Every business today needs to rely on content as a significant driver to influence existing and prospective customers. But, as I’m sure you’ve come to appreciate, producing content, writing things like blog posts, email newsletters, direct mail pieces and articles, takes time.
The key to baking content production into your daily and weekly routine is to get more efficient at writing and producing content. The more effective you are in these areas the more content you’ll be able to produce.
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Here are eight ways to become a more productive writer so you can quickly and efficiently produce content that will attract customers to your business.
Become a Better Reader
Maybe you guessed this one was coming, but it’s true. Reading blogs, business books, magazines, even content that is not necessarily linked to your particular area of business or personal interest will help you find your own style and voice more than any other dynamic.
Keep a Swipe File
When you read, bookmark any articles that grab your attention. It may be because of a certain style, a certain lack of adverbs, or a lyrical use of certain words. No matter the reason, start putting these things away for a rainy day. You never know when you’ll need ideas for new topics or you just need to revisit some great writing to get you in the right frame of mind for writing.. Sometimes my best posts come from combining seemingly different ideas.
You can bookmark good content using file folders for physical documentation or using an online tool to digitally clip, organize, and store material. Whatever your preferred method, just do it, and you’ll thank yourself later.
You don’t have to make people angry, but you also don’t have to agree with everyone all the time either. One of the ways to be more productive in your writing is to respond to industry trends, accepted norms, and any given week’s hot topic with a view that’s different than the crowd.
But make sure you can actually defend your viewpoint on a popular issue. This can provide a lot of fodder for posts, articles, and more.
Write Like You Talk
This is just good advice, no matter what. It’s easier to write in your own voice and show your personality to the reader more effectively by just being you. People who don’t write a lot sometimes think too much about others actually reading their writing. They tense up and focus on sounding smart, using bigger words, or writing in a more academic way. The result is usually stiff and awkward.
You want your writing to display your personality. If you’re an English major known for turning a poetic phrase, then by all means, write that way. If you’re a straight shooter who’s at your best when calling it like you see it, then don’t mince words!
One of the most effective ways to be a more productive writer is through outlines. You were probably taught this in grade school, but the lesson holds true: if you are organized in your thinking, you’ll write faster and more clearly.
There’s nothing harder than sitting down and composing a blog post with no idea of where you’re headed. Decide on your main points; create three to five subheads and three to five bullet points per subhead. While your specific outline may differ, this is the most effective way to write quickly.
Use a Timer
Set a timer for 45 minutes, and write until the alarm goes off. Then get up and do something else for 15 minutes. This approach makes me more motivated to write, even when I’m working on a very long piece. I work more deliberately if I know there’s a set break time.
This tactic also allows me time to focus and then time to clear my head and come back with renewed energy.
For this point, I draw from a commonly used quote: “Write drunk, edit sober.”
You don’t have to take this literally, but the idea of coming back to your writing after some cooling off time is a good one. It’s tough to assess the quality of your writing, let alone omitted words, when you’re in the throes of a brilliant idea.
In a perfect world you should let anything you write sit for a day, but when you’re up against a deadline, any sort of time away from your work is helpful. Give yourself a timeout, complete another task on your to do list, then come back to take another look at your writing.
Do Obsess Over the Title!
The last point has more to do with getting more readers than productivity, but if you spend extra time on any element of your writing, spend it on the headline or title. The title is what draws readers to your article, so make it good. In the end, there’s nothing that makes your writing more productive than the impact of more readers!
Whether you’re a brand new writer or have years of experience under your belt, chances are you want to be a better writer. A surefire way to become a better writer is to first become a more productive writer. You’ll find that implementing even just a few of these tips will make you more productive, and in turn better, in your writing.
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.