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21 Writing Tips to Become a Better Writer Fast

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Whether you want to land your dream job, score a promotion, persuade a new client, or grow your blog on Google or social media, writing is one of the most powerful skills you can learn.

I have personally written thousands of articles over the years, covering everything from writing itself to digital marketing, travel, insurance, and more. My work has been featured on some of the world’s top marketing blogs, including Shopify, Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, and many others. I’ve built my entire career on the written word.

I don’t say this to gloat—just to show you that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to writing. And I’m about to share what I know.

In this article, we’ll go through 21 tips to become a better writer. But first, let’s discuss what “good writing” really is.

What makes good writing?

Writing is part art, part science. There are no perfect words or perfect sentences, but there is a clear difference between good writing and bad writing. 

Good non-fiction writing:

  • Is easy to understand.
  • Is well-formatted.
  • Has proper grammar and spelling.
  • Gets to the point.
  • Holds your attention.

Good writing really comes from good editing. It’s rare that a first draft comes out polished and ready to publish.

But great writing has some extra spice to it. It intrigues and motivates. It moves the reader to want to do something. It gets you thinking.

Being a good writer is easy. Being a great writer takes time and dedication. Either way, becoming a better writer starts by following some basic tips and practicing often.

21 writing tips to help you write better, faster

In my decade of writing professionally (and many more years before that writing for fun), I’ve learned a lot about how to be a better writer. And I’ve boiled down my best advice into the following 21 tips.

1. Start with your end goal in mind

Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), you should always know what your goal is. 

Why are you writing this article/email/book? What do you want the reader to take away from your writing?

For example, my goal for this article is to help you, the reader, become a better writer. That (hopefully) means you will follow some of these tips and implement them the next time you write.

2. Make an outline

Once you have a rough idea of your goal, it’s time to organize your thoughts with an outline.

A content outline will help you structure your writing logically and let it flow more naturally. It’s also helpful to get the bulk of your research out of the way before you start writing. This is so you don’t get distracted going back and forth between writing and research.

Plus, if you’re writing blog content, having an outline makes it easier to optimize your content for search engines from the get-go rather than optimization being an afterthought. 

3. Focus, focus, focus

After you start writing, it’s important to give it your full attention. This may sound simple, but avoid distractions like kids running around or checking your phone or email. 

I personally like to turn my phone on “silent” and mute my notifications, put on noise-canceling headphones, and listen to instrumental Lo-fi music. You can experiment to see if your brain does better with complete silence or light instrumental music. Heck, sometimes I even write while listening to bass-heavy EDM. 

Regardless, limit distractions as much as possible and allow yourself to focus on your writing.

4. Ditch the fancy words

Effervescent writing with decorative wording doesn’t serve to create an erudite discussion but rather sounds bloviating and obfuscates the actual meaning of your communication…

… or rather, fancy words only confuse people.

While using these words may make your writing look interesting, it detracts from the goal of being clear and concise. It makes it more difficult for the reader to understand your message.

Instead, try to use the simplest and easiest-to-understand words you can while still explaining what you’re trying to say.

5. Use shorter sentences but vary the lengths

Similar to using smaller words, you should also aim to shorten your sentences. 

Imagine if I wrote something that your brain had to continue to read, with multiple commas, multiple ideas, and varying concepts, all in one huge run-on sentence, that just didn’t seem to end, no matter how badly you wanted it to, not giving you any time to take a breath or digest the ideas you’re learning, and it just keeps dragging on…

Makes things hard to follow, right?

Instead, keep each sentence under 16–25 words unless absolutely necessary, and only share one or two ideas per sentence.

That said, you shouldn’t just use small sentences. If you do, it can get boring. Similar-sized sentences don’t entice. See what I’m doing here? All these sentences are of near-similar lengths. 

Compare that to this paragraph, where wording and length are varied. Share something quickly. Then reinforce it with a longer sentence that digs deeper, keeping the brain engaged. Maybe throw in a medium-length sentence as well.

Don’t stress too much about sentence length, but keep it in the back of your mind. It helps to give your writing some rhythm and make it sound more interesting.

6. Write in a conversational tone

Too often I see new writers trying to write in a way that sounds “professional.” Rather than writing in their natural voice and style, they try to sound too buttoned up.

This comes off as boring.

Instead, write like how you talk—within reason, of course. Don’t write a research paper like this. But if you’re writing a casual email or blog post, your writing should sound natural and flow as if you’re talking directly to the reader rather than giving a lecture to them.

