Why some managers expect people with no writing experience to produce copy for webpages, newsletters or promotional material is beyond me. But it happens.
Apart from being an unfair burden to place on an unsuspecting employee, it’s unreasonable to expect whatever that person produces to get results.
For those who find themselves in this situation, below is some advise on how to approach content creation.
Prioritise readability, credibility and discoverability. Get the techniques and strategies behind achieving these three things right and you’ll find content creation easier and more effective. Once you’ve got this sorted, you can put more mental energy toward being creative without compromising on quality.
Tips for readability
- create only informative and relevant content. Don’t produce content for just for the sake of doing so. If you’ve got nothing to say, don’t say anything at all;
- be concise;
- use plain english and simple sentences. Where jargon is warranted, give a definition or a link to one;
- Use acronyms only after using the phrase or word. Don’t assume people know what they mean;
- writing using active (not passive) voice;
- stick to one idea per sentence;
- use visual aids such as photos and info-graphics to help get your message across;
- stick to the facts and attribute opinions;
- say what you need to say upfront, then elaborate. Basically, start with your conclusion;
- drop the pleasantries. If you must include them, put them at the bottom of the page;
- be mindful of formatting. Use sub headings and bullet points to help guide readers through the page and to digest big chunks of information.
Ultimately, copy should have a purpose and needs to be clean and concise.
If you must write something longer or more feature-ish, at least give a summary of the guts of the article at the beginning. Use a stand-first, for example.
Also, don’t let background and interesting but non-essential information bog content down. Instead, provide links to additional information. This way you can satisfy your need to provide people with a comprehensive piece of information without overloading them or your page. This strategy also allows the reader to control how deep they delve into the story.
The tips I’ve listed above will get you results.
Just google ‘writing for the web’ and you’ll find thousands more posts like this one suggesting any combination of the same ideas. We’re not making this stuff up. It works. It makes life easier for content producers and readers who don’t have the patience to plough through 800 words to find out what your message is.
Header photo credit: Pixabay