Content writing isn’t easy. People talk about writing like it is a skill, but in some ways it seems more like a muscle. You strengthen it when you’re working on it and you weaken it when you’re not. Many people without formal training in copywriting – or even writing in general – become great content writers. Many people with English degrees become scrubs.
When we started Great Leap Studios we made our greatest impression on Elance, a freelance writing board where you bid on projects and if they like your writing and reviews you get hired. At one point we were #2 out of 34,000 providers, and the only writers within the top 10 that weren’t large companies. But rather than brag about our placement, the number I want to point you to is the second one – 34,000 writers. Now it’s closer to 100,000 or more.
Yet if you ask people that have used Elance, 99,980 of those writers are terrible. It’s probably not because they weren’t trained in writing (although that’s likely a part of it). It is most likely because they haven’t figured out how to enhance their writing skill.
Unconventional Copywriting Tips
If you’re looking for tips on how to write web content, you can find those anywhere. If you’re an aspiring writer or a business hoping to start blogging on your own, we have numerous tips articles on this site already. But what I want to go over today are the ways that you can enhance your content writing muscle when you’re not working.
In my opinion that’s the key to what makes a quality content writer. It’s not just the writing you do for work, but also whether you are always trying to strengthen it. The following are a few life changes that should improve your ability to write for the web:
- Use Great Grammar/Spelling Everywhere – Priority number one is to always make sure you’re using good grammar, good spelling, and generally copywriting strategies in everything you do. From the text messages you send to your Tweets and Facebook statuses to your hand written notes of love to your partner. The more you use shortcuts, like “ur” and “lol,” the more you’re naturally going to become mentally dependent on them and lose out on some of your quality writing strengths. Write like a professional in everything you do, and you’ll find yourself with far better habits.
- Stop Reading Bad Grammar and Spelling – Similarly, what you surround yourself with can rub off on your writing ability. If you’re constantly reading terrible grammar and sentence structure on Twitter, Facebook, email, or what have you, it’s going to affect your own language in ways you may not even realize. The issue isn’t that you’re going to start using chat speak in your content. The issue is that your brain is used to chatspeak so it has to work harder in order to come up with better phrasing, which in turn makes writing more difficult. Writing has to be natural, and spending as little time as possible on blogs or websites – or even texts – that use shortcuts and bad writing will help your content writing, guaranteed.
- Give Yourself An Off-Work Writing Task – Ideally you should have a project that you can do in your spare time when you’re off work. This can be a blog, or a website you’ve started, or a short story. You need to make sure you’re always writing, even when you’re not at work. Some type of hobby or activity that involves writing will keep your brain moving and your fingers loose. After a vacation where I don’t get any writing done, I often come back to find that writing feels harder both physically (stiff fingers) and mentally.
- Find Entertaining and Ignorable Podcasts – I’m a little hesitant to call this an “off work” strategy because I think this is something you should use at work, but probably find and download in your free time. Anyway, one of the things I’ve found helps with my own writing is sound around me. When I focus too much on writing, I often write worse, or find it too mind numbing. At the same time, if the sounds around me are too distracting, it’s hard to work as well. Since music is often too mentally distracting, one strategy that seems to work extremely well is downloading hours upon hours of entertaining podcasts – podcasts that you don’t care about listening to, but ones that if you did listen to you’d enjoy it. Listen to them with the volume low enough that you can only hear the words if you’re trying to. I’ve found that hearing words around me makes it easier to focus on my writing, and the ability to listen in when I have a free second ensures that my mind is never bored enough to need a distraction.
- Exercise – Exercise seems like the cure for everything. Forget health – exercise reduces anxiety and stress, and burns up excess energy. It also creates more brain cells and keeps the mind more alert, which easily helps improve writing quality. All you need to do is jog daily, and chances are you’ll find that your writing has improved.
Certainly there is so much more to writing. Getting used to bullet points, learning new and interesting words, and reading quality content elsewhere can all help. But the above strategies are tips that you need to consider even when you’re not working. The more your life is focused on quality writing and improving that writing, the better a content writer you’ll be.
Additional Helpful Resources/Links