4 Ways to Look Like a Writer When You’re Really Not
By: Susan Guillory
It’s been a while since English class, and you might be a little out of practice when it comes to your writing skills. And yet, here you are, a business professional who relies on your communication skills to better market yourself and reach a wider audience.
Whether you need to craft an email to a client, write a blog post, or simply atone for those past sins, here are four tips to refresh your writing skills.
1. Read Other Writers
Imitation is flattery, but it’s also useful to you. The more you read, whether that’s blog posts, articles, books, or even emails, the more ideas you will get for how you want your own writing to sound.
Crafting a marketing message about a consumer product will have a vastly different tone and style than writing a letter to engineers. The more you read, the more attuned you become not only to different voices and tones but different audiences and their expectations.
I’m not talking about plagiarizing, but rather understanding different styles of communication and then being able to access and utilize them at the appropriate time. How can you maximize the benefit of what you read? Take notes. Copy and paste terms and styles you like and save them in a file for reference.
If you’re writing marketing copy, for example, you’ll start to notice patterns in terms and styles used. For example, blog articles tend to be informative, but written conversationally. Observing and taking note of this can help you start to play with style and tone on different channels and for different audiences (say a white paper versus a Twitter account).
2. Reread, Reread, Reread
One of the biggest tips any professional writer will give you is to reread what you write. Many times. You may catch grammatical errors or even sentences that are a bit awkward after reading them a second time.
I highly suggest leaving your content for a few hours or even a day, then coming back to it with fresh eyes. Sometimes you need distance from what you’re working on to see the errors. Also: read it aloud—even if you feel silly. I find that because I don’t read aloud as fast as I do silently, I slow down and catch more errors.
3. Have Someone Else Read It
Okay, you don’t have to do this for every email you send, but for a blog post or other important piece of content, it can be helpful to have a second set of eyes. Ask: Do you understand what I’m trying to say here? Is the style easy to comprehend? Is it engaging? What would you improve?
Then be open to the feedback you receive and make tweaks accordingly.
4. Pay Attention to Tone
The more you read online, the more you’ll notice consistency in tone and voice. Your brand should have similar tone across all channels. It can also be helpful to have someone else review your content across all marketing channels to ensure consistency.
If you continue to struggle with your writing, you can hire a ghostwriter. Not everyone is adept at writing, and admitting that it’s a weakness of yours takes strength.
A major benefit of working with a ghostwriter—beyond having the stress of writing content removed—is that you can have a steady stream of consistent and well-written content. So if you struggle to write two posts a month for your company’s blog, you can hire a ghostwriter to ensure that you have engaging content every week. It’s worth the expense.
You don’t have to consider yourself a writer to write. But be willing to dedicate time to practice the craft, and always be open to learning from your mistakes. Writing is a necessity in the business world, so it is critical to come off as polished and error-free.