Multi-talented creative genius Tina Fey sums it up in a way that resonates every time I start a new blog post: “Writing is the worst!”
Shared at Content Marketing World 2018, the comment addresses the frustration of staring at a blank page, finding the right way to gain insights and idea out of her head and into the pages of a script.
But opinions are widely shared. Even seasoned lyricists struggle with High quality storytelling . Add to that the strategic, technical, and creative challenges of telling stories that support brand goals and well, it just keeps getting harder.
To help, we've rounded up the most helpful tips, techniques, and writing advice in this downloadable e-book, Content Marketing Writing Secrets: Better, Stronger, Faster (requires registration). The guide offers simple ways to make your work easier to read, resonate, and act on, as well as systems and techniques to help you write faster and fix problems like writer's block .
Every content creator knows that writing involves more than putting words on (digital) paper. Someone needs to come up with the topic and decide on the format. When the draft is complete, the best creators refine it.
These tips, tricks, and exercises can help ease some of the pain of creating content.
Beyond brainstorming: Find ideas your team can implement
To generate ideas, content groups typically:
But can you implement the resulting ideas?
In her keynote presentation at Content Marketing World 2020, StoryFuel Founder Melanie Deziel outlined an innovative framework to help you make consistent decisions about meaningful ideas based on available sources. yes.
The framework starts with setting the brainstorming parameters before pitching the idea. Melanie's system involved choosing two out of six questions journalist trained to discover: Who, what, why, when, where and how. Then, present options for answering those two questions in your content.
Set up brainstorming parameters BEFORE you come up with ideas, @mdeziel says via @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click to Tweet What and how did Melanie's presentation use – what will the content focus on and how will it be presented?
She lists 10 theme options:
And 10 format options:
Then she plots them on a matrix:
From there, systematically look at each point's intersection, eliminating any narrative combinations that are less likely to work based on what you know about your pool resources, your audience preferences and the competitive strength of your business.
For example, if your team lacks the ability to produce effective videos or design resources video, live video, photo galleries and infographics off the table.
After completing the exercise, you'll have possible storytelling combinations to focus on as you brainstorm story ideas – e.g. written process instructions, audio interviews with a key member of the group or interactive puzzles about desired product features.
Before you submit that draft: Refine and fact-check your content
Once you've created your content draft, don't rest on your laurels. Every writer needs (and should have) an editor. But the best writers give their editors precise, unambiguous copy.
Take the time to Eliminate mistakes and inaccuracies in your text. Your editor will thank you – and continue to rely on you.
Basic Editing Checklist for Writers
It can take years of practice to develop true editorial proficiency, but this quick guide based on advice from CMI's editorial mentor Ann Gynn can help you get the hang of the basics:
- Read your content like a reader – disable keyboard except scroll . (If evaluating in print, keep the pen out of your hand.) view your content.
- Read content as an editor. Place your hand on the keyboard (or pen on hand) and note down where the content isn't performing well and why. Is there a beginning? attract attention ? Is each sentence and paragraph clear? Is the order of the content logical? Content that represents brand voice and style?
- Ensure factual correctness and appropriate recognition. If content includes research, statistics, opinions, or citations, make sure they are accurate and correctly attributed. In digital form , make sure the links go to the original source (not to another post that cites the original content). Here reality check to-do list will go into these processes in more detail.
- Do mathematics. Make sure to add up any numbers you used. Can you spot the math inaccuracies in this passage? “70% agree that chocolate ice cream tastes better than vanilla ice cream. A third prefer vanilla to chocolate. “Mathematical errors cause editors and audiences to question your understanding of the topic.
- Review with your style guide. Check copy with your brand's style guide and selected dictionaries. For example, the CMI style guide follows the AP Style Guide with minor branding customizations and uses Webster's new College Dictionary.
- Read through after revision. After you've fixed any problems noticed in the previous steps, take a final look. Read it aloud to help you spot any remaining problems.
Secrets of writing content marketing
Mastering the art and science of creating quality content takes time, effort, and practice. No magic exists to make writing easier. But the tips and exercises in this e-book will help you sharpen your storytelling skills, speed up the writing process, and improve the quality and marketing impact of your efforts.
Please Note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by the author or sources. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or the company you've used).
Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute