Herbie wants to be a writer. He has been with Valuable Content on work experience this week, and we think he has a very bright future. In this article he shares some useful writing tips – a few lessons you may have forgotten from your school days.
Before my work experience with Sonja, I had no idea of the amount of time and effort people must put into their companies. From reading her book, I began to understand the depth which people go into in order to ensure their company is able to thrive in such competitive markets. From distributing content using social media to the importance of SEO, it seems that people leave no stone uncovered in terms of optimising their business.
So I am shocked that despite this enormous investment of time and effort, many people are still making the most basic of grammatical errors. The sorts of errors that despite being small, could potentially do huge damage to a company’s credibility.
How I can help
To tackle this problem, I’m going to take you back to school, and share with you my top ten tips for writing.
1. Know your ‘their’, ‘they’re’ and ‘there’
- Use there when referring to a place. E.g “Over there by the tree”
- Use their to indicate possession. E.g “My friends ate their lunch”
- Use they’re when shortening from they are. E.g “They’re innocent”
2. Know ‘your’ from ‘you’re’
- Use your to indicate possession. E.g “Your trainers are blue”
- Use you’re as a contraction of you are. E.g “You’re reading this at the moment”
3. It’s vs. its
- Use it’s as a contraction of it is. E.g “It’s difficult to write an essay”
- Use its to indicate possession. E.g “The cat licked its paws”
4. Paragraph effectively
Unless you want your reader to feel like they’re wading through a swamp of words, paragraph your writing. Each paragraph should raise another point.
5. Cut out the jargon
People will almost always be visiting your website looking to solve a problem they have. So skip the technicalities and get to the point.
6. Be vivid
Don’t allow your writing to fall into the trap of becoming a monotone lecture. Use emotive verbs to add speed and poignancy. Swoop, boost, and soar.
7. Make them think
People don’t like being lectured to. Involve the reader by asking a question. It’s a great way to engage them further.
8. Vary your sentences
Cramming lots of information into a huge sentence littered with commas is a sure way to lose your reader’s interest. Imitate natural speech with different sentence structures to keep your writing varied.
9. Headlines are handy
If people are looking for a specific piece of information, it’s likely that they’ll skim read your writing. Including headlines makes it far easier for the reader to do this.
10. Edit, edit, edit
After writing, leave it for a few minutes and then come back to it to edit. This allows you to approach your writing from the reader’s point of view. It will also help you to pick out simple errors as well as edit sentences to make the piece an easier read.
Is there anything that you learned at school that you think others have forgotten now they are in business?
Other articles on writing
- Stop, look edit – 5 things to check before you press publish
- The 7 deadly word sins
- 6 rules for writing content that gets you remembered
Thanks to Piers and David at Atomic Smash for helping Herbie to create the image (and challenging him to table tennis too!).