11 Writing Skills To Learn How To Become A Better Writer.

How to become a better writer

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Back in 2015, I started my journey into writing. As a marketer, writing is an essential skill that will help you craft copy that will influence and persuade so you can sell. It is the framework for developing content in other formats such as audio, video, and images.

In this post, I’m sharing my insights into what is required to become a better sales writer so that you can create content that will attract your target audience, engage them, and make them take the desired action that you want them to so that you will be able to earn more money from the content that you produce.

Why should you consider becoming a better writer?

Frankly, you will make more money from the written content that you will produce.

Good content gets more views. Those views help create an audience. And those people in that audience help generate revenue either through customers that want to promote using your content, or people from your audience that decide to become customers by providing you with income because of the content that you are producing.

What do some of these numbers look like?

The metric that I like to use is ‘clicks’. And there is usually a revenue metric that’s associated with that click.

For example:

  • A click to an article on a web page might generate $0.02 per click/impression if you are using an ad network.
  • A click to an affiliate link might generate you $1 from every click.
  • A click to a product that you are selling might be worth $10 for every click.

I think you get the picture.

It then becomes a numbers game. And the only way to achieve this is by producing and publishing content that will attract traffic and shares.

Do you know what type of content you want to write?

We are writing to craft copy with a purpose. We will be writing content that aligns with our goals and objectives.

  • Content that will help us get discovered.
  • Content that will compel people to take a non-transactional action.
  • Content that will compel people to take a transactional action.

When we are writing content on websites, the content formats will usually be in the form of:

  • Blog posts and articles
  • Informational landing pages
  • E-commerce landing pages

Plan what you are going to write.

Failure to plan is a plan to fail. Don’t approach your writing as if you were doing a freestyle rap or if you are just wondering around without a map. Create a plan so you have a clear direction for the content that you will create.

You should at least know what the objective or goal will be for the content that you are writing.

Snowflake method.

Ideally, you should plan your content in a similar way to the great writers like J.K. Rowling. The Snowflake Method is one of the best ways to plan your content so that it has strategic direction, and make the ideas for your content more complete so that you can write content that will perform better.

To plan your content well, you will need to use Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel.

You will add headings to the columns.

Before adding the topics or chapters, you will need to do your research to validate the content that should appear within the content that you are producing.

Once you have validated the content, add the content into the sheet and structure the content for the flow that you desire.

Use the Snowflake Method when planning to write content
Use the Snowflake Method when planning to write content

The example above is for a short ebook that I created for another website of mine a few years ago.

You can see that you can clearly plan what to write about and how long each section should be. You then just need to focus on developing valuable content sections and crafting the copy in a way that best resonates with your audience.

You can add in a writing prompt like a 6 word story to help you write that section.

How to use 6-word stories as writing prompts.

You should also consider the different story techniques that can be applied to your writing to make it more interesting and engaging for your reader.

Read this article from Joe Bunting, which shows 10 techniques for creating better stories.

Creat content that has already been proven to work.

Don’t try to create something brand new unless you are prepared to go through a lot of trial and error, testing, and lost time to figure out what kind of content will work. This is the mistake that I’ve done in my career and it has cost me more than 14 years.

Keep it simple and find examples of the content that you want to produce that has already been proven to work.

You can validate if the content has worked in the following ways.

  • Does the content receive web traffic?
  • Is the content being sold consistently? (E.g. As a book or ebook)
  • Does the content receive discussion engagements? (E.g Discussion forums)
  • Is the content getting shared on other websites?
  • Is the content getting shared across social media?

If you want to write for passion and creativity, that’s great. But without a tactical strategy, you aren’t going to make any money. So do yourself a favor and use a writing system that will allow you to:

  1. Get the audience reach that you desire.
  2. Gets you compensated well financially for the writing work that you develop.

Use storytelling in your writing.

Hook your readers with storytelling. Read the following.

Robert McKee

One of the people that I trust and follow is Robert McKee, who is the go-to person in Hollywood and film when it comes to writing screenplays. He emphasizes the importance of using story elements to trigger interest and engagement in written content.

He shares an example of the importance of maintaining this in long-form content.

Lessons From The Screenplay

This is a great YouTube channel to watch. I’ve shared the video to the narration of The Dark Knight, which helped me realize the importance of creating tension to trigger interest and engagement in content that is being produced. Then this tension needs to be magnified and combined with a sense of revelation.

Most readers will be seeking a solution to their problem. But to get them to act, they need to be influenced and persuaded to act urgently. And this occurs through creating tension.

Develop a heading that will get clicks and shares.

This is critical since the first thing that people will often see apart from the featured image is the title of the content that you are producing. You need to get people to read the headline, and then at least read through the other headlines that’s within the content that you are producing.

The main headline (article or blog title) will compel people to click through and read the content. If you write for a newspaper, magazine, or you plan to write a book, you need to get the reader interested in your content with the headline, and then get them to pick-up the item, turn the pages, and start reading.

I’ve previously shared an article about Upworthy’s approach, which is to come up with 25 title or headline ideas. I used this when creating YouTube videos and the most successful video that I have generated more than 5 million views.

Use keywords in your headlines.

Readers are searching for keywords that are relevant to what they are searching for. Find out what keywords resonate with your audience and include them in the headlines that you are using in your content.

Buzzwords and phrases.

