Friday, February 11, 2011

Business Writing: The Dangers of Rushed Writing

pitfalls of rushed writingIf you don’t enjoy writing, you might run the risk of rushed writing. Or, maybe you are already a writer, and because of such, you tend to write quickly, without much thought. Be cautious! Writing too fast, minus forethought or final consideration, can be harmful to your business.

5 Ways to avoid the pitfalls of rushed writing

If either of these scenarios describe you, then you probably aren’t too excited to hear that this poses potential risk to your business. However, if you are serious about building a solid business that is backed with a stellar reputation, you need to consider the severity of this common problem.

There is a simple way to overcome rushed writing. It requires diligence and effort on your part, but once you learn the process, it becomes second-hat to you. Here are the five steps to follow when you write:

  1. Plan ahead. It isn’t enough to sit down and write an article or blog post. Spending time planning ahead will save you time and energy later on.
    TIP: Keep a running list of article ideas/topics.
  2. Think it through. Give more than just a passing thought to your ideas. Before you start the actual writing process, think about whether your idea is meaty enough to produce a worthy piece of content.
    TIP: Draft an outline of your article idea.

  3. Go deeper. So, now you think you have a great idea and enough of an outline to write a pretty decent article. Dig a little deeper. Drill down into each sub-topic until you have even more information to share.
    TIP: Add more detail with an interview or statistics.

  4. Let it rest. When you finish drafting your article, give it some time to simmer on the back burner. When you return to it, you might discover you inadvertently left out an important statement, or there may be more you want to add to it.
    TIP: If you’ve written a major piece of content, like an e-book, let it rest for up to 2 weeks.

  5. Edit, revise, re-write. Now that you’ve spent some time away from your work, read through it and give it a good edit. Revising your work helps ensure you’ll catch simple errors, like grammar and spelling.
    TIP: Read your sentences backwards to prevent you from mentally “auto correcting” your work.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Business Writing: Do you write to help others?

write to help othersThe main purpose of writing to promote your business is to help others. If the content you create is not fulfilling this intent, it’s virtually no good, and certainly a waste of your precious time.

The purpose of writing

You must come to the realization that there is a purpose for writing, and it isn’t just to throw something in the wind to “hopefully” gain your business some attention. At the core, there are really two purposes of using writing in your business.

most important reasons for writing

  1. Give your expert advice. As a business owner, you (should) have experience unique to your business. This experience can be translated into valuable content.
  2. Teach what you learn. When you pull from personal experience, you will write more passionately about the subject. This emotion translates into knowledge and helps build trust among you and your customer base.

For example, let’s say you are the owner and operator of a virtual assistant business. You are an expert at administrative duties. To take it a step further, you are extremely knowledgeable in creating databases. This is a unique skillset that could potentially attract major corporate clients. But if they don’t know about your knowledge, why should they care that you are a V.A.?

Use your knowledge and experience to create written content that:

  • shows you know what you’re taking about.
  • promotes your prior experience/jobs, within this specific niche.
  • explains examples of what you can do.

 

3 quick ways you can help others with your writing

  1. Solve a problem.
  2. Answer a question.
  3. Provide helpful tips.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Business Writing: Know Your Audience

know your audienceBefore you sit down to write anything, there are three important questions you first need to ask yourself. Don’t even think about writing a word, until you know the answer to each of these questions.

Question #1: Who are you writing to/for?

The answer to this question should shape every piece of written content you produce and use to promote your business. If you don’t know the answer, how can you successfully reach the people to whom you want to sell your product or service?

Question #2: How well do you know your customers?

Do you truly know the needs, desires, and expectations of your customers? Or do you blindly throw your business into the world and hope and pray the right people find you and invest in your business? A serious mistake many make is writing content they think will attract potential customers, when they don’t have a clue as to who their target market is. Do not make this mistake. Get to know your prospective clients/customers from the get-go.

Question #3: Are you writing material based on your customers’ needs?

Never approach the task of writing articles for your website to promote your business with the notion that if you simply write keyword-rich articles, it will bump your site in search engine ranks. Yes, keywords are an important part of creating SEO-friendly websites and blogs, but it is not the most important aspect. Your website needs to be your voice. Use the language and ideas that will interest the people you want to reach.

final tip:

Start spending more time getting to know your customers. Find out who they are, what they want, and why they want it. Then use this information to write articles and blog posts tailored to meet those needs.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sneak Peek Saturday 2/5/11

Here’s a look at what’s coming next week:

  • Do you know who’s reading what you write? Knowing your audience will enable you to write content tailored to meet their needs.
  • Are you a “do it and get it done” kind of writer? Learn the dangers of rushed writing.
  • Are you writing to ghosts? Discover how to reach your readers, by getting to know them better.

See you Monday!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Write To Help Others

how to help others with your writingYou hold the solution to a problem. Your patrons/audience needs that answer. Give them what they need with a How To article.