7. Write every day

Remember how I said there’s a difference between good writers and great writers? Good writers learn a few tips and write once in a while. Great writers put in the time to practice.

This doesn’t necessarily mean writing an article every day. All forms of writing count, whether that’s crafting an email, writing a blog post, or scribbling in a journal. Have fun with it.

8. Master transitions

As any good copywriter will tell you, the purpose of a paragraph isn’t to convey an idea or make a point. Rather, it’s to get someone to read the next paragraph. 

Knowing how to transition from one idea or paragraph to the next is one of the biggest secrets to keep readers glued to the page. And that’s done with transitions.

The best way to get good at transitions is by reading your work out loud to spot abrupt changes or awkward spots, then editing to smooth these spots out. I talk more about that in the next tip.

9. Read your writing out loud to edit it

Remember: Good writing comes from good editing.

One of the biggest improvements I ever made to my writing came from reading my writing out loud while editing. By reading out loud, it becomes glaringly obvious where your writing sounds awkward, doesn’t transition well, or straight up doesn’t sound good.

If you use only a single tip from this article, use this one.

10. Start a journal or diary

Physically writing in a journal has been shown to have many health benefits, such as reducing anxiety and stress, helping you organize your thoughts, and even coping with depression.

But it also makes you a better writer.

Something about putting an actual pen to paper is magical. Doing this let me experience my second-biggest writing improvement (after the “reading work out loud” tip).

11. Use active voice

Your writing will be made better after reading this. You will write better after reading this.

Which of those two sentences sounds better? The latter is written in active voice, while the former is written in passive voice.

Active voice always packs more of a punch in a smaller package. It’s more interesting to read because it talks about a present action rather than some future possibility.

Check out Grammarly’s guide to active vs. passive writing to learn more.

12. Utilize first drafts

Good writing comes from good editing. You can’t edit without a first draft.

Don’t expect to write something up, never read it over, and have it published and sound amazing. It just doesn’t work like that 99% of the time.

Instead, write your thoughts in a first draft, then edit, edit, and edit some more.

13. Ditch adverbs

Adverbs are great when you really need to emphasize a point. See what I did there?

Using too many adverbs too often is just not necessary and really only distracts from the very point you’re really trying to make. 

Or: Using adverbs too often is not necessary and distracts from the point you’re trying to make.

Instead of saying “really,” or “very,” or whatever other adverb, try using the word without the adverb. Just delete the adverb and read the sentence out loud. And 9 times out of 10, you’ll find the adverb isn’t necessary and removing it makes your writing punchier.

14. Master punctuation

Commas, dashes, colons, and the like are all fantastic tools. But you need to know how to use the tools. Otherwise, they detract from—rather than enhance—your writing.

I often see new writers over-using long dashes and commas. You’d be surprised at how often you can just delete commas and still be grammatically correct.

Here’s a handy guide to help you get better with punctuation.

15. Ruthlessly cut fluff

If removing a word from a sentence—or a sentence from a paragraph—doesn’t take away from the point you’re trying to make, it’s probably fluff.

Too often we throw extra words or sentences into our writing to beef up the word count or sound more sophisticated. Don’t do that.

In my opinion, great non-fiction writing is about saying the most while using the fewest words. Again, it comes back to editing. Edit out the fluff like your life depends on it.

16. Have someone else read your draft

Having a fresh set of eyes on your work can help give you a perspective you couldn’t get when your head was down. Even if it’s just a friend or colleague who isn’t a great writer, have them read it and give you feedback.

You’ll either get a nice dopamine hit from the praise or some ideas on what sucks. Either way, it’s a win-win. 

17. Know your audience

Feedback from your peers is important, but what really matters is your final audience.

Not only will this improve your reader’s retention, but it will also help your content show up in Google search results. Doing some basic research can help your content align with search intent.

Search intent is the why behind the query. Why did they search for that phrase? What are they exactly searching for?

Keyword research example in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

You can figure this out with some basic keyword research. Follow our guide to learn more.

18. Develop your curiosity

How many times did you need to write a paper in school or something for work that you just couldn’t care less about? How well did the paper come out?

Chances are, it could have been better. Great writers are genuinely curious about the thing they’re writing about, and that curiosity propels them to find the right words and sound more interesting.

So if you’re struggling to write about whatever you need to write about, find a way to get curious about it. Watch some interesting videos on YouTube or read interesting news stories on it. Do whatever you need to get curious.

19. Read great writers

If you want to be a great writer, you should read other great writers’ work. Find the best writers in the field you want to write about and start reading.

Google is your friend here.

