Few people go into business planning to give it their second-best effort. Instead, they prepare. They plan. They invest in the website and store front, possibly in business coaching and financial planning. They do what it takes – spend what it takes – to provide the best services and products possible.
But not many of them leave room in their budgets for content writing or editing.
It’s one of those things that most people do for themselves (regardless of whether or not they should). But I’m not here today to try to convince anyone that they should hire an editor. The truth is that most of the business owners I know realize they need help with their content, but they just can’t afford it. Until that glorious day when content writing skills are as appreciated as accounting skills, I understand that people will write their own content.
That doesn’t mean I have to sit by and let them do it badly.
There’s no substitute for a professional, trained editor, but there are things that anyone can do to help strengthen their business’s or organization’s content. Here are five easy tips for writing stronger content.
- Have another industry professional read it. No one knows your industry as well as the people in it, so there’s no one more qualified to spot an informational error than those people. If you’re in a professional association, see if someone there would be will to fact check your content; if you’re not, ask a local colleague. They’ll help you spot any industry-related inaccuracies that others will miss.
- Have someone outside the industry read it. Once the pros have had a go, head the other direction and find people completely unfamiliar with your work. These people will be able to tell you what does and doesn’t make sense to layman (which is especially helpful when you’re trying to draw in new clients).
- Have an English teacher read it. But not for grammar. English teachers around the world might revolt because of what I’m about to say, but it’s the truth: your content writing doesn’t have to be technically correct. Remember when you were taught not to start sentences with conjunctions? And when the teacher said not to end a sentence with a preposition? Forget it, especially if you’re writing for your website. Proper grammar isn’t the most important thing; connecting with your audience is! Instead, see if an English teacher (or other publishing professional) can give you a solid copyedit – spelling, punctuation, word usage (should you use whet or wet?).
- Read it backwards. Start with the last sentence of your copy and read it backwards, one sentence at a time. When you read it as written, your mind fills in spaces with what you know should be written (even if it isn’t there or if it’s written incorrectly). By reading it backwards, you force yourself to read each line individually, which will help you identify those typos.
- Read it out loud. It’s easy to skim over an awkward sentence when you’re reading, but it’s hard to ignore it once you’ve spoken it out loud.
Will these five tricks turn you into a master copywriter? Sorry, no, but using these tricks with help you strengthen what you’ve written, making your content more effective.
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