How to De-Fluff and Write Better Blog Content

Content, content everywhere but not a useful post to read!

With the advent of content marketing, everyone – from small businesses to huge MNCs are going content crazy. With everyone churning out tonnes of content, how to make yours stand out? It’s simple really, make it valuable – actionable steps over good old advice, research over speculation, findings over predictions.

Writer and his Content

If you’re aiming for valuable, actionable and engaging, it’s time you start to de-fluff content.

Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Less jargon – ‘sounding’ smart is not the goal

Have you ever come across writings like this, “In order to facilitate such a process effectively and accurately, we have conditioned our customer service agents to be meticulous and …..yada yada yada…”

Here is my tip – well, Don’t. Do.That.

You are not writing a research oriented paper for a journal; Cut out the complicated, and unnecessary jargon – both technical and literary. Learn to write in a way that even a school kid can understand your point.

I have come across many writers, who use thesaurus to find more sophisticated words to replace simple ones, and in doing so, they ruin the purpose of the article, which is to get through to readers. How can you get through them, if they can’t understand what is written? Instead of focusing on using sophisticated words, spend that effort on giving your article a flow, and see if you can turn it into a narrative or a business story.

That way anyone will be able to understand your point plus, there will be more reader engagement.

2. Kill redundant writing style

How many 2000+ words articles have you come across that actually deserve to be that long? Not many, am sure. Trying to hit a target word count will encourage redundancy in your writing, which in turn will affect your ability to drive your points home.

Here is what redundancy does to your post:

  • For starters, the post gets very boring. Given our short attention spans, I would be surprised if anyone even finish the article.
  • It will mask the truly important points and messages you have to offer.
  • People will not respect your content or your writing, because redundancy indicates lack of command on the subject.

Here is a funny example,

“They’ve written their own number – it’s an original number and it’s written by themselves.”

So remember, don’t have target word counts, instead use just as many number of words, and sentences required to deliver your point.

3. Edit out the fluff – ruthlessly

Yes, it is painful to slash out beautiful sentences that you have written, but it needs to be done.

When editing, force yourself to get detached from the content, be ruthless, because you know as well as I do that, when you give your article a second read you will definitely find some lines which are completely non-essential. A few tips on ways to be ruthless while editing.

Even though we know this, we are unlikely to scratch off those lines, because we tend to form a cognitive bias towards our writing.

When we first outsourced our content creation at Hiver, we ended up with fluffy articles which exaggerated and unnecessarily romanticized our business stories and our bounce rate went through the roof.

We then came up with a rule that we will refuse to accept content if there isn’t a takeaway every 50 words, and if there is more than 1 argument per paragraph – this managed to contain the bounce rate to a very large extent.

Here is how you can go about it:

  1. Finish the article.
  2. Take some time away from the article. Work on something else, or sleep on it.
  3. Refer to the framework and the purpose of the article.
  4. Mentally prepare yourself to cut out the junk.
  5. Now, go give it a second read. Stay objective, and true to the purpose of the article.

4. Don’t tell them what they already know

When I say eliminate fluff, it’s not just about having a succinct and crisp writing style, it’s also about creating content that has real value. Most of the writers encounter this problem, when they try to make the content accessible to everyone.

For example, if you are writing a post about unconventional tips for content marketing, you must write with the assumption that your readers know the basics of content marketing. You can explain the meaning of SEO, data analytics etc in that post. If you try to cover the post from the very basics, your most important readers (who will be content marketers in the above scenario) will get bored, and annoyed even.

If you really want to help your not-so-knowledgeable readers catch up, then direct them to other posts which can help them do so.

5. Go by a framework and a plan

If you write without a well-defined framework and a plan, chances are, you will ramble away  and lose your readers. Let’s admit it, we writers sometimes have the annoying habit of getting into the details of details of details.

But if you have a rough outline, for example if you tell yourself –

I will cover the history in the first para of introduction, the ‘why’ in the second para of introduction, and the ‘how’ in the body of the article, you can direct your thought process, and research accordingly. This way, you can avoid fluff even before it happens.

“Words can be like X-rays if you use them properly — they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Now that you’ve had a chance to read through some of my best writing tips, be sure to implement them into your own upcoming content.

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One Response

  1. Transport George February 16, 2016