I’m fortunate in that I’m both a small business owner and a writer. But I know a lot of you may not be writers. You might have dreaded your Comp class in college, or you might now grind your teeth at the thought of writing even just a paragraph.
The problem is: If you don’t have a big budget for marketing or writing, you’ll have to bite the bullet and do it yourself.
Fortunately, you don’t have to jeopardize your business’ reputation with poor writing. There are a few ways to ramp up your skills, whatever they are, and look like a burgeoning business who’s hired a professional writer to do the job.
How to Create Professional Quality Writing
Step 1: Start Reading
It might seem a strange place to start, but the more copy you read, including Web copy, blog posts, emails, books, articles, whatever, the better idea you’ll have for the style you can use in your own writing. Here are a few places you can start:
- Marketo Blog: There are a variety of contributors, so you can get a sense of different blog post styles.
- Mashable: Again, many writers. Great example of headlines that capture attention.
- Small Business Trends: You’re already here, so take a look at topics that attract readers.
- Dropbox: It’s been lauded for its simple, to-the-point Web copy.
Step 2: Start Learning
There’s nothing complex about writing a webpage title or a blog post. But there are some style and formatting points you’ll want to pick up. The more you write, the easier it becomes. My two favorite resources for writing tips are:
- CopyHackers: With a slogan like “where startups learn to convert like mofos,” you know it’s going to be fun!
- Copyblogger: Create a free account to get access to tons of useful eBooks.
Step 3: Start Writing
Don’t be apprehensive at this step. No one has to see what you write. You just want to get into the practice of writing. Model your article, Web copy or email after one you’ve found that you really like. Implement the rules and guidelines you learned in step 2. Then walk away from it for at least a few hours.
Now that you’ve had your espresso and read the newspaper, come back and reread your copy. Tweak whatever needs a little work. There’s no shame in editing multiple times. Just don’t keep it in a perpetual state of edits. This is probably more about your lack of confidence than your writing really needing tons of work.
Step 4: Have Others Read It
Once you’ve got something you’re fairly proud of, share it with your coworkers, friends, or family. Ask questions, and be willing to accept the feedback:
- Does it get your point across?
- Is it clear, or too wordy?
- Is it appealing?
- Would you click to read more?
Use this feedback to make additional edits to your work if necessary.
Step 5: Put it Out There
I know, this is the scary step. Other people will read it! But remember: Nothing’s permanent in the world of digital copy. Post it to your site for a few weeks, and pay attention to your traffic, clicks, and conversion. If it goes down after you post it, try again with the copy. If it goes up, you’re on the right track.
Your goal is to draw more people to your site, get more clicks, and bring in more customers and your copy is the key to that.
If you’re sending an email, you can try an A/B test to see which copy is most appealing to your subscribers.
When you’re a tiny small business, you have to wear many hats. But that’s no excuse for your writing hat to have holes in it. With just a little practice, your writing can be on par with a professional (and costly) writer’s and you can be well on your way to creating professional quality writing.
Writing Photo via Shutterstock
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Like any other form of art, practice always contributes to how good you write. This means that the more you read and write, the more you get better at it. The tips you presented here will really contribute to that. And I may add, it also helps to check out samples from other companies – I am not saying that you should copy. It will just give you an idea on how things are written.
Absolutely. I also get content ideas from other sites. Not copying, but inspiration, we’ll say!