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MENTORING

WRITERS

WRITING FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Believe it or not, what many authors, illustrators, bloggers etc., often forget, is that if they are serious and are making a living, no matter how small, from what they do, then they are in business. And, being in business is tough. You are doing your level best to grow a brand, handle the finances, and build your readers/clients list, which you need not to have to stop doing. And on top of all that, you have to continue producing the work for which your brand is your business. That is, write the next book, draw the next illustration, write the next blog.

Today I want to look at what sets successful entrepreneurs apart from all others? Now, did you know that there are approximately 582 million entrepreneurs worldwide? And that includes you. Yes, that is precisely what you are, an entrepreneur. Now that is a fascinating figure. Yet, not all of them are successful.


Those that are a success are passionate, resourceful, willing to improvise, and have a strong determination to succeed. But, more importantly, they are also excellent writers. They understand that good writing can help them win new business, and so they write directly and authoritatively - whether it’s a tweet, a blog post, an email, whatever. Writing is a powerful weapon when used effectively, as it strengthens a brand. It also shows professionalism and demonstrates attention to detail.


Oh, and do remember, whatever you write, whether online or otherwise, represents you, your brand, and, of course, your business. Poorly written content won’t sell you, no matter how good you think what you have to offer is. It can negatively affect sales. And for an author, in particular, that is like signing a death warrant. No readers, no books sold, no royalties.

An audience’s attention span is short, so you must do your best to capture it from the start. The question is, how? Simply put, you have to write concisely, clearly, and accurately? You need to hit those readers right between the eyes. And to help you I am giving you five tips for excellent writing.


1. Keep It Simple

According to research complex words don’t make you sound smart, they only chase your readers away. Successful business writers use a conversational tone when writing. Why, because most people are drawn towards it.


Make sure you use familiar words, and explain complex ideas in a way that anyone can understand; even a small kid. Of course, the exception has to be if you are writing for an industry-specific audience, where fact over fiction is more relevant.


It’s also important to make your content easy to skim and there are ways in which you can do this:


Always try to keep paragraphs and sentences short. In reality, paragraphs should be no longer than say four or five sentences long.

Highlighting key phrases helps readers focus on a certain point of view

Leave white space between paragraphs

Also, remember just like writing a novel you can throw out the rule book. Things like NOT starting a sentence with or, but, or and.  As I keep telling my            mentees, rules are meant to be broken, sometimes.

And, if you are blogging you should use bullet points or numbered lists.

Plus, visual media is a must: whether it be images, info-graphics, tables, videos, etc. Any of these will all enhance what you are saying.

Also adapt your paragraphs. Make some long, others short.

And, where-ever possible try and explain one idea in each sentence.

 

Above all, avoid jargon, buzzwords, even clichés in your writing. Remember, choose your words carefully, and tailor the content to suit your audience. Always try to say more with fewer words.


2. Avoid the Passive Voice

Writing can become more direct, stronger, and purposeful when using the active voice, as it shows that the subject is actively doing something in the sentence. Active sentences are more concrete because we know who the subject is, and, what they are doing.


In a passive sentence, the person performing the action isn’t always specified; there is action, but the actor may be missing. For example, you may write, "Following the accident, the vehicle was inspected and the crankshaft was found to have cracks in three places." Now, we don’t know who inspected the car. It could have been the owner of the garage, the mechanic, or even the Insurance Inspector.


Even if you write, "Following the accident, the vehicle was inspected by the mechanic and the crankshaft was found to have cracks in three places," the sentence is still passive.


While the passive voice is not incorrect, it’s just too wordy and complex. Passive sentences can be meandering and unclear.


Now, if we were to rewrite this sentence in the active voice, it becomes more direct and concise: “The mechanic inspected the vehicle and found the crankshaft had cracks in three places."


The reader now knows who discovered the cracks in an instant and, they know that the insurance inspector can discuss this problem with the mechanic direct.

The active voice is straightforward, clearer, and gives life to any writing. You write in a simpler way using shorter, clearer sentences which quickly gets the reader to the relevant point.


3. Get Personal

Yes, you heard me. I said get personal.

