There are many writing tools and tips that promise to help you increase your writing output. And some of them are really effective.
But sadly, a lot of them also disappoint and confuse us even further.
If you are struggling to reach the next level – welcome to this post – you are not alone. A few years ago, I was in the same shoes, and on a daily basis, I see budding writers unsure of their next move.
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To eradicate the lack of guidance, today we will see in-depth instructions and strategies on how you can break into the next level.
With these 27 strategies, you will be writing content that clients and readers can’t stop gobbling up.
Let’s get started:
1. Do solid groundwork
When you are starting out in writing, you are super pumped to crank out words that help you get clients, build your brand, or even just get your voice heard. I get it.
While there’s nothing wrong with enthusiasm (in fact, enthusiasm is one of the best traits of a successful writer), at the same time, you need to polish up your basic writing as well.
Elements like – grammar, punctuation, readability, and sentence structures.
And, to help you cover those, I’ve got just the resources:
“The Elements of Style by Strunk And White”
This small book is crammed with information to help you with your grammar and spelling.
You can also grab Grammarly if you think your grammar will take time to improve.
You can even go as far as to hire a proofreader to eliminate the bugs if you have the money.
2. Read voraciously
Agreed – reading isn’t a direct writing practice, but it helps you improve eventually.
When you read a piece of writing, your brain subconsciously starts absorbing the nuances – the stellar words, sentences and frameworks used.
Every great writer’s path is paved by observation of the works of masters. Which means, there’s no way around this.
So, go ahead, take some time out and read amazing writing every day. And you will see your vocabulary expanding and improving over the course of time.
In this case, there are no shortcuts.
3. Put sentences under the microscope
Good writing equals to beautiful sentences parading together.
And if you want to put out high-impact writing (who doesn’t, right?), strengthening your sentences is inevitable.
And here’s the good news for you – you don’t have to create such sentences from scratch.
A ton of books and blogs by amazing writers can help inflate your arsenal.
If you prefer learning from only freelance writers (good move if you’re writing for web), you can follow Bamidele Onibalusi, Carol Tice, Jorden Roper, and Kristi Hines.
And when you encounter their work, press pause and observe. Because this is where the magic happens.
Read it out aloud. Again and again. Hand-copy it and you will burn it into your brain.
When you do this, you rewire your brain to write better.
Ask yourself – why is that writing so powerful?
- Do you find it crisp and punchy?
- Does it pack an amazing analogy?
- Do you see abundance of power words?
Keep taking notes, and in time, you will be armed with a lot of writing power to express yourself.
4. Burn great writing into your brain by hand-copying
So much so that I decided to write an entire point on this.
Despite the solid improvement, most budding or intermediate writers don’t embrace this. And even if some do, they tend to give up soon.
I’ve personally found this painfully hard to continue. It just feels tempting to replace handwriting with reading.
But as I continued the pen and paper anyway, the rewards started to show.
So many sentences and words entered my brain so deep, they come out as I speak. And you can do the same.
First, it might not make sense or show effect. But continue for 3 days and I guarantee you, you will be experiencing solid improvement.
French psychologist Stanislas Dehaene says:
“Although typing is the easier option, learning becomes much more effective when you copy it by hand.”
You will find hundreds of such science-backed researchers advocating how hand-copying can improve your chops. So go ahead and do it.
5. Create an outline before writing
Liz Longacre explained this amazingly.
Just about all famous freelance writers use outlines to save time, increase flow, thereby, the overall quality.
A basic outline has three parts. Let’s see them below:
Intro – This welcomes your readers and introduces the topic. Tells them what your piece will cover, how it will benefit them, so they read on.
Meat – This is where you provide all the value. Tips, examples, analogies, citing other resources, personal opinions, images, videos, and everything you think will bring value.
Ending – Here, you wrap things up. Square off with a recap followed by a call to action. You can also ask a question if you want.
6. Take off your editor’s hat when writing
Editing when writing is a serious issue for us writers.
Writing and editing require entirely different approaches.
