Updated February 23, 2023
Here’s the thing about telling anyone how to write better content: most people know what they want to say. They’re just missing a process to guide them in writing content that people will read.
It’s a bit like taking a road trip. Having a destination in mind is a good idea, though it’s not always required. Depending on where you’re going and what you want to see, you may even take some detours for a better experience. Or not—you may just want to reach your goal.
This post covers the preliminaries: whether you should write – even if you’re not a writer, an overview of my approach, and a couple of my favorite writers on the subject.
Should I Write?
Content is king, or so the pros tell us. We need, we must have, our business will die without blogs, videos, and social media posts. Lots of them, frequently posted, and all with fresh content. It can be overwhelming. Who needs something else to make them crazy?
For many of us, the easiest place to start with content is a blog. After all, how hard can it be? After all, we write all the time: emails, presentations, reports–each of us generates a ton of content. Pick a topic and have at it, right?
As it turns out, writing almost any content is a bit of work. But here’s the thing: the more effort you put into the upfront work, the easier it will be to write and the likelier you are to be successful.
But I’m Not a Writer!
You don’t have to be a great writer. You just need some expertise or a point of view about something in your field. Most of us have at least one of these qualifications.
Roadmap for How to Write Better Content
Here’s the process I created when I was figuring out how to write better content consistently for my clients and my own business. It’s based on years of writing experience combined with a bit of pragmatism. I don’t complete every step for every project; it depends on the client and the amount of writing I’m engaged to deliver.
I’ve adapted this from several sources and added steps that I think are important. I’d particularly like to acknowledge Anne Janzer’s “The Writer’s Process” and, “Everybody Writes” by Anne Handley. (Both authors publish excellent newsletters, too, if you’re interested.)
Step 1: Plan
As with a road trip, think about where you’re going and why. Before you ever put fingers to keyboard, answer these simple questions.
- Who are you trying to reach?
- What do they need to know?
- What do you want them to do once they’ve read your content, if anything?
If you can answer these simple questions, then explaining how to write better content is easy.
Step 2: Think About Search Rankings
Many writers want their content to appear in search engine results so customers can find them. That’s not always the case, of course, but it’s important enough that it deserves its own step.
Search engine optimization (SEO) research doesn’t have to take a lot of time or involve the use of arcane technology (although it can). The good news: with some simple tools and a basic approach you can get started. Where you go after that is up to you.
Step 3: Grab the Reader’s Attention and Hold It
With the preliminaries done, the next step is to figure out a headline and a call to action, then (maybe) rough out an outline.
For me, writing a strong headline is the most challenging part of the entire process. You want something crisp, clear, and compelling that will draw readers in–because if you don’t catch your reader’s eye, all that writing is for naught.
A call to action (CTA) is what you want someone to do when they finish reading your content, and it’s nearly as important as the headline. Don’t waste this opportunity to let people know what you offer and how they can reach you.
Step 4: Write
You’ve done the groundwork; now’s the time to let it rip. Write to your heart’s content. With the first draft (aka brain dump) done, you’ll want to polish your work so it glitters with crystalline brilliance.
Tools You Can Use
In each piece, I’ll be recommending tools to help you be a better writer. Tools won’t fix everything, but they can help. A lot.
Need Help With Learning How to Write Better Content?
Are you stuck right now? Do you want to brainstorm? Schedule some time to talk with me. I may be able to help you get unstuck and give you ideas on how to make progress.