Content Marketing Insights

Learn to Write Better Texts with 14 Writing Tips from Experienced Journalists



Imagine if you could swiftly create compelling content that consistently motivates your audience to act exactly as you intend, every time you publish. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

If you're already achieving this, congratulations are in order (do give us a call, my boss would love to speak with you). However, like most of us mere mortals, you probably face daily struggles to perfect your content. It's common to find oneself pacing back and forth to the coffee machine, seeking inspiration or a chatty colleague, in pursuit of that creative spark.

For us mortals, practical tips and tricks become essential to craft quality content when divine inspiration is lacking.

Crafting exciting and captivating content requires talent, creativity, style, experience, and specific knowledge. Effective writing should always resonate as a powerful call to action, compelling the reader towards a specific response.

To help you master this, we’ve compiled 14 top tips to immediately enhance your writing, ensuring your content hits the mark every time.

Prepare to elevate your writing skills with these 14 practical tips, transforming them into tools for your next piece.

14 Essential Writing Tips for Engaging Content

1. Who Are You Writing To?

Before you start writing, you obviously need to know WHO you're writing for. Then, figure out HOW this person thinks. Once you've done that, find out WHAT exactly this person is missing from you.

In other words, you need to understand your target audience before you can start writing your text and sharing your message. You get to know your target audience through something called audience segmentation.

If you're not familiar with audience segmentation, the marketing automation platform HubSpot explains it:

“Audience segmentation is a method where consumers are divided into segments based on their interests and demographic locations. The idea is that marketers should use audience segmentation to create campaigns tailored directly to the desired consumer’s lifestyle.”

If you don't have a good grasp of your audience segmentation, your content won’t be read because the target group won’t be able to relate to it. So, it becomes impossible for you to spread your message.

Therefore, make sure you know your target audience before you write your text. Otherwise, all the writing advice in the world won’t matter.

2. Get the Reader to Agree

Get your readers to say "yes." This way, you keep them engaged with your text. They should be nodding along with the problem that your text is centered around.

They should be thinking, "Yes, I've experienced that too" or "Yes, I'd like that as well." If they're feeling good about what they're reading, they'll definitely keep reading and thus get introduced to your message.

We're talking about the principle of consistency here. Simply put, it means that there should be a connection between what we do and what we say. We humans function best when we are consistent in our actions.

To feel consistent, we need to commit to something, which is what you're trying to get your reader to do with your text.

And a commitment can be a small action, like nodding in recognition or saying "yes" to a problem they can relate to as a reader.

If you can get your reader to say "yes" long enough, you leave them with the feeling that it's specifically you who can solve the problem they're reading about in the text.

3. Speak at Eye Level

Speaking to your audience at eye level is a classic communication tool used by journalists, communicators, and other writers in their daily work.

Rule number three is that you should never talk down to your reader. Instead, imagine that you're explaining something to your partner when you write your text.

If you're not clear enough from the start, they'll tune out if you start sounding like a know-it-all.

In other words, the way you talk to your reader shouldn't be too elitist or overly complex. Your reader should have no doubt about the message you're trying to communicate.

Remember, your text isn't any worse off for being written in a language that most people understand.

At the same time, it's a good practice to avoid rigid and formal writing.

4. Make the Text Breathable

Don't be afraid of using "whitespace" in your texts. You're not writing a university assignment. It's a good idea to hit the enter key after every two or three sentences. This makes the text less heavy to look at and easier to dive into.

Take a look through this post and notice how the enter key is hit after every second or third sentence.

5. Highlight the Important Parts in the Text

You know it yourself. You start reading a text and before you know it, you've skimmed through most of it without actually reading it.

This happens because your attention drifts away from the content of the text, which is totally normal.

Your readers will do the same when they read your text. Keeping people's attention throughout is an art.

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean your text has to be super short to be read from beginning to end. Instead, it means that you should, as far as possible, make sure your text captures and keeps your readers' attention, which is possible with the right tools.

Start by using bold, italics, or underlining and other textual tools to highlight important parts of the text.

This way, you highlight for the readers what they can gain from the text. And it sharpens the readers' attention because something different is happening.

It also provides an alternative entry point into the text, like captions and fact boxes in articles, which readers can easily jump into.

In addition, you can use practical communication models like the HEY-YOU-SEE-SO model and the AIDA model to structure your text.

Use Bullet Points

If you want to organize and highlight something especially important in your text, it's a good idea to use bullet points and numbers. They attract the reader's attention – much like headlines and subheadings. This also provides a good entry point for readers who scan, encouraging them to engage with the rest of the text.

Advantages of using bullet points include:

  • They organize your text, making it easier to scan and more digestible.
  • They highlight the most important points and pieces of information in your text.
  • They attract attention almost as much as your headlines.
  • Google uses bullets for featured snippets, so they are good for SEO. We generally use bullets in our SEO texts.

Here are four thumb rules for using bullet points:

  1. Bullet points promise your reader something like a headline, so they actually work as a kind of mini-headline.
  2. Try to maintain a certain symmetry when using bullet points. Each point should be almost the same length. It's easier on the eye.
  3. Avoid excessive use of bullet points. They should simplify and highlight, so definitely avoid sub-points!
  4. Remember, points don't need to be full sentences; they can work the same way as headlines without periods.

And hey! Did you notice how we switched to using numbers? They also work quite well to highlight text. Unlike bullets, you should use full and complete sentences with numbers. The use of points and bullets is a science in itself, which you can learn a lot more about here.

7. Capture Your Reader

When you start your text by addressing what the reader is dealing with, you ensure a good grip on them from the beginning. You can start with sentence starters like:

  • "Imagine..."
  • "Do you know the feeling..."
  • "What if..."