20. Write somewhere new

My third-biggest writing improvement happened when I started writing at coffee shops, restaurants, cool hotels, and even out in nature.

There’s something about getting into a fresh environment that shakes your brain up and helps you find better words. Next time you’re struggling to write, go out and write somewhere new.

21. Sleep on it

Finally, if you’ve followed all these tips and still can’t seem to find the right words, just step away for a while. A good night’s rest can do wonders.

It’s funny how many times I felt like I was bashing my head off a brick wall trying to write something. But then just putting it down for tomorrow completely turned it around for me.

Sometimes, it’s best to put the pen down for a bit.

Final thoughts

The best writers make writing a daily practice and aren’t afraid to ruthlessly edit their work.

My three biggest tips out of the 21 are to read your writing out loud, keep a journal, and try writing in new places. Hopefully, those three simple things will help you become a better writer.

Ready for more? Here are a few other great articles:

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Five things you need to know about content optimization in 2023

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5 Things You Need To Know About Optimizing Content in 2023

30-second summary:

  • As the content battleground goes through tremendous upheaval, SEO insights will continue to grow in importance
  • ChatGPT can help content marketers get an edge over their competition by efficiently creating and editing high-quality content
  • Making sure your content rank high enough to engage the target audience requires strategic planning and implementation

Google is constantly testing and updating its algorithms in pursuit of the best possible searcher experience. As the search giant explains in its ‘How Search Works’ documentation, that means understanding the intent behind the query and bringing back results that are relevant, high-quality, and accessible for consumers.

As if the constantly shifting search landscape weren’t difficult enough to navigate, content marketers are also contending with an increasingly technology-charged environment. Competitors are upping the stakes with tools and platforms that generate smarter, real-time insights and even make content optimization and personalization on the fly based on audience behavior, location, and data points.

Set-it-and-forget-it content optimization is a thing of the past. Here’s what you need to know to help your content get found, engage your target audience, and convert searchers to customers in 2023.

AI automation going to be integral for content optimization

Technologies-B2B-organizations-use-to-optimize-content

As the content battleground heats up, SEO insights will continue to grow in importance as a key source of intelligence. We’re optimizing content for humans, not search engines, after all – we had better have a solid understanding of what those people need and want.

While I do not advocate automation for full content creation, I believe next year – as resources become stretched automation will have a bigger impact on helping with content optimization of existing content.

CHATGPT

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is a powerful language generation model that leverages the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) architecture to produce realistic human-like text. With Chat GPT’s wide range of capabilities – from completing sentences and answering questions to generating content ideas or powering research initiatives – it can be an invaluable asset for any Natural Language Processing project.

ChatGPT-for-content

The introduction on ChatGPT has caused considerable debate and explosive amounts of content on the web. With ChatGPT, content marketers can achieve an extra edge over their competition by efficiently creating and editing high-quality content. It offers assistance with generating titles for blog posts, summaries of topics or articles, as well as comprehensive campaigns when targeting a specific audience.

However, it is important to remember that this technology should be used to enhance human creativity rather than completely replacing it.

For many years now AI-powered technology has been helping content marketers and SEOs automate repetitive tasks such as data analysis, scanning for technical issues, and reporting, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. AI also enables real-time analysis of a greater volume of consumer touchpoints and behavioral data points for smarter, more precise predictive analysis, opportunity forecasting, real-time content recommendations, and more.

With so much data in play and recession concerns already impacting 2023 budgets in many organizations, content marketers will have to do more with less this coming year. You’ll need to carefully balance human creative resources with AI assists where they make sense to stay flexible, agile, and ready to respond to the market.

It’s time to look at your body of content as a whole

Google’s Helpful Content update, which rolled out in August, is a sitewide signal targeting a high proportion of thin, unhelpful, low-quality content. That means the exceptional content on your site won’t rank to their greatest potential if they’re lost in a sea of mediocre, outdated assets.

It might be time for a content reboot – but don’t get carried away. Before you start unpublishing and redirecting blog posts, lean on technology for automated site auditing and see what you can fix up first. AI-assisted technology can help sniff out on-page elements, including page titles and H1 tags, and off-page factors like page speed, redirects, and 404 errors that can support your content refreshing strategy.

Focus on your highest trafficked and most visible pages first, i.e.: those linked from the homepage or main menu. Google’s John Mueller confirmed recently that if the important pages on your website are low quality, it’s bad news for the entire site. There’s no percentage by which this is measured, he said, urging content marketers and SEOs to instead think of what the average user would think when they visit your website.

