This is something I get asked about a lot: How do I keep my B2B writing focused and to the point.
There is a temptation to cover a lot of ground in articles and stories, particularly when it’s a big topic. Sustainability is the one I find hardest to keep succinct.
It can be difficult seeing the wood for the trees when you have a lot of information to work with and so much seems relevant.
Writing for print can be easier because you have to keep to specific word counts, but most content is online these days, so word counts are far more flexible.
In my early years as a magazine features writer, I quickly learnt how to hone in on what is critical for the article. We were time-poor, and overwriting, then editing down just wasn’t an efficient way of working.
Going a little bit over was fine as it was easy to cut words tightening up the copy in the edit. But having to cut out huge chunks to make it fit the page just made the writing process more time-consuming.
There would inevitably be far more information than I could include in a feature, so I learned to plan out my features and keep it focused.
Carefully plan your article
Spending time planning before you put your fingers on the keyboard makes writing much quicker and can stop you from getting overwhelmed by too much information – or sidetracked. Here’s what you can do.
List of the main points you want to make. If that list is getting long, then think about how you can trim it down or break it up into more manageable chunks.
Remember, stuff you dump from this piece can be content topics for another day, so don’t bin it completely.
Supporting key points
Then gather your supporting information for each point. I used to list what I had to say about each point – just a few words or a sentence that summed it up.
This can also be useful for seeing any areas you need more info for, or if one particular area dominates, it might need breaking up further. Should one particularly big point be two or three key points, for example?
It can also be useful to go through this process to work out the structure of the article.
Anything that doesn’t make it on the list, anything that doesn’t support or enhance what you want the piece to say, put to one side.
You have to be strict. You might have a cracking quote or stat, but save it for another day if it doesn’t serve the article you want to write.
Once you’ve got your plan, you know what you’ve got to say and the material you have to say it.
A final way to check you are staying on point and that your content flows is to mark up your text. Put a 1-3 word summary next to each paragraph.
It’s easier to do if you print out your article but if you are minimising paper use, then just type bold or different coloured headers that you can easily go back and delete.
Read through your headers and it gives you an at a glance summary of the piece. You can see if you go off-piste and check that you move from one point to the next without backtracking.
This will also help you come up with subheadings for the article.
Do you have a tried and tested technique for staying on track with your B2B content writing?
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