Tricks of the Trade: Secrets of Highly Effective, In-Demand Content Writers
At one time or another, we've all stumbled upon a horrific piece of writing. Typos, 'text speak', and homophonic errors decorate everything from personal blogs, emails, and in some very unfortunate cases, professional websites. It's no wonder writers who possess a strong command of sentence structure, in addition to being clear and concise are in high demand.
While not all of us are naturally born to be writers, everyone can sharpen their skills! Read on for a few habits of highly effective content writers.
You can be sure they...
- Understand the importance of error-free writing
The occasional error in judgement, typos that make you want to pull your hair out... As frustrating as it can be, it's all a part of the game. So, what sets a highly effective writer apart from those who are mediocre? They proof read and edit their work.
Confusing sentence structure, poor grammar, and misspelled words, only serve to detract from a reader's understanding. While spelling and grammar check software is a step in the right direction, it's not enough. One thing I've found that tends to help me, is to read my writing aloud. If you're on a Mac, another option is to use the speech function to allow the computer to read it to you. These techniques help you to catch errors that may go unnoticed on a quick read-through done only in your head.
- Know their audience
You're currently addicted to Draw Something and wish to share your enthusiasm with the masses. You jump on your computer, type a brilliant piece of content, and hurriedly post it to the AARP website as a suggested activity for seniors. DrawSomething + iPhone + Senior Citizens? You see where this is going, right? While it is imperative to express yourself well, meet deadlines, and present concise information, if you don't know your audience, your content cannot be effective. Knowing who your readers are, as well as what they're looking for is your best tool in providing content that generates interest.
- Do keyword research & know how to use keywords properly
Keywords are used to allow search engines to pick up your content/website. A common misconception is that you can fill an article with an abundance of keywords, and achieve results. In reality, this will usually have an adverse effect on your search engine ranking. Strive to make keywords a part of your content, but be sure to use them as an informational tool. Repeating them again and again, (and again), will not help you in achieving results.
- Pay special attention to headlines and bullet points
Catchy headlines will get attention. Because the majority of readers are limited on time, and additionally may lack patience, headlines and bullet points can be a content writer's BFF. While they may be prone to skip your opening, it's harder for the average reader to ignore the 'important' information he sees highlighted down below.
- Review, review, and review again
This one simply goes back to understanding the importance of error-free writing. Proof your content once it is finished. Use the spelling and grammar check functions in your word processing software, but be sure to pay special attention to words such as 'their' and 'there'. You may know the difference, however, the spelling and grammar check function may not. When you've done that, step away from the computer for a few hours and when you return, go back and proofread again. Once all corrections have been made, but before you pul your hair out, consider it finished and ready to be published.