Doing them together will slow you down, damage your momentum, and cause self-doubts eventually.
Sure, writing and editing are both very close-looking, manual work.
However, the first draft is about jotting down ideas and thoughts. Sort of vomiting on the page.
And editing is more of constructive/analytical work.
If you do them together, it is like switching gears up and down constantly. Hampering your speed.
You are better off pressing the accelerator.
The editor’s hat equals to road bumps when drafting the first draft. So avoid it.
7. Keep your writing dead simple and breathable
Michael Brenner from Marketing Insider Group touched on this as well.
- Avoid ‘utilize’ when ‘use’ would do
- Avoid ‘close proximity’ when ‘near’ would do
- Avoid ‘facilitate’ when ‘help’ would do
Use longer words only when you need to express something more specific.
Because your brain takes time to process complicated words.
For the same reason, keep your sentences snippy and digestible.
Here’s another tip:
Convey only one thought in each sentence. More will increase complexity and create confusion.
Here is a brutal truth I realized very late:
No client or reader clapped an eye about the tongue twisters or tooth-breaking words I knew.
They only cared how my writing could benefit them. So yes, stick to simple language.
And in order to keep the article breathable…
You can break down the writing into chunks, use bullet points, and keep a lot of white space.
And when you kill these distractions, it prevents your readers from exiting.
8. Trash corporate language
Derek Halpern explains this well in this video:
Unfortunately, in business writing, readers don’t usually care if the writer is an amazing scholar.
You have to connect and resonate with the audience. Striking a human bond is crucial for impactful writing.
According to The Language Magazine:
Making it essential to write in simple words.
Simply put – throwing in complex words suck out the resonating power of your writing.
So, go ahead and eradicate:
- Fluff words and sentences
- Unnecessary adjectives
- Complicated terms
- Lengthy text blocks
Because these things take up your readers’ attention.
Let’s consider a comparison:
“Do you want to pocket an extra $10K every month importing products that you like? If so, read on. By the end of this premium report, you will have all the resources you need to build your personal importing empire.”
Compare that with:
“If you are extremely desired to acquire another additional $10k each and every month through the import of wide-ranging products that suit your taste, pay utmost devotion to this premium report delivering confidential, one of the kind information that’s not available elsewhere.”
Can you spot the difference?
Regardless of the reader, short and simple words always work better.
Also, use specific words to avoid ambiguity and express exactly what you want to. You can use verbs, nouns, pronouns, and names. Because being more specific means less processing for the reader.
For example, avoid writing:
Wanting to obtain an aesthetically appealing physic?
Want another 10-20 pounds of solid muscle in a year?
Specific, my friend.
9. Remove fluff
Express Writers went in-depth on this topic here.
Let’s take another comparison.
Which paragraph is easier to read?
“Want to brush up your copywriting chops? Not to worry. I’ll make you a cutting-edge wordsmith – slicing through any reader’s barriers and make them read every single word on your page”
Compare that to:
“Are you on the lookout for drastically enhancing your copywriting qualities? I will aid you in your endeavor. You will comprise and one of the kind set of skills that we empower you to get over about all objections coming from the readers, and drive them fanatic regarding your service”
Which one do you find effortless? The answer is obvious, right?
The first text leaves the second one biting the dust.
Can you guess why?
Because the second text is full of fluff words and unnecessary adjectives, ultimately, fogging up the message and idea.
Which goes to torture readers when reading, instead of spoonfeeding the message.
So, stick to what George Orwell says:
10. Frontload your sentences
Frontloading means starting your sentences and paragraphs with the “meat” of your writing – in an active voice.
It helps your writing capture attention.
- The lamp was broken by John
- The bat was swung by Carl
- The books were thrown away by him
- John broke the lamp
- Carl swung the bat
- He threw the books away
Before the changes, the sentences were passive and the essence was very deep down.
After frontloading, they look more crisp and straightforward.
When you write this way, the reader can easily understand.
As writers, our job is to connect, resonate, and communicate with readers using words. They should be able to glide down the text effortlessly.
