If you own a business, you probably have a website and have worked with a ghostwriter creating content for it. But how much do you really know about the writing profession? Here are five commonly held beliefs about content writers and their craft. Think you have a sharp eye? Let’s see if you can spot the myths mixed in with the facts.
- You need an industry expert to write accurate copy. Think that’s true? Guess again. Remember Dustin Hoffman’s character in the movie “Tootsie”? When he was denied a plum role because of his age, he protested, “I’m an actor! A character actor. Age doesn’t affect me.” Well, it’s the same for your writer. She can wear any hat the assignment requires. She knows her areas of expertise, but also knows when some research is required. She knows how to find accurate, reliable sources, too. And in case you’re wondering, that doesn’t mean Wikipedia.
- All web content is the same. False again. The style, pace and tone of web content varies wildly. Casual and quirky may work for a blog post, but a press release needs to be professional in tone and factually accurate. A good writer knows the stylistic norms of each type of content and adjusts his writing accordingly.
- You need more than one ghostwriter. This is actually true, conditionally. While a good writer can be remarkably versatile and offer you a delightful array of varying content and dynamic voices, there will be times when she is booked solid or simply unavailable. It’s good to have a stable of reliable writers so that when you need copy in a hurry, someone is always at hand.
- Fancy writing is the best writing. This is untrue. According to HowTo.gov, using plain language on your website is really the most effective way to reach people. If your visitors can understand something they’ve read the first time through, they are much more likely to retain it. After all, most people don’t want to surf the web with dictionaries open on their laps.
- Good writing takes time. This is true, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You may be anxious for your content — after all, you’ve got a great idea and you’re anxious to see it up and running — but if you want quality content, give your writer the time he needs to get it right. Good writing doesn’t pour from the word processor fully formed like a photograph rolling out of your printer. It’s more like a puzzle just dumped from its box. All those bright, gleaming pieces are right there in front of you — the ideas, the research, the imagery — but it takes a while to put them all in their proper places. Give your writer the time he needs to perfect your content and give it the polish and shine it deserves. When you see the high-quality end product, you’ll be glad you did.
So, how’d you score? Five out of five would be delightful, but the numbers don’t really matter. If you learned something about writers and their craft that you didn’t know before, then the purpose of this piece has been met, and its author is pleased.
Kate C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.