How to Produce Great Content (Even if You’re a Terrible Writer)

SMS Text
content

Content has been king for a very long time, and that doesn’t look like it will be changing anytime soon. And that’s all well and good if you’re an A+ writer, but what happens if you want to pack your business blog full of great content when you think you suck at writing?

Plenty of business owners find themselves feeling frustrated with their writing abilities – either because they think the quality of their writing is poor or they simply hate the thought of sitting down and writing.

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to create great content – even if you think you’re a terrible writer. Here are four of them to get you started:

Tell a Story

Great written content isn’t so much about volume, amazing grammar, or technical expertise. It’s about connecting with the reader. So, sit back and try to tell a story that will engage one of your customers. Pretend it was just you and your ideal customer at a table. What story would you tell to draw them in?

Once you have your story, start writing. Don’t worry about editing, grammar, layout, or any of that fancy stuff. Great content is all about the heart of the writing. If you tell a great story about a time your product or service helped someone, or about why your product or service is important to your consumers, you’ll be creating great content without even knowing it.

If you struggle with editing, spelling, or grammar, have an administrative person clean up your writing for you. The real meat of it, the story itself, is what will engage people and help them connect with your company. Anybody with a red pen can do the clean-up you need, but it’s the real meat of the story you’re creating that’s important.

Try Video

“Content” doesn’t have to mean dozens of blog posts. If the thought of writing article after article leaves you wishing for something less torturous, try producing a video series for your blog or YouTube channel instead. According to Forrester Research, one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words. That’s a lot of writing you can make up by making the switch to video.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 3.53.24 PM

An example of great content in the form of video from author and speaker Jay Baer. Screenshot taken May 2015.

In addition,when used in email marketing, video vastly improves your click-through rates. Video also tends to rank higher in Google’s search results than text content, and people who view product videos are 85% more likely to buy the product than those who don’t. Those are some pretty powerful benefits you can take advantage of – all without the stress of writing.

If you’re looking for video ideas, consider a “top tips” video series for customers of your industry, or a walk through video series of the products you sell. You can also do behind-the-scene videos of your company office, introducing viewers to the real people who create the products or services you sell. All of these types of videos are engaging and will help create relationships between your brand and your followers – and that’s the goal of great content, no matter what form it takes.

Create a Podcast

Podcasting is a great outlet for leaders who want to share their ideas but don’t enjoy writing. A verbal medium, podcasting allows you to put out content on a regular basis without having to worry about spelling or Oxford commas. That said, just like a blog or other written content, this should be a consistent outlet for you and your team – you can’t abandon it after three episodes unless you want to hurt your brand.

Podcasts can be as long or short as you want, but they generally aren’t the best medium for long-form reports or presentations. The best podcast episodes are either short pieces where you share some specific information, or interviews that help people gain insight into your industry and product offerings. You can also use podcasts to highlight customer testimonials (as long as you do it in a manner that’s informative – not overly self-promotional).

Creating a podcast can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. Recording the audio is easily accomplished on most computer mics, but you can then dress it up with a custom introduction, podcast artwork, and other features. If your series is successful enough, you may even attract sponsors who pay to have their brand names mentioned in your episodes.

However far you decide to take things, though, the key to remember is that podcasting not only allows you to connect with audience members on a personal level, it’s a great way to create engaging, informative content without writing a single word.

Outsource or Hire

If you feel that your writing skills aren’t up to par, remember you don’t have to be the one doing the writing in the first place! You can always enlist other people within your company to do the writing for you. In fact, if you’re a business owner, that might be the best use of your time. That way, your writers can focus on their areas of expertise, and you can focus on yours – making your company the best it can be.

If hiring internally doesn’t make sense for you or your organization, consider outsourcing. Quality freelancers will dig into your industry, your business model, your products and your services – learning everything they need to know in order to deliver relevant content.

You may even be able to find a writer that’s specialized in your field before, which will enable him or her to provide in-depth content that readers will think comes directly from you. Searching Google or LinkedIn for writers who fit the bill can be a great way to start, but if nothing comes up, job boards such as ProBlogger, Media Bistro, or Online Writing Jobs are also great places to post opportunities.

When you hire someone to write content for you, make sure you communicate all of your expectations clearly – especially about deadlines, pay rates, and communication if work is delayed. Having these conversations ahead of time will prevent future challenges down the road and will ensure the content you receives meets your expectations (or, alternatively, that you have an option for revising content that doesn’t).

Final Thoughts

Being a terrible writer is no excuse for not creating content. In today’s crowded digital environment, it’s an absolute must, so consider storytelling, videos, podcasts, or outsourcing as viable options for your content creation needs. However you create it, your content is the story your brand shares with the world. Tell it!

How do you create great content that doesn’t rely on great writing skills? Share your favorite tips and tricks in the comments below!

