You know those people who always seem to have the perfect thing to say? Who can write an email or a blog post without breaking a sweat? The ones whose grammar is always on point and who never make a typo? Yeah, we hate those people too.
But the good news is that you can be someone other than one of those people to be a great writer. In fact, some of the best writers are the ones who break all the rules. So if you’re ready to stop sweating over your writing and start having some fun with it, here are four tips to help you write like an expert.
You consider yourself a great writer, maybe the best at professional business writing in your company. You’ve written about religion, education, medicine and legal matters for your various clients. Then you’re hit with this assignment: Write 800 words on key I&O technology trends. Come again? We have some tips for beginner copywriters to get started!
Fake It Until You Make It
It’s your job as a writer to “fake it until you’re not faking it anymore,” meaning you sometimes have to sound like an expert on a topic even when you know little about the industry. But everyone has their limits. For some, it’s technology. For others, sports. Writing about legal matters is a whole new ballgame due to the, you know, legal issues of publishing incorrect facts.
The problem is that your readers will know instantly if you don’t sound like an expert. For example, effective business and professional tech writing are tough to do if you aren’t intimately familiar with the topic.
Case in point: A while back, content marketing firm Article Writing Co had a big batch of assignments about fantasy football. For some reason, a chunk of those stories was assigned to UK writers. They know football, but they don’t know American football.
So when Nimble Media received its stories, it was painfully apparent that the writers had never seen an American football game. The writers spent more time describing the basic rules than they gave decent fantasy league advice. And something like that is immediately evident to avid sports fans in the U.S.
So How Do You Write About the Cloud and Federal Taxation of Corporations?
Fortunately, you can still pen some of these articles without sounding like an idiot. Effective business and professional writing, remember, takes practice. Lots of practice.
Rule No. 1? Write, write and write some more. Take some of those topics you struggle with, then write about them at least once a week, more if you have the time. After a while, you’ll learn how to cover the topic and where to quickly and easily find information.
A few other tips come from Jonathan Wray of Copypress Community:
It’s OK to Have a Meltdown
Remember that scene from Jerry Maguire when he completely wigs out? That’s OK, Wray explains. “Allow yourself some time to go through the five stages of grief quickly: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, eventually, acceptance – and move on,” he tells Copypress Community.
Write like you talk
Writing as you talk is the best way to sound like an expert. After all, experts are just regular people who know a lot about a particular subject.
So when you’re writing, imagine conversing with someone about your topic. Use your natural voice and style, and don’t worry about sounding too formal or “academic.”
Wray recommends using Google Scholar and trustworthy sites instead of user-generated sites like Wikipedia. Make sure, though, that your research is up to date. If you’re using Google, go to your Search Tools and change the date range. You can also click on “news” or even “blogs.”
Otherwise, you might get a bunch of company sites rather than actual helpful information or worse, you’ll find outdated info. Once you find a good site, bookmark it.
Experts know how to get their point across without wasting words. So when you’re writing, try to be as concise as possible. Avoid unnecessary words or phrases, and focus on making your point clearly and directly.
This doesn’t mean you should avoid using big words—if a big word is the best word for the job, then use it! But in general, shorter is better when writing like an expert.
Find an Expert to Review it Afterward
If possible, have someone familiar with the topic look over your story before submitting it. If the client understands, you could even get him or her to look at it before it’s ready.
Along those lines, if your client doesn’t mind answering questions, send him or her a list of them before you start copywriting, and ask for good resources and websites they follow.
Use active voice
Active voice is when the subject of the sentence is doing the verb (e.g., “I am writing a blog post”), whereas passive voice is when the subject of the sentence is being acted upon by the verb (e.g., “A blog post is being written by me”).
Active voice is generally clearer and more direct than passive voice, so it’s a good idea to use it whenever possible. However, there are times when passive voice can be effective, so feel free to avoid it altogether. Just use your best judgment!
Experts are usually pretty specific when talking about their areas of expertise. They don’t just say, “this is good” or “this isn’t working”—they explain why something is good or isn’t working.
So when you’re writing, try to be as specific as possible about what you’re talking about. This will make your argument more convincing and easier for your readers to follow along with.
Does It Make Sense to Your Mother?
This tip comes from us, and it’s a good one. When you get a difficult topic, think about how you would explain it to your mother before proofreading your story (or 10 years old). You wouldn’t use the jargon and nonsensical gobley gook industry experts use. Instead, you’d put it in plain English.
You’re not dumbing it down; instead, you’re explaining it so everyone can grasp the concept. The same applies to writing a difficult-to-understand topic. After you’ve done your research, ask yourself whether you understand it well enough to explain it to your mother. If not, then you probably need to spend more time researching.
Writing like an expert doesn’t have to be difficult—just follow these four simple tips! And before you know it, you’ll impress everyone with your wit and wisdom.
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