I have always had a knack for writing. Back in middle school and high school I excelled in my English classes and I never had a problem writing essays or long papers in college. Math and science are not my thing and I never cared for those subjects as much as I care about English.
Knowing that I liked writing so much, I decided to major in journalism in college. After getting my degree, I landed a job at an advertising, marketing and digital communications agency. While I worked at this job, I wrote a lot of different content. Press releases, social media copy, emails, newsletters - you name it!
Since I do a lot of writing both professionally and personally, I wanted to put together a small list of tips to help you learn some tricks that I use to create great content. Whether you're applying these to blog writing, email writing, social media writing or something else, you'll want to keep these in mind next time you're looking to write engaging content:
1. Use appropriate grammar and spelling
Obviously I had to put this as the number one tip. If you have errors and typos all over the place, your writing won't be taken seriously. Remember, spell-check is your friend! Proofreading is very important, so before you fire off an email, read it over and make sure that you didn't miss anything and that everything looks the way it should. Typing fast can cause our brains to fill in gaps. Simple words might become misspelled or they may be left out altogether on accident. If you're not sure how a word is spelled, use a dictionary or simply just Google it.
If you studied journalism in school like me, you know that there are several different writing styles. You may be familiar with AP Style. If you're not familiar with AP Style, I highly recommend checking it out. It's the English grammar and usage style guide used by journalists working for or connected to the Associated Press. It was put in place to standardize writing styles used across many mass communications.
2. Assess your audience and cater your writing to them
This is one of my favorite ways to write copy that is engaging. As a millennial, I use a variety of slang words in my everyday life. I also use things like emojis, GIFs and memes. In my professional life, I write social media copy with a focus on the millennial demographic. As a result, I include things like pop culture references, trending topics and millennial slang. When I'm writing for my blog, I take a similar approach. I write as if I'm talking to a friend or family member and I'm not afraid to mix in some text that truly reflects the way I would speak to someone. To appeal to readers, speak their language!
3. Don't be afraid to play with your words
I'm a huge fan of using puns and idioms. I like to think that most people appreciate clever writing. If you can infuse a little bit of humor and make your writing relatable, people will most likely enjoy it. Below are a few examples of how I might add a pun or an idiom to some copy in order to jazz it up a little.
Let's say that I'm creating content for a client. The client is Mint Bank and I need to write a short line of copy about banking:
- Pun - Why bank somewhere with low interest rates? That doesn't make any cents.
- You can see in this example that the pun is "cents" and it's meant to come across to the reader as "sense." Puns are like little jokes that you can infuse in your writing. They aren't meant to be taken seriously. They're more lighthearted and fun.
- Idiom - A dollar saved is a dollar earned! Open a new checking account at Mint Bank and get a $250 cash bonus.
- When you think of idioms, think of popular phrases or sayings. "A dollar saved is a dollar earned" is a popular saying. We know that banking deals with saving money, so using this phrase is a perfect fit!
4. Create a handful of different copy options and select the best one
One of my favorite things to do is to come up with lots of different copy options and then review them one by one with a friend or colleague. As I read them out loud, I'm able to get a sense of which options I truly like and which ones I can delete. It definitely helps to list out different variations and edit your writing as you go.
There are several other ways to write engaging content, but these four tips are the things that help me out the most. Becoming a great writer takes lots of practice and brainstorming, so don't get discouraged if something you come up with doesn't stick. Making edits and revisions to your copy is normal and it helps you land on the best content.
When you're writing content, what are your go-to tips? I'd love to hear them so leave me a comment below!