6 Tips To Improve Your Writing SkillsElance_Alex | Nov 02, 2009
The need for killer content for businesses and entrepreneurs continues to grow at an amazing pace. Whether it’s a blog post, product description, marketing collateral, or newsletter, the growth in demand for strong, high-quality content is clearly apparent as writing-related skills on the Elance Work Index continue to rise. And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, think about all of the other benefits that online content brings to your site, like search engine optimization, online community building, and more. (Check out a more in-depth look at why you need content here.)
However, there’s one thing that you must know before running off to slap a few words together – in order to reap the full benefits, you’re going to need a steady feed of high-caliber content. Are you suffering from a combination of dull content and Writer’s Block? Here are a few quick tips to add a little zip to your website’s content. Don't have the time? Hire a content creator right here.
1. Keep it fresh: Like food, freshness is key. Keeping your website’s blog (you’ve got a blog for your business, right?), product descriptions, and other pages fresh with new content will give your customers or readers a reason to come back for more.
Additionally, publishing fresh content to your website grabs the attention of search engines like Google and Yahoo!, giving you a little bit of a boost in Search Engine Optimization and search ranking. While you’re at it, don’t write about the same thing over and over – search engines will knock you a few points for duplicate and repeated content. Write high-quality content rich articles with a lot of relevant keywords for the most success.
2. Let your voice shine through: Remember, there are millions and millions of other websites out there on the web. Try to bring something unique to the table that your readers will enjoy. Try writing a bit more conversationally – your readers are people just like you.
Also important: Be sure to evaluate and understand your product and your target demographic and then cater your content and writing style to them. Although you might be noticing that more and more sites on the web today are taking a fun, more casual approach to writing with great success, don’t expect the same results if you write loose, sarcastic content for certain products or industries (for example, computer security.)
3. Get to the point: Your visitors have places to go and people to see online, so don’t bore them with overly-wordy paragraphs and descriptions. Internet surfers have the attention span of a 5-year old, so hitting them quickly with what’s important is key. If they aren’t able to answer the question, “Why is this important to me?” within the first few sentences, you can kiss those visitors goodbye.
Also, write shorter, quicker paragraphs. Succinct segments are far more digestible for the average person to read and retain.
4. Play by the rules: You could have a Pulitzer-prize worthy blog post published on your site, but if it’s riddled with typos, grammar errors, punctuation mistakes, and other blunders, its value to your site is close to zero. This is especially important for those with online businesses, as the legitimacy of your website can depend on the cleanliness of your copy.
Here’s a tip: Before you hit the “publish” button, read your entire post out loud to yourself. Although it may seem a little silly, you may be surprised at how ridiculous your writing can sound when spoken out loud. (It’s also a great way to surface mistakes quickly.) If you aren’t very confident in your writing skills, hire a copyeditor to double check your content for you.
5. Change it up: Tell me what sounds better – “The cat is black,” or “The small kitten’s fur shines a deep, midnight black.” Okay, that might have been overdoing it a little, but you get the picture.
The second sentence is far more interesting to read because it avoids using very common language (read: boring) and also provides far more information through context than the first sentence. Descriptive writing is particularly important for eCommerce product catalogs since your customer has only your words and maybe a few images to work with when making a purchasing decision.
6. Images are your friend: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Even if the old saying was only half true, it’d still be smart to pair up your content with some form of imagery. Images naturally attract eyes and can provide a huge amount of contextual information in a fraction of a second, while a block of text without an accompanying image is extremely easy to gloss over. If you’re publishing content to a blog, having an image isn’t just suggested – in my opinion, it’s a requirement.
These are just a few tips out of many out there that can help you improve the quality of your content in a jiffy. Any of you talented elancers have any other tricks of the trade? Do share in the comments below.
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