Once you’ve created your company website or social media pages, you need to create content. Writing a blog might seem daunting, but we’ll help you improve your writing with three easy tips.
The next step is telling your story. Tell potential customers who you are, what your company does, and your why. A popular way to do this is through a blog, but you can use all of your owned media to do it. From your social media to the “about us” page on your website, every piece of content should fit into your brand. It sounds simple, but not everyone is comfortable wielding a pen — or keyboard, if you will. We can’t make you a modern day Shakespeare, but we can give you a couple quick tools to help improve your writing.
A Quick Brand Story Case Study
Building a brand means telling your story. Successful businesses not only sell a product or a service that their customers like. They also invite their customers to be part of something bigger than just themselves. An outstanding example is TOMS Shoes: they based their business model on giving a pair of shoes to children in need for every pair bought. With their simple model of helping people in need by buying something you already need — shoes — took off like wildfire. Today there are many companies that have a similar strategy, such as Bombas and Warby Parker, not to mention dozens more who donate a portion of their proceeds to charities.
A key thing to notice about TOMS’ story is its brevity. No long-winded explanations or novel-length plots; just simple and to-the-point. The story of TOMS shoes is also well written. There are no misplaced apostrophes or run-on sentences. If thinking about punctuation just made your palms sweaty, don’t worry! We’ll give you three quick steps to polish up your writing — and the best part? They’re all free.
Keep Your Writing Simple
Just like TOMS shoes, keep your writing short and to the point. Why? When people read your blog, it’s usually to answer a question or a need. If they have to wade through long blocks of text or huge sentences to find that answer, they’re likely to look elsewhere. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend the time writing a long post. In fact, most blog posts that rank well online average around 1500 words.
What it does mean, how you format your content can improve your writing. As the saying goes, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Likewise, you should focus on dividing your content up into small, easily digestible pieces.
Here are a few metrics we like to stick to in blog posts:
- Sentences should be 20 words or fewer. This doesn’t mean exactly 20 every time, or that you have to sacrifice style to get under the cutoff. About 25% of your sentences can be longer than 20 words without sacrificing readability but the rest should be short.
- Paragraphs should focus on one piece of information. They should also be more than one sentence, and shorter than 200 words. We like to stick to the 100-130 word mark.
- Use subheadings for longer content. If you have more than 400 words in a piece of content, you should have at least one subheading. The recommended length in between subheadings is 300-350 words.
Think about it this way. If you opened an encyclopedia — we’re talking about the books, not Wikipedia — and there weren’t any headings or paragraphs, how would you find what you’re looking for? Most of us would slam the book shut long before we found our answer. That’s exactly what readers will think if they open your page and see nothing but a wall of text. Help your reader or customer get to the point of what you’re trying to say.
Use Editing Tools
Good news: you don’t have to have a degree or be a journalist to be an effective writer. You simply need to practice the craft and know what tools are at your disposal to improve your writing.
One tool we all have access to is spell check, but be aware of its limitations. A basic spell checker will catch misspelled words, but it won’t catch the difference between to, two, and too. You might not catch it either, but the person you certainly don’t want to notice? Potential customers. Studies show that over half of consumers will mistrust a brand with grammar mistakes in their content.
Are you getting nervous again? Hang in there. We promised to share some of our favorite tools, and here they are:
- ProWritingAid. This tool will check your spelling and grammar, but also style and tone. It shows you errors, how to fix them, and teaches you the rules. ProWritingAid integrates with most web browsers and programs, so it likely works with what you’re already using.
- Thesaurus.com. The key is knowing when to use a thesaurus. For example, did you notice how many times we said “to the point” in the last section? Now that we pointed it out, does the word point seem repetitive? Using a thesaurus can help vary your wording, which makes content easier to read.
- Yoast SEO. The goal of content is to drive traffic to your website, and SEO is what steers it. Using this plugin will quickly optimize your content, including for the lengths we talked about above. If your sentences go long or you don’t use enough subheadings, Yoast will let you know!
There are plenty more tools out there; for instance, Grammarly is a popular one similar to ProWritingAid. Depending on your budget and your needs, different plugins will serve you better than others. Give them a try and consider if they’re meeting your needs. If you aren’t sure, or want a real human to analyze your content, we can give you a hand. We promise not to break out a red pen, either.
Let Your Writing Breathe
An excellent piece of content is like a fine wine: it gets smoother once it’s had time to breathe. Even if you’re sure you’ve written the next viral blog post that will send you straight to the top of the internet, letting it sit can shed light on errors you didn’t notice. Depending on your content schedule, you may not have a lot of time to sit on a piece, but even a couple hours can help.
When you’re ready to revisit your work, here are a few strategies to help you look at it with a new perspective:
- Read your writing out loud. This isn’t just so you can admire your own voice or annoy your coworkers. Reading aloud helps us key in to clunky wording, poor sentence structure, or misused words.
- Have someone else read it. A lot of times we know what we mean to say, but we don’t communicate it effectively. Have someone read your content and ask them what they got out of it. Did they pick up what you’re putting down? Or did they get to the end and forget what it was about?
- Remember your audience. A great way to think about this is you should talk with your audience, not at them. When you’re reading your work, does it sound like a friendly conversation? Or a high school English class book review? If it’s the latter, spend some time reworking the tone of your content to be more relaxed.
Hopefully, these tips will help keep your content easy to read, but also make your editing process easy to manage. Keeping your text error-free will show your customers that you take the time to do things right. We haven’t met a client or customer yet that doesn’t see that as a positive.
Your brand and your business have a story; tell it well. If you’re having troubles getting started, or simply want a pro to help you improve your writing, drop us a line. Our content pros are ready to help!