When you start your text this way, you can begin to write into the problem. This means you start addressing something your reader wants to achieve. The goal might also be to get the reader to imagine their dream in your text. It could be a solution to a problem, getting better at something, or achieving something specific. Then describe how the reader can achieve it.
For example:
"Imagine a diet where you can eat anything you want." Wouldn't you want to read on?

When you use words like "imagine," you actually start a story. And if there's one thing people love, it's stories. You're building up to an expected excitement, indicating that your reader will enjoy what comes next. Whether it's the pleasure of reading or the pleasure of achieving the sought-after solution.

Again, it's important that you have a good grasp of your target audience. Otherwise, your message misses the mark, and you end up with an irritated reader who has wasted their time.

8. Write Actively

Your text becomes more appetizing for the reader to digest if you write actively. You do this by using the active form of verbs when you write. You should also use active verbs, which are words that show movement or express an action.

"Aha," you think, as you probably want an example of the difference between an active and a passive sentence. Here it is, of course:

  • Active: The man drives the tractor to the beet pile.
  • Passive: The tractor was driven to the beet pile by the man.

Can you see the difference? In the active sentence, the man is in the process of driving the tractor to the beet pile. In the passive sentence, the man has already driven the tractor there. It's important to remember this, that is, the use of active sentences. Then you can move to the next level when you've got this down. Another rule of thumb for active language is to write in the present tense, not the past tense, to avoid mistakes.

9. Talk Directly to Your Reader

When you're sitting at your keyboard writing, talk directly to your reader. Use words like “you” and “your.” This makes the text personal to read. Your reader should also be clear about who the sender is.

An example could be this headline from a home magazine: “Do you also have a detached house? See how you can turn it into a modern dream.”

So, I first get you to nod yes to having such a house when I talk directly to you. Then I speak to your personal dream for your house.

Otherwise, it could have been phrased like this: “A comprehensive guide on how to turn a detached house into a modern dream.”

This version might work as an engaging headline, but it no longer speaks directly to you. Here, I'd likely only catch those who are currently planning to modernize their detached houses.

A final example could be this guide you're reading right now. Throughout this text, I’ve spoken directly to you, and I've chosen to make the text personal by using personal pronouns like “you” and “your.”

10. Be Sparse with Adjectives

Explain your message using as precise words as possible. This way, you communicate it properly and avoid piling on a lot of adjectives trying to get the right meaning across.

Too many adjectives make your sentences overloaded and difficult to read. Instead of strengthening your text, they weaken it, which is not the purpose.

Adjectives are mostly empty, leaving the reader with even more questions than they had at the beginning.

Let's take an example from a fictional organization's self-presentation: “We create creative and competent solutions for specific tasks.” Creative, competent, and specific are all adjectives that don’t carry much value. The words leave us with a lot of questions.

What is a creative and competent solution? Is there a limit to how specific a task can be? The words tell us nothing and do not help us move forward.

Therefore, there is really no reason to include them unless they are explained. Instead, use words that make better sense for the text and thus the reader. Rewrite the text to focus on the benefit of your message. This simultaneously creates value: “You get a [service] that suits your business.”

11. Write Grammatically Correct and Concisely

Although I shouldn't have to mention it, I will: You should always ensure that your text is free from grammatical errors. Your texts should be razor-sharp.

Otherwise, they become confusing to read, resulting in a dull reading experience. Not only that: You also appear untrustworthy if you don't have control over the grammar.

Therefore, always thoroughly check your texts for typos, spelling errors, correct comma placement, and punctuation before publishing them.

Another grammatical challenge can be sentences that stretch over several lines. They definitely need a period or two along the way.

Parenthetical sentences can also be a grammatical burden and generally make it harder to read a text. So reformulate so that your sentences run straight down the road. Therefore, avoid sentences like: "The boy, who loves music, likes to listen to the radio." 

Instead, write: "The boy likes to listen to the radio because he loves music."

Write concrete sentences, and be sparing with your punctuation. Be generous with periods, but use exclamation marks only if absolutely necessary.

12. Eliminate Clichés

When you're finished with your text, and you read it through for grammatical errors, it's also a good idea to watch out for clichés. The same goes for worn-out phrases and smart sayings. In the past, it was popular to use clichés and phrases in texts. They were seen as a creative spark and a fresh breath in an otherwise dull text. However, this has changed over time.

Today, clichés, phrases, and other smart sayings can be harmful to your text, and they can even be considered embarrassing. It can affect your message and, in the worst case, your brand. Therefore, you should avoid “jumping the gun” in your texts, and you should also not “think outside the box.” Also avoid giving “priceless advice.” It doesn’t work anymore.

13. Get a Colleague to Read Your Text

At Brand Movers, we never publish anything without it having gone through the hands of a colleague. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean it's always error-free, but it's closer to it than before. Plus, it's always nice to get a colleague's perspective on your creative genius. If your colleague doesn’t understand something in your text, you should cut it out. If your colleague praises you and suggests additions or changes, it's always a good idea to reconsider your starting point. Who knows, you might learn something from your colleague’s feedback.

14. End with a Call to Action

Now we've come to the most important part, so good for you for sticking around. The whole reason you're working hard to create an excellent text is that it should prompt someone to actively do something. Therefore, always remember to end your text with a call to action (CTA). A call to action is an invitation to your readers to do something specific, so they know what to do next. It could be, for example, a reference to a product or a service that you or your company offers. When you create a call to action, it's important to make it personal and engaging, just as you have done throughout your text. You should still speak to what the reader wants.

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