I’ve said it a million times, so it’s great to hear from famous guys.
In their new book, The Impact Equation, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith write: “It’s time for all of us to become master copywriters…Writing proper, excellent copy is going to be one of the most important tools in your attempt to conquer the world with the stuff you make.”
Just like you wouldn’t attempt to build a house–or even a bird house–without carpentry skills, you can’t create winning content without sharp writing know-how.
In my 30 years of writing for executives and experts, I have identified two kinds of apprentice content creators: those with too many rules and those with not enough.
The too-many rule people rely on what they learned in school. Their results are too formal, boring and long. They have trouble building relationships or engaging.
The too-few kind zoom along without thinking, making sloppy mistakes that will result in structural collapse. This might work for a while on social media, but it won’t harness attention, move people along the sales cycle or garner trust and respect.
Here’s how people in both groups can sharpen their writing skills, according to Chris, Julien and me.
1. Learn to spell. Although Chris and Julien point to the obvious need to use spell check, let me remind would-be content masters to nail the sound-alike words that spell check can’t catch, such as your and you’re or hoarse and horse.
2. Expand your vocabulary, best accomplished by reading and looking up words you can’t figure out through context. The more words you understand, the more likely you are to choose the best. Just don’t assume it’s best because the word is new or grand.
3. Study the masters. All skilled writers read. Look beyond your immediate impression to understand the masters’ techniques.
4. Copy a masterwork. Maybe not Haruki Murakami or Ernest Hemmingway, as the guys suggest, but bloggers or other writers you’d like to emulate.
5. Write endlessly. Chris and Julien suggest free-form writing that you edit afterwards. Don’t forget that every tweet or email counts as writing practice.
6. Read Write Like You Talk Only Better. Or take my uLearn program that’s coming out soon. Chris and Julien had only five tips, but I’m sure they’d agree with my system for developing the skill that’s vital to becoming a master content builder.