Why should best-selling authors have all the fun?
Writing for the web means that your content always has to have a ring of freshness to it. Even if it is just a summary of what you have been up to in the past week. The secret to effective writing is not rocket science. Your audience has a lot of information available to them online, so what makes your writing, something they can look forward to each week? And how do you become the kind of writer they want to read more about?
The key to writing well has little to do with your content and has a lot to do with what you have to say. A few smart changes in your approach and routine are all you need to get more readers. Successful authors and writers have cultivated certain habits that make their writing so delicious. We spoke to some professional content writers and authors to find out their secrets to successful content writing. How many of these habits can you work into your routine over the next couple of months?
Write about topics that matter to you
Shobhaa De is arguably one of the most interesting columnists in India. With several novels and soap scripts to her credit, it is her regular newspaper column that gathers the most interest, for its controversial choice of topics and her direct writing style. Shobhaa De believes that the secret to effective content writing is to write about what you know.
“Writers choose their turf and stick to it” – Shobhaa De
Working in the industry for so long has made you a subject matter expert in your own domain. Why not show off a bit about your knowledge on the subject? Everyone appreciates a real-world perspective. You can keep them on point by studying the reading patterns of your audience and working on them into a topic of choice. Just hone your inside voice, look deep into your past experiences and write from the heart about the topics that matter to you.
Keep an open mind
An unlikely author was born when former Bollywood actor Twinkle Khanna took up blogging. Through her witty writing, she’s gained quite the fan following. Including people who have never seen her act, which is probably for the best. In an interview with Vogue magazine, Khanna revealed that her secret to good writing is eating a lot of carbohydrates. And looking for good ideas everywhere.
“Examine things with a magnifying glass made up only of what-ifs.” – Twinkle Khanna
Getting your head out of your stuffy office is sometimes all you need to let the good ideas flow. Pick up a hobby, go for a bicycle ride, take a walk or just sit on your balcony watching the world go by. You would be surprised at the torrent of wild ideas that you can get just by letting your imagination go. As time goes by, note down your observations, no matter how stupid they may seem at first. These will prove useful in other writing you will do in the future.
Speak to your audience
Sports columnist, newspaper editor and leading columnist, Suresh Menon’s cricketing columnists are something every cricket fan looks forward to. His writing is sarcastic, features observational humor and always draws from real-world examples. The secret? Give your audience what they have come for. Menon believes in harnessing emotions in writing to make it infinitely more readable than a generic article.
“The best writers combine involvement with detachment, hard-nosed reality with romanticism.” – Suresh Menon
Just as you would do a sample profile of your target customer, put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Understand who your target readers are and think about what they would want to read about. Use examples from real life in your writing, and match it to the topic you are writing about. You will find that this realistic approach to writing gets you more readers than ever before.
Respect your audience
Ramachandra Guha is an Indian historian who has often been mired in controversy for his strong opinions. Despite his sometimes unpopular opinions, his writing is respected for its readability. Guha believes in writing complex topics in an easy to understand way without appearing to be too condescending.
“When you write … you are writing for several audiences at the same time. So how much can you spoon-feed a reader?”
Treat your readers like the adults that they are. Your audience is mature enough to be able to conduct their own research on a topic. They don’t want you to talk down to them. While you are focusing on your B2C content writing, wouldn’t you want some of that to also be reusable in your B2B writing? Adopt a knowledgeable yet friendly tone that will explain the topic to your readers while still appealing to a wider audience.
Don’t stop content writing
If you have been searching for tips on how to get better at social media writing, you’ve probably stumbled across at least one blog on the subject by Dave Kerpen. Entrepreneur, best selling author and social media guru, Dave certainly knows how to get his readers’ attention. His belief is that regular practice is what will get you there.
“The best way to get better at anything is to do it repeatedly.” – Dave Kerpen
Anyone can be a good writer with just a little bit of practice. Force yourself to blog on your company’s social media channel at least twice a week to get into practice. The more you choose to write, the more you learn about your own style and how to adapt it to what you are writing about. You might also be able to pick up on cues from analytics about which piece audiences preferred and which were a dud. This can help you improve your writing over several months.
Be a voracious reader
The founder of several successful companies and a top digital marketer, Neil Patel has his process down pat. His blog has an impressive readership of nearly 1.1 million readers every month. He writes about several topics to encourage marketers to meet their goals. For writers, his advice is to keep reading other great work all the time.
“I get a better education from studying authors’ best work than I do from waiting for a piece of advice from them.” – Neil Patel
It is understandable if you don’t have time to keep your nose in a book all the time. But without reading good content, how will you know how to shape your writing to make it equally palatable? Read the work of smart social marketers, browse through the work of popular authors, pick up your newspaper and go through the editorials. Every author’s work will have a hidden gem you can learn to improve your own writing.
Ask for constructive criticism
Singer/songwriter Amanda Palmer is bold and fantastically creative. While not conventionally thought of as a writer, she has some great advice to offer creative people who are working in isolation. In the Art of Asking, Amanda Palmer challenges people to seek feedback on their writing and ask for help.
“Asking for help with gratitude says: We have the power to help each other.” – Amanda Palmer
If you have been trying your hand at writing for a while now, don’t just rely on your traffic to tell you if your writing is good or need improvement. Don’t be afraid to ask professional content writers for help with finding out just where your writing needs improvement. By welcoming criticism on your work, you can grow as a good writer and your audience will immediately notice the improved style of your writing.
Write and rewrite
The bestselling author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content Ann Hadley has very clear goals for anyone trying their hand at effective writing. Her writing GPS includes a step by step process that writers can follow to create good content. The most important step is to always create a second draft.
“Shape that mess into something that your reader wants to read.” – Ann Hadley
The first draft should be your initial outpouring of thoughts on a topic. This first draft needs to be refined to check for content that is going to be of value to your audience. Strikeout sentences, shuffle them around, find new words – rewriting is not a chore. It is a valuable addition to your process as a writer.
21 days of practice?
Some of the best writers in the world started out being told their writing was crap. Today, they are respected for their work. Their only method was to constantly evolve until they succeeded in what they were trying to achieve. You, too, can find common ground with professional content writers in your quest to improve your online writing technique. If it takes 21 days to build a habit, practicing some of these writing tips starting now will certainly help you become a better writer. A Hand that inner voice a mic and throw open the doors – let your readers hear what you have to say.