Does writing content for your work or business come easily to you?
Whether it’s writing emails or developing copy for your website, it can be tough to know whether what you’re writing will have the intended impact. I mean, why sit down and spend time writing only for the wrong message to be received?
Hiring a content or copywriter is one way to overcome this challenge (and worth the investment!) but it’s not the only way.
If you’re someone who prefers writing their own content, but you still want to write a message that packs a punch, here are 10 of my go-to proven tips to help you always write content with impact.
Are you ready? Let’s get to it.
1. Write to the “one”
Harness the power of speaking directly to the reader to catch and hold their attention. Even if your content has a wide reach, write as though you’re speaking to one person rather than to the masses.
How? Use the word “you” as much as possible. Think of it as though you’re having a one-on-one conversation.
If you want to really engage your reader, avoid using “you all” and “yourselves” when addressing your audience. To hold their attention, make it all about the reader and directly address their needs and wants.
2. Keep your sentences short
When you’re reading through any text, there’s nothing worse than reading a sentence that never seems to end. Then when it does, you have to read it again because you couldn’t quite catch what was being said!
Been there? I have.
Be kind to your readers and keep your sentences short. Get straight to the point and make it easier for your readers to digest your message.
If you notice your sentence takes up more than three lines of space – split it into three separate sentences. Try it now – did you notice the difference it makes? It’s simply transformative!
3. Use simple language
When you’re writing anything for your work or business (emails, reports, blogs, articles), it’s easy to get caught up in using jargon so you sound good. Don’t fall for it!
Jargon doesn’t make you sound more intelligent, it just loses your reader. Why? Because they don’t understand what you’re saying.
If your reader has to look up the definition of the word, don’t use it. Pretend you’re writing to someone with no prior knowledge or experience in your field.
Trust me, your reader will thank you for it!
4. Less is more
You might remember reading academic papers for research projects in school. Maybe you read (or write) wordy reports for work. They take forever to read, right?
These writing types tend to be heavy on the words and overwhelming for the reader. I think we can agree that the last thing you want is for your audience to feel overwhelmed when they read anything you write.
The motto? Less is more. If you can cut a word, do it. For example: “close to” becomes “near”, “have to” becomes “must”, “the ways in which” becomes “how”.
“Cutting words is a silent, invisible gift to the reader.”
– Joe Moran, First You Write a Sentence
5. There is power in bullet points
I love bullet points. They’re the perfect cure for information overload.
Bullet points keep your content short, sweet and to the point (pun intended). Next time you list a few things in a sentence, try listing them in bullet points instead and see how much more attractive it looks to the reader.
I promise you, it’s so effective!
If you’re a business owner, use bullet points to list the benefits of your product in your next marketing email or social media caption and see how you go.
6. Don’t underestimate bold text
My next tip is to use bold text. See what I did there?
We live in a time-poor generation with a serious attention deficit. These days, it’s rare that people read your captions, emails, blogs or even books in their entirety.
It’s common for people to skim read. To make sure your content doesn’t get missed, bold a word or statement every now and then to give them the key points from your overall message.
It’s easier to read, right?
7. White space is your friend
How many times have you opened an email or clicked on an article to find large, dense paragraphs, then closed the window almost immediately? I don’t blame you.
When writing your own emails, social media captions or blogs/articles, insert more white space by hitting ‘Enter’ every 2 or 3 sentences.
This strategy makes the text less overwhelming for the reader and increases the likelihood they’ll read whatever you have to say in its entirety.
8. Use online writing tools
Do you have terrible spelling and grammar? Do you always seem to find typos in your writing after you hit “send” or “submit”?
Well, then writing tools are your new best friend! It’s hard enough to write, let alone successfully edit and proofread your own writing.
And if you think spelling and grammar aren’t crucial enough to use such tools, remember that poor spelling and grammar can alienate your audience, especially if it’s consistently bad.
A study by Dictionary.com found that when it comes to social media in particular, 65 percent of adult Americans are bothered by misspellings and improper usage of the English language.
With these tools, you can say goodbye to slopping writing!
9. Always proofread
You can read that again – always proofread. ESPECIALLY when it’s something you’re writing for work or your business.
For every typo I see in an email, memo, blog or report, I question how important it is to the person who wrote it. The next time I see an email from that person, I’m less likely to read it. I know we all make mistakes, but some are avoidable!
Typos are an easy fix; all you need to do is take the time to proofread or edit. Better yet, ask another person to review what you’ve written and they’ll pick up on things you probably missed.
The result? A high-quality piece of writing that earns you the respect you deserve.
10. Forget the rules
Your school English teacher will chastise me for this but I’ll say it anyway – yes, you can start sentences with “But” and “And”. You can also end sentences with prepositions (e.g. “with” “of” “to”).
Why? Because that’s how we speak.
Winston Churchill once said: “From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.”
The sentence sounds a bit ridiculous, right? Though formal training teaches you not to end a sentence with a preposition, there’s a time and place for it.
I say, if you’re writing conversational content, end as many sentences as you want with a preposition!
Read my rewrite of Churchill’s quote, now ending with a preposition: “From now on, ending a sentence with a preposition is something I will not put up with.”
So much easier to read, right?!
Which of these 10 tips will you try first? Let me know by leaving a comment below! Also, if you have any of your own go-to tips, I’d love to know and try them out myself.
Oyelola is a freelance writer based in Sydney, Australia. She works closely with entrepreneurs and businesses in financial services, consulting and education, writing quality-rich content to engage their readers and motivate action. When not writing for clients, Oyelola provides insights on writing, wealth and work on her Phrased with Purpose blog and shares her faith journey on her personal blog, He Speaks, I Write.