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I didn’t do it: When nonwriters create content

Why bother hiring a writer when there’s so much content to be created, so little time, too small a budget and – heck – social media posts have half the shelf life of dairy anyway. Am I right? So go on and write it yourself. It’s quicker, cheaper and, by golly, you went to college. But before you crack your knuckles and trundle off to your keyboard, I’ve got one decent suggestion for you. Okay?

DIY writing has the same tools and rules the pros use.

Revving up your community’s emails, Facebook updates, Instagram posts, tweets and blogs may have you thinking about content well past the point of contentment. When you simply can’t hire a writer – or “content strategist” – to do the heavy conjugating for you, why not teach yourself to write more better. How?

Follow guidelines. Like these.

 

“15 Copywriting Tricks All Digital Marketers Need to Know”

Blog posts on your to-do list? Start with this good list for tips on how to write harder-working content. You’ll learn (or remember) you should:

  1. Make it scannable.
  2. Be entertaining.
  3. Use the active voice.
  4. Encourage curiosity.
  5. Use lots of verbs.
  6. Make headlines timely.
  7. Encourage one action.
  8. Stop asking and simply tell.
  9. Use persuasive words.
  10. Eliminate objections.
  11. Use visuals.
  12. Create a sense of urgency.
  13. Use numbers.
  14. Have a clear value proposition.
  15. Always analyze your writing.

 

“3 Ways to Inspire Intranet Content Authors”

Internal communications can be sharper, right? And this article from the inimitable Nielsen Norman Group can help pilot the process for employees assigned to contribute content to an intranet. Included are a couple of style guides, including one with these exceptionally solid tips:

  • Less is more. Be concise.
  • Use even shorter paragraphs than on paper.
  • Use short lists and bullets to organize information.
  • Use more lists and bullets than on paper.
  • Write (especially page titles) using the same words your readers would use when doing a web search for the info.
  • Never use “click here” as a link.
  • Eliminate unnecessary words.

 

“Why Strong Writing Is a Skill to Prioritize in 2016 (And How to Hire Great Writers)”

Ancient post (November, ’15) from the Content Marketing InstituteTM includes a colorful bar chart that reports “Creating More Engaging Content” is atop the list of priorities, while at the bottom is “Becoming Stronger Writers.” (This is ironic.) The article is a great read, and I assume you will. Writing tips are simpler, but lack no brilliance:

  • Read.
  • Copy great writing.
  • Have a structure.
  • Have discipline.

 

Finally, edit.

 

Publishing deadlines only exist to make the best writers stop editing themselves. It’s the most overlooked and underrated part of the craft. Edit without ceasing day and night ad nauseam till the cows come home.

Good writing is part talent and mostly practice. When it falls to you to create content for your community, follow smart guidelines, stay humble, and don’t stop editing until they rip it out of your hands.

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