Copywriter, Journalist, and Content Coach

Start Writing: The Four Basic Rules

Photo by gagnonm1993 —

Consider the Reader

This is the mother of all the other rules. Who are your readers? What motivates them? What do they care about? How much time do they have? Where are they reading? Put yourself in their specs and think how you would want to be treated. The way I usually put this is, “I am very important. You are not important at all.”

Avoid Passive Voice

People and things act on other people and things. “Events occurred” is just a cover up for the fact that someone did something (which was probably wrong). Only use passive voice ironically, if, for instance you are writing about a soulless corporation.

Avoid Techno-jargon

Even technologists won’t know what you are talking about if you use insider jargon—your technology is innovative, right? How can you expect them to understand what it is if you use the shorthand lingo and acronyms that are used in the office? Tell a story about what it does for people instead.

Use Anglo-Saxon

Avoid big, fancy words. Nobody cares how smart you are or what a big vocabulary you have. When they’re reading for information, they just want the information. Express it as simply and clearly as you can.