Whenever I get a new writing project, the process seems to be the same: Collect information; Sketch out text draft; Give it interesting creative shape; Edit and refine the messages; Double-check for reader interest.
At the most fundamental level, when you’re writing for others you’re really telling them a story. That’s SO IMPORTANT to remember. It may be about your company in general, or about some specific product or activity. If you’ve ever listened to a professional storyteller, you’ll notice the intonation of voice and the emphasis on certain things. Well, on the screen (or the page) you can’t do that, so you have to focus on headlines, opening sentences, logical flow and good conclusions.
A couple of examples
There’s so much stuff flying around these days, especially on the Web, that you really have to sharpen and refine your content. I came across the ‘About Us’ page of a wine-producer the other day, stuffed with almost 1200 words. While the page contains a lot of interesting information, it is ‘buried’ beneath this weight of words. The overall effect is to show readers a ‘wall’ of text – and who’s going to be motivated to read all that?
In another case, a Bed and Breakfast hotel in Southern France has invested not only in very nice rooms but also in setting up a local Spa and in a Fitness Gym. Quite unusual you’d say for a B&B! The volume of text in French is almost 9000 words. What does one do for the English version of the site? First of all, assume that the volume of words will be halved. Secondly, eliminate all repetition of information. Thirdly, write each page so that it’s the most attractive it can be for potential guests. Fourthly, try to ensure that each page has about 250-350 words and no more.
Turning a prospective customer or client from ‘cool’ to ‘warm’ is a tough call, where all the writing and information skills have to be focused to achieve the desired result. Sometimes it takes me many attempts before the texts that I’ve prepared are worthy enough to be called ‘good stories’. The key factor here is to be aware that your job is to tell a good story – and not to give up until you get there!