Good writing skills are something that we need more and more as the world of content marketing progresses. Although we can put a lot of video, podcasts and other forms of content on our blogs, a top website will always have a marked element of good writing to complement all other content on the site.
Snow White is nothing without her dwarfs
When we read about Snow White, she is always at the centre of the story. We rarely stop to think that, without her seven dwarfs, Snow White would have wandered around the forest until she succumbed to hunger or wild animals. Even the huntsman taking pity on her would not have saved her if the dwarfs didn’t step in.
The seven dwarfs did not only save Snow White’s life and disappear off the scene. They were there every step of the way, bringing home the bacon.
Just as Snow White is the central character in this Disney fairy tale, your blog is the central part of your content marketing business. But as Snow White couldn’t survive without the seven dwarfs, your content marketing endeavours will all amount to nothing if you don’t develop and apply some good writing skills.
When it comes to content marketing, good writing is what will bring home the bacon.
Good writing needs all seven dwarfs
Some people are born writers. Good writing comes to them as easy as breathing. However, if the Web had to rely on only this handful of writers born with the skill to write almost perfect content, content marketing would never have been born. The Web would be a place we hear about but very few of us ever experience – something like the Platinum Club Lounge at an international airport.
To keep the internet alive and growing, it needs content writers. Of all types of content out there, text is still the backbone of the internet and if you want to have a successful website, you have to have some good writing skills.
Fortunately you don’t have to necessarily be born with these skills. Good writing skills can be developed. Any improvement in any writing skill is always good but to really be at the top of your game, you need to develop and nurture each of these skills.
What are the seven dwarfs of good writing?
1. Good writing anticipates what the reader wants to know
People don’t come to your website to sit and admire your work. They visit your website in search of an answer to a burning question.
A good content writer will always anticipate the questions the reader may have. In answering these questions, you will fulfil a need and make your reader a loyal follower and sometimes even a customer.
2. Good writing has a factual basis
Although I started this post taking your mind back to your childhood and Snow White and her dwarfs, I’m now giving you the facts about what good writing is. And I’m not spinning a ball of yarn out of thin air. It all comes from research myself and others have done about what good writing really is.
It doesn’t matter what you blog about. It has to be based in fact. When you tell people the moon is made of cheese, you had better find a way to prove it to them.
Without a factual basis for the statements you make on your site, you will lose the trust and respect of your audience.
3. Good writing tells all sides of the story
You are not a politician handing out a press release. If you want to win your audience’s trust, you must be upfront and give them all the facts.
Tell the story from all angles: the good, the bad and the ugly.
Readers are quick to find out if you are just spinning something to make you or your product look good. Make sure you give them the facts as they stand and they may just trust you enough to hand over their credit card information.
4. Good writing means proofreading and editing over and over again until you get it right
Hemingway used to say: I write drunk but I edit sober.
If Hemingway knew he had to do edits and rewrites, you should too.
Rushing through your writing just because you have to have a new blog post out tomorrow, is foolish. Leave yourself enough time to write, proofread, edit and sometimes completely rewrite a piece. Once it’s live on your website, it will immediately be judged by others.
Ask me, the worst feeling in the world is when a well meaning visitor to your blog lets you know of the spelling errors you made.
5. Good writing is simple but never unrefined
As a writer there is something you should always remember: Always assume your reader knows nothing. Never assume your reader is stupid.
In practical terms this means that you will take time with your writing to make sure that you explain everything in detail to your reader. You will leave the intimidating technical jargon out and write with respect to your readers. Like a good teacher you will explain the subject matter without making your reader feel inferior.
Remember, afterwards they will remember how you made them feel much longer than what you said. (Thanks for teaching me this, Maya Angelou!)
6. Good writing uses what is already there and makes it better
In the world of content marketing there is very little that is really new. Unless you have an epiphany and the universe grants you a completely new way of looking at your subject matter, you will have to borrow from those who have come before you.
Don’t feel embarrassed or intimidated by this. Borrow from the wealth of knowledge that is already out there but always strive to make it better.
Don’t disrespect someone else’s work by copying it and just slapping your name on it. That’s thievery. And don’t disrespect someone else’s work by not treating it with respect and really making it better before you hit publish.
7. Good writing has an original voice
The facts of your content may be exactly the same as someone else’s work but what sets you apart is your writing style.
It took me a long time to find my writing voice. I tried to copy the style of those who came before me. But it always sounded forced and dull, like reading a budget speech.
It was only when I developed my own voice and my own writing style, that people noticed and started to appreciate what I was writing.
And it is only while using my own, unique writing voice, that I feel the satisfaction of knowing that what I am producing, is good writing.
These are my seven dwarfs of good writing. Do you have any to add? Let me know in the comments.