Frontloading is all about that.
11. Seize space in your reader’s brain
Ever thought of hijacking space in your reader’s brain? Sounds amazing, right?
If you can hack their attention, you can engage them better.
But the question remains – how do we do it?
Here’s how – by engaging the following senses:
If you can hit these senses with your writing, you can evoke powerful feelings that resonate with people.
You can do that with power words.
Let’s compare usual writing with writing that engages those 5 senses.
“Our content writing program will make you an incredibly powerful writer. We deliver you everything you need to write engaging and exciting content.”
5 senses added:
“Our content writing program will have you shooting words that smack the readers into paying attention – eyes wide-open. We will arm you with everything you need to keep them glued to the screen until you wave them goodbye.”
In these scenarios, both paragraphs give the same message.
However, the second is full of emotion-evoking, vivid words that break into your reader’s head, command attention, and keep them reading.
12. Use analogies over cliches
SmartBlogger dedicated a stellar guide to the use of analogies.
Cliches are everywhere. So much that they don’t move your readers anymore.
Cliches draw out yawns from your readers and cloud your writing voice, style, and personality.
Sure – it is normal to jot down a lot of cliches when creating your first draft. It’s completely fine.
Just don’t let those cliches sneak into your finished piece – replace them with powerful analogies.
Ever heard the quote – a picture portrays a thousand words?
Well, analogies are pretty similar. It helps you highlight similar points between two stories.
They help you compress ideas and ‘paint’ them out. Making your writing more appealing, engaging, and unique.
Let’s compare again.
“We writers must break out of our comfort zones to get better.”
“Just like caterpillars smash out of their cocoons and transform into butterflies, we writers must also crack open our comfort zones to level-up our writing.”
Analogies command attention, paint mental pictures, and deliver bland cliched messages as original, unique ideas.
So fit them anywhere you can in your writing.
13. Write conversationally with empathy
Enchanting Marketing explained this in detail. I highly suggest you give it a read.
If you write as you speak, you will engage much better.
Imagine talking with your best friend in Starbucks across the table.
You are not writing to an audience anymore. You are discussing with a friend who you trust with your life.
So normally – you will go the extra mile trying to explain it the best.
This mindset sets you apart from the generic-sounding writers.
Maybe that generic voice settled in you in school, or when you used to write formal papers in an office.
And if you’ve been writing that way so far, I hope you will start making it more talkative.
Use ‘you’ and ‘I’ spontaneously because that helps you connect with your reader.
Sure, that might be a bad idea for college essays, but audience-focused business writing craves that.
Maybe in school or office, you were taught to use the word “one” in such scenarios. For example:
“When one starts writing, one faces many hurdles.”
Please avoid this approach because it is old-fashioned, bland, and just not cordial.
You can put it like this instead:
“When I started out in writing, I faced a lot of hurdles. If you are also a budding writer, you will have them too.”
Stick to everyday language and cut bigger words wherever possible. Here are some examples:
- Question = Ask
- Profession = Job
- Conundrum = Hard task
Unless you’re writing for a very niche audience that requires certain jargon, simple writing will have the most impact.
Lastly, if you are using acronyms, spell them out when you mention them.
Bottom-line: optimize your writing’s user experience as much as you can. And again – you can learn that by following industry-leading freelance writers – Carol Tice, Bamidele Onibalusi, Kristi Hines and Jorden Roper.
14. Hire an editor
Yes, I already mentioned editors before but it deserves a separate spot.
As you already know – the first draft almost always comes out garbage.
Sure, you can polish up your draft on your own, but it’s hard to find flaws in your own writing. You are just too close to it.
And that’s why – in the writing world, editing is seen as a brutal task. Sure, you can utilize Stephen King’s drawer method.
However, you don’t usually get such long deadlines in freelance writing – you have to move fast.
Therefore – an editor with a fresh set of eyes will help you understand your strong and weak ends in writing.
15. Invest in an editing tool
We freelance writers can always use a second opinion.
Sure – hiring a professional human editor is much better, but if you are not ready for that, you can start with a tool.
