Your website/blog represents your company, so you want your content writing/blogging to be clear, concise, and well-executed. If it’s confusing, all over the place, and hard to read, you’re probably going to lose quite a few visitors and potential sales — no matter how good your product and/or services may be.
It all boils down to this: Web visitors are either looking for information or they’re looking for products/services. Does your content offer what they’re looking for and can they find what they’re looking for easily? Your content is not clear unless your readers can find what they need, understand what they find, and use what they find to meet their needs.
Being able to explain your ideas clearly and succinctly is something that a lot of content writers/bloggers struggle with. Unfortunately, these two things are key as far as keeping your readers engaged enough to continue reading. If your writing requires too much work to read, your visitors will quickly move on to find an easier (better) copy experience.
There are a number of simple yet easily-overlooked things you can do to make your content writing/blogging more engaging and effective. Below are 13 tips to help get you on your way:
1). Organize Your Thoughts for Organized Writing
You don’t need a detailed outline for most writing, but you do need to know what you want to say before you say it. Write down the salient points you want to make and arrange them in the order you want to make them. Eliminate any ideas that are not directly related to those key points. This will keep you from veering off into left field.
Organized writing makes it easier for your reader to understand and remember the information being presented. People seek out patterns to help make sense of information. When the reader is not able to find a pattern that makes sense, chaos, and confusion happen.
Effective communication begins with a clearly organized set of ideas following a logical, consistent pattern. Structure and order your ideas in a way that makes sense and is easy for your readers to follow.
2). Write in a Conversational Style
With conversational writing, your reader feels like you’re talking to them rather than talking at them. Conversational writing is less formal and more relaxed than standard writing. It’s simple and easy to read. Sometimes there are fragmented sentences infused to display a thought.
Sentences may also begin with pronouns and end with verbs. Starting your sentence with And, Because, or But is just fine if it keeps her sentences short and sweet and easy to read.
Also feel free to use contractions such as you’re, that’s, they’ll, he’s, and we’re – these sound more informal. To make your content more engaging, talk less about yourself and more about your readers. Check how often you’ve used the words I, me, we, and us. Then count how often you’ve used the word you.
3). Use Simple Words and Phrases
You want your content writing to be clear, concise, and ultra-easy to read. A sentence is best when it contains no unnecessary words and a paragraph no unnecessary sentences. And for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a motor no unnecessary parts. Word choice is equally important.
Keep your writing simple and easy to read by choosing the most familiar or most commonly used word over the more obscure word. Don’t complicate things by using words to impress or phrases that most people wouldn’t typically use in a conversation or even understand.
Here are few examples of obscure words and suggested substitutes:
- inception – start
- peruse – read
- in lieu of – instead
- retain – keep
- transpire – happen
- Procure – get
- utilize – use
4). Avoid Using Jargon
Jargon is often unintelligible to those outside the group that uses it. Try to substitute everyday language with jargon words as often as possible. When you have no way to express an idea except to use technical language, make sure to define your terms. But try to keep definitions to a minimum as well.
Writing or language that is made unintelligible by excessive use of “abstruse” technical terms or jargon sounds like “Gobbledygook” to your readers and will only alienate and confuse them.
5). Use Short Paragraphs and Sentences
Large blocks of content are difficult to read and understand. Don’t try to pack everything you want to say into super long paragraphs. Instead, split your topics up into logical sections and present your ideas in bite-size, easily digestible chunks. Paragraphs can be as short as a single sentence or even a single word.
Keep sentences short for the same reason you want to keep paragraphs short. Each sentence should have one simple thought. More than that creates complexity and confusion. The longer the sentence, the more difficult it is for the reader to track what’s being said. You will lose your reader when reading becomes too much work to understand.
6). Minimize the Use of Abbreviations
Abbreviations were once intended to serve the audience by shortening long phrases. However, if abbreviations constantly require your reader to look back to earlier pages, or to consult an appendix, in order to understand what’s being said, they will lose interest fast. If everyone knows an abbreviation, use it without explanation.
There’s a short list of abbreviations that have entered common usage. When you use them, don’t define them—you’re just taking up space and dumbing down and annoying your reader. Examples include SEO, IBM, ATM, DIY, ETA, BMW, ASAP, FBI, PS, URL, and RSVP, just to name a few.
