Category: business writing

How to write a great conclusion to your article or blog post

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A lot has been written about the importance of writing strong titles and headlines, as well as a powerful introduction, to attract people to read your article or blog post. Of course, it’s important to start strong to pull the reader into your content. But what about the conclusion?

It’s important to write a satisfying conclusion for your article or blog post. And I don’t mean the call to action. The conclusion wraps up your point and answers the question “So what?” for the reader. It’s pretty disappointing to read a great book or watch a great TV show that ends poorly – it’s almost like the rest of what you read or watched didn’t matter.

Nicholas Labonté from Craft Your Content wrote a great blog post on three steps to writing a satisfying conclusion. In a nutshell, to write a great conclusion:

  • Restate the thesis of your article or blog post to back up your main premise.
  • Synthesize (don’t summarize) your main points by breaking them down to explain the why behind them.
  • Open the reader to the possibilities that can extend from your thesis and main points, and broadens their horizons.

You can practice writing conclusions by paraphrasing what you’ve written in your article or blog post. This involves rewriting passages using different words to make the meaning clearer to your reader. It can involve providing more details to clarify the original meaning of the content. The paraphrased content should still contain the original thoughts and ideas, and make any “hidden” or “suppressed” meanings more explicit. 


Do you need help with writing a conclusion to your article or blog post? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

How to write with greater clarity

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I didn’t have time to write today, as I got backed up with some projects that all arrived at the same time, along with a meeting with a client to discuss a new project.

However, I wanted to share a great article called “20 questions toward achieving civic clarity in your writing” by Roy Peter Clark. I picked out four key questions that I ask when trying to make my writing clearer to the reader.

  • Have I used shorter words, sentences and paragraphs at the points of greatest complexity?
  • Where is the jargon, the technical language that came with the experts? What jargon terms can be avoided?
  • Can I say with certainty that I have found my focus — the one key piece of knowledge I want to impart?
  • Is my story so clear that a reader could pass along the most important information to another person?

These questions tie nicely into a blog post I wrote on writing clear copy, which lays out ten key ways to do so:

  1. Put the reader first.
  2. Organize your selling points.
  3. Break content into shorter sections.
  4. Use short sentences.
  5. Use simple words.
  6. Be concise.
  7. Be specific.
  8. Get to the point.
  9. Write in a friendly, conversational style.
  10. Avoid sexist language.

David

An incomplete list of writing tips for freelance content writers and copywriters

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There are bookshelves and websites filled with strategies on how to write better, faster, clearer, more compelling copy. I came across a few writing tips I wanted to share here because they are quick and easy to digest.

Writing tips that seem wrong but work

There are many “hard” rules for writing grammatically correct content. There are other rules for writing great ad copy, or great articles, or great blog posts. These writing tips might seem wrong, but can work when used properly. Try them out.

  • Begin sentences with a conjunction (but, or, and)
  • End your sentence with a preposition (of, with, for)
  • Use sentence fragments
  • Write one-sentence paragraphs
  • Use graphic techniques (sparingly) to emphasize words – bold, underline, capitals, italics, colours, arrows
  • Use bullets in the middle of your copy

The writer’s checklist

When you’ve finished writing your first draft, ask yourself:

  • Does the copy fulfill the promise of the headline?
  • Is the copy interesting?
  • Is it easy to read?
  • It it believable?
  • Is it persuasive?
  • Is it specific?
  • Is it concise?
  • Is it relevant to the reader?
  • Does the copy flow smoothly?
  • Does it contain a call to action?

40 one-sentence writing tips

This list of writing tips comes from Josh Spector. It’s a collection of lessons he has learned over the years that can help you get the most out of the next thing you write.

Writing lessons for the beginning writer

We’ve all been beginning writers – even Stephen King and Neil Gaiman, who make everything sound great. When we look back on our writing careers, there’s a lot we wished we knew when we started. This article on eight writing lessons explains what Naomi Pham from Craft Your Content wishes she knew as a beginner blog writer – it’s good stuff. These tips can help you to write more productively, overcome self-doubt, and love your writing.

Writing better email copy

I’ve written a million emails in my life, and I do a lot of email prospecting. Here’s a good list of six email copy characteristics that will help you write your next email.


Have any writing tips? Need help with your writing? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com

David

Quick strategies on how to write more effective prospecting emails

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Sending cold and warm emails is an effective way to reach prospects and win clients. However, doing it poorly will be as effective as throwing paper airplanes with your phone number into the wind and hoping for a response. Learn how to do it well and your response rate will go way up (it’s pretty easy to do better than zero).

First, make sure that you DO NOT:

  • Focus on yourself (saying “I”)
  • List all your skills in the email
  • Send the email to a generic title
  • Be inconsiderate of the reader’s time with a very short or very long email
  • Be overly focused on selling
  • Leave the email open for a generic reply

So, now that you know what not to do, here is what you should do to write a great email that gets a response:

  • Write your email directly to the reader. Include something personal that applies to that reader (e.g., you read some great news about their company, you were referred by a colleague) and include the reader’s name in the greeting.
  • Focus on what the reader needs, and how you could solve their problem.
  • Demonstrate what you can do – how you’ve solved a similar problem using a case study or real-world example. Discuss the outcome of using your service, rather than discussing your service.
  • Make it easy for the reader to move forward. Tell them what to do next step, and offer an alternative (e.g., Let’s do this or this, and call/email me here).
  • End with a question, as people will want to respond (e.g., Does that sound good to you?)

