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Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Becoming a Better Writer

I’ve recently hit an epiphany: Blogging is not my forte.

It’s not that I don’t like writing; it just doesn’t come as naturally as one would hope. But just like the average 20-something in the 21st century, I’ve fantasized about getting paid to write about my life, because let’s face it: like the average 20-something in the 21st century, I obviously think my life is amazing and worth sharing.

But what if I couldn’t reach stardom based on the odd stories of my life? Does that mean I shouldn’t learn, for lack of better words, how to write better?

Writing is everywhere – and used everywhere. You can even get paid more for having stronger writing skills, according the statistics of a recent The Muse article, “Why Writing Well Could Mean a Higher Salary (No Matter What You Do)”. In short, the Grammarly infographic featured in The Muse post visualized that people with stronger writing skills essentially are better at their jobs. That’s because they’re attentive to details and put forth the effort – making fewer mistakes (10.1 errors per words, to be exact, compared to 17.7 for a sales and marketing professional).

So I did what a 20-something does best. I went crowdsourcing to discover the latest and greatest read on how to get better at writing.

Side note: this is not technically true. I actually ended up going to my local library because sometimes searching the web can get to be overwhelming and I was up for a nice hard cover book.

But, I did in fact use the library online database and searched for key words like “best content” and “writing better” and found exactly what I was looking for: a book titled, “Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcast, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and more) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business”. Though the title is a mouthful, the book had a lot to give. And as the business development and online events fellow here at GovLoop, learning about producing webinars and podcasts was an added bonus.

I wanted to share everything the book taught me, so here you are: the tips, tricks and tools to becoming a better writer from “Content Rules”:

Tips:

  1. Don’t rely on the same tired and worn-to-the-bone words

Do yourself a favor and look back at the most-used words in your last five blogs and never ever use them again. Content Rules’ authors, Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at Marketing Profs, and C.C. Chapman, Founder of Digital Dads, created a list of 18 words and phrases that you should ban everywhere. “Banning these words is a step toward creating great stuff that sounds human, and speaks to us because it’s written for humans by humans”. Those words include: impactful, leverage, synergy, users, and revolutionary. So, kill your darlings and ban those from your vocab.

  1. Start viewing yourself as a source of information

No one cares about the products and services you are selling. Write one blog a week that will allow you to become the go-to source of curated local news. Go beyond plugging in outside links from aggregating the best and most relevant online content that matches the needs of your specific audience and start adding your own organizing, filtering, and judgment skills to the posts.

Tricks:

  1. Create a publishing schedule (aka an editorial calendar) with the “1-7-30-4-2-1” model

This publishing schedule is advocated by Russell Sparkman of Fusionspark Media – a formula that should be modified to suit your own needs, ambitions, and resources according to Chapman and Handley.

1 = Daily, 7 = weekly, 30 = monthly, 4 = Quarterly (2 and 1 are the biannual and annual content on bigger events and ideas that are related to the content developed throughout the year).

  1. Instead of a “one and done” approach, treat anything you develop as pieces of a large whole

In Chapter 5, “Reimagine; Don’t Recycle,” Chapman and Handley encourage you to adopt a broader approach when creating content – a holistic view where you create content that can come in “various formats, across many different platforms, and that can address multiple audiences”. Repurposing content creates a content ecosystem that should also include the voice and input of everyone in your company and not just the marketing department. Whether starting large with a white paper or eBook, or starting small with a series of blogs, be sure to create chunks of shareable content for your audience, always.

Tools:

Now that you’ve become a brilliant blogger, you’ll want to share your writing with the world. Here are some tools mentioned in the book for sharing and tracking your killer blogs:

  1. Sharethis.com – one button to expand your offer to various social media sites
  2. Google Alerts – at minimum set up searches for your company name, website URL, major product names and people, and your competitors
  3. Box.net – embed portion of your eBook on a landing page
  4. BlogBurst – places blog content on top-tier, category-specific web sites
  5. Radion6.com – conversation-tracking tools to measure online chatter

 

Now, if you’re not all the interested in becoming a better writer, getting paid more, being more attentive – the list goes on – the least you could do is check out a secret insider’s page that shares a blog post template and checklist to set you on the right path of stardom in the blogging realm. Be sure to share your go-to resources for creating online content and optimizing it to your customers in the comment section below!

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Madeline Sanders

Thanks for the tips quite “make sense” items, especially the one about burying the “tired” copy cat words that everyone in the universe enjoy utilizing because they believe such words make them relevant. Additionally, I loved the suggestion about activating the =1-7-30-4–2-1 writing approach. Again, thanks!

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