The mind of a writer – Part II: Engaging the unknown reader

How do we create content that engages readers?

The key to crafting any kind of content is about knowing the audience and making your readers feel understood. As a technical writing company, we have to be sympathetic to multiple audiences, even the ones we don’t know.  

First things first: you can’t please everyone

We’ve all heard the old adage: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time…” you know the rest. That truism is critical when it comes to writing about a client’s product or service—although it may appeal to a wide audience, nothing we could say about it will reach everyone. As writers for hire, our job is to take your message and make it feel right to your target audience. This means limiting that audience enough to get a clear message across or, better yet, diversifying the message to reach subsets of your wider audience.

This is true even with technical information or training manuals. That reader is thumbing through your content for a reason—and if you don’t signal that you see them, they’re not going to get the message—or at least not the one you want them to.  

It’s not you; it’s them—so put your audience first

The next thing you’ll run into with content creation is that most of the audience is not interested in when your business started or how well you can do a service (at least, not at first). Before anything else, they want to know you care about them, understand their problem, and know how to solve it. This means that your content (whether creative or technical) should meet the audience where they are, rather than expecting them to come to you. This subtle difference can turn an individual into an advocate.

So how do you that? Engaging an audience is about touching them on a personal level as much as makes sense for the piece. Communication begins when a connection is made. And this connection comes through tone, style, and word choice. That’s what makes contract technical writers so valuable: our ability to navigate this terrain with empathy and acumen.

Clarity is king

The last secret to engaging your audience through the creation of content is to ACT (Always Communicate Transparently). There are no secrets here. We told you that writing well is all about communicating, and that has to be done with a focus on clear information development. Flow of information, sequencing of details, and even order of operations can be a rat’s nest of obfuscation, all too easy a space to misconstrue meaning or omit valuable information, if you’re not trained in shedding light on the unknown for the reader.

A huge benefit we bring to our clients is being able to “think like an outsider with inside knowledge.” Similar to our previous post about subject matter, we mean that we can create content that answers the questions most insiders, like business owners and subject matter experts, would not even think to ask on behalf of the outsiders. This act of merging inside and outside views is significant to the reader because it shows you care about where they’re coming from. And that care for them makes your information the most important thing. Now you can see how keeping the audience in mind, even the one you didn’t know about, can create endless links to potential customers and fans of your company.

Subject Matter

The mind of a writer—Part I: How to instantly become a subject matter expert

One of the biggest challenges we come across as technical writers is knowledgeability. People often ask, “How can you write about something if you are not an expert in it?” Our question is, “How can you write about something (objectively, impartially, open-mindedly) if you are?”

Admittedly, a degree of subject matter knowledge is imperative to composing a convincing piece, especially in technical writing. Our livelihood exists because so often the people who hold that knowledge don’t have the time—or ability—to write about it.

So, how do writers-for-hire dive deeply enough into subject matter to write about it convincingly, without knowing it so well we lose touch with the audience we are trying to reach? It is not a question of depth but of breadth.

The “well-traveled” writer writes better

Have you ever been at a party or social gathering where someone who’s been abroad is recounting their tales of travel, and everyone is listening attentively? That’s because the storyteller is comparing their cosmopolitan experience with their domestic understanding. Not only does that make the information they are giving you more relatable, but it adds a robust quality to the new information they are providing about their travels.

With content marketing, it’s a different kind of travel, but the result is the same—compelling and relatable content. Rather than across an ocean, it can be across an industry. Instead of another culture, it’s another angle. Writers are often writers because they can see the connection between seemingly disparate concepts. And the more topics they know about, the more these connections aid in creating killer content.

Knowing enough about the main topic to write about it intelligently allows the writer space to add “inspiration from their travels” that will create riveting and engaging content for your company. And, no, we’re not talking about fiction writing.

The “inspiration” is how your product or service connects with people on a gut-level; how your content can meet readers’ needs. Those are universal truths that we writers can dial in on from any platform, which is why we need to stay wide and well-traveled.

Still waters run deep

The truth about deep product or subject knowledge is that ideas can become stagnate. In today’s hyperconnected, Googled world, readers lose sight of the nuances that subject matter experts live and breathe every day. But that doesn’t mean a little depth can’t bring more value. The answer lies in middle-depth writing.

To keep things moving with your content, and to make it more widely consumable, the concepts need to be shallow enough to wade through quickly, but deep enough that the reader can catch something worthwhile. This is done deftly by technical writers through that interconnectedness we talked about.

Jack of all trades, master of none, writer of all

So when you are outsourcing the creation of content for your business, do not expect the writer to know as much about your industry as you do. Surely, they will need to pick the brains of your subject matter experts in order to produce quality content. But trust that they know more about getting the right message to the right audience. Let the writer’s understanding of human nature blend the information you’re giving them with the information people like to consume, and your marketing content will make your brand the life of the party.