One last tip: While you should personalize your emails, you can also create templates / email signatures that include the majority of what you would write to groups of prospects (e.g., communication managers for large firms). This will cut down on the writing and give you a framework around which you can personalize your email.

Do you need help with writing prospecting emails? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David

Essential copywriting tips for freelance writers

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Volumes of books, articles, websites, etc. have been written on the art and science of copywriting. There are many experienced copywriting experts who teach expensive, worthwhile courses on the subject. I don’t pretend to be one of them. However, I’ve learned a few key copywriting strategies along the way.

These seven tips can help almost anyone improve their copywriting effectiveness. You can apply these tips to your email and article writing as well.

  1. Understand the value of headlines. Your headline must grab the reader’s attention. A well-written headline makes your content more appealing and special.
  2. Do not (always) try to be clever. Your content should focus on clarity over cleverness – i.e., being bigger than you are, joking around, using writing tricks. Be clear first.
  3. Develop a compelling big idea. Describe your key benefit compressed into a statement. Convey something that matters in a short sentence. It’s more than a tagline – it states your central idea.
  4. Research to find big ideas. Writers often overlook the importance of research. Dig to find great ideas and trends, and repeat. This includes interesting facts, snippets, phrasing, stories, case studies, customer problems and solutions, etc. Research is about getting to know your target market, and what is important to them.
  5. Pull your audience to you – the people who are hungry for your topic. Figure out what that audience is hungry for, or missing, and then give it to them.
  6. Set a goal. You need a call to action, which will take your reader to what you want them to do. The call to action should be a direct statement of what you want them to do next – call, click, email, etc. Your call to action should be in every piece of content you provide.
  7. Don’t be boring! Boring content does not work, especially today. Make your content interesting and compelling to read. Inject your personality into your writing. Use design, images, layout, etc. to make your content stand out. Tell good stories.

What tips do you have to offer in making copywriting better? Do you need help with your copywriting? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

The building blocks of writing great content for articles, blog posts and websites

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Have you ever played with Lego sets? I’m sure you have. They’re cute, pre-designed sets with just the right number of blocks to create a little scene. Each set comes with a set of diagrammed instructions on how to go from a pile of blocks to a completed scene.

It inspired me to come up with something similar to help you, the reader, write the ideal blog post, article, web landing page, or content to attract your target audience. You can use building blocks to help you to create great content.

Six building blocks of great content

  1. Create a compelling headline. I suggest finding a headline that caught your eye, and modify it for your topic and audience.
  2. Write a strong first sentence. Grab the reader at the deciding stage – make it intriguing, thought-provoking, inspiring, controversial, funny, or whatever works for the situation.
  3. Craft several strong subheads. They serve as sign posts for your content, and keep your audience reading. They also provide structure to keep you on track.
  4. Draft your main copy (write quickly but don’t edit – just write, then come back to it later to tighten it up). Use the main head and subheads to guide your content.
  5. Summarize your main points. Lay out and reinforce the premise.
  6. Conclude with a call to action. Ask for feedback, invite the reader to subscribe, share your message on social media, etc. Always ask for something from the reader to build the relationship and increase engagement.

Those are the basic building blocks of writing great content. Start with an idea, and build your blog, article or web page. You’ll get the hang of it and become a better writer.

Do you have suggestions on writing great content? Do you need help with writing your content? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Using storytelling to encourage decision-making among clients and prospects

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Whatever business you are in, storytelling will help you to move potential clients to make faster, more favourable decisions. You can also use social media to help you create that story.

Social media enables you to make “warm” calls and emails to potential clients. All it takes is some research effort on your part. You can use a host of tools (such as LinkedIn and Twitter) to find out more about your potential clients – what they do, what they like, where they spend time, what their problems / wants / needs are. All this information is at your fingertips. Write down a few key points, which will now form the foundation for your story.

Once you have this information about your potential client, you must determine how you can provide them with value. You are selling something (such as widgets, or writing and editing support). Now you need to determine what value you can deliver to that prospect to get them to move toward a decision.

Since you’ve already done your research on the prospect through social media, you can reach out to them in the same way. For example, if that person made a comment on LinkedIn, respond to their comment with feedback of your own. Once you have their attention, and a foundation, you can reach out via email. Begin your story based on that touchpoint. Engage them in a conversation that leads to a discussion of what you do and how that adds value.

The key is to relate what you do in a concise way so that it touches the prospect’s business or life. Do not just state what you sell or do. Tell a story about how you helped another client using your product or service. The case study is the heart of your story. And it’s real, so the person should be able to relate to it, because they might have dealt with the same situation.

The story does not just sell you or your product/service. It shows how you solved a problem, filled a need or created value for someone. The story is real, which makes you more relatable to the prospect. They know more about you, and think of you as a person who understands their business, and what matters to them.

