Writing content for websites is a breeze for some and a nightmare for others. Countless companies and individuals exist to help make sense of the content-development process. MarketingProfs, for example, is a nifty and engaging consultancy with the dynamic Ann Handley at the helm as Chief Content Officer. The company produces and manages an ever-increasing library of helpful tips and techniques for writing content that engages audiences. It hosts content-development workshops and conferences and is considered a national treasure by many whose jobs include content marketing initiatives.
In its “Marketing Kit 2015,” Marketing Profs includes advice from several experts weighing in on the importance of good writing. In her introduction, Ann Handley writes:
“If you have a web site, you are a publisher. If you are on social media, you are in marketing. And that means that we are all relying on our words to carry our marketing messages. In our content-driven marketing worlds, being able to communicate well in writing isn’t just nice, it’s necessity. And yet writing is the oft-overlooked cornerstone of nearly all our content marketing.”
Writing website content can be daunting for people who describe themselves as inept writers. Even for those of us who consider ourselves writers who write for a living, it can be challenging. Ann Handley posits, “There are two kinds of people: Those who think they can write and those who think they can’t. And, very often, both are wrong. The truth is, most of us fall somewhere in the middle. We are all capable of producing good writing. Or, at least, better writing.”
In Handley’s 25 years working as a writer and editor, she has gleaned several elements in the formula for producing good writing. In no particular order of importance, here are Ms. Handley’s observations:
Good writing …
- Anticipates reader questions and provides answers upfront.
- Is grounded in data, which gives the writer credibility.
- Is like teaching, in that it attempts to explain things clearly.
- Tells a story and incorporates multiple (sometimes opposing) viewpoints.
- Comes on the rewrite; even the best writers often do a first draft, followed by rest then a review and a rewrite.
- Is like math, with logic and structure at its foundation.
- Is simple, but not simplistic. Map out what you want to say, then say it as simply as possible.
- Does not get hung up on what’s been said before. It takes what’s been said and says it better.
- Is not smug. Most writers are humble souls in search of understanding and acceptance.
As Ms. Handley closes her “Nine Qualities of Good Writing,” she writes: “Because in a world where we have an opportunity and responsibility to tell our stories online, we need to find not just the right words … but