10 Tips to Improve Your Writing in 2016

December 15, 2015 Monika Jansen

tips to improve your writing

It’s no secret that the Internet is saturated with content, but guess what? Content is still king for one simple reason: It is the foundation that supports your marketing and sales efforts. Every business, no matter how small or big, needs to produce quality content in order to connect with and convert their clients or customers.

Keeping that in mind, it’s always a great idea to improve your writing skills. Here are 10 tips to improve your writing in 2016:

Embrace the “more isn’t better” philosophy

I am editing website content for a law firm right now, and every single page so far contains a lot of duplicative content. When it comes to writing (and talking), more isn’t better. You don’t have to repeat yourself to be understand. Say it once, and then move on.

Add context that’ will help the reader

Because we are experts in our fields, we tend to leave out context when we’re writing. We just assume other people know what we mean. As my father taught me, never assume anything. Always add context to ensure your message is clear and understandable.

Write like you talk

Unless you are an attorney drafting a legal document, steer clear of SAT words that require a dictionary and complex phrases that someone would have to read several times to maybe deduce your meaning. Always write like you talk. You’ll be more relatable and easier to understand.

Write in the first person

This is a corollary to the above. If you’re talking to someone, you don’t use the third person. “Hi Jane! How is Jane’s family? What is Jane doing for the holidays this year?” See what I mean? It doesn’t make sense. Always write as if you were speaking directly to your audience.

Use spell check

I use spell check, and I make my living as a writer. Some words are just tricky, like hypocritical and occasional. Plus, misspelled words smack of laziness and a lack of professionalism.

Be descriptive

“Get” is a perfectly nice word, but it’s not very descriptive. Commit to using more colorful, interesting, and action-oriented words when you write. Instead of “I am not sure if he gets it,” say, “I am not sure if he grasped this revolutionary concept.”

Master possessives

“Your” is possessive. “You’re” is the contraction for you are. “Its” is possessive. “It’s” is the contraction for it is. “There” is possessive. “There” indicates a place. “They’re” is the contraction for they are.

Keep the focus on your audience

No one cares about your and your business – they only care about how your business can help them. Therefore, all of your marketing writing must keep the focus on your audience, THEIR challenges, and how working with you benefits THEM.

Improve your headlines

Writing an attention-grabbing blog post title and email subject line is arguably the hardest part of writing. It takes a lot of creativity and thought. A. Lot. Use this formula – it’ll make a big difference:

Number or trigger word + adjective + keyword + promise

Read The Elements of Style

Yes, I want you to read what you might consider a textbook, because Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style contains all the grammar and punctuation rules you need to be aware of – and have probably forgotten since high school. I have a copy, and I use it.

Have you used other tips to improve your writing? What is your favorite trick? What is your biggest challenge?

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Author information

Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen

Monika Jansen is a freelance copywriter and editor who helps with companies of all shapes on sizes kick their content up to the next level. You can find her online at www.jansencomm.com.

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