So – if you are concerned about your grammar, spelling and style, you can latch onto Grammarly. Veteran freelance content marketer Chintan Zalani strongly advocates you try out its premium version. Because as you keep writing, it will help you brush up in many aspects.
16. Write like it’s your job
Imagine you are a plumber or a car mechanic, and it is your first day at work.
You won’t just break in and perform jaw-dropping mendings, right?
Of course not. Because in every career, you come in a newbie. You get better over the course of time.
Writing is no different. You just have to keep doing it to improve.
Write when you want to, write when you don’t.
Write like it’s your job and keep doing it every day.
Whatever happens – you don’t feel confident enough in your grammar, or punctuation, or some other aspect of your English – keep writing.
Look up words and use them if you need. Google translator and thesaurus are your friends.
Even native English speaking writers always rely on Google and a thesaurus when writing.
Just keep plodding, day after day, and soon you will become a professional.
17. Use verbs that force readers to pay attention
Verbs have a massive impact on how alive and impactful your writing is.
Using the perfect power verbs can light up your writing. These are mainly emotion-evoking words that complement persuasion and arrest attention.
The best verbs have only 1 or 2 syllables. For example:
Smash, stomp, destroy, hail, unleash, lash, and so on.
Let’s compare two scenarios now.
Without power verbs:
- The children managed the house
- He got very angry, very quick
With power verbs:
- The children supervised the house
- He exploded in anger
Astonishing change in the impact, right?
Sprinkling power verbs throughout your writing makes it much crisper, persuasive, and powerful.
Look at these 700 + power words from OptinMonster to grow your arsenal.
18. Do proper research
The points he made are extremely practical, so I urge you go through them once.
Many writers do shallow research. Sure, that’s normal when you are starting out.
But over time, you need to be willing to go the extra mile to find accurate information.
You might have to dig through law reports or medical studies to find valid insights and data.
You might have to email around people to confirm facts.
So be prepared for that.
Take information from valid sources only. Trust official government sites, university researches, and industry-leading blogs only.
If a lot of mediocre sources are saying the same thing, take everything with a pinch of salt, and dig further.
Because anybody can publish anything on the internet today. And even make it go viral with shady tricks.
So it is hard to distinguish accurate information from the fake.
Also, see if the information is recent or not. A study or survey dating 10 years back might not be relevant now.
In-depth research comes real handy for such cases. It is also essential for technical writing (that tend to pay decently).
So yes, as your writing career progresses, emphasizing research is essential.
19. Edit brutally
That’s a famous saying in the writing world. It means to edit your unfinished piece mercilessly. Regardless of how hard it is to erase the parts you gave birth to – you have to edit them mercilessly for the sake of the highest quality.
Because nobody ever writes a perfect first draft.
That first version is for letting your thoughts run wild. Simply slamming down everything that crosses your mind.
Once you are finished jotting down ideas, take a break. It can be 30 to 60 minutes. Or even a few days.
The longer you can afford to wait, the better. Because stepping away for longer helps you find flaws in your writing more properly.
After that, come back with a sword.
Not a literal one, of course. More like an editing knife.
Keep rewriting, omitting and adding parts on that piece as you see better.
Do multiple edit rounds. By the time you’re in round 3 or 4, your writing will start shaping decently.
20. Write actionable content
Actionable content means information that can be implemented easily. ‘How-to’ guides, for example.
For companies, it helps generate more leads and conversions, thereby, more clients and higher ROI.
Here are some ways to make your content actionable:
- Pack as much authority as you can
- Add images and visuals
- Inject personality
- Don’t just advise, explain how to do things
If you can master creating actionable content, you can market yourself as an ROI-focused content writer or marketer.
And companies are willing to pay high rates for that.
21. Master your headlines
Your headline must reel the reader in. It can make or break the reading stream.
So it’s crucial to write effective ones.
Whether it is your blog, social media, or Google search results, headlines represent you everywhere.
