9 steps to better, more effective content writing

The first step to better copy is to understand your audience. You’ll also improve if you find your voice, avoid interruptions, use helpful tools and read authors who inspire you.


Writing sells.

You don’t have to be the world’s foremost wordsmith to produce effective content, but improving your writing will make you more successful at work.

Here are some tips:

1. Know your audience.

You’re not just writing for yourself, are you? You should be creating content for others, and it’s imperative to understand the people you’re writing for. What’s useful for them? What might help them in their jobs?

Understanding your audience will help you sharpen your message and establish a more substantive connection with your readers. Over time, knowing your audience will make the writing process easier for you, and it will make the content better for your audience.

2. Stay organized.

It’s crucial to use a content calendar to organize and strategically schedule the content you plan to publish. It’s the best way to maintain a coherent mix of monthly themes and avoid writing about the same material repeatedly.

Also, it’s wise to create an outline prior to crafting each content piece. Creating an outline will help you write faster and more clearly.

3. Read great content.

Whether it’s a book related to your field, a blog post or a novel, take time to read authors who inspire you. You’ll start to notice things that resonate with you, which you can then incorporate into your own writing.

When you read, bookmark sentences or paragraphs that grab your attention to save for inspiration when your creative well runs dry.

4. Find your voice.

Every writer has a voice. Let your personality shine through in your copy.

Maintain a conversational tone that’s not too stiff, and remember that it’s OK to be opinionated. Take a stand for what you believe in.

Keep in mind: It’s easier to write in your own voice than it is to mimic someone else.

5. Time your writing.

Writer’s block is real. If you feel stuck or fresh out of ideas, step away from the computer. Take a walk, or go get some fresh air.

When you get back to the keyboard, designate small increments of time for work. Some people use the Pomodoro Technique to get work done in bite-size slices. One of our staff members charges her computer to 100 percent, unplugs it, and then forces herself to finish the content before her computer dies. Hey, whatever floats your productivity boat.

Establishing a tangible timeline to finish something helps you focus. Deadlines force you to focus. Start small, even if it’s just 15 minutes of concentrated time before you reward yourself with a break. You can build from there.

6. Write without interruption.

During your focused writing time, don’t pause to edit. If you have an idea of what you want to write, just go with it.

Go ahead, make a mess of that first draft. Just get your ideas down on paper or the screen and then work with what you have.

7. Write sharp headlines, and make your copy easy to read.

Whether it’s the subject line of an email or the title of a blog post, you must create a compelling headline.

A/B testing is a great way to nail down what resonates with your audience. Try different kinds of headlines, and make sure you take ample time to write them. Don’t save headlines for last, nor treat them as an afterthought.

A great headline launches a reader into your story, which is where your crucial message resides. Make sure your body copy is easy on the eyes and easy for your readers to consume.

To ensure readability:

  • Avoid long paragraphs.
  • Use bullet points.
  • Use images to break up the text.
  • Use headers to break up sections of the post.

8. Edit, edit and edit some more.

Your content is a representation of you and your brand, so don’t be sloppy.

Once you finish a post, step away for a few hours, and come back to review it with fresh eyes. If you’re not great at editing, have another person give it a second review.

9. Use helpful tools.

Take advantage of resources that can improve your writing. Here are a few to consider:

  • Grammarly will help you find and eliminate grammatical errors.
  • Hemingway analyzes your writing and suggests how to make your copy easier to read.
  • Focus blocks distracting websites, such as Facebook and Reddit, when you’re trying to get things done.

John Jantsch is president of Duct Tape Marketing. A version of this post first appeared on the Duct Tape Marketing blog.

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