Don’t Steal MotorWeek’s Voice: Writing Auto Articles with Unique Style
Over the years, I’ve written, edited, and reviewed hundreds of auto-industry pieces. From in-depth reviews to basic descriptions, much of the content online features cookie cutter voice because writers fall into styles that closely match MotorWeek or other popular industry publications and programs. The result isn’t terrible writing, but as a content writer for hire, you can do more for your clients if you create a unique voice that sets them apart in the niche.
Use Your Own Voice
Don’t be afraid to use your own voice to talk vehicles. It helps if you’re already a car person, because your own interest and passion pushes through the content to engage readers. Solid research, coupled with your own personality, lets you create excellent auto content even if you aren’t a gearhead.
Unless a client provides a strict template and style requirements, look for a personal spin to help you create relevant content. Ask yourself what you find most compelling about a vehicle and why. What turns you off when you look at the car or truck? What feature would you use most, and how would the vehicle impact your life in a positive way? Leverage personal reactions to write product copy that resonates with everyday consumers.
Research the Client
Conduct due diligence to ensure the voice you create is in line with the client’s mission, vision, and values. Study the client’s “about us” page. Read previous blogs, reviews, and web copy on the client’s site. Never hesitate to ask questions about what the client wants, especially if instructions are vague.
Take a proactive approach in understanding the client’s target audience. The voice and style you create for a client that specializes in work trucks or fleet vehicles should be different from the voice you use when writing for a dealership in a retail market. Likewise, you’d write one way for a dealership specializing in high-end imports and a different way for a used-car lot targeting families that want affordable, reliable transportation.
Avoid Industry Clichés
When writing about specific vehicles, avoid cliché phrases that don’t really describe the automobile or differentiate it from the competition. Some phrases to avoid include:
- Drives beautifully
- Rugged capability
- Smooth handling
- Shifts smoothly
- High-quality ride
- Fuel-efficient vehicle
- Reliable ride
The phrases are either meaningless or overused. “Drives beautifully” is a subjective phrase that doesn’t convey actual value; instead, describe tangible benefits of the ride such as reduced fatigue over long trips due to less interior motion.
“Rugged capability” seems to be used to describe anything capable of driving on gravel, so avoid generalities and tell the reader exactly what the vehicle can do. Write about towing capacity, power, or specific off-road situations. The same holds true for “fuel-efficient vehicle.” Efficiency means something different for everyone, so do the research and provide statistics.
Successful auto-industry copy combines a unique voice, understanding of the client and consumer, and detailed research. Write concise, descriptive paragraphs that inform the reader, and remember to pair features and benefits in vehicle marketing copy.
Sarah S isn’t a true gearhead, but she enjoys writing about the auto industry for clients. Her current car is a blue Honda CRV that fits her small stature perfectly. She hopes her future car is a TARDIS.