Featured Image via Shutterstock

Sujan Patel
Sujan Patel has over 12 years of digital marketing experience and has helped hundreds of clients increase web traffic, boost user acquisition, and grow their businesses. He’s currently the VP of Marketing at When I Work, the top rated employee scheduling software. In addition to his role at When I Work Sujan co-founded ContentMarketer.io and wrote the book on Growth Hacking titled 100 Days of Growth.
Sujan Patel
Get the latest news from Search Engine Journal!
We value your privacy! See our policy here.
  • http://MattGreener.com Matt Greener

    Remember that “great” is entirely subjective. If your content creates a conversation, produces leads or moves even one person closer to your business it could be considered great. On the flip side, the ROI of time spent producing said content is important to be aware of.

    Thanks for the tips!

    • http://www.freelanceseoessex.co.uk Danny Hall

      I couldn’t agree more about Matt about “great content” being subjective and that the ROI on producing lots of quality content has to be kept in mind at all times.

      That said there really are some good tips in piece! 🙂

    • http://wheniwork.com Sujan Patel

      Good points, Matt! Thanks for the comment.

  • R.Rogerson

    Understanding the audiences motivations is key.
    You can produce the best written bit of content the world has ever seen – with attention grabbing titles, witty word play, perfect examples …
    … but if it’s about a topic no-one is interested in, it won’t do you much good.

    So – before you take any other step – you need to decide who you are writing for (the two primary audience types are customers/clients and those in your industry. Each of those have subgroups – such as existing clients, industry peers, those researching your industry etc.).
    Once you know who, you can research what. You can use various tools to find hot/trending topics or material that gets interest (there’s and adver-torial on here right now for ahrefs tool for this!). Alternatively, just use something like alltop.com or similar to see what your industry is currently churning out.

    Now you know who and what … you need to make a start.

    One of the methods I employ is Skeleton-ing.
    This is the exact method I got through college with. You do Not start with a Title!
    You instead start by making little notes of important information, dates, questions, phrases of interest etc.
    You should be able to generate a quick list of at least 5 things. The secret here is to put it down after you listed the quick ideas. Have a little think, pick it up, and try to generate at least the same number again, but this time, you have to think harder! Dredge your mind for ideas/angles/questions. Anyone can write for the first few items… it’s the ones you struggle to find/phrase that are likely to pay off, as there will be less competition (in general, most people are lazy – going that extra mile will show your effort and knowledge!).
    Once you have that list, you look over it, and expand it with additional notes/data/points that relate to your original list.
    Once that is done – you have your skeleton.
    You have a list of key points/issues/aspects of the topic you want to write about.
    You don’t have to do all of them – or at least, not all in the same piece (you can easily split it into two, maybe three pieces, or use some of the points for a follow-up piece).

    Now all you have to do is flesh it out. Expand upon each point. Think of a good way to introduce that section (a question, a problem, a statement etc.). Then present the information. Then conclude.

    Once you have done that – redo it.
    All of it.
    Rewrite the whole thing – at least once. You’ll find that you can change it and make it clearer, cleaner and easier to read.
    You’ll also see points that you can improve grammatically, fix spellings etc.
    Once that is all done – you can look at Headings and Titles. You do these last – as there is every chance the piece you intended to write is not the same as the piece you started to write … and things like Titles tie you down to a concept and distract you.

    Honestly, it is a fairly easy process to follow.
    Alternatively, you should be able to present the skeleton to any writer and they should be able to work from it without any fuss.

    • https://contentmarketer.io/ Sujan Patel

      Great additions. I 100% agree on rewriting the entire post at the end.

      • http://shirsendu.com Shirsendu Das

        That also means great time management!! 🙂

  • http://www.marketingrevenue.net Glenn Bossik

    You do need basic writing skills, the kind that you acquired in high school when writing term papers.

    If you’re writing a news article, you can use the inverted pyramid structure and write the articles by using the five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why.

    That’s a fast, efficient way of creating content. Of course, you must remember to give credit to the sources of the information that you’re using. Doing so will make your content much more credible.

    • https://contentmarketer.io/ Sujan Patel

      Great additions

  • http://www.muldoonwebsolutions.com John-Paul Muldoon

    Great list here that covers an array of content-creation options. One of my personal methods for creating content is simply jotting down notes throughout the day right up until I fall asleep. I find myself thinking about work-related things at various times throughout the day, and if I ask questions or think of ideas I’ll quickly jot them down. This simple act turns into quality content more often than not.

  • http://www.clicknjoin.in Heena

    Great thoughts.. But I shall also like to understand how you define great content. Like I have seen what content is great for one will necessarily not be so great for another.. How to check if content you have written is appealing to target audience of all age group.. Sometimes content appreciation also depends on Demographic. Like being an Indian I see many writers here writing in language that appeals Indian English but same thing may or may not be appealing to US or UK or any other region..

    Do share some insights on this too if possible.. Thanks again!

