Stop Bitching. Learn to Write.

August 26, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Online Marketing

yellingYou want to dramatically increase conversions, blog subscribers, authority and your bottom line? Learn to write. Seriously. Stop bitching about why it’s not important, how your copy is “good enough”, and how the grammar snobs are just trying to “hold you down” and do it. Take a class. Hire it out. Do whatever you have to do, just get it done.

Trust me.

I spent 12 hours elbow-to-elbow with Rae on Monday as we flew home from Ireland. And in between her whines about how I got her sick (no worries, my own fever should break any day now.), I got to hear her views on the book she was reading. I heard how the information was great, the facts were amazing, and how passionate she was about the subject. She should have been captivated by it. But she wasn’t. Because the writing was so bad that she had a hard time actually getting through it. She had to constantly re-read sections and figure out what the author was trying to say. It was so frustrating that she eventually quit. And then went back to whining about how I got her sick.

Good writing (and some vitamins) would have saved us both from that experience.

Not to be the bearer of bad news, but your users are likely echoing many of the same complaints that Rae had. Only they’re not telling you that your content sucks and is unreadable. They’re just abandoning your site and silently hating you.

During his Affiliate Summit East keynote, Peter Shankman told us that the third rule of social media was Brevity. He stated that the average attention span had plummeted from three minutes to 2.7 seconds and that you needed to find a way to fit your message into that time span.

On the Web, good writing is also about brevity. It’s about getting your point across, doing it in a compelling fashion and then getting the hell out of a user’s way so that they can do something. And because so many businesses have a hard time doing that, when you can get your message across, you set yourself apart in a really big way – with customers, with the search engines and in your industry.

With good writing you rid yourself of the spelling errors that affect response rates, you learn your customer’s language, you stop putting hurdles in their path and you become invisible so that your visitors can complete their initial goal without you mucking it up.  We may becoming more tech and media savvy, but good old fashioned writing is not obsolete. It’s in everything that you do. Whether it’s blogging, writing copy for your Web site, video blogging, podcasting, tweeting, preparing social media pushes or whatever else, you need to get your point out clearly and concisely to create a need and demand for your service.

I know it sounds dorky and like you don’t need to worry about your words, but I’d argue that there’s nothing more important to the success of your company than the content on your site. Whether you choose to improve it via a 10 Step process , by creating a writing routine or investing in content creation services, I don’t really care. However, you need to get your message out in a way that people will respond to. Otherwise, all the time and money you’re investing in your social media campaigns, in your fancy technology and even your product itself is a waste.  If people can’t understand your message, you don’t have one.

The Web is text and the text on your site will be the basis for everything else that you do. It’s how your customers learn about you, it’s how they come to trust you and its how you show them what you’re about. Respect it and your customers by doing it justice.

Stop bitching. Learn to write. End of story.

And Rae, I’m sincerely sorry for getting you sick. Next time I’ll construct myself a bubble and keep my germs to myself. Still, Ireland kicked ass, didn’t it?

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