Not everyone is a great writer. But people, particularly prospective customers or clients, will make judgments about us based on the words we use online. If you want your online copy to sparkle, but the best you can muster is a dull shine, what can you do?
Of course, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re probably an outstanding writer. But on the off chance you’re not, and you are determined to be a better writer, practice.
Most of us will never be able to shoot three-pointers like Steph Curry or sing like Ariana Grande, but anyone can get better at sinking long shots or carrying a tune, with practice. And fortunately, becoming a solid writer is far easier than making it to the NBA or the Grammys.
That said, not everyone has the ambition or patience to write well. It may just not be your thing. Whether you want to DIY or seek professional help, here are six paths to ending up with better content for your website, blog, or other digital platforms.
The first step to becoming a better writer is to be a more voracious reader. But don’t read just anything.
Read the good stuff: the classic books of yesterday, the best columnists and authors of today. The Wall Street Journal or New York Times.
High-quality writing is nutrition for the brain. On the other hand, sites like BuzzFeed and POPSUGAR (appropriately named) are mental junk food. They do for your mind what chips and sugary sodas do for your body.
Take Online Courses
If you weren’t blessed with outstanding English and literature teachers in your formative years, or just haven’t retained that knowledge, the Internet makes it practical to learn from the best, at your convenience.
Don’t Write, Talk (Start a Podcast)
Perhaps you’re the kind of person who prefers to share your subject matter expertise verbally, rather than putting pen to paper (or the digital equivalent). It’s never been easier to start a podcast, or more lucrative: the number of people in the U.S. who listen to podcasts more than doubled just between 2015 and 2020.
Hire a Professional Writer
High-quality written content isn’t cheap. But then again, low-quality content is worthless. If your brand reputation is on the line, and SEO matters, make the investment to hire a professional writer.
That said, there are ways to assure your content budget is being spent efficiently. Clarity and process are vital for keeping costs in line when working with a professional. Providing a clear description of the content desired and establishing a clear process for requesting, reviewing, and approving content avoids wasted time in “wheel spinning” and back-and-forth communications.
Hire an Editor
Maybe you’ve got some subject matter experts on staff who are pretty good at sharing their knowledge in written form, but the writing just isn’t polished. In that case, your best path may be hire an editor who can not only fix common copywriting errors, but also expand upon thoughts, expand on concepts, and otherwise beef up content to add value.
Again, talented editors aren’t inexpensive and you won’t find them on low-end sites like Fiverr, but they’ll cost less than a writer because the scope of work is tighter: they are there to polish, rather than create from scratch.
Get Help from Technology
Online apps like Hemmingway App and Grammarly enable you to copy in your current text, then provide specific suggestions for improvement—from use of adverbs, to structural simplification, to eliminating passive voice.
Do NOT however fall for applications that promise to “use the power of AI to craft original articles, headlines, ads, and more.” While AI tools for sales and marketing and sales can be helpful, they can’t create original content for you.
Writing remains an intensely personal craft. Tools that promise to do it for you are garbage, and may even run afoul of Google for SEO. And granted it’s anecdotal, but I recently came across a review of AI content generators written by an affiliate marketer who promotes them—yet the quality of his writing was awful.
Deep subject matter expertise and exceptional writing skills don’t always go together. And that’s okay.
If you’re one of those people who really knows your stuff but…writing isn’t really “your stuff,” use any of the techniques above to keep your engaged not enraged, tuned in not turned off.