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  • Writer's pictureKaren Divya Shekar

What to Learn From Other Content Writers

I have mentioned quite a few times in my blogs that novel writing is a lonely job. However, professional content writing doesn’t have to be.


Since I am a professional content writer and a part of a team of 20 or more other writers, I get a chance to observe styles, tones, vocabulary usage, aesthetic sense, etc. of other content developers at close quarters. It helps my own writing a great deal.


When you write, your personality seeps through to the pages. I’m sure many would agree with that.


However, in professional writing, it’s the company or brand’s personality which has got to shine forth through your words. You’re just the agent of that expression. Hence, it’s important not to stick to one writing style or vocab set.


Instead, learn from others, imitate, and incorporate.


Here is a list of things you can learn from others on your content creation journey.


1. LEARN THEIR LINGO


Every writer comes with a unique vocabulary set. This vocab collection has been built from years of writing and reading in high school and college and combines both modern and archaic words.


Words like ‘salubrious’, ‘quaff’, ’eclectic’, ‘assiduous’, and ‘sedulous’ etc. were a part of my vocab set, and I was determined to use them in the write-ups, even if they were not always appropriate.


As a cocky newcomer, I was just showing off!


And it did get me noticed for the wrong reasons. Clients began to dislike the use of archaic words in the write-ups and I humbly confess that I was the culprit. However, it takes just one warning for me to pull up my socks, and I resorted to using more natural parlance.


However!


There were words that my colleagues used, that I only learnt when I read through their writings. For example the word: ‘whittle’. One of my teammates used that word to great effect. ‘Topical’, ‘ganbaru’, ‘ergonomic’, and ‘she-space’ were some of the other words I picked up from others.


As I scrolled through tons of liquor websites, I managed to amass a collection of sensory words I am very proud of. Surfing through tech websites, gave me a view into the jargon used there. As a lover of words, I am blissfully happy when I pick up a new phrase or learn a new word.


So, as a content developer always read a lot of content before you create content. You’ll soon start to gauge the skill and talent of the writer while adding to your repertoire the right words.


2. LEARN LOGICAL THOUGHT PROCESS OR FLOW


A logical thought process in writing is often called a “flow” in content development lingo. A good “flow”, is when one idea slides into another seamlessly and without a hiccup.


Having a good “flow” is highly necessary for long-form content. You cannot stutter your way through a 3000-word blog. No one is going to enjoy reading it. Moreover, transitions—the lack of which made me notoriously infamous—are crucial as I learnt later, and act as a smooth slide from one topic into another.


But what happens when you are assigned an article which you have to frame from start to finish?


I learnt from our team of editors to create a structure before starting. A structure ties you down and keeps you from rambling. Moreover, you can decide what subheads to keep and which to remove.


I’ve read through so many blogs and articles, written by very good writers that veered off on a tangent. Why? Poor flow and thought process!


So, how to avoid that?


Have a clear start, middle, and end. Frame the whole article before you begin writing. I promise you it will guarantee crisp write-ups.


3. LEARN WRITING STYLES


A writing style reflects personality. I have a very bloggish, light, carefree style, very fast-paced and chilled out, almost sounding lazy. And that translates as a lot of “fluff” in the content. “Fluff” is irrelevant tosh that doesn’t belong in a tight, concise piece. It’s nice to have a limit on blogs, but it wastes the marketer’s money.


I got rapped a lot for this in my work early on by editors and since mended my ways. However, as I started to read the work of my colleagues I learnt why “fluff” is bad.


“Fluff” or non-useful content fills up the word count but doesn’t add anything new for the reader. It’s like writing something for the sake of writing, not for the target the piece is intended for. Writing a “fluff”-free piece means to research well, then set up a pain point as the crux of the piece, and then provide the solutions for it.


Nowadays, I make a conscious effort to keep all these aspects in mind as I write. I incorporate more relevant information, more data, more useful goodies than mere empty words. I feel there’s been a difference. It’s made me a more powerful writer. Here’s how.


I can now control my style to be terse or loose and I have more freedom to choose which of these styles to deploy for a particular project.


But there are times when I miss my lighthearted almost joking take on things. But since I’m not being paid to write what I’d like, I can’t really complain. *sniff sniff*


4. LEARN HOW THEY INTEGRATE KEYWORDS


I’m not a big fan of keyword integration.

I believe that writing for a person is more important than writing for an algorithm. However, keyword integration is an important aspect of our job. From the first day, I didn’t like keyword integration at all.


One of my colleagues scolded me for it. She later became one of my closest friends.

Most of the keywords were full of poor grammar and the “typing phraseology” we use to search for stuff on Google. Hence, I find it silly to incorporate these keywords, especially the “near me” ones. For example, “liquor near me” or “tyres near me”.


I’d rather we leave such keywords out than mar the beauty of the piece.


However, when I say this, I conveniently “forget” that these write-ups aren’t works of art, they are marketing weapons.


Hence the “near me” keywords have got to be strategically placed somewhere.


In my case, I place these atrocities right on top or at the bottom, so that they’re done with and out of the way.


However, I later learnt some colleagues, actually enjoyed integrating these keywords!

That’s when I began to wonder: are they on to something I can’t see?


So I conducted an experiment. For instance, I picked the “liquor near me” keyword and used it. Then I asked a scientific question: does including this keyword really boost ranking?


I will let you know the results of this unscientific “experiment” later in this blog itself!


5. LEARN HOW TO EDIT YOUR OWN WORK


Somebody once said, “Editors are failed writers.” And I believed them.


However, it isn’t true in content development. An editor can do for your piece what the shoeshine boy does to your shoes. They make content sparkle.


A good editor will know what to highlight, what to cut out, what to smoothen out and what to keep rough for an impact.


Hence, you should learn to roughly edit your work before you submit it. However, stay true to the brand "voice".


But the problem is there can be a massive clash in styles between a writer and an editor. Almost all the editors I know like a very crisp style. They like and prefer terse, no-nonsense write-ups. I find these very dreary and highly boring to read.


Even on the matter of sentence lengths, I differ starkly from the norm.


My own preference is for long Dickensian sentences over short staccato!


But as a professional, I curb my personality and preferences for the sake of the job. After all, I’m helping out a business or company without the gift of the gab. The best thing I can do for them is saying what they want to be said, and express myself on my own time.


To conclude, I’d like to mention I have completed one year in the profession and I wrote this piece as a celebratory note.


Hope you enjoyed it!

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