Take advantage of location-based content optimization opportunities

Consumers crave personalized experiences, and location is your low-hanging fruit. Seasonal weather trends, local events, and holidays all impact your search traffic in various ways and present opportunities for location-based optimization.

AI-assisted technology can help you discover these opportunities and evaluate topical keywords at scale so you can plan content campaigns and promotions that tap into this increased demand when it’s happening.

Make the best possible use of content created for locally relevant campaigns by repurposing and promoting it across your website, local landing pages, social media profiles, and Google Business Profiles for each location. Google Posts, for example, are a fantastic and underutilized tool for enhancing your content’s visibility and interactivity right on the search results page.

Optimize content with conversational & high-volume keywords

Look for conversational and trending terms in your keyword research, too. Top-of-funnel keywords that help generate awareness of the topic and spur conversations in social channels offer great opportunities for promotion. Use hashtags organically and target them in paid content promotion campaigns to dramatically expand your audience.

Conversational keywords are a good opportunity for enhancing that content’s visibility in search, too. Check out the ‘People Also Ask’ results and other featured snippets available on the search results page (SERP) for your keyword terms. Incorporate questions and answers in your content to naturally optimize for these and voice search queries.

SEO-and-creating-content-in-2023

It’s important that you utilize SEO insights and real-time data correctly; you don’t want to be targeting what was trending last month and is already over. AI is a great assist here, as well, as an intelligent tool can be scanning and analyzing constantly, sending recommendations for new content opportunities as they arise.

Consider how you optimize content based on intent and experience

The best content comes from a deep, meaningful understanding of the searcher’s intent. What problem were they experiencing or what need did they have that caused them to seek out your content in the first place? And how does your blog post, ebook, or landing page copy enhance their experience?

Look at the search results page as a doorway to your “home”. How’s your curb appeal? What do potential customers see when they encounter one of your pages in search results? What kind of experience do you offer when they step over the threshold and click through to your website?

The best content meets visitors where they are at with relevant, high-quality information presented in a way that is accessible, fast loading, and easy to digest. This is the case for both short and long form SEO content. Ensure your content contains calls to action designed to give people options and help them discover the next step in their journey versus attempting to sell them on something they may not be ready for yet.

2023, the year of SEO: why brands are leaning in and how to prepare

Conclusion

The audience is king, queen, and the entire court as we head into 2023. SEO and content marketing give you countless opportunities to connect with these people but remember they are a means to an end. Keep searcher intent and audience needs at the heart of every piece of content you create and campaign you plan for the coming year.

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Headings With Hierarchical Structure An “Awesome Idea”

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Headings With Hierarchical Structure An "Awesome Idea"

Google’s John Mueller discussed heading elements with a member of the SEO community where he affirmed the usefulness of using hierarchical structure when using heading elements.

Background Context to What Mueller Said

Heading elements <H1> – <H6> are supposed to be used to indicate what a section of a webpage is about.

Furthermore the heading elements have a ranking order, with the <H1> being the highest rank of importance and the <H6> being the lowest level of importance.

The heading element purpose is to label what a section of content is about.

HTML specifications allow the use of multiple <H1> elements. So, technically, using more than one <H1> is perfectly valid.

Section 4.3.11 of the official HTML specifications states:

“h1–h6 elements have a heading level, which is given by the number in the element’s name.

If a document has one or more headings, at least a single heading within the outline should have a heading level of 1.”

Nevertheless, using more than on <H1> is not considered a best practice.

The Mozilla developer reference page about the use of headings recommends:

“The <h1> to <h6> HTML elements represent six levels of section headings. <h1> is the highest section level and <h6> is the lowest.

…Avoid using multiple <h1> elements on one page

While using multiple <h1> elements on one page is allowed by the HTML standard (as long as they are not nested), this is not considered a best practice. A page should generally have a single <h1> element that describes the content of the page (similar to the document’s <title> element).”

John Mueller has previously said that it doesn’t matter if a webpage uses one <H1> or five <H1> headings.

The point of his statement is that the level of the heading isn’t as important as how they are used, with the best practice being the use of  headings for indicating what a section of content is about.

What Mueller Said on Twitter

A member of the SEO community was joking around and gently ribbed Mueller about using more than one H1.

He tweeted:

The SEO followed up by sharing how he preferred using the best practices for heading elements by using only one <H1>, to denote what the page is about and then using the rest of the headings in order of rank, give a webpage a hierarchical structure.

A Hierarchical structure communicates sections of a webpage and any subsections within each section.

