How 1-minute writing tips can boost your writing team’s visibility and impact

Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash

If you’re a writer who partners with designers, product managers, marketers, engineers or other people to write for the web, software, or apps, you might sometimes wonder how to raise visibility for your work.

In many companies, especially tech, writing teams are small, if there are teams at all. Often there’s only one writer, juggling the work of UX writing, marketing copy, content marketing, technical writing, and copy editing.

How does all the writing get done?

When there are few writers but a lot of writing to be done, project management often falls into one of two buckets:

  1. All writing is given to the writer/writing team, creating a backlog of projects, or
  2. The writer/team takes on only what they can handle and provides resources for other teams to do their own best writing.

Neither case is ideal—ideal would be an abundance of writers for every single project with plenty of space and time to create, innovate, and focus deeply. Some teams have that abundance, and it’s wonderful! But many, many don’t.

For those that don’t, option 2 is clearly the better choice. Being able to provide partners with the resources they need to do their own best writing is a far superior option to overloading and burning out your writers.

Resources are helpful when people use them

If you’re in a spot where you’re developing resources for other teams, the scope might feel overwhelming at first. Where do you even start?

A good place to start is with your company’s style guide or the style guide you turn to most often, like AP or Chicago. (If you need to create your first style guide, try searching Medium for “writing style guide” to learn some tips.)

But not everybody knows what a style guide is, why it exists, or how to use one.

An easy way to introduce your partners to the style guide is through a weekly “You Should Know”–type tidbit I call 1-minute writing tips.

Create your own 1-minute writing tips

With 1-minute writing tips, you share one piece of information from your style guide each week at a weekly meeting—could be at a design crit, a weekly team catch-up, or a Monday status update sync.

The things you share could be terminology, style, mechanics, voice, tone, or anything else that would be most helpful for your particular team.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Choose tips that are the most common areas your team encounters that you think would be useful to cover as a quick tip.
  • Create a doc with a table to keep track of the tips.
  • Ask the meeting owner to put your 1-minute writing tip as a recurring item on the weekly meeting agenda.
  • At the meeting, present your 1-minute writing tip—literally in 60 seconds, if possible. However, it’s best if you’re open to answering questions and providing clarification, too.
  • After the meeting, follow up in a Slack message or email, recapping the tip of the week for those who weren’t at the meeting.
  • At the end of the quarter (or however you track time, like a sprint or half-year), gather all of the tips from the previous weeks and share as a quarterly summary, either as a Slack message or email.

Survey