7). Use Active Voice. Avoid Passive Voice
In an active sentence, the person or thing responsible for the action in the sentence comes first. In a passive sentence, the person or thing acted upon comes first, and the actor is added at the end, introduced with the preposition “by.”
Sentences written in passive voice are often vague about who is responsible for the action and are less effective. You can easily spot passive sentences by looking for a form of the verb to be in your sentence, with the actor either missing or introduced after the verb using the word “by.”
The following sentences illustrate how to transform a sentence from passive voice to active voice:
- Passive voice: The food was eaten by the dog. Active Voice: The dog ate the food.
- Passive voice: The student was asked by Max to pick up the book. Active voice: Max asked the student to pick up the book.
- Passive voice: The door was closed by Ralph. Active voice: Ralph closed the door.
Avoid Using Filler Words
Avoid filler words so that your sentences are shorter and easier to understand. Filler words and phrases are unnecessary words that clutter up sentences and don’t add meaning.
Examples of filler words to avoid include: rather, basically, almost, actually, consequently, simply, just, as a matter of fact, sort of, kind of, a little, and at all times.
Writers will often use these filler words to pad their writing. They only bog down sentences and make them less impactful. Here’s a tip: “‘Actually’ is a word that’s not actually necessary for most sentences.” If your sentence works without it, you probably don’t need this word.
9). Be Precise With Your Words
Be specific, descriptive, and direct. Avoid using vague and ambiguous words. It may require you to use more words to be descriptive or fewer words to simplify. If there’s a simpler way to say something complex, the simpler phrase is often clearer.
When you make statements that are ambiguous, you confuse your reader and hinder the meaning of your writing. Make it impactful and descriptive by using specific phrases, instead of using vague words such as thing, stuff, good, bad, pretty, and ugly.
Here are some examples:
- Vague: One of my relatives has some stuff for the sale.
Precise: My aunt has a framed painting and a coffee table for the sale.
Wordy: The people who work for the airline company are nice.
- Concise: The Airline staff is courteous and friendly.
10). Use Examples When Needed
Examples help to clarify complex concepts. Good examples can substitute for long explanations. The more complex the concept you are writing about, the more you should consider using an example. By giving your reader an example that’s relevant to their situation, you help them relate to what you are writing about.
Also, avoid using the Latin abbreviations for “for example” (e.g.) and “that is” (i.e.). Not everyone knows what they mean. Write out the lead-in to your example like “for example” or “such as.”
11). Avoid Using Clichés
If you want your writing to be fresh and interesting, you should avoid using clichés. Cliché refers to an expression that has been overused to the extent that it loses its original meaning or novelty. They have a tendency to annoy people and may even create an impression of laziness or a lack of careful thought.
Here are a few examples of Clichés to avoid:
- Beating around the bush
- In this day and age
- Never a dull moment
- Calm before the storm
- Cat got your tongue?
Clichés are easily recognized and understood but use them sparingly. The first conclusion readers jump to when they come across too many clichés is that the writer is unoriginal.
12). Write. Wait. Proofread
If you’ve written a new blog post and it’s ready to publish, I always recommend to wait a bit rather than publishing the post right away. Allow your content writing to stew in the pot for a few hours, if not a full day. Then go back and re-read it with a fresh head.
Once you are divorced from the creative process, it’s a lot easier to tweak your phrasing and sentence structure when needed. Also look for any typos, missing words, and/or words used incorrectly. These kinds of mistakes can reflect poorly on your brand and convey a lack of professionalism and dedication to creating quality content.
I highly recommend using a free writing assistant tool like Grammarly, (a Chrome extension) to make your content foolproof.
13). Keep Your Readers Reading With Internal Links
Once your reader has finished with one of your articles, you want them to hang around and check out your other content. Link to other posts that are related to the topic you’re currently writing about. You also want to a link to other pages on your website that are relevant.
Internal links help readers find additional information on your website/blog more easily and also keep them around reading your content.
The Take home
If you put the above content writing tips to memory and use them, I guarantee that your blogging efforts will be rewarded tenfold!
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