In our social media world people are bombarded by content at every turn, so remember, you can only stand out if you personalise your content. In other words, make sure you write in such a way that people feel as if you are talking directly to them. That’s why I mentioned earlier you use a conversational tone as it shows the reader you know exactly what you’re talking about.


Well, we hope you do!


Did you know the typical opening rate for emails is 18%, but that largely depends on what is written in the subject line plus the relevancy of the actual subject matter. However, strangely there is a 50% chance more of your email being opened if you have personalised the subject line.

Personalised emails resonate better with readers, because they communicate the promise of value. Now if you can’t convince the email recipients that your email will improve their lives, or their businesses, well they’ll just delete it. For that not to happen, take time to personalise your subject lines, but make sure you back it up by delivering relevant content to each reader.


And remember, when writing content for your brand on social networks or your blog, write the way people talk. Do begin sentences with words like butor, and, or so. By writing this way, you will engage with your readers, capturing their attention, which will flow more naturally from one sentence to the next.


4. Fluff Is a No-No and I don’t mean the stuff that needs sweeping from under the bed.

Let’s compare these two sentences, Firstly: “John decided specifically to speak with his colleague at her work station at the office in order to discuss the issue of how she was constantly chatting on her phone during office hours.” Phew, that was a mouthful.


Now what about: “John decided to reprimanded his colleague for chatting on the phone during office hours.”


Now the first sentence contains unnecessary filler words and drags on for a whole paragraph. In reality, it contains very little valuable information, so won't lose any value if we cut out a lot of unnecessary words. Adding a lot of fluff to your writing lowers its quality and, as in all things, manuscripts, blogs, emails, social media posts, it may well cost you a lot of readers.


Don’t drag your feet, unless it is absolutely necessary. Get to the point as quickly as you can. And be clear, by making sure readers enjoy reading the whole content. Don’t waste their precious time. If your writing lacks focus, well readers will probably think you also lack focus in your business, and your other activities. Paragraphs should be brief and sentences short, with one idea per sentence.


5. Use Subheadings and Bullets

Did you realise how much content there is online that people simply do not have the time to read or take in? On average there are every single day, 4.4 million blog posts published, plus 350 million photos being uploaded to Facebook alone. And, this one shocked me, there are approximately 500 million tweets sent daily. And I haven’t done mine today yet. That is mind-boggling, isn’t it? And it’s probably growing all the time.


Another thing I learnt, was that apparently only 30% of readers prefer text-based content. This means you have your work cut out if you want to keep your readers engaged.


So to improve the readability of your content, remember to use descriptive subheadings, and, provide the most critical information first. Using subheadings helps your readers find, and understand, the information quickly by capturing and holding their attention. They also keep scanners moving down the page from one subheading to the next.


Other research has also shown that 79% of people always scan the content first for key points before even reading it. That’s a good reason why you should use bullet points and/or numbers. They present information in a simple, logical, and interesting format. Plus, reduce the wordiness, make the content easier to read by dividing it visually. However, remember, no more than two sentences per bullet point.


It’s also important to bold and italicise pieces of crucial information. Things such as a deadline. By being in bold letters it shows its relevance and importance. Bold fonts are used to emphasis strongly a point. However, before you make content bold, consider using italics. You should only use the bold tag if you aren’t happy with the emphasis italics adds to your text.


Now, if you blog frequently, write what we can only describe as ‘listicles’ (a short list of 10-20 items that are based on a specific theme.) Readers will share listicles twice more, mainly because they are short and sweet. In other words, they are the perfect online content. They are also easier to write than traditional articles as you don’t have to worry about the order of the points.


Finally, remember this, your words, whether written or verbal, reflects your brand. It’s what makes people trust, or mistrust, you. Please don’t damage your brand’s reputation with careless writing. Always edit and proofread your content meticulously. Well-written content will always enhance your credibility, and it will make you look professional.


And of course, don’t forget to read. Why? Because leaders are readers. Whilst the average person may read 12 books a year, most business leaders will often read one book per week. Now it may not all be non-fiction but a good mix in your genre, style, blogging subject, or even about your brand, will certainly improve your brand writing ability. So go for it.



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