#ContentWritingChat, writing tips

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Writing Tips to Take Your Content to the Next Level with Michelle Garrett

Has your writing been feeling a little lackluster lately?

Wondering how you can take it to the next level to create online content your readers will truly love?

Well, you’re in the right place!

This #ContentWritingChat recap is packed with helpful writing tips that help you improve your skills and create the best content possible.

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Writing Tips to Take Your Content to the Next Level with Michelle Garrett

Our guest host for this month’s chat was Michelle Garrett. She’s a writer, blogger, and PR consultant. Michelle has guest hosted #ContentWritingChat previously, so we were thrilled to have her with us again!

Q1: When building a brand, why is great writing so important?

Let’s face it… Some people just don’t see the value in high-quality content! Luckily for this Twitter chat community, we know just how powerful our content truly is. Here’s why:

The content you publish online communicates your brand’s voice. And as Michelle pointed out, you want to make sure it’s consistent across all the channels you’re using. Having guidelines for you and your team to follow can ensure everything is up to your standards and resonates with your target audience.

Jason also feels your writing sets the voice of your brand. It also plays a role in how people find you and whether or not they decide to do business with you.

Tamara knows great writing makes a difference. She said it can help influence your audience, persuade them to take action, educate them on a topic, boost visibility in search engines, and position you as an authority in your field.

Quality writing not only define your voice, but it’s essential to sharing your message, conveying your values, telling your story, and so much more!

As Lexie mentioned, your writing is likely going to be the first impression someone has of your brand. If your content is of poor quality, that’s going to be a major turn-off.

You want to make sure your writing is always top-notch. Make sure you’re effectively communicating your message and correcting any errors before publication. Don’t risk pushing your readers away due to mistakes that could be easily fixed.

Q2: What makes a piece of online content so captivating that it grabs attention and keeps people reading?

We know the content we publish is important. But how do we make sure that things like our blog posts are truly captivating to our readers? Keep these writing tips in mind if you need some help crafting appealing content:

Michelle knows that a strong lede is key to grabbing attention early on and drawing people into your content. You need to hook them from the start if you want them to keep reading.

A great headline is always crucial. Since it’s the first thing someone will see from your content, you want to make sure it strikes a cord with your target audience. Just make sure you always deliver on what your headline promises. No clickbait!

And of course, one key to captivating content is to always create with your audience in mind. Make sure the topics you write about are relevant to your brand and appealing to those who will be reading your content. Otherwise, they won’t bother!

This is a great example that Julia shared, which is worth saving to refer to later! From a specific headline to stats and great storytelling… This has it all.

As Rebecca said, having a unique voice, knowledge to share, great visuals, and something that can’t be easily replicated will really help your content stand out from the crowd.

Tamara feels captivating content needs to have an enticing title and headers, engaging content, visuals, and you need to address a pain point from your audience right off the bat.

Alexa agrees that visuals make all the difference! Don’t just publish one gigantic block of text. Incorporate visuals to help your readers better understand the topic you’re discussing.

Don’t forget to take the time to proofread. It’s one thing to make a mistake here and there, but error after error will likely send your readers running.

One of Jason’s best writing tips is to create content that emotionally connects with your audience. Get them invested in what you have to say. This really pulls them in and helps them form a stronger connection with your brand.

And finally, ditch the fluff! Captivating content is easy to read. But if you’re just stuffing blog posts with unnecessary information, you’ll wind up with exactly the opposite effect. Cut what isn’t necessary to your overall point.

Q3: When it comes to writing tips, what are the basics everyone should know?

If you’re looking to improve your writing skills, it helps to have the basics covered, right? Well, here’s what you should know:

It’s no secret that proofreading your work is an essential step before hitting publish. However, it’s still something that many people neglect. Like Michelle said, you shouldn’t rely solely on your spellcheck or tools like Grammarly. You want to read through it yourself. And if you can, walk away for a bit and come back later to review it with a fresh perspective.

Mara knows that having an editor can really help shape your content. If you don’t have someone on your team to help you with this, you can always ask a friend or family member to read through your work.

As Bill pointed out, it’s crucial that your content is addressing the questions, pain points, and struggles of your target audience. You want to create content with them in mind so it’ll resonate with them and provide value to their lives.

Carla encourages you to ask yourself: What are my readers interested in? What are the current trends that would appeal to my target audience? And what outcomes do I want to achieve from this content? Setting goals for your content is important!

One thing you should definitely ditch? Industry terms that your reader won’t understand. It’s going to put them off because they won’t comprehend what you’re saying. And they certainly don’t want to bust out the dictionary every time they read your posts!

Caitlin agrees that you need to use language your audience will understand. Put yourself in their shoes and consider the level they’re at.

Lexie shared one of the most important writing tips we should all remember: practice! It’s the best way to continually improve your skills over time.

Psst! Julia covers all the basic writing tips in her book that she published in 2016. It has tons of relevant information for all online content creators and is worth checking out.

Q4: Are there any writing tips you learned in school that you completely ignore now? If so, what are they?

The reality is, the world of online content is certainly different from the writing we were doing back in our school days. So, which tips have we ditched completely?

While Michelle still relies on a lot of teachings she learned when studying journalism, she knows that sometimes inverted pyramid style just doesn’t work. It really depends on the particular piece of content you’re creating.

