10 Resources to Help You Become a Better Writer (UPDATED)
You finally took that leap to set up your website, launch your blog or plunge into content marketing to help get your online presence up and running. But then you probably realized that dreaming about the perfect website was the easy part. In reality, finding the right words to impact an audience and compel them to keep reading, buy your products, or come back for more is far more complicated.
Becoming a better writer can help with your promotional efforts, from explaining your products to writing copy that sells. But it can also offer a cathartic outlet for anyone who wants to make a personal connection with online audiences through a blog. Regardless of why you want or need to write, there are plenty of resources to help you stay on track and become a better writer. Here are 10 to get you started:
Web Copy That Sells: Nine Can’t Fail Formulas
Why Content Marketing Fails
How I Write 8 Blog Posts a Week While Running 2 Companies
The Definitive Guide to Copywriting
Grammarly for Chrome
The A/B That That Improved Call-to-Action CTR by 211%
Copyblogger is the quintessential resource for any budding writer looking to create compelling web copy. They offer several free and premium products to help you get started and scale your writing. Here are just a few places to get started on Copyblogger, although it’s wise to regularly check their site as new resources are released on an ongoing basis.
- Blog – Get free tips from the team at Copyblogger and industry pros who write copy that wins.
- The 5 P Approach to Copy that Crushes It – Copyblogger explores how the most profitable skill on the planet is copywriting. Teach yourself a crush-it approach to copywriting to compete in any space. Membership required.
- Landing Pages: How to Turn Traffic into Money – A must-have resource for anyone building landing pages who needs design and copy tips to turn traffic into money.
- Authority – Copyblogger’s premium membership site teaches advanced content marketing strategies and provides a network to help accelerate your skills.
- Certified Writers – Advanced coursework and review for writers who want to grow into in-demand content creators and strategists.
2. Web Copy That Sells: Nine Can’t-Fail Formulas
Writtent put together a valuable and bite-sized list of nine can’t-fail formulas for writing web copy that sells. Their simple breakdown helps you focus on what you should be paying attention to in your copy. For example, AIDA is an old standard formula that still works, whether you’re creating sales copy or blog posts. The idea is:
Other techniques including problem-solving and how to address a reader’s pain points. At the end of the day, relatable and valuable copy is the key to connecting with others.
3. Why Content Marketing Fails
Content marketing has been an internet buzzword for a few years now. Just about everyone knows they should market their site with content, whether through blogging or videos. But few people actually talk about why content marketing fails.
Content marketing guru Rand Fishkin walks through the ins and outs of why content marketing fails in a comprehensive and eye-opening slideshow that’s easy to understand. He explores why creating good content isn’t enough without a community, and why investing in amplification is just as important as actually creating the content.
4. How I Write 8 Blog Posts a Week While Running 2 Companies
If you think you don’t have time to write blog posts and run a business, then this is the post for you. Neil Patel details how he writes a whopping eight blog posts every week while continuing to run two companies.
There’s no big secret behind Patel’s process, and he doesn’t make it complicated. He uses Quick Sprout’s Analyzer to get a list of what competitors’ blogs look like to get inspired. The tool can also help take the guesswork out of producing posts that get read. It shows how well your competitors’ posts did, where they got shared and how often.
This resource is best used if you already have reasonable writing skills and just need a way to streamline your efforts. This way you’re targeting the best ideas possible for your blog posts that are already proven to win.
5. Cliche Finder
It’s easy for cliches to sneak into your writing when you’re working hard to get a point across. But cliches should be used sparingly, and can interfere with learning to write well.
Cliche Finder’s dead simple tool is an easy way to double-check your writing to make sure it’s cliche-free. Just copy and paste your text and click on ‘Find Cliches.’ It will highlight your questionable copy in red. From there, you can decide if that copy is worth keeping, or if you can find a better way to convey your message.
You might be surprised by how even subtle references in your writing pop up as cliches. While cliches are the kiss of death for journalists, they could potentially brighten up the copy on your own website or blog.
6. The Definitive Guide to Copywriting
Quick Sprout’s Definitive Guide to Copywriting teaches modern copywriting for the digital age as the key to putting together your online presence. The guide helps entrepreneurs, bloggers, and business owners create copy that scales to a large audience with the intention of selling more effectively.
Writers learn more about how to dig into their customers’ pain points to write targeted copy and headlines that convert. Ecommerce store owners and business owners should also pay close attention to closing the deal with copy through calls to action (CTAs) and creating a sense of urgency in their sales.
No matter what you’re writing, you can take cues from the Definitive Guide to Copywriting. Rely on it to fine-tune your writing and sell your copy, whether you want repeat readers or more product sales.
7. Grammarly for Chrome
Spell check only does so much to help polish your writing. You also need a companion extension like Grammarly that installs right in your browser. Use Grammarly to make sure everything from your emails to blog posts and social media updates are clear and concise. Grammarly can also make real-time suggestions, such as when to use commas or switch out words that could make more of an impact.
Grammarly also offers the added benefit of making you a better writer. You end up catching mistakes on the fly, while learning as you go so you can avoid mistakes the next time and become less reliant on the tool.
8. Nick Usborne
Nick Usborne cut his teeth as a copywriter back in 1979 when he needed a decent-paying job that didn’t really require qualifications. He was one of the first web writers who used his skills to teach corporations and businesses how to write better copy. Aspiring and emerging writers can pick up tips or sign up for coaching.
Nick has the unique experience of being an old-school direct-response copywriter and earned kudos for his direct mail work. Direct-response copywriting is a valuable skill used by marketers to communicate directly with customers in a way that prompts them to take action. Whether you’re a blogger or a business writer trying to promote your brand, direct response can help build your momentum.
9. The A/B Test That Improved Call-to-Action CTR by 211%
A/B testing your copy is a big deal in the world of blogging and business, but the process can feel elusive to writers new to the marketing world. Tony Mariotti wrote about his experience on the A/B test that improved call-to-action (CTA) by 211%. He gives a detailed breakdown of the different CTAs he used to get more visitors to demo a widget.
Even if you’re not looking to A/B test your CTAs or any other copy, the article gives interesting insights into what works in the world of online writing. Tony found that the original CTA that was used was vague, complicated and reduced engagement. He found that the second option was clear and well-defined. His takeaways can apply to all sorts of writing, including headline generation.
10. AP Stylebook
Style books are not the be-all and end-all of good writing, but they can help give you solid guidance to craft the best copy. The Associated Press Stylebook (AP) is a good place to start and is well-regarded by writers in just about every industry.
However, if you have an old AP Stylebook from your university days, it’s wise to pick up a new one. For example, the latest AP Stylebook features nearly 20 new or revised entries (one recent change turned “dash cam” into “dashcam”) along with an index so you can find what you’re looking for. Keeping on top of rapidly-changing nuances in language style can mean the difference between looking modern and on-trend, and being hopelessly outdated.
Have you found any other resources that have helped you become a better writer? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below: