You Are What You Eat: Managing What You Read to Improve The Way You Write

You may have heard the old saying “you are what you eat.” What we consume, we use to produce. The same is true when it comes to creating content. The material we read shapes the way we write. But I can’t take credit for this idea. Early in my college experience, the instructor for my media writing class required us to read good journalism regularly. She said reading quality journalism would establish a quality “news” voice in our heads, and this internal narrative voice, tone, and structure for thinking would translate to our writing. 

The same strategy of reading, processing, and absorbing a variety of other writing offers you the ability to better represent your product to the reader, proactively respond to the critics your readers may find, and expand your overall writing abilities. But to maximize your growth as an effective content writer, you’ll need to create the right “diet” for your reading. Three of categories of writing that can help you succeed as a content writer are:

  • OEM material
  • Critical material
  • Other content writers

Want to learn more? Keep reading. 

OEM Material

As content marketers, we represent a specific brand with each word we write. Reading a variety of OEM material — from model pages to press releases — feeds the voice of the manufacturer into your ears. As you glean the facts you need from the OEM content, you are also processing, and mindfully emulating the OEM when you turn to your own writing. This practice allows you to write about the Ford F-150 the way Ford writes about it, or about the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 the way Chevrolet writes about it. While you’re writing about a given product, remember the OEM writers create the gold-standard content and establish the voice and vocabulary you’re looking to use. 

Reading the OEM also allows you to discern which features or aspects to present, and which to avoid. For example: when you see that a given model sidesteps the fact that it has a three-cylinder engine, this means you should probably avoid including, or at least highlighting, that information. The detailed specs tell you one thing; the OEM copy clarifies how to use the specs. 

A helpful tip: save on reading and re-reading each time you write about a given product and create a list of the key language, descriptors, and verbs the OEM uses to present their wares. At Aronson, we keep a reference document like this, and I’ve found it absolutely essential.   

Critical Material

Think back to the last time you considered a product or service. Did you read the reviews? Did you pay attention to the most critical reviews? Odds are your readers did, or they will. Being customer obsessed and creating content that addresses their concerns starts with knowing the concerns your customers might have.  

As you’re creating your content, discovering what critics like or dislike will allow you to play up strengths that reviewers highlight, while also shoring up features or aspects of your product that reviewers hammer. This strategy never overrides the guidance you receive from the OEM, and the critical voice is one you want to avoid absorbing. Reading critics allows you to respond proactively to the potential weaknesses of your product without ever saying a word about the negative review. Remember: positive statements of your products’ value are always the name of the game. 

A great place to start looking for critical material is by simply searching for your specific product or service and see what Google displays as the top results. Odds are your readers will be reading these reviews as well.   

Other Content Writers

As content writers, we all look at the same product, read the same material, and phrase our content in unique ways. If you read other content writers, you can absorb other voices, pick up new strategies, and improve your repertoire of organizational techniques.  

Whether you’re able to collaboratively edit your co-workers’ content, or you enjoy reading a particular blogger, reading the work that other content writers produce allows you to actively observe practices, phrases, and strategies to emulate, and helps you absorb a fresh perspective and voice to power you forward in your next writing project. 

At the end of the day we can always improve the way we absorb information and create our content. And when it comes to other content writers, we’re better when we work together and learn from one another. If you’d like to pursue a career in content writing at Aronson Advertising, contact us online or give us a call at (847) 297-1700.

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