By giving your customer the answer to a problem they’re dealing with, you can add to the stability of that relationship and plant seeds of trust with them. When you can offer help for real problems, they will be more inclined to keep coming back for more.

How to write a “How To” article

Step 1: Name the problem. First, you need to pinpoint a specific problem your readers might be facing. For example, if you are a financial guru/coach, your target audience will include people wanting to get out of debt. That’s a real problem—debt. Numerous people are seeking, right now, for answers as to what they can do to get themselves out of credit card debt.

Step 2: List steps to solve the problem. Now that you have a problem to solve, you’ll need to write steps on how they can solve that problem. Naturally, if you sell debt-counseling services, you won’t want to divulge all the information you hold. You do, however, want to give your readers some sensible steps to help them get on the right track.

Step 3: Re-iterate the problem, solution, and importance of the solution. To close your article, you can restate the problem. Then briefly recap the steps to solving that problem. Finally, to drive your point home, explain the importance of them following your advice to solve their problem. Show them the consequences of them not taking action. Make them want to use the knowledge you have given them.

Step 4: Offer additional steps or resources. As an extra little bit to your How To article, include bonus steps or resources at the end of the article. These might steps your reader can take to start a savings plan once they are debt-free. Or, it might be a simple list of links to additional resources you think might further help them.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Make The Most Of Your Writing Time

hatsWife, Mom, Business Owner, Chef, Taxi Driver…SO MANY HATS! Does this sound familiar? Some days it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day…or there isn’t enough you to go around.

As a work-at-home-mom, maximizing your time, energy, and effort isn’t an option—it’s essential. So how can you incorporate writing into your already busy schedule? The best (and only) way is to make sure you’re making the most of your writing time.

Plan Ahead

If you presently aren’t writing much, the first thing you’ll need to do is plan ahead. When would be a reasonable time for you to write? How many minutes can you devote to writing for the first few weeks? It is important to build your momentum so you won’t quickly become burned out or frustrated.

Use your planning time wisely to:

  • write a list of topics.
  • brainstorm an idea you’d like to write an article about.
  • create an article idea bank.

 

Draw From Experience

You know more about your business than anyone else. Use this to your advantage. How you can pull from personal experience, to write articles that relate to your business? People are typically drawn to others who are personable and share personal stories. Pulling from your own experiences helps to simplify the writing process.

Use your experience to:

  • share your own mistake with your readers, to help them not to make the same.
  • offer helpful tips.
  • warn of potential pitfalls to avoid.

 

Write First, Edit Later

One thing that sidetracks lots of writers is attempting to edit while writing the first draft. If you have less writing experience, avoid this at all costs. Get your rough drafts out and let them rest. Go back later with fresh eyes.

Use your rough drafts to:

  • quickly put your idea on paper.
  • collect information or resources to follow-up on.
  • batch-write articles (more to come on this topic).

 

Write In Bursts

If all else fails, turn to quick-writing with Writing Bursts. Set your timer for 10-15 minutes (pick a short time limit that doesn’t scare you), then write. Don’t stop writing until your time is up.

Use your Writing Bursts to:

  • write fast first drafts.
  • brainstorm article ideas.
  • create article outlines.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kick-Start Your Writing Adventure

1228656_pencilsEven non-writers can write. If you don’t consider yourself a writer, or simply just do not enjoy the task of writing, it is still possible for you to create a well-written article.

As a business owner, writing skills are essential, regardless of what type of business you own and operate. If you don’t write often, you might not even know where to begin to write. These tips should help set you on track.

5 Tips For Easy Writing

Tip #1: Use article templates. Article templates truly remove a lot of work and headache for non-writers. Using templates, you can quickly and easily write articles that will be geared towards your market. Once you have a great article idea, you can use an article template to plug in your thoughts and research.

Tip #2: Think about the types of articles you enjoy reading. What usually grabs your interest most? How To articles? Lists? Tips and Hints? Take a look at some content you’ve recently read and enjoyed and see how the article is constructed. Apply this to your article.

Tip #3: Think about your audience. This is the most important tip of all. If your writing doesn’t interest the people you are speaking to, it will serve no purpose for your business. Think about who will read your articles. Are they…married? Single? Parents? Work outside the home? Enjoy crafting? Want to make a career of singing? Ask yourself what your audience wants when they come to you, then write from that.

Tip #4: Brainstorm on pen and paper. If you are overwhelmed by seeing a blinking cursors on a blank white screen, get away from the computer. Make notes on an idea you have with pen and paper. Write a brief outline. Do a cluster map. Write a list.

Tip #5: What is your expected end result? Ultimately, the purpose of writing content for your business is to build a following. What do you ultimately expect/desire for your business? Do you want to build a newsletter subscriber database? Sell books? Schedule speaking engagements? Network with colleagues? Every article you write should play a role in the bigger picture of your business.