing that matters. However, it is a skill that can constantly be improved and polished for years using the simple tips above.
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