Why You Need to Learn to Write Faster -- and How to Do It Video and audio get all the praise, but when it comes to moving the needle, written content continues to quietly dominate.
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If you aspire to be a coach, consultant, creator or online entrepreneur, you have to write. A lot. From email newsletters to blog posts to snappy captions on social media and more, written content communicates who you are and what you do in a way that appeals to our modern-day skimming, scrolling style of consumption.
Many entrepreneurs dislike writing, so they outsource it as soon as possible. This is fine if you're an established company with different departments, but for solopreneurs and freelancers, too much delegation at the start can end up sabotaging you.
The delegation fever hits, and before you know it you're drowning in contractor retainers and not really seeing much progress. The content isn't great, yet you don't know how to make it better, and you can't keep shelling out dollars for blog posts and email newsletters that don't move the needle.
You need to write the content yourself. But you don't have buckets of time. So you need to learn to write faster — period.
I run a full-time online business powered by writing and email and help others do the same. What I see over and over again with creators, solopreneurs and freelancers is that the pain points related to marketing and leverage can largely be resolved through consistent, focused writing.
Here are four reasons why writing quickly and well gives you the edge as an online entrepreneur.
Written content clarifies your perspectives
In a recent Instagram post, psychologist Adam Grant noted that "writing is more than a vehicle for communicating ideas; it's a tool for crystallizing ideas." What people hear is just as important as what you say.
Articulating your expertise or value proposition is absolutely vital for marketing; if you're sitting on an excellent product but can't describe the state of your industry in the first place or why people should care, you'll have a tough time getting things off the ground.
Some "wantrapreneurs" aren't willing to do this. They only focus on hype content, resist organizing their thoughts and are addicted to the hamster wheel in order to tell themselves they're being productive. Instead of filling your creation time up with busy work, take the time to really dial in your message and value proposition. You'll thank yourself later.
Related: Does Your Value Proposition Need a Checkup?
Written content helps you market quickly
Compared to the amount of production and preparation that goes into an active YouTube channel, a visually stunning Instagram account or a marathon livestream on Twitch, written content is a breeze.
These other content vehicles are more fancy, but they also make it easy to cheat. Don't become one of these people who downloads some Instagram templates and starts publishing beautiful posts that don't actually say anything. Ugly content that has a strong argument will outperform gorgeous-yet-hollow posts every day of the week.
Writing also forces you to navigate the sometimes-unsavory process of organizing your thoughts and inspiration. In article writing, I like to call this process the "surgical second draft"; you go back through your chicken scratch, kill a few darlings, and tighten up your overall argument. Writing is the fastest way to produce a finished product that is both informative and excellent – which is the whole point of content marketing to begin with.
Related: 7 Content Marketing Tips for New Entrepreneurs
Written content improves your SEO
You know search engine optimization (SEO) is still a lead-generating machine, right? There's a famous quote from Tom Pick: "Social is sexy, but search pays the bills."
With how crowded things are getting on social media these days, searchability is critical. Your SEO strategy likely needs tweaks, though; as Google introduces more snippets and in-search answers, clickthrough has drastically reduced. Your content needs to be deeper and go past answering a simple question to earn the click.
Related: 7 Reasons Why SEO Matters for Every Startup
AI copywriting widgets are all the rage these days, but the content they produce is pithy and superficial at best. You need to lean into opinion, analysis and personality to stay on top in search engine results. SEO itself will help you be seen, but the quality of the content itself is what will get users hooked.
Inject a little personality. Provide value *and* entertainment. If you already have an SEO strategy in place, take a look at the content you've published, and think about how you can make these assets better, deeper or more robust.
Written content is all that's needed for email marketing to fly
Did you know text-based email marketing often performs the best? In an episode of the Social Media Marketing Podcast, Social Media Examiner founder Michael Stelzner shared that when his publication split-tested several types of emails, the text-only email performed the best. This is a publication that has several hundred thousand email subscribers; if this strategy is what works best for them, a similar approach could work for you. As an added bonus, it's way easier to do text-only emails.
Here's why text-based email works: When you lead with text, there's nothing else for users to do except read the words on the page. Instead of trying to compete with visually driven brands that have graphic designers by the dozen, consider a more copy-centric approach that requires thinking and elicits curiosity.
There's also a perk to email marketing that I will tout until the day I die, and that is automation. Content you wrote six months ago can be delivered to your subscriber's digital doorstep six months from now without you lifting a finger. Even creators, who pump out new content mercilessly, use automations and workflows to increase their overall presence. If you're serious about scaling, you have to familiarize yourself with automations at some point.
Written content can drive every element of your marketing and sales funnel. To leverage it, however, you have to write quickly and well. Develop the focus and skills needed to write rapidly and you'll begin to see the needle move in your online business efforts.