He tweeted:

“I’m too traditional with header elements. (HTML 4 for Life! lol)

I’d still recommend using just one H1 element on a page.

I patiently go back to pages to implement header hierarchy for fun.”

John Mueller tweeted his approval in response:

“I think that’s an awesome idea & a great practice.

Header hierarchy is not just useful to Google, it’s also important for accessibility.

(Google still has to deal with whatever weird things people throw up on the web, but being thoughtful in your work always makes sense.)”

Hierarchical Page Structure

In the early days of SEO, <H1> used to be counted as an important ranking factor, one that was more important than an <H2>.

So, back then, one always put their most important keywords in the <H1> in order to signal to Google that the page was relevant for that keyword.

H1 used to have more ranking power so it was essential to use the <H1> to help rankings.

Google’s algorithm was using keywords as a way to “guess” what a webpage was about.

Keywords in the anchor text, keywords in the title tag and keywords in the <H1> helped Google guess what a page was relevant for.

But nowadays, Google doesn’t have to guess.

It is able to understand what sections of a webpage are about, and consequently, what the entire webpage is about.

Despite those advances, many SEOs still believe that using an <H1> is some kind of magic ranking factor.

Headings are no longer about shouting what keyword you want to rank for.

The role of heading elements are now about telling search engines what a section of content is about.

Each section of a content is generally about something specific.

Heading tags make it easier for search engines to know what a page is about.

And that helps them rank the page for the topic.

And according to the official HTML specifications, that’s technically the proper way to use heading elements.

Lastly, Mueller mentioned a quality of the heading element as a way to better communicate for accessibility reasons, like for people who use screen readers.

The official HTML specifications say:

“Descriptive headings are especially helpful for users who have disabilities that make reading slow and for people with limited short-term memory.

These people benefit when section titles make it possible to predict what each section contains.”

So thank you John Mueller for calling attention to the benefits of using headings with a hierarchical structure, for calling attention to how hierarchical structure is useful for Google and for accessibility.

Featured image by Shutterstock/Asier Romero



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The Challenges & Opportunities For Marketers

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The Challenges & Opportunities For Marketers

Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., reported its fourth straight quarter of declining profits.

It made $76 billion in sales over the past three months, but it wasn’t enough to meet Wall Street’s expectations.

Google’s revenue was down 9% compared to last year, and its biggest business, Google Search, saw a 1% drop in revenue. Even YouTube’s advertising sales fell by nearly 8%.

Alphabet has decided to cut its workforce by 12,000 and expects to spend between $1.9 billion and $2.3 billion on employee severance costs.

This latest earnings report shows tech giants like Google are facing challenges in the current digital advertising landscape.

But Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, believes that the company’s long-term investments in AI will be a key factor in its future success.

In a press release, Pichai says he expects major AI advancements to be soon revealed in Google search and other areas:

“Our long-term investments in deep computer science make us extremely well-positioned as AI reaches an inflection point, and I’m excited by the AI-driven leaps we’re about to unveil in Search and beyond. There’s also great momentum in Cloud, YouTube subscriptions, and our Pixel devices. We’re on an important journey to re-engineer our cost structure in a durable way and to build financially sustainable, vibrant, growing businesses across Alphabet.”

Alphabet’s CFO, Ruth Porat, reported that their Q4 consolidated revenues were $76 billion, a 1% increase from the previous year. The full year 2022 saw revenues of $283 billion, a 10% increase.

Going forward, Alphabet is changing how it reports on its AI activities.

DeepMind, which used to be reported under “Other Bets,” will now be reported as part of Alphabet’s corporate costs to reflect its increasing integration with Google Services and Google Cloud.

What Does This Mean For Marketing Professionals?

It’s important to stay updated on the latest developments in the tech industry and how they may affect advertising strategies.

Google’s declining profits and decreased revenue in their search and YouTube platforms are reminders that the digital advertising landscape is constantly evolving, and companies must adapt to keep up.

Marketers should consider diversifying their advertising efforts across multiple platforms to minimize the impact of market swings.

Additionally, Google’s focus on AI and its integration with Google Services and Cloud is something to keep an eye on.

As AI advances, it may offer new opportunities for marketers to target and engage with their audience effectively.

By staying informed on the latest tech advancements, marketers can stay ahead of the curve and make the most of these opportunities.

Despite Google’s recent financial setbacks, the tech giant is still a major player in the digital advertising landscape, and its investments in AI show its commitment to continued growth and innovation.


Featured Image: Sergio Photone/Shutterstock

Source: Alphabet



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