I try to avoid guesswork and creating something new. There are books like “Words that sell” that has words, phases, and sentences that have been battle-tested in several advertising and marketing campaigns. You can add these words into your headings and within your web content to get the reader to stay engaged with the content that you have written.

Use an image thumbnail for your article that will attract attention and clicks.

You will either need to find or create a thumbnail that will attract the attention of readers so that they will click on the article.

You want to take as much guesswork out of it, so try to find images that have done well; or recreate images that have done well.

Some things to keep in mind include:

  • Use images that convey a message clearly (For example, high-resolution images)
  • Try to select images using bright colors from the rainbow.
  • Selecting an image that shows a potential scene (e.g. A sneak peek like a movie trailer)

Below is one example that I created a few years ago for an article I wrote about securing the Zero Position on Google.

Zero position ranking
Zero position ranking

Edit your content based on the feedback for your audience.

Editing your writing work needs to be done for your audience and not to appease the editing or English grammar gods. Your focus when producing your written content is to ensure that it resonates with your audience so that they will respond. And ideally, they need to respond emotionally so that they will become invested in what you are writing, they will take action, and they will become an advocate of yours so that they will promote your content to others.

There are some basic editing items that you should already have as a part of your workflow. These include:

  • Spelling
  • Grammar
  • Punctuation
  • Formatting

Remember, we are writing and publishing to trigger a positive response and action from our audience and not to write academically so that we can get an A from a teacher or university professor. The content that is being produced should create an income for you. So any edits that are implemented should help grow the revenue by getting more people to read, engage, and take action with the content that you have produced.

Format what you write to maximize engagement.

If you write good content and don’t format it, it is going to perform poorly. So you must optimize the content for promotion, consumption, and sharing.

My specialty is content that is published on websites as a blog. However, other formats that you will need to consider include:

  • Microblogs
  • Web content that will be promoted on social media websites.
  • Web content that will be converted into downloadable formats like PDFs.
  • Validate your content by getting the reader to become a part of your audience.

Punctuation.

Be consistent with the punctuation that you use in your writing. Use a format that works well with your audience. Use full stops, commas, question marks, and exclamation points where necessary.

Spelling.

Make sure that you don’t have any mistakes in the writing that you are publishing. It’s easy to miss these errors. Use Microsoft Word or Google Docs, and also get Grammarly on your desktop to highlight any errors that need to be fixed.

Click here to download Grammarly.

Typography.

The font and size that you use for your content is important for legibility. You need your content to be as easy to consume as possible.

You will need to test the font sizes with your audience. Typically, size 16-18 is the easiest to read.

Fonts like Arial are easy for websites to load and for people to read. However, you can opt for another font as long as it is legible and EASY TO READ!

Spacing.

1.5 to double line spacing makes it much easier for people to read. However, it may affect the web design. Test the spacing for engagement and consult with a UX web designer to get the right balance between the optimization and the design.

Colors.

Typically, dark text on a light background works well. And only in certain scenarios for UX and conversions do other color palettes apply.

Below is an image from one of my websites showing how the text is formatted on the site.

Validate your writing skills by turning readers into subscribers or people that are a part of your audience database.

You will need to invite your readers to register as a follower on one of your databases. Measure the growth of these from the content that you are producing so that you have actual numbers.

For example:

  • Invite your readers to subscribe to your email list.
  • Invite your readers to follow your author account on Twitter.
  • Invite your readers to join your Facebook page.
  • Invite your readers to follow you on Instagram.
  • Invite your readers to join your Subreddit

You can invite your readers to become a part of your audience on the platform that is most convenient.

Be succinct.

There will not be any wall of text in any writing that you produce. The content must be easy to read and digestible. Steve Jobs from Apple had instructed any content that was being created by his company to be easy enough for an 11-year old to read.

  • Be punchy with your content.
  • Use as few words as possible to get your point across.
  • Make your content easy to read for people scanning the text.
  • Use headings and titles.
  • Use good spacing between your sentences.
  • Use bullet points, tables, images, and infographics to make it easy to read and consume your content.
  • Make sure that paragraphs are no longer than 3 sentences.

Make your content credible (Backed by research, studies, data, etc).

Don’t make a claim that isn’t backed-up or verified by a source. There are so many clickbait titles and articles that are unfounded, and the content is often an outright lie.

Use credible data sources such as peer-reviewed research studies, primary and secondary data sources, and cite those sources in your writing either as links to the original source within the content that you are producing or in a reference section at the end of your content.

Never-ever steal or plagiarize.

I thought this would be obvious, but it has become a huge issue over the past decade with people blatantly stealing or repurposing other people’s work without giving them credit.

DON’T DO IT!

If you are using information, quoting, or referencing someone else’s work, always provide credit. Do this by at least linking to the original source or adding a bibliography or references at the end of your content. If you need to see a good example, go onto the articles that are published on Wikipedia and look at how they cite their information.

Add something similar to the content that you are publishing.

Wikipedia resource example
Source: Wikipedia

Ready to improve your writing?

With all of these suggestions, you should see a drastic improvement in the quality of the content that you write. As you develop your skills, you will also find your tone of voice for your writing style that will help you connect with your audience.

Before you go, leave a short story of 50 to 100 words in the comments using the tips that you’ve learned from this post.

Thanks for reading. And good luck with your writing journey.

Featured image credit

Photo by Daniel Thomas on Unsplash

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