As I published in the previous post, you’re going to come across an important question when building up your online presence: should you bother trying to write the content yourself or hire someone to do it for you. I would recommend everyone make the right investment and focus in on finding someone with experience, skill, and talent, but I know not everyone’s going to listen.
So, let’s talk about how to shape your words.
Developing potent content doesn’t happen by accident. I’m going to present you with a number of examples in this article that highlight just how powerful the right words can be to any content.
Mark Twain once wrote, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is like the difference between the lightning and the lightning bug.”
You add one little word and you change the entire concept, the entire perception. When you hear about lightning, what do you think about? A brilliant flash of light ripping through the sky, streaking down from the sky to the ground and burning anything it touches, right?
Now, what I said lightning … bug? A little firefly floating around at night, blinking its neon green or yellowish belly, inspiring a young child to chase it down.
I could make the case for the difference between ‘fire’ and ‘firefly,’ too. If you were to yell ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater (and there wasn’t one), what would happen to you? You’d probably get arrested. What if you yelled ‘firefly’? People would likely look at you and wonder what’s the matter with you.
You see, the words you choose when talking and writing make a world of difference.
Allow me another moment to digress for a moment and talk about something important to our modern society: vulgarity.
50 years ago if someone said the ‘F’ word in public, they were shamed. It was a major social faux pas to do such a thing. People just didn’t swear very often, especially not out in public. However, today if you walk around just about any street you’re bound to hear a lot of people using these words as part of their everyday vernacular.
Kids have a propensity for swearing with almost every other word. You know what that says about them? Maybe to their peers they’re cool but to the rest of the world they are uneducated fools who can’t articulate their thoughts. They don’t have the vocabulary enough to be able to say anything without relying on those simple ‘filler’ words.
Now, what happens if someone holds a job interview with a person who talks like that? If they curse and swear with every other word? Do you think they’ll get the job over someone who is articulate, who enunciates, and who actually cares about how they sound? It’s doubtful.
Now, apply that same mode of thinking to the written word. I doubt you’re going to find too much success from people whose every other written word is going to be the ‘F’ or ‘S’ word, right?
That’s a bit extreme of an example, I’m sure, but it’s an important point to make. Let’s talk about this honestly here for a moment. While you’re probably not cursing and swearing in your written work, it’s important to realize that just because you leave out those offensive words doesn’t mean you’re going to be improving your standing with your written content.
Every single word you choose will make an impact on the end reader, or user. Now I’m going to provide you a few simple examples to drive this point home, okay?
Getting the right type of exercise is so important. I mean, if you don’t exercise on a regular basis, you’re not going to be feeling great. I bet you’re just like me and have been feeling like a drag lately. I’ve been there, I know what you’re feeling. You can’t wake up in the morning, you don’t want to do anything, and your friends are all getting annoyed with you.
It’s all about exercise and if you don’t get enough and you don’t get the right kind, you know what? That’s right. You’re going to be feeling just like you do. It sucks. And no one knows that better than I do.
Okay, you probably get the idea that this post (or content) is about exercise. But can you gather exactly what this person is writing about? Probably not. At least not yet. They could be writing about a new exercise program, a supplement, or even getting more exercise. It’s two paragraphs of rambling content.
Let’s rewrite that quickly:
Morning’s come too soon. Afternoons drag. By evening all you want to do is crawl back in bed. Your energy levels are low and it’s probably a combination of the foods you eat and the exercises (or lack of) you get.
It’s time to change that and focus on a few simple exercise you can do in just 15 minutes.
It’s still two paragraphs, but it’s condensed, tight, and to the point. You know what the writer is getting at within two sentences. You can connect on an emotional level and you didn’t have to wade through knee high swampy water to do so.
Now that you’ve seen a quick example of the difference between clear, short, and crisp content and rambling words, how do you develop the type of content that’s going to help you stand out from the competition?
Steps to Develop Potent Content
I’m going to stick true to my beliefs and tell you right here, right now to hire a pro. You have a lot to focus on with your business and the last thing you should be attempting to do is learn how to write effectively.
However, I’m assuming you’re going to be fixated on trying to save money because you do know how to write sentences. In reality, though, writing clear, concise, and crisp sentences takes years to develop. Hundreds of thousands and even millions of words to master.
But if you insist in diving into this world yourself, I will give you some tips, but you’re putting your business endeavor at risk. It’s just not worth it, if you ask me.
Tip 1: Think about the main goal of your writing.
If you’re selling a service and want to write a post about the 3 things you must do in order to make this service most efficient, then get to those points as quickly as possible. If you ramble on for 200 or 300 words before you even mention the 3 things, make sure what you’re talking about is important to your reader. If not, you’ll lose them before they even get to the meat of the post.
Tip 2: Stay positive.
This subtle piece of advice is so important and too commonly overlooked. Instead of saying things like, ‘Don’t do this’ or ‘Avoid doing that,’ cut those out. Focus on what they should do. If the title of your post is ‘5 Ways to Avoid Heartache …’ then you will have negativity throughout with a positive end goal.
However, focusing on negative traits and characteristics sets a negative mindset within your reader. That should be avoided whenever possible.
Tip 3: Cut out adjectives and adverbs.
You’re going to find these little pesky devils in almost every sentence, but the goal should be to eliminate them at every possible turn (I used several of each in this sentence alone).
How to you eliminate adverbs? Just cut them out. Every, very, happily … they’re no necessary. Focus on stronger verbs instead.
He happily met the woman at the store …
He bounced with each step as he headed to the store to meet the woman.
It’s a longer sentence, but it’s tighter and better.
As for adjectives, if something is bright, cunning, sharp, etc. you can do well to express that through your verbs.
The sharp knife slices through the meat easily.
Instead, try this:
The knife slipped through the overcooked meat with ease.
Tip 4: Edit at least 3 times.
Every time you finish writing something, you should focus on editing it (cutting out words every time) at least 3 times. If you don’t do that, you’re going to miss some stuff that is unnecessary, overly wordy, or just plain old boring.
When you have the video on and you’re trying to keep up with the professionals all making it seem like this is the easiest exercise routine in the world, it can be frustrating, to say the least.
When you can’t keep up with the pros in the video, you’re more inclined to quit and that won’t help anyone’s fitness and health.
You’ll find yourself editing and even rewriting entire passages. When you do, you’ll know you’re getting closer to publishing content online that will maximize potential readership.
Tip 5: Always think ‘less is more.’
When it comes to writing, the fewer the words, the better it is for you and most importantly, your reader.