  • http://www.webreachtech.com/ Abhishek YAdav

    Hey Sujan,

    Great post, i always read your post and they are awesome.
    Thank you for sharing with us. 🙂

    • https://contentmarketer.io/ Sujan Patel

      Thanks Abhishek!!

  • Andy Boslow

    A great blog should not limit to single media of information i.e. only text or video , it should be combination of all beautiful images, impressive videos, content with to the point approach and less but organic links. After adding all these stuff the probability of a blog increases.
    Nice blog Mr. Sujan. I appreciate your blog.
    Thanks for sharing and keep writing.

    • https://contentmarketer.io/ Sujan Patel

      Thanks Andy. You’re right, combining mixed media is a great addition.

  • http://www.expresswriters.com Julia McCoy

    Great piece. Speaks directly to those who need (and should) be publishing content if its’ the last thing they want to do.

    To add to your last tip, outsourcing – I own a copywriting agency that is another solution to the “writer outsourcing” out there, that goes beyond just having one typical freelancer or a match-you-up-to-a-freelancer solution. We like to think of ourselves as the new “online in-house” agency. :o) This category (not many agencies like ours, I admit) is also one to add to your outsourcing paragraph.

    • http://wheniwork.com Sujan Patel

      Sounds interesting! Thanks for reading, Julia. 🙂

  • http://www.technokrats.in/ Debashish Saha

    Thanks for sharing such wonderful tips for a terrible writer like me. I opted the first opinion. Thanks again.

    • http://wheniwork.com Sujan Patel

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you were able to learn a few things. 🙂

  • http://skcgroup.in/realestate/ Pradeep Kumar

    Nice blog, thanks for it.

    • http://wheniwork.com Sujan Patel

      Pradeep, thanks for reading and the comment.

  • http://www.happyfathersday2015quotesmessages.in Sneha

    Hey.,.Great list here that covers an array of content-creation options. One of my personal methods for creating content is simply jotting down notes throughout the day right up until I fall asleep. I find myself thinking about work-related things at various times throughout the day, and if I ask questions or think of ideas I’ll quickly jot them down..Moreover,If you’re writing a news article, you can use the inverted pyramid structure and write the articles by using the five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why… Thanks for sharing. 🙂 kweel article..

    • R.Rogerson

      Erm?

      “…
      John-Paul Muldoon says:
      May 29, 2015 at 10:27 pm
      Great list here that covers an array of content-creation options. One of my personal methods for creating content is simply jotting down notes throughout the day right up until I fall asleep. I find myself thinking about work-related things at various times throughout the day, and if I ask questions or think of ideas I’ll quickly jot them down. This simple act turns into quality content more often than not.
      …”

      lol

    • http://wheniwork.com Sujan Patel

      You can always count on pen and paper! 🙂 I also will leave voice memos on my phone when I have an idea. Thanks for reading!

      • R.Rogerson

        I think I may have been too subtle.
        The comment by Sneha was almost identical to the comment by John-Paul Muldoon
        😀

  • http://it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara McKinney

    These tips could be a great help for those who are new in creating posts. Creating a good post isn’t easy as other people think, especially those people who need to advertise their company’s products and services. These post, sometimes, a big factor for to call the attention of possible clients or customers.
    I also love your 3rd idea, about “Write for Interaction”. Creating a post with a friendly approach is like showing other people that you aren’t just post for the sake of popularity or advertising your company but you post to give information and share thoughts to everyone. Such a nice work Mr. Dion.

  • http://it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara McKinney

    Great content is very important if you are a writer. This blog shows that even if you are a terrible one, you can have a Great Content on your own. Another tip to have a great content is to create with originality. Thanks for sharing it Mr. Patel. Everyone can use this blog as their references. Job well done.

    • http://wheniwork.com Sujan Patel

      Thanks for reading, Barbara! You mentioned a great point.

  • http://www.forevermetals.com Christine

    Great tips – I am not a writer but consistently have to come up with content and articles for marketing. I have outsourced for some material but find myself spending a great deal of time proofing and editing the article…..I may have to try the video route next.

    • http://wheniwork.com Sujan Patel

      Hi Christine!
      You should give video a try. Good luck! 🙂

  • http://blog.bizcravemarketing.com/suck-at-writing-how-to-create-excellent-content-regardless-of-skill Venita Chin

    Hello Sujan Patel! I really enjoyed reading your article. I think your strategies are very useful when it comes to producing excellent content even if one is not a skilled writer nor have the interest to do so. Writing takes a lot of time and patience, especially excellent writing in my opinion. Personally, I don’t like to rush my writing in order to pump out a blog post because I find I need some time to perfect it in order to have better content. Sometimes writing can be tedious too especially if you are constantly editing, and checking for spelling and grammar mistakes. I wrote a piece around your article and would love to have you comment on it and share your thoughts!

    • http://wheniwork.com Sujan Patel

      Hi Venita,
      Thanks for the comment! Like the saying goes, practice makes perfect. 🙂