Telling a story helps you to turn prospects into clients. Once you’ve researched your client and found out what is important to them, you can map out the information that they need to make a decision. This will help you to write your story. By providing the person with valuable information that ties directly to what is important to them, they will come to value what you have to say, and look forward to future communications.

Do you need help telling your story? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to use a framework to focus your writing of blogs, articles, and newsletters

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Getting started in your writing can be very challenging, no matter what you try to write. The first few words and sentences can often be the hardest. And once you get started, it can be difficult to communicate what you want to say in an order that makes sense.

One way to make the process flow more smoothly is to use a framework. The framework supports your content by giving you something to build upon – much like a house’s frame enables builders to construct a house. Instead of trying to build from the ground up, you put up “scaffolding” to hold up the rest of your content.

For example, suppose that you want to write a newsletter. Start with your title or headline. This will be the first plank in your framework. Then add your headings and subheads – these will be your main topics and supporting topics. Write three to five bullet points under each heading and subhead. These will come from the main topics of discussion for that section.

You’ve now developed the framework for your writing. You’ve broken your content into chunks. Take each chunk, and focus on writing just that one bit. Use your headings, subheads and bullet points as your supports to build upon. Each point is its own room in the house you are building. Take one bullet point, and write what you know or want to say about it. Everything should focus on that one point. When you’re done, move to the next one. Eventually, you will have filled all the rooms and written a full first draft.

After that, it’s a matter of sanding the edges, adding some finer touches, and making it look pretty. And then you’re done!

Perhaps it won’t be that easy, but the framework will help you to organize your thoughts, break your writing into digestible chunks, and make the writing process go more smoothly. You can even create a template where you fill in the blanks with your headings, subheads and bullet points, and then build from there.

Do you have any tips on helping to make the writing process more efficient? Would you like help with writing your content? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

Two shortcuts to writing better headlines for articles and blog posts

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Whether you want to write an article, a newsletter, a blog post or even an email, your goal is to ensure that it gets read by as many people as possible. Creating an effective headline is the best way to achieve this goal. A well-written headline will increase the likelihood of your content being read. You could have amazing content, but if the headline does not attract the reader, what’s the point?

I’ve written several posts on writing more effective headlines:

Even with all that great content, here are two shortcuts that can help you to be more efficient at writing headlines.

Follow a formula or template to write a headline

This enables you to stick to an effective structure and will make it more efficient when putting together headings. Here is one formula for writing list-type articles: X ways / things / ideas to [achieve a desired result / rid yourself of undesired result] in [given time period].

For example:

  • 10 ways to write emails that sell within 10 days
  • 10 ways to double your sales in one month

Write 10-15 different headlines for the same topic

Repetition will help you to find new and interesting ways to say the same thing, and will uncover the key points that will attract your reader. It will enable you to discard the bad ideas when better ideas come along. Practice makes perfect, and coming up with multiple headlines for each article will make you a better writer.

Conclusion

These shortcuts will help you to write more effective headlines in less time. Once you get the hang of writing headlines, you will become an expert at it, and will definitely an increase in reader response.

Do you have any suggestions on writing better headlines? Do you want help with writing more effective headlines? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro

How to use narration when writing blogs, articles and reports

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Narration involves retelling an incident or series of events. This method answers the basic question, “What happened?” While narration is most commonly used in fiction, it is an effective strategy for writing articles, reports and other factual documents. You can use narration to write an entire document or use it within a document as a feature that stands out.

There are three key elements in using narration successfully in your writing

Point of view

Maintain a consistent point of view – the reader should always know who is telling the story. You could tell the story from your point of view (first person) or from another person’s point of view (third person).

When writing in the first person, relate what happened through your eyes. You could be central to the story, or watching from afar. When writing in the third person, relate what happened to someone else – what they said, what they did, what happened to them.

For example, you could write a case study that describes what happened when you used a new marketing strategy (first person), or how your client benefited from using your company’s product (third person).

Tone

The language you use determines the tone of the content. Tone reflects your attitude toward the work. It could be serious, comedic, ironic, straightforward – whatever works for you and your audience. The opening statement typically determines the tone of your narrative, although you can change the tone throughout the work, depending on what happens.

For example, you could write in a serious tone when discussing the dangers of equipment failure, or you can write in a comedic tone about a new employee’s first day at a company with poor on-boarding procedures. You can switch tone to show how the client was angry and frustrated, and then joyful and satisfied.

Movement in time

The narrative must move through time to be effective. It begins at a specific point in time, and moves forward to the conclusion. The beginning is usually an important event, such as an unstable situation that will change as the narrative progresses. As the narrative progresses, something happens; a key event occurs that changes the narrative and leads to the conclusion.

For example, begin the article with the fateful day when a client’s equipment failed, and lead the reader through their search to find something new, to when they installed your company’s equipment, and what happened next.

Need help?

There are many ways to write the same story, and narration can help to add some life to your copy. Have you used narration in your marketing content? Do you need help with making your content more interesting? Let me know – contact@davidgargaro.com.

David Gargaro