Many small-business owners don't think of themselves as writers, but in fact, writing plays a central role in running a successful business. Writing, after all, is not just a form of communication—it’s a way to create meaningful narratives, make connections and build a brand.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer, these 10 tips will help you inject life into your writing—and, as a result, your business.
1. Tell Stories
Storytelling is essential to the art of doing business. Telling the story of your brand, product or service in a blog post or on social media is a way to connect with prospects and customers and give them a deeper understanding of your company. Your stories can take the form of everything from tweets and posts to e-books, but whatever the form you choose, you’ll want to think in terms of the traditional elements of narrative—plot, setting and character—and use these elements to craft meaningful stories that people will remember.
Good writing begins with being alert to the world. Watch, listen and take note. Observe yourself, your employees and your customers, then translate those observations into stories.
3. Keep a Journal
It’s not always easy to find some time to write every day, but doing so can make you a stronger writer. Having a journal can help you make writing a daily activity. Jot down your ideas, thoughts and questions, then return to them later to see how you might develop them into something more.
Freewriting—or brainstorming on the page—helps your mind make connections that it might not otherwise create. You’ll be surprised at the ideas you can come up with by freewriting. Start with a question or an image, and see where your writing takes you.
5. Share Your Writing
Don’t be afraid to get feedback on your writing. Having others read and comment on your work can make it stronger, and it will give you ideas for ways to change, develop or use it.
6. Use Active Verbs
Avoid passive voice whenever possible. Instead of writing “Our wine was determined to be the best in the region,” for instance, write “Customers voted our wine the most delicious merlot in the region." Strong verbs show action, and action sells.
7. Write Catchy Openings
Novelists and journalists do it, and so should you. Quickly draw your readers in with a surprising image, an intriguing statement or a vivid scene—anything that will get them wanting to read more to find out what happens next.
8. Use Simple Language
Some people think that the bigger the words, the better the writing. This, however, is not always the case. The best writing is often simple and spare, getting right to the point without a lot of flowery language. Use strong, descriptive and poetic language, but don’t use big, "$10 words" just to sound impressive.
9. Consider Your Audience
Rhetoricians since Aristotle have understood the importance of knowing their audience. Think about who your audience is, what they expect and what they want, then tailor your writing for that audience. Avoid jargon, for instance, if your audience isn’t likely to understand it. Consider all writing as a kind of sales—you want people to buy your stories and ideas. And as in sales, it’s vital to determine your audience’s needs and wants.
10. Show, Don’t Tell
This is classic advice for creative writers, and it works for business owners, too. When you want to sell a product or service, show it in action. Describe its uses. Highlight its effects. Focus on results. The more you show, the less you’ll feel the need to tell.
Writing doesn’t have to be mysterious. The fact is, even if you’re not a writer, you’re writing all the time. Using these tips to strengthen, polish and enhance your writing can only help improve your message, your marketing and your business.
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