on April 10, 2018 Social Media Social Media Tips copywriting

From One Writer To Another … Tips And Techniques To Create Great Content

Writing is a skill that some love and others hate. I’ve been writing for more than 20 years and there are still days that require a little more effort than others! That being said, I create at least one piece of original content every single day and there are tips and techniques I use to make this process more efficient and help my final product be something I’m proud of.

Here’s An Idea
An idea is the beginning of any piece of content. It’s pretty hard to write when you don’t know what you’re writing about. A lot of people ask me about writer’s block and how to prevent it; my answer is usually, “Writer’s block occurs when you don’t have an idea.” If you’re struggling to put something on “paper,” you need to re-evaluate what you wish to write about. Brainstorm with a co-worker to help flesh out the idea properly, or even come up with something better. In my experience, a topic will work if you can see it come together in your head first.

Make A Plan
Once you have an idea, make a plan. A great piece of writing always starts with preparation. What goals do you hope to achieve? What is the main thing you want the reader to take away from the piece? This will help you decide how many points you want your project/article/blog to cover. For example, my goal with this blog is for the reader to gain some helpful tips and techniques to become better writers. So this blog will need to include at least three tips or actions, plus a lede and conclusion.

Use An Outline
I love, love an outline. Every time I write anything of length, I put together an outline. Outlines keep your writing on track and your thoughts in order. Depending on the project, the outline can be very detailed or just a couple pieces of information. For this blog, I did a quick outline that included the main points: formulating an idea, organizing information, make an outline, lede writing and streamlining. 

My outlines are also fluid. I move points around where I think they will work best, often changing my mind and moving them back. I don’t get stuck on where the points should go, just that they should all be addressed in the finished work. 

A project’s length helps me determine how detailed my outline should be. For example, I put my outline on paper, with several subheads, for a 1000-word article. A couple typed points in a Word document is sufficient for a 500-word blog and anything shorter, I usually just outline it in my head.

Lede Your Reader
A blank page can be terrifying for some writers, myself included. So, I always try to get my lede down first. A lede is an introduction to your piece. It should include why you’re writing the piece and what the reader will get out of it. Look it at like a summary or tease of what the reader can expect. Once I have the lede, the rest of the piece just falls into place because I look at it like I just have to back-up what the lede stated the article/blog is about. 

Take One Thing Off
Coco Chanel famously said, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” I believe this also applies to writing. If you are really trying to make one section of your story work, ask yourself if it really needs to be there? Many times writers want to include absolutely everything. This is both exhausting for the writer and the reader. Streamline your project so it only covers points that explain the topic, don’t veer off course. An example of this would be if I started to discuss how to publish your piece online, instead of sticking to tips. That’s an entirely new topic and doesn’t support the goal of the piece. Once you get the first draft down, go through and edit your piece. Those sections that don’t quite work will stand out when you take a step back from the finished product.

Everyone may not like writing, but everyone can write. Keep at it, think it out and put some words to paper. You may be surprised how the process gets easier and easier over time.

Erin Sandage

Erin’s a pro at writing copy, and for good reason; she’s been doing it for nearly two-decades. She has written and edited copy for a wide variety of audiences and publications, from the local news to niche B2B publications. From short posts to long-form features, she’s got it covered. A Sioux City-native, not counting a short detour through Iowa City during college, when she’s not churning out copy, she’s hanging out with her husband and two daughters, watching anything British on PBS or walking her two golden retrievers Han and Chewy.