When you are deploying a content strategy as a writer, there are a few rules that you need to follow. No matter how good your writing skills are, there is always room for improvement. Here are five top tips that you should always follow to make sure that your content is as good as it can possibly be.
1. Don’t Plagiarize!
The first rule of writing content is not to plagiarize other writers’ work. You will get caught out if you copy someone else’s content word for word. Rewriting content without adding any of your own original ideas is also not acceptable. Plagiarism is not only wrong but also results in unoriginal content that ranks poorly on search engines and is unlikely to be shared by readers. When you write, strive to be unique.
[See related article where Google's Matt Cutts talks about duplicate content: http://socialmediarevolver.com/syndicating-your-own-blog-content/]
2. Check Your Spelling and Grammar
Even if you think you write pretty well, it doesn’t hurt to remind yourself of the basic rules of spelling and grammar every so often. Remember the adage – Content is King – so give it utmost attention. The Purdue Online Writing Lab – which can be found at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/ – is a free, user-friendly online guide to grammar and punctuation.
If you are going to use colons and semi-colons in your writing, make sure you know how to use them correctly. (A semi-colon is used in place of a period to connect two independent clauses, whereas a colon introduces a list or an explanation of the previous clause.)
Familiarize yourself with pairs of words that sound similar but have different meanings depending on their spelling, such as “affect” and “effect” or “your” and “you’re.” A list of commonly confused words is available online at http://oxforddictionaries.com/words/commonly-confused-words.
3. Always Make Proofreading Part of your Content Strategy
Even the best writers make mistakes, which is why proofreading your content is vital. It is easy to miss your own mistakes when proofreading, as your brain is inclined to read what you intended to write instead of what you actually wrote. Try reading your work out loud to avoid missing your mistakes – or ask someone else to read it for you.
4. Know Your Audience and Purpose
When you write, your audience and purpose should be at the forefront of your mind. What message are you trying to convey through your words? Are you writing to sell or to inform? How much knowledge can you assume your audience has of the topic you are discussing? Content writing is particularly challenging when you’re unsure of who your readership will be; if this is the case, it is best to assume that you are addressing an adult of average intelligence who has no specialist knowledge of the topic.
5. Do Your Research
Always double check any facts and figures that you use in your content. When researching a topic online, only quote statistics that come from a reputable source. If you take figures from news articles or blog posts without bothering to check the original study or research paper that they come from, you risk propagating other authors’ embarrassing mistakes.
Content Strategy Infographic
Here is a handy Infographic from Patricia Redsicker showing you another angle to good content strategy:
Take Pride in Your Work
As a content writer, your job is to engage with your readers and clearly communicate with them on a particular topic. Following these five tips will ensure that your writing is always accurate, appropriate and a joy to read.
Have you developed your own content strategy? What makes your writing stand out? Which writers would you die to write like?