Julia’s advice is to ditch the essay-style language you were taught. It just doesn’t work for online writing. Luckily, she shared a few resources that can help us create better content for the web.

Tamara was taught that it was better to write using more advanced language. Now, she knows that it doesn’t always work that way. You have to write in a way that’s understandable for your target audience, otherwise they won’t be able to read your content.

While we were once taught not to end a sentence with a preposition, we don’t have to worry that someone is going to mark up our online content with red pen. This means you’re free to write in the way you’d naturally speak to someone!

Alexa doesn’t care what anyone else thinks… She’s sticking with her beloved Oxford comma!

Gone are the days where we have to put two spaces after a period. And let’s be real… Online, no one really cares if you start a sentence with words like “And” or “But.” So, go for it!

And Lauren has learned that hitting a specific length for your content just isn’t necessary these days. It’s better to keep your writing clear and concise and only use as many words as needed to get your point across.

These days, you’re free to get creative and inject your personality into the work you create. It doesn’t need to be bland. You don’t have to follow rules you disagree with. Just do your thing!

Q5: What are some signs of both good and bad writing that we should be aware of?

These writing tips will help you improve your skills so you don’t drift over to the dark side:

Errors can really send your readers running, so always take the time to proofread! While sometimes smart, creative writing can save you… It’s still better to take those extra few minutes to make final edits before hitting publish.

Bill feels that good writing answers the questions your audience has and quickly delivers value. Don’t beat around the bush here. Get to the point!

Sarah says good writing is easy to read and understand and showcases your credibility. Bad writing, however, is hard to read and disorganized. And of course, typos and grammatical errors are major no-nos.

Mara isn’t a fan of writing errors either. She says it’s obvious when someone didn’t take the time to proofread their work. Even though it’s not a fun task, it makes a huge difference in the long run.

Your writing also needs to flow from one sentence to the next and one paragraph to the next. If it’s choppy, readers might not make it all the way through your content.

Julia said bad writing is: boring, doesn’t have clear points, lacks practical advice, and is filled with fluff. Good writing is clear and concise, offers practical takeaways, features expert insights, and is fun, readable, and engaging for the reader.

And just take a look at these examples that Julia shared! Which one is easier to read? The second one, of course. Formatting makes a huge difference when it comes to online content and big blocks of texts can push readers away.

Q6: What are some fun ways we can work to improve our writing daily?

We all strive to be better writers, don’t we? Well, the thing is… We can’t just scour the web reading writing tips. We actually have to put what we’ve learned into practice. And here’s some advice to help you make that happen:

Michelle shared tons of great tips with us! First and foremost, she encourages all of us to write every single day. After all, the best way to improve your skills is to practice. She also said you can write about topics that matter to you. It doesn’t need to be related to your work. Allow yourself to have fun and get creative here!

If you aren’t sure what to write about, take Eric’s advice. Use writing prompts to get those creative juices flowing. You can find plenty for free online to get you started.

Kathryn shared some fun ideas, such as rewriting the headlines you see on major news sites. It’s great practice for crafting headlines that grab attention, which is something that even experienced writers can struggle with. She said you can even try writing a story backwards, which is sure to be an interesting challenge!

Coffee haikus and taglines that never were sure sounds fun to us! Plus, it’s even better when you get your whole team involved.

Even something as simple as what you’re writing you’re grateful for counts!

And why not keep a journal on hand to inspire your daily writing habit?

Gaby suggests reading content from others, practicing writing often, reading through your pieces aloud, and reading a friend’s content and providing feedback while they do the same for you.

Consume content from other writers you admire and even ones you don’t. You can learn a lot about what you like and dislike this way.

Carla finds it helpful to review her own writing. You can read content you created in the past and see where improvements can be made.

And of course, don’t be afraid to take risks! Sometimes stepping outside of your comfort zone is the best thing you can do for your writing.

Q7: Are there any resources we can turn to for writing tips? Any writers we can learn from?

If you’re looking for some great sources to help strengthen your writing, make sure you check out these recommendations:

These are all fantastic resources that Michelle shared with the chat!

One great option is to involve yourself in local writing groups. It’s a great way to learn, but also to make friendships with local writers. If there aren’t any nearby, there are online communities you can join too.

Gaby’s favorites include Grammarly, the Hemingway App, Merriam Webster for looking up new words, Copyblogger, and Coursera.

For Jennifer, Grammarly is a go-to tool to improve her writing.

Jake loves Grammarly as well, but he also likes to read content from Copyblogger and SmartBlogger.

And a great tip from Terry! If you really want to take it to the next level, learn more about psychology because it can help you better understand why readers react to content the way they do.

Q8: Open Q&A for Michelle!

At the end of the chat, we wanted to give everyone one last chance to learn some great writing tips from Michelle. So, we opened it up for questions! Here are a few:

Try to write more like a person would sound if they were talking.

Whether you’re B2C or B2B, remember that you’re still writing for humans at the end of the day.

And if you’re looking to find more freelance writing jobs, Jen Gregory is someone Michelle recommends checking out!

Want to join our next #ContentWritingChat? It happens on the first Tuesday of every month at 10 AM Central! Just follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat for all the latest!

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