While they always say, "practice makes perfect", I've found that even with all this practice, I'm nowhere near perfection.
The way I see it, perfection means that there is nothing else that could be improved upon, when in reality, I find a new way to approach content every day.
Some methods and perspectives work better than others, in fact, I've come across writing tips and tricks that I'll never try again. However, these 5 tips are different. I'd go as far as saying that these content creation tips are actually useful.
Utilize Your Audience
The goal of this post is to provide readers with insight into how to write smarter, not harder, but perhaps one of the most valuable tips I can provide you with is to not write anything at all.
I don't mean give up writing forever, but rather invite your audience to create the content for you every once in a while.
User-generated content campaigns serve as an easy way to open up the floor for interaction, while in turn taking some of the weight off your own shoulders.
The more room you leave for your audience's input, the less time you'll have to spend crafting content that will speak to your audience, spread brand awareness, or potential sway a purchasing decision.
Leverage your audiences input by initiating user-generated content campaigns like contests. Everyone is looking for their 15 minutes of fame, so implement a contest that challenges participants to create a Vine video or capture an Instagram centered around something related to your brand.
This type of crowdsourcing approach will help you to increase your following, strengthen relationships, and spread the word about your product or service without having to do much at all.
Employ a Grammar Tool
A study of 1700 adult online dates found that 43% of users consider bad grammar decidedly unattractive and 35% think good grammar is appealing. (Source: Colour Works)
If people are turning down dates over bad grammar, Who's to say that your business is any exception?
Not only does poor spelling and grammar denounce the subject matter of your content, but it also detracts from your credibility. Unfortunately,if you're not a spelling bee champion, editing your work can suck up a ton of time that you don't have.
Here are 2 apps designed to make the editing process that much easier:
According to the creators, Adam and Ben Long, “Hemingway’s premise is to help us achieve clear writing. It’s inspired by what the real Hemingway learned at the Kansas City Star: use short, declarative sentences.” (Source: Pando)
Essentially what the app does is analyze the text of your choosing and highlight a variety of issues including: readability, use of adverbs, simplicity, and passive voice usage.
After the Deadline
According to their website, "After the Deadline helps you write better by adding spell, style, and grammar checking to web applications. You can learn more on our features page."
The Google Chrome extension makes it easy for busy writers with impending (or past-due) deadlines to double check their work and uncover any issues before they publish it. It can be used to pull out mistakes in social media posts, emails, blog articles, and well, you get the hint.
Start Reading More
Here at IMPACT, we're constantly adding new books to our continuously expanding library with the hope that people will actually pick them up and read them. As a result, we're shifting our perspective. Anytime someone finishes a new book, an impromptu book club meeting will follow, a new quote will make it's way onto the quote board in the kitchen, or a relevant discussion will erupt in our weekly team meeting.
To put it quite simply, reading more is a great way to add new knowledge to your repertoire. It can inspire new ideas, and provide you with a fresh perspective for your next piece of content.
Here are 5 books that have seen a lot of attention here in our office:
Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable - Seth Godin
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World - Gary Vaynerchuk
Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype - Jay Baer
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don't Hardcover - Simon Sinek
Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business - Ann Handley & C.C. Chapman
Keep. it. simple. silly. Just because you're well-versed in all things XYZ, doesn't mean that your audience is up to speed.
In fact, a recent study from Vouchercloud revealed that Americans aren't as tech savvy as we'd like to believe. According to the study:
11% of respondents thought HTML, a language that is used to create websites, was a sexually transmitted disease.
77% of respondents could not identify what SEO means.
27% identified gigabyte, a measurement unit for an electronic device's storage capacity, as an insect commonly found in South America.
15% believed that software, a term for computer programs, was actually another word for comfortable clothing.
Point being, ditch the industry jargon where you can, or at the very least include clarification.
Don't Push Length
Your audience's 8 second attention span reveals a great deal about the content they're looking to consume.
With an overwhelming amount of market competition out there, content creators need to shift their focus and start appealing to the demand for instant gratification.
While we often approach change with skepticism, this transition into snackable content actually makes life easier.
So before you go all "Charles Dickens" on them, consider adopting a more condensed content creation approach.
Here are 3 short-form avenues that can be used to take your content from tedious to digestible:
Twitter: 140 characters or less, that's all it takes to get the word out.
Vine: With a 6 second time constraint, this social video platform forces to get creative.
Snapchat: Users are allotted a maximum of 10 seconds of viewing time before the image/video disappears for good.