Five key writing hacks

In my last blog I discussed why storytelling content is on the rise. Today I wanted to give a few practical writing tips that will help you create a great story and show you how it will connect you with your customers.

1. Remember the five Ws: No story is complete if it doesn’t answer the five basic questions of who, what, where, when and (most importantly) why. This is the first thing you learn when you become a reporter and it’s a great way to structure or plan your story. Whether you’re writing a blog, crafting a social media story or putting together a PR campaign, if you don’t answer these five simple questions the message will be weak.

2. Focus on the ‘Why’: I think this is the most important of the five Ws. Why you? Why now? Why should anyone care? It can be easy to think nobody will be interested, but there is always an angle that will work and if you focus on the ‘why’ it will give your story more meaning.

3. Know your audience: This is an obvious one, but often overlooked. Who are you trying to reach with your story? What do they like doing? What do they care about? Having your reader in mind gives your story more depth and will shape the way you tell it, the language and tone you use and the points you ultimately put across.

4. Get personal: Not everyone is initially comfortable doing this, but in reality it’s not about telling the world your darkest secrets. It’s about giving your customers an insight into what you believe in and what your business stands for. People will engage with a personality so much more than a faceless corporate brand; we can thank social media for that. Remember, the ‘personality’ behind your brand doesn’t necessarily have to be you. You might want to highlight something special about the people who work for you or give some insight into how your product is made. Allowing your customers to go ‘behind the scenes’ of your business ultimately brings them closer and if they can relate to your ethos they are more likely to invest in what you have to offer.

5. Use words well: Most of the time, people use too many words when creating content. Nobody has time to read long articles, so keep blogs short and to the point. Web copy, too, needs to be concise. Even social media posts need to be carefully crafted. It’s also really important to think about your tone of voice and the language you use. Companies that take content creation seriously will have a list of good and bad words. If humour comes naturally, use it, but don’t worry too much about being witty. Honesty is usually more effective.

Avoid clichés. If a phrase has been used before, think of a different one – it will make your copy sing. Lastly, make sure your grammar is correct. There is nothing more irritating than an apostrophe in the wrong place. I also have a thing about overuse of exclamation marks. And don’t get me started on emojis….

Hopefully this blog will have given you some insight into how to create great storytelling content. If writing is something you are not comfortable doing, please do get in touch. I would love to help. Next week, in my final blog, I will discuss the myriad different ways to get your story out there.

The second of a three-part series of blogs I wrote for The Collective, my local business networking group based in Chichester.