All aboard—the content marketing train is leaving the station.
By now every CEO, Marketing Director, or entrepreneur worth their salt is on board with the idea that content marketing (also often referred to as inbound marketing) is the cornerstone of the modern marketing strategy.
But it’s one thing to strategize about blogging and other content creation tactics to educate and inform prospective customers. Actually producing the content is a totally different matter.
Not every small business owner, or even every marketer is also an expert writer. And with so much content being created every day, it can be difficult for non-professional writers to create good content that is interesting to read.
If you’re struggling to create compelling, unique, and easy to read content for your business, try out these five quick and easy copywriting tips to instantly improve your inbound marketing content.
1) Become a Thesaurus Nerd
Before I even start digging in to a new article, I open three thesaurus tabs in my web browser and pop in three different words that I may be tempted to frequently repeat.
Particularly when you’re covering a narrow topic, it’s easy to start re-using the same few words over and over and over. So go ahead and put a few different options into your brain before you even get started.
For this article, for example, I searched “writing,” “article,” and “grammar.” I didn’t end up using the “grammar” tab all that much, but it was useful just to have it there.
Once you finish your piece, read through looking specifically for repetitive words. Does anything stand out or bore you? If so, use your thesaurus to find something more interesting.
Author’s Note: If you’re currently mumbling to yourself in protest about SEO, know that I’m not talking about your target keywords and search terms. Notice that I used “copywriting” nearly half a dozen times in this post. (See tip #5 about breaking rules on purpose.)
2) Change Up Your First Words
This is a trick I learned from my sixth grade english teacher (Hi Mrs. Woods!) that really works wonders for improving your writing.
Go through your article and highlight the first word of every sentence. Now check to see how many times you start sentences with the same word. If you’ve never done this before, it’s probably a lot!
Can you change some of those words up? Try to start the first word of every sentence within a paragraph—and the first word of every paragraph within your entire article—with a different word.
To this day I still do this for almost every article that I write. It takes boring, bland writing and jazzes it up—keeping your reader engaged in what you have to say.
3) Recognize Your Copywriting “Ticks”
We all have one or a few go-to words or phrases when we write or speak, that we tend to use over. And over. And over. Usually they are lead-ins to sentences or paragraphs when we’re not sure how to transition.
A friend of mine loves, “That being said…” Mine lately (especially for how-to style blogs) seems to be “You’ll want to…” or “You’ll need to…”
Yuck! It’s not that these words or phrases are necessarily terrible choices (though frankly some of them are). But variety is the spice of life! Let’s change it up, friends!
If you find yourself using the same sayings frequently in your writing, determine whether you’re making the best phrasing choice, or whether you’ve just settled into a comfortable writing tick.
I like to keep a list of my common ticks on a post-it note above my desk, making sure that I read through each blog to find them and re-word sentences where needed.
4) Keep Your Paragraphs Short
This is a trick for blog writing that I picked up from our beloved client Gini Dietrich.
When editing posts for Spin Sucks, Gini consistently shortens paragraphs down to 2-3 sentences max. Doing so helps the reader’s eye continue through the article without getting overwhelmed by text.
Switching to this short paragraph style was a tough change for my academically trained, six-sentence-paragraph brain. But as soon as I started, I saw instant improvement in my blog writing. Thanks, Gini!
5) Break Rules On Purpose
What I’ve just given you is a list of rules and guidelines for blog writing. But here’s the secret—you get to break the rules when you want to.
Grammar rules, style rules, active voice and sentence structure rules. Guess what, it’s your writing! You can do whatever you want! But there’s one catch:
You have to first understand the rules of writing before you’re allowed to break them.
Readers can tell the difference between a stylistic fragment sentence and a poorly written one. It’s painfully obvious whether you’re consciously using passive voice to prove a point, or whether it’s the only way you know how to write.
Change it up. Be a rule breaker. I give you permission! Just make sure you know what rules you’re breaking and why.
Ultimately, the most important rule of good writing is a consistent editing process. In order to implement any of these tips, you need to read what you write and edit it well. Then just keep writing! With time and practice, your copywriting will improve and continue to drive prospective customers to your business.