One of the biggest hang-ups for people who want to create content for their business is the act of writing. But the question “can I write well enough?” is irrelevant when talking about your content. Ernest Hemingway was a good writer – a great writer in fact. But do you need to be a ‘good’ writer to write great content – or is writing a skill, like any other that can be practiced and honed?
There are two aspects to becoming a skilled content writer.
1) Language skills
Language skills can be broken down into the tools: spelling, grammar and punctuation, and your command of the English language – can you manipulate words to create impact and meaning?
Spelling, grammar, and punctuation
The good news here is that there are countless free tools and sites on the internet that can help you with these things. Spell-check is now in almost every writing program and if not, Google is always willing to help out. The “British English versus American English” debate can get heated when it comes to spelling but the fact of the matter is that whichever you prefer the other ‘team’ will still understand your message.
A book called Grammar for Everyone, by Barbara Dykes is highly recommended.
Your command of the language comes from one thing and one thing only – practice. The more you write, the better you will write and the faster you will write. Not unlike running to get fit, you start slow and feel awkward but in time you speed up and fall into a natural stride. People who are widely read tend to have a bigger vocabulary and a better ‘feel’ for the rhythm of words. Good writing is about rhythm – read your words aloud so you can hear what your writing sounds like.
2) Message skills
Message skills can be more challenging to master. The clarity of your message (what you blog post is about) is more about the organisation of your thoughts and the ability to include only the necessary points in your article. When you are writing about your area of expertise, you want to include as much as you can – however the real skill is distilling a single point into a succinct message that resonates with your audience. Again, this is not a skill many people are born with – it takes experimentation and practice to get this right. The good news is, once mastered, your ability to convey a message can be used effectively across all your business communications.
When you are creating content to build relationships with potential clients:
- Keep to a single point for each article/blog-post
- Write to your readers and not your peers or colleagues
- Give your reader real value – solve a problem, give them new, useful information or entertain them.
It takes time to master a skill and it takes time to grow a great business blog. Set yourself a good pace and stick to it for at least 12 months. In that time your writing skills will sharpen and your topics will mature.