Here are some quickies you can use to create optimized headlines:
- Research the audience and pick headlines that have performed well in the past
- Utilize proven headline templates
- Jot down several headlines and pick the one you find most attractive and use it
- Add the most mouthwatering benefit in the headline
- Mention the topic you are addressing
- Form it as a question
I hope this helps you understand which headlines perform well, so you can tailor yours accordingly.
22. Join a community of writers
If you have been a solo freelancer for some time, you can tell how lonely it can get.
And as humans, we crave connection. So loneliness can wear us out mentally.
Besides freelancing, if you don’t have a balanced social life, you might want to focus on that now.
Go join a writing community. It can be online or offline. Or both.
Surround yourself with writers on social media. I suggest you join these Facebook groups:
- Writing Revolters
- The Copywriter Club
- The Gary Halbert Copywriting Club
- The Content Marketing Lounge
Roam around there, question, read, comment, connect, applaud – be a part of the community.
Connect with the right people and you will start feeling the support.
Personally, I’ve found a ton of kind and humble people there. Many from very successful writing career positions, who are willing to help. Go check it out.
23. Conduct detailed research on your readers
Where do your readers hang out?
What kind of content do they enjoy?
What are their biggest struggles?
What stresses keep them awake at night?
Roll your sleeves up, go out there and research.
Talk with customers, use surveys, polls, study high-performing content and copy to understand the audience better.
24. Learn from bad writing
Ever wondered how bad writing looks? How about learning from it?
Think about it…
When you are reading a stellar piece of content, it smoothly flows into your head.
But in terms of bad writing, it is hard to understand. Bad writing stumbles you when reading.
You can tell it’s not professional right away. Even people from other lines of work can spot bad writing.
The sentences are bloated. The flow is crippling. Punctuation is off. It makes the readers yawn.
Observing such pieces comes with a clever benefit. It increases your writing skills.
Because we tend to be around so much compelling written content, we might start comparing and questioning our capabilities.
25. Cultivate your brain with words
Did you know every professional writer is a voracious reader?
I know I was – often printing out quality writing and studying it carefully.
Circling and underlining words that lit me up.
That being said, did you know if you go through a strong reading session, the part of your brain responsible for receptivity of language charges up?
Well, scientists from Emory University have proved that.
So, why not go ahead and read for some time before you start writing next time?
26. Have a deadline
June Whittle shared some great advice on her article on Writers in Charge:
Nothing moves work like the urgency of a deadline.
Because without one, you will continuously want to scrutinize your content. And the right time to publish will never come.
But under pressure, most people tend to get it done.
Imagine a boss assigning you a presentation to be finished in 2 hours. Either you do it, or you’re fired.
In that situation, you don’t have the liberty or comfort to slack.
Apply that rule to your personal projects.
However, commitment is going to be important. And it is difficult to follow through.
If you’re suffering with that, you can get someone to hold you to account. It can be a family member, a friend, are some business mentor.
27. Start moving, keep moving
This might sound irrelevant at first, but please bear with me.
As you may have already experienced, writing isn’t an easy task.
It is a continuous creative battle for your brain to carve out quality words that compel readers.
To combat all that stress, you need to take good care of your mind and body.
That’s where exercise comes in.
Many of my writer friends rely on workouts to boost and keep up their creativity.
Research also shows that exercise lights up your neurons and turns your brain on.
When I’m stressed but have more writing to do, I walk for 20 – 30 minutes.
It helps me calm down, refresh my mood, and clear my clouded mind. It can do the same for you.
I’m not asking you to do anything rigorous. Simply getting your body moving by walking, or jogging, or even stretching can help.
Just get your blood pumping and you will have the capacity to write again.
Lastly, don’t try all these techniques at once.
Pick 1 or 2 and stick to them for some time.
All these practices are like building muscles.
Keep nurturing them and you will see substantial improvement eventually.
How do you go about improving your writing?
Let me know in the comments below.
Let’s talk, share, and communicate ideas.
Guest author: Mehedi Hasan Shoab is a freelance content marketer helping businesses skyrocket. Want him to handle your work? See his website here.