The Value of Outsourcing Business Content to Writing Experts

You may be saying: “I’ve been speaking English my whole life; I can write content for my business.” Or, maybe you’re thinking, “No one knows my business like I do; I should write about it.” And in both cases, you’re right…and wrong.

The illusion of fluency

Just because you’ve been talking since you were a child doesn’t mean you automatically understand the nuances of writing. Fluent speakers subconsciously add things to their speech that will never make it to the page. Inflection, tone, and even pace all have their places in the spoken word but are often corrupted or simply missing when the words are written. It takes a professional writer—someone who has spent years understanding the way words live on a page—to be able to add those critical communication elements through type.

Another reason fluency does not automatically equate to good writing is because of the jargon, idiosyncrasies, and slang people tend to adopt when speaking to a particular audience. Those words might work one-on-one with your listener, but you can’t guarantee your reading audience will interpret the message the same way. When it comes to business writing, clear and concise communication is key. Anything that borrows on culture or trending language runs the risk of losing one of those elements.

Too many times, a company full of perfectly intelligent people has produced a piece of content that missed the mark in an embarrassing way—or just slightly enough to be ineffective. Had they used a professional writing service, the company would have benefitted from an expert working to make those words do every ounce of service they were able. In fact, companies who use professional writers to generate content, such as proposals, training materials, or publicity pieces, often have an advantage over their competition.

Too close for comfort

It’s true that an outside professional business writing company won’t know your business the way you do, but that can be a good thing. Being so close to your business can create a blindness that is impossible for you to recognize. This blindness has two elements: assumptions and biases. When you understand something so well that it becomes second-nature—as you do with your business and products—trying to communicate it to others often fails to deliver the desired message. The reason for this miscommunication is assuming too much on behalf of your audience.

Assumptions will destroy the clarity of any written piece, because with typed words only, you can’t watch someone’s eyes glaze over. In other words, there is no way to know whether your reader has failed to understand what you wrote. Not knowing the specifics of what you’re communicating can aggravate the reader to the point where they give up. And a reader who isn’t reading is no longer a potential customer.

Professional writers, on the other hand, train themselves to think outside the expertise—as if they were the reader themselves. This makes their work more thorough because the professional will add detail where you as the owner might not think it necessary. Not only that, but in writing for so many other industries, the writer knows how to phrase things in a way that is easy to grasp, which is something not all owners and entrepreneurs are able to do.

The other element of being too close to the business is the biases you have. Everyone has biases—it’s what makes their views personal—borne from their own intimate experience. Unfortunately for the business owner, your business biases are yours, which makes them difficult to navigate, and even unapproachable by your audience.

Bringing in an outside observer to write for your business can help open the conversation to items or issues that you might have never known existed, or (more likely) you didn’t want to address. And, in today’s socioeconomic climate, candor is cash. Consumers and business partners alike are showing an increased appreciation of honesty in marketing materials.

This is a slippery slope, though—being honest about your business. You could overstate and effectively ruin any trust you might have gained by oversharing. However, with a professional writer at the helm of your internal and external messaging, you leverage the expertise of persuasive communication that can highlight the “marketable honesty” without giving away the hidden ingredients to your company’s secret sauce.

The attention it deserves

You’ve learned how fluency doesn’t automatically make for good writing—especially when effective communication is the lifeline to your marketing efforts. You’re also aware of the double-edged sword of assumptions and biases that can make being too close to your business a liability when building content. But the biggest reason to use a professional writer for your business is because only they can give your content the attention it deserves.

The power of marketing is largely a numbers game. And creating fresh, engaging content is the best way to generate market interest, widening the funnel on your sales stream. But, unless you are a Technical Writing and Editing Company like ProWrite, your business is not to create content. That’s monumental because when seen in that light, no good businessperson would waste time trying to create content themselves.

Hiring a professional writer to build the kind of content your business needs is like hiring an electrical contractor to wire your factory. You task the experts where their expertise is absolutely necessary, thereby freeing your time to do what you do best: your job.

Give your content the attention it deserves by hiring a writing team who knows how to articulate your business in the best possible way.

Common content errors your business might be making

Whether content marketing is a new concept for you, or you’ve been handling content since you started your business, it’s possible you’re still making mistakes that could be costing you credibility. Here are a few common errors we’ve seen companies make time and again with their content:

**Remember, content marketing is the creation of any content that is used to promote your company, such as the words that make up your website, a blog you use to show your expertise, or even that new brochure.**

Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking? The first and biggest problem businesses make with their content is not knowing their audience. The more you can identify the audience you’re writing to, the more your content will resonate with them. For instance, saying things like “your business” and “content marketing” makes this post clearly aimed at businesspeople, as opposed to tween Instagrammers.

It’s funny, right? Another common misstep with creating content is attempting to create humor (like that Instagrammers comment, just now). Humor is bad, wit is good. The difference between humor and wit has everything to do with the subject. Humor is subjective, meaning it can be personal—which can lead to being offensive. Whereas, wit is universal, meaning it’s fundamentally funny, regardless of the audience. Whenever possible, use wit instead of humor to add personality to your content. Or, better yet, lose the act and just keep it professional.

Are you going my way? Whenever your business says anything, it should have a purpose or goal driving it. This means that any content your company creates should fit a clear-cut strategy. Too often, businesses come up with something to say around the conference table, and it hits the streets without anyone pausing to check whether it fits with the rest of what the company is doing. Or worse, you cram something in at the last minute to meet a deadline. This deviation from your strategy could cost your business customer loyalty or simply confuse people.

Who needs a profedder, anyway? Let’s preface this by saying that mistakes happen to even the beast of us (get it?), but mistakes that can be avoided only happen to the ill-prepared. Double- and triple-checking your content is a worthwhile step not to be overlooked. Rush copy out, and you could make your company look like it shouldn’t have passed third grade. Proofreading becomes exceptionally important with the urgency that often accompanies social media content.

ProTip: Delay posting any content until at least two sets of eyes have had a chance to review it.



I can speak English, so why can’t I write it? Fluency does not a writer make. Speaking and writing English are worlds apart—especially when it comes to content marketing. And, if you don’t understand that nuance, your writing will show it. Outsourcing your copy needs will return huge rewards not only with your time, but also with the quality of your content.

When it comes time to put words together for your business—whether a brochure, a sales letter, a training manual, or even a social media post—ask yourself if the time it would take to do it right is worth your rate. Dollars to donuts (yes, this spelling is acceptable, according to HuffPost), your time costs more than a professional writer’s. Make the investment in the most important part of your marketing; it’ll be worth it.

Our previous point acts as a perfect segue to the final error we cringe at seeing businesses make. An error with their content that, when you know what’s at stake with your company’s content (industry credibility, reputation, and the communication of your value proposition, for starters), you begin to see why this error is beyond foolish to allow to happen.

Does anyone here know Word? Skimping on copywriting, by either doing it internally or looking for the cheapest service, is likely the worst thing businesses can do for their content—mostly because at that point it’s understood there is a need to outsource the skill, but the company does not think it is important enough to pay for.

This is a dangerous place to find yourself because a good content provider delivers quality material that promotes your business the way you want without extra effort on your end. And while the alternative of not using a professional may save you some money in the short run, the time you’ll have to invest in editing and rewriting—not to mention missing the mark altogether—puts skimping on writing at the top of our list of errors (or the bottom, if you go by this post).

One last thing about the value of good business writing: This list isn’t just for content marketing. Any writing you do within your company should be under the lens for evaluation. Bad writing costs businesses lots of money, both in credibility with customers as well as internally with employee communication. The next time you have something you want to communicate through writing, call ProWrite for a quote and trust our competent staff with your writing needs.

Boosting your brand identity—why words matter

Whoever said a picture is worth a thousand words probably wasn’t very good with words.

At ProWrite, words mean the world to us.

Although photos and images are essential components of technical documentation, a picture is worth nothing if no one understands what it’s trying to say. Captions, callouts, and accompanying text can turn a simple drawing into a treasure trove of information.

The same goes for a business’s brand identity, or how a company chooses to express itself. No matter how clever its logo or cool its colors, the ideal brand identity should tell people something about the company, its products, and the services it offers.

That’s where words come in.

A company’s brand identity is a crucial part of its brand image, which is how others perceive the company. So, choose your words wisely (or hire someone to choose them for you).

To begin with, a company’s wordmark, or logotype, is basically a textual representation of the company’s name, which does not always indicate (or even hint at) what the company actually does.

Therefore, adding a few key words can concisely let potential customers know that they’ve come to the right place.


For example:


Seeing that, there should be no mistaking that ProWrite is a technical writing firm.

In addition to a wordmark and descriptive text, companies often have a slogan, or tagline, such as: “The World on Time” Those words are much more global and impactful than that company’s previous slogan: “Relax, it’s FedEx”

Taglines do not necessarily explain what the company does, but they can help enhance the company’s brand image and make it memorable.

However, the biggest place where words live within a business’s brand identity is the company website. The words—not only their meaning, but their tone and style—should reflect the brand.

A company like ProWrite, which offers documentation services, wouldn’t be too successful if its website were full of misspellings and grammatical errors. In fact, we are so against poor writing that our website offers free technical writing tips and opportunities to sign up for our Efficient Writing classes.

In the end, you can make your company’s brand identity whatever you want it to be. And as any successful enterprise, it will surely grow and evolve over time. But don’t get so caught up in the latest looks that you forget your best weapon in the war against the competition—words.