I was very lucky this morning to hear the amazing Michelle Nicol, a Freelance Writer at Wordstruck Writing and Training share her five top tips for writing anything with The Inspire Network.
Michelle is a freelance writer, trainer and tone of voice consultant who helps businesses tell their story through words that attract attention. She’s a former BBC journalist and also runs professional and creative writing workshops.
There is a lot of writing to do when you run a business – for me, obviously I write blog posts, I also write content for the other pages on this website (although I didn’t write my own about page- that’s much too tricky!) I write emails and social media posts ALL the time, each network also needs a bit of wording about what I do (I didn’t write my LinkedIn words either!) and then there’s my other businesses which also need words… words are a HUGE part of business – as I read in a book which Michelle passed around at the end of the meeting, these words from Tim Rich “because visual branding is but skin deep is takes words – true, sensuous, surprising, opinionated, persuasive, hard-working words – to reveal the depth of who you are and why you matter“.
So here are Michelle’s top tips – I hope they help you as much as they helped us this morning!
ONE: Banish the blank page.
Have you ever sat down to write a blog and just stared at the screen or paper and not known what to do? Michelle said the cure to this is to just write. Anything. It doesn’t matter. This could seem daunting so she said to give yourself a starting point, for example “I’d be a better writer if…”, or to open a book or a newspaper, pick a sentence and start with that. The idea is to keep going for ten to twenty minutes after which time your subconscious brain will start bring things up – and that’s when you get to the good stuff. Then you’ll be able to get to the next stage as you’ll have an idea and your writing muscle will be going.
TWO: Be a reporter.
Read stuff. Blogs, newspapers, books, magazines – watch TV, talk to people – inspiration is EVERYWHERE (I have written a blog related to this, check it out for ideas!) Think about:
That way you’ll satisfy peoples curiosity. Michelle recommended using these questions as headings in your blog posts. Why is the most important question as people always want to know “what’s in it for me?”
Top Tip: Have a “most important thing” to say when writing for your business
THREE: Create structure
Michelle showed us a picture of some hay bales arranged in a triangle. The top hay bale is the one you’d go for if you wanted to take one, because it’s the easiest to get at. This is the most important thing that you want people to take away. That “thing” should be at the top of your writing. You should include that first, make it obvious – and then people can decide if they want to read it or not. Having a most important thing to say also means that you have a purpose to what you are a writing – something that you can ensure is the key point throughout.
FOUR: Take a fresh look.
When you’ve finished writing, step back and determine if it’s any good. Go away, come back – if you need to, get some constructive criticism. You could ask someone “What do you think this is about, or what is the most important thing about it?”
This is the editing process where you have an opportunity for review. Does it do what you think it should do?
FIVE: Just do it.
When you write something, you don’t HAVE to show anyone until you’re ready – but there’s not much point in writing for your business if you don’t publish it – and it’s so easy!
You can revisit old posts and refresh them, take time after writing to review and reflect, take a look to see if you’re getting comments as these could feed a new blog post.
What have you got to lose? Go for it!
Amy Purdie is the founder of Whiteacres (where you are now) she can help your business become irresistible to your ideal clients so that they can’t wait to work with you.
Amy has been enjoying designing logos, brand identities, illustration, print work and websites – since 2007 fuelled mainly by tea and chocolate.