As content marketers, we love getting our hands on fool-proof “formulas” for great blog posts. We Google for secret hacks that will make our writing sparkle.
Don’t you wish writing a great blog post was as easy as following a recipe?
- Gather your research.
- Combine until you reach X number of words (whatever the recipe of the day calls for).
- Publish at the exact moment of the day that’s scientifically best.
- Watch the traffic, social media love and leads pour in.
But writing doesn’t work like that — at least not in my experience. There’s no formula for success. Every audience (and really, every individual person) has specific preferences about blog post length, content, timing and frequency.
All you can do is follow your strategy and try to write the best possible post for your readers.
Even though I don’t have a recipe to share (sorry!), I do work with a lot of excellent writers and editors. I asked the Rep Cap team: What’s one way to improve your writing quickly?
Here are our tips.
Edit, edit, edit.
The difference between good writing and great writing? About three drafts — and another person. Let someone else edit before you go live. Sometimes our fingers can’t fly as fast as our synapses are firing. We know what we meant to say, so that’s what we read, even if we happened to leave out a word or two (or an entire sentence).
Step away from your computer.
There’s an old joke about dining out in New Orleans, that there are 1,000 restaurants with the same menu. And writing on the web can quickly feel the same way. Break out of the “influencer” echo chamber by logging off and doing some truly original research. Interview your peers, customers and other experts.
Try bullet points and numbered lists.
Highlight important information and make your writing scan-friendly for busy readers. (Pro tip: Numbered lists are for when the order matters, such as steps in a recipe or a top 10 list counting down to the “best” thing. For everything else, use bullets.)
Use active verbs.
Just say no to passive voice! I love this tip from a Rep Cap editor: “Grab a good verb and lead with it.” (Even her verb, “grab,” says a lot in four little letters.) Strong, action-oriented verbs give your writing momentum and personality.
Banish jargon and buzzwords.
We’re talking to you, “impactful” and “go-to-market.” Stick with real words you’d use in a conversation — preferably a conversation with a friend, not with your boss. I’m reading Ann Handley’s new book, “Everybody Writes,” and her tip made me laugh: Don’t use words you wouldn’t whisper to your sweetheart in the dark.
(I have opinions about jargon — here’s my full post with tips on killing your jargon.)
Experiment with new writing tools.
Have you heard of the Hemingway App? It grades your writing for simplicity and points out unwieldy sentences, unnecessary adverbs and stodgy jargon. I don’t always agree with the app’s suggestions (I really love a good adverb), but it’s an easy, fast way to get a new perspective on your writing.
We also love CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer for writing click-worthy blog post titles.
Make your blog content better. Download our guide for week-by-week tips: