How to Be a Great Content Creator Without Being a Great Writer

Jun 26, 2014


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BEST PRACTICES SERIES

Great content creation does not have to start with being a great writer.

Let's take me for instance: I am a husband and father in my mid-30's with little time on my hands for anything outside of family, church, and work. Literally, that's about all I can handle.

But you are asking yourself, how did you become such a damn good writer? (Thank you by the way). And how do you make time for it in your tremendously busy schedule?

Well friends, here is my secret: I study copywriting.

I eat, sleep, and breathe copywriting (you know, when I'm not doing those other things I mentioned).

Why?

Because, any great writer has become great by two methods:

  1. Write a lot (See Stephen King)
  2. Studying the great ones

The timeless art of copywriting is writing for the purposes of selling a product or service.  Weaving words for the simple purpose of persuading the audience to take action. Whether it's in the form of direct mail, email, lyrics, web content, journalism, scripts, or billboards, copywriting is truly an art form and the best have made it work for them in lucrative ways.

Now, back to being a bad writer. The principles of copywriting can teach even a weak writer to ground themselves in the proper practices to achieve maximum effect.

Those defining principles are as follows:

Research

Know more about your subject than your customer (or reader). David Ogilvy (legendary marketer and copywriter for Ogilvy & Mather) famously spent three weeks researching and practically living inside a Rolls Royce plant and one thing jumped out at him more than anything else. A plant worker told him, "The only thing you'll hear while going 60 MPH is the electric clock" and that became the tagline for the next campaign. Rolls grew market share in America significantly after that ad made its debut.

Craft a Compelling Headline and Lede

Take your time when developing your headline and lede because as many top copywriters teach, they won't read your second sentence if you lose them at the first.

Write Like You Speak

There is nothing worse than reading an article in stuffy AP format that has no soul. Neville Medhora from AppSumo.com and KopywritingKourse.com talks endlessly about using an authentic voice, and even a shocking voice. Grab people's attention by writing to them in a conversational voice.

Use your "caveman" filter. Would a caveman understand your writing? If not, revise.

Simplify Your Words and Your Ideas

1,000 songs in your pocket. Just do it.  The Ultimate Driving Machine. All simple concepts that changed the world.

To be a great content creator, you don't have to be a genius. Just someone who can put words together in a simple and compelling way. (Oh, and some punctuation would be nice.)

E.B. White also has written, in his eloquent book on writing The Elements of Style, about "omitting needless words." This is hard to execute but, with focus, can be accomplished.

Find Your Starving Crowd

Get out of your own way.  Find out what your audience needs and deliver it. Copywriters and authors alike understand their audience and deliver the product that fits their needs.

Content creators need to first focus on what the audience wants, then craft simple content to deliver what they need. This one ties all of the above principles together.

You do not have to be a great writer to be a great content creator. Of course, over time, your saw will sharpen, and it will lead to better writing.

But in the meantime, focus on the simple things.

  • Research with simple goals
  • Simple words
  • Simple phrases
  • Simple people with simple needs
  • Simple and understandable headlines and leads

Focusing on simplicity can lead to more shareable content and more digestible concepts for your audience. And if you do not put your audience first to create a clear, concise message to persuade your reader to take action, then stepping back to analyze your writing priorities is in order.