When you write your content marketing assets, such as a blog post, you may be unsure of where to begin. You just know you need to write something. And although you have the best intentions, your blog post may end up as one big rambling mess.
How can you improve it?
Content marketing starts with having a game plan.
Before you write content, think of your topic. Let’s say it’s how to make a box cake mix taste like a bakery cake.
What is my simple message?
To take a box cake mix and make it taste like a bakery cake.
Why is this important?
Your reader would like to bake something homemade but doesn’t have time to create something from scratch. Yet she wants something to taste just as good as if it came from a bakery.
What does my reader need to know?
Your reader would need to know the recipe and any tips or tricks to improve the appearance or texture of the cake.
Outlines can be very helpful, even short, simple ones.
When you identify the points you want to make for whatever you’re writing, it will naturally create tighter copy. Your message will be clear because your writing will have direction. Your content marketing then will truly engage your audience.
Make it a habit to jot down the questions and answers in a notebook before you begin you writing project. It will serve as an invaluable guide for producing the kind of communication that makes an impact.
You also want to avoid long sentences. Use this test: inhale normally. Read the sentence aloud. The sentence is too long if you struggle to finish it in one breath.
Rewrite sentences to break them into two (or three) smaller ones. Fragment sentences are fine, if they sound conversational.
Get rid of all semicolons (;). A semicolon is nothing more than two sentences stuck together. Crop that sentence in two.
Eliminate unneeded words like “that,” “the,” “if,” and any others you can remove without changing the meaning and conversational tone. Use words like “many” for more wordy phrases like “a lot of” or “must” for “have to.”
Don’t be afraid to use contractions: “you’ll” for “you will,” etc. Contractions help build a conversational tone.
If you can’t break a sentence into two and still have it sound reasonable, use ellipses ( … ) and dashes (—). Although using them won’t lower your Flesch-Kincaid score, they will make your copy easier to read.
This is a great way to fix your copy. Your paragraphs should not be longer than six lines. For web copy, that number shrinks to four.
Shorter paragraphs keep your copy lively. Some people will read your copy word-for-word, but many will scan it. Having shorter paragraphs makes your copy easy to scan and also do not visually intimidate your reader.
When you have a large block of copy that is comprised of eight or ten sentences, it appears overwhelming and few people will wade through your giant paragraph.
Eliminate the passive voice
I still struggle with this one on occasion. Sometimes it can’t be helped. But other times, you can make your sentence stronger by placing the doer of the action before the verb. For instance, here’s the passive voice:
The floor was mopped by the janitor.
A better way:
The janitor mopped the floor.
The passive voice takes the fire out of your sentence. The sentence sounds dull. Try revising your copy so the person or thing doing the action comes before the verb.
Finally, don’t edit while writing
It’s tough to remember all of these tips when you’re writing your first draft. Don’t worry about rules or tips at that point. Just let your creativity flow.
After your finished, then edit what you’ve written.
In time, you’ll discover that your copy is sounding clearer, sharper, and reads more easily. And the more you write, the better you’ll get.
Your audience will appreciate your efforts and as a result, they’ll stick around longer, reading what you’ve written. A very good thing, indeed.