It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.
Good ole’ Jack, eh? I haven’t read any of his stuff for the better part of a decade, but this little gem has stuck in my mind for all of these years. Style, every great writer has it, that unique way of cobbling together just the right phrasing, heavily nuanced with rhythm and flow. Writing content is no different.
When we’re writing to persuade someone of something – and it doesn’t matter if it’s website content or a novel – it requires more than just being able to string together a sentence and using a spellchecker. I know highly intelligent people with incredible vocabularies whose writing is as dry as stink, and they’d be hard pressed to sell candy to a kid. They have no style in their writing, and although they can technically do their own copywriting, it’s not going to gather momentum.
In business that’s a real issue, and it doesn’t matter if your product is a cause, a service or a thing. Poorly written content on a website isn’t just distasteful, it turns customers away. An email, thrown together like a late night presidential tweet, runs the risk of being ignored in the best case, and negatively misinterpreted in the worst. Few businesses have the time and staff to seriously tackle how they present themselves to the world, and that world is becoming more and more savvy in terms of who they do business with. They want to know who you are, not just what you’re selling. It’s a package deal, so you better put a bow on it.
3 Quick Tips for Writing Content
- Grammar/Spelling: I know, this seems bloody obvious, but given the amount of typos and misused words polluting the internet, it needs to be stated. When you are writing content, use the damn spellchecker and review your work after you’ve written it. Have someone else review it as well, because we’re often blind to our own mistakes. As for grammar, you don’t need to be perfect, but don’t be a slob about it either.
- Be Relatable: Tell stories. Not a multilayered novel, but something that will engage the reader. You’re not writing technical spec’s for a washing machine, you’re creating content because you want to touch base with your audience, and therefore you need to write something that relates to their lives. They already found your organization because they have a need of what you’re providing, so your copywriting story needs to drag them in by the collar.
- Match Your Tone to Your Audience: Just like the rest of life, there’s a time to be a smartass, and a time to put on a tie. Of course, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but you have to be smart about it. A funeral director doesn’t have to be somber all of the time, and can write in a jocular fashion with a limit. There is a lot of psychology involved in this; humour is used to lighten moods and smooth awkward situations, but that funeral director needs the “right” humour if he’s to avoid offending the audience of his digital content.
- Don’t worry about SEO: Any copywriter worth their salt would hang me in the town square for making this statement, but let me explain. People make careers out of writing for SEO, and that’s because it’s complicated. If you are writing authoritative and informative content that is making your readers stick around your site, you will rank high on search engine results pages. When people try to write for SEO and keywords rather than a real, live audience, the writing generally suffers and readers get turned off and go somewhere else. Search engines actually employ engagement metrics to tell how long your audience is on your page, so if that audience is visiting and quickly hitting the Back button, your ranking will suffer.
So that’s about it from The Write Cheese today. Nothing earth shattering (what kind of a jerk would want to shatter the earth!?), but hopefully some seeds of wisdom that will germinate into your writing content, and doing so effectively. At TWC we always say that we want to write so an audience wants to do business with our clients, even if they’re priced a little higher than the competition. With any luck, your own writing will do the same for your business or organization, and you’ll knock it out of the park!