(815) 503-0286 matt@matthewlbrennan.com

Go ahead. Print this off.  Keep it in your writing space. If you can check these items off your list before you write, and hit publish, the better your writing will be:

Rid yourself of distraction—I know it hurts but close the Facebook tab on your browser window, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Shut your office door, find a good pair of headphones, whatever it takes to put your undivided attention where it belongs in a world swirling with distraction.

Know what you want to achieve—Are you looking to educate and inform with a killer blog post? Are you looking to invoke a purchase with website content? How do you want the reader to react to your writing?

Support your main point—Everything that you write serves one purpose, and that’s to underscore your main point. It’s important to keep your writing tight, and on task when it comes to writing about your business. Sometimes tough decisions have to be made. You may need to delete material not because it’s bad, but because it’s off topic.

Know your audience—Who are you writing to? Are you writing to other industry professionals? Consumers? Or is it some other segment of the population. What do they know about your industry? You’ll need to meet them where they are at if you want them to stick with you.

Think From Their Shoes—Your readers and your customers have their own idea of what is helpful and interesting. If you were in the market for your product or service, what would you want to know? How would you want that information presented?

Be conversational—Another rough truth here. Your readers and your customers don’t care how smart you are. If you write in an informal, conversational manner you’ll keep them with you. If you send them for a dictionary, they may not return.

Humanize your writing—Don’t keep your blog too sterile. It’s OK to use anecdotes, and occasionally tie your interests into your writing. Who knows, someone might actually relate to what it is that you’re saying.

Keep it sharp—Strong word choice is good imperative.  Action verbs and descriptive nouns carry readers across the finish line.

Put care in your headlines—Same goes for your tweets. These are decision making points for your readers. Do they continue reading or move on with their day? In just a few split seconds, they are going to decide. Help them!

Pay attention to pacing—Read your work out loud. Does it leave you out of breath, or is every sentence feeling elementary and short? It’s OK to mix things up a little bit. Achieving the right rhythm to your work moves your readers along.

Define jargon—Maybe you can’t get around using technical jargon in your blog. If your audience does not know what it means, then define it.

Check, and check againEditing your work may take multiple readings. Read for context, read for grammar. Writing mistakes make your work look unprofessional and can steer customers away.

Matt Brennan is a Chicago-area marketing writer and copy editor. He is also the author of Write Right-Sell Now.