Create Powerful Content with These 16 Tips
Writing is not easy. Writing well is even more difficult. Creating powerful content that resonates with readers involves many steps including concept development, goal setting, collaboration, creativity, research, outlines, drafts and edits. Further, it requires specific skills like critical thinking, perseverance and discipline. Even the savviest of writers need to practice and hone their writing skills on a regular basis. Here are 16 tips that can help improve your content development process and turn good writing into great writing.
Powerful Content Tips
- Identify your content development goals before you begin. The desired outcomes can determine the content’s format, style, timing, method of distribution and call to action.
- Collaborate with others. Ask for input from colleagues, peers and experts. We live in an ever-changing and complex world. Gathering input and ideas from others will strengthen the content you create.
- Systematize resources in a document, Excel spreadsheet or other application during your research to keep materials and ideas organized.
- Use an outline to shape your content. Make sure you cover all the bases and that your content flows well, is logical and has a beginning, middle and end.
- Write in the active tense, not in the passive voice. It is a more engaging style and makes writing more crisp and less wordy.
- Eliminate adverbs wherever po6ssible. In most cases, they are an indication that the sentence could use more descriptive verbs instead.
- Keep the language and tone appropriate for the audience you are trying to reach. Avoid jargon, slang and acronyms as much as possible.
- Create sentences that are varied in length and structure so that readers don’t lose interest. Don’t be afraid to use short sentences. They tend to be succinct, hard-hitting and punchy.
- Use the first few sentences to draw the reader in and show them why they should keep reading. Examples of great hooks include thought-provoking questions, relevant statistics or controversial, groundbreaking ideas. Lead with what’s most important. Many news writers follow the Inverted Pyramid Style. According to Jasmine Roberts of Ohio State University, “News stories are organized using the inverted pyramid style, in which information is presented in descending order of importance. This allows the audience to read the most crucial details quickly so they can decide whether to continue or stop reading the story.”
- Know your audience. It’s vital to understand who your readers are, what their pain points are and how you can help them solve problems or build their skill sets.
- Tap into the insights of industry experts. Practice your interviewing and listening skills to incorporate the ideas, stories and lessons practiced by others.
- Answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” To tap into your reader’s psyche, it’s helpful to understand that, according to sales trainer Roy E. Chitwood, people buy for one or more of six reasons:
- Desire for gain
- Fear of loss
- Comfort and convenience
- Security and protection
- Pride of ownership
- Satisfaction of emotion.
13. Use quotes accurately and in context. Always cite original sources properly and give attribution when appropriate.
14. Never miss a deadline. Develop a project schedule and follow it. Make sure you keep others in the loop, so they provide you with the input you need in a timely manner.
15. Be thorough. Always read through your final draft…twice. Then, seek a second pair of eyes to review for relevancy, strength of content and, of course, to make sure the content is error-free.
16. Tell, don’t sell. Mary Ellen Slayter, CEO of Rep Cap, tells us to think like a writer, not a sales rep. “Content marketers have a big opportunity to fulfill the promise for the brand, not just echo it. To do that, though, you have to work for the reader…Save the marketing copy and sales pitches for the brochures and proposals. As a content marketer, your job is to tell a story and share ideas, not directly push a product.”
A Professional Never Stops Learning
Whether drafting a series of emails or writing an entire book, writing requires commitment and skill. A true professional continues to develop, practice and hone their writing skills with every project. They read, take courses, observe and seek feedback from others. An investment in your craft is what will separate you from the pack, boost your ability as an effective, talented writer and communicator and create powerful content.