Writing is hugely important for entrepreneurs who frequently have everything to do, but rarely enough time to get it all done. Figuring out what to say, how and when to say it, or where to put what you write can be challenging. Here are 10 writing tips that will make it easier:
1. No Second Chances To Make A First-Impression
Write like it’s a first date because you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. Freshen-up your writing hygiene before it steps out. Best grammar and spelling at all times. Don’t trust spellchecks. Check, re-check and triple check your copy before you publish. Impeccable copy will set you apart from negligent competitors. Audiences that speak different languages require additional considerations. If an idea is meant to be self-explanatory, be sure it is. If your presentation style is unconventional, an engaging word of explanation helps. Write with the end in mind.
2. Don’t Overthink Headlines
Don’t overcomplicate the bolded type. It may be the only thing people read, which is also why you shouldn’t underestimate headline potential. Headlines make being interested easy. Practical headline advice: Brevity is best. Use a sub-head to elaborate if you need to. Hunting for ideas, I’ve sometimes cheated by using a blog topic generator, like HubSpot, to find words when my brain took time off. Enter related keywords to generate ideas for eye-catching phrases. Don’t use quotes in headlines unless absolutely necessary.
3. Fluff is a Waste of Time
Experience tells me being genuine and taking your time about your writing goes a long way. Fluff wastes precious time unless it happens to be your story. Telling it like it is saves time, and works better. Proffer complex information in digestible bites that make sense for your audience. Be frank, especially when selling new products or making introductions. Save the five-cent words for academe.
4. Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
I’ll say a lot about consistency because I’ve had a hard time with it, as creative people sometimes do. Style is consistency that works like a wireframe or table. Your unique style organizes content and saves production time by allowing you to streamline the writing process. If you’re selling a product, service or an idea, consistent messaging is key because it also builds realistic expectations.
News agencies generally speak AP-style (the app works great, and you can use it in your browser as you write), but Chicago and MLA styles are also used. Establish style now, and you’ll deal with fewer problems later. Entrepreneurs need a coherent voice that always sounds like the same person or source. Think of it this way. Consistency tells your brand narrative, highlights your accomplishments and shares your news.
5. Be Relevant
Be relevant with everything you write. Though we hear it a lot, knowing your audience makes you relevant. What do you hope to accomplish? Is your call-to-action a whisper or bullhorn? Media publication expert, entrepreneur and former Useable partner, Matt Wunderli, tells me, “Relevance is king.” If it doesn’t need to be written, don’t bother writing it. Some content may be suited for sound, others visual. Relevance comes from thorough market analysis, not a shotgun approach.
6. Use Conversational Tone
Startups should write for the ear, which defines conversational tone. If you’re interested in someone, and entrepreneurs always are, it’s about making conversation. Buzz. What would your product, idea or service say to a room full of prospects? How would it be said?
Tone is your attitude. Does it smile or make a lasting impression? Is your conversation boardroom, classroom, street, party buster or problem-solver? What would it wear? Read what you’ve written aloud as part of your research, and a conversational tone will come to you. Break the ice with conviction.
7. Share Before You Publish
Get constructive criticism whenever you can. Once something is written, take a minute to revise, and then walk away. Let it percolate. Test your writing on target demographics or willing participants to remove errors, capture insights and ensure smoothness of flow. Seriously, don’t rush. Be open-minded. Wash, rinse and repeat this until your audience is stunningly satisfied. Prepare for all types of response.
Repeat keywords, but don’t use them excessively, which may jeopardize your website’s search engine results page rank (SERP). Word choice is crucial, which means developing engaging content needs practice. If you’re unfamiliar with keywords, explore Yoast and learn Google AdWords. My advice: Use keywords like curse words. “Swear” only when it counts. Algorithms read your content as much as people do, so remember the bots and crawlers when you write.
9. Passion For What You Do
Startup success has a long list of ingredients that require coordination and time to achieve. As your enterprise grows, don’t let passion or humor go untapped when you write about your work. Enthusiasm, tempo and momentum in your writing will fuel imagination and spark interest. In my opinion, bland words go bad. Verbs get the word out. Passive voice sits on the couch hoping for a quick return.
10. Writing Is Where Everything Else Begins
Your best writing is part of the startup process, and it will put your story on task. Writing is a way to carve ideas from your mind into reality. More importantly, writing can be your reputation. Ideally, your writing should be as perfect as your product or service. Good stuff doesn’t happen instantaneously. If you don’t write well, don’t like to, or have no time, delegate or collaborate to strengthen company exposure through writing. Images benefit from strong captions. Both video and sound offerings deserve a sweet title, and finely tuned scripts. Write to inform and delight.
These writing tips should make your entrepreneur’s life easier, so here’s a bonus tip. Until you safely reinvent the wheel, or you’re having difficulty getting started, borrow. For example, this eCommerce checklist from Lassonde’s Jaron Hall provides great bullets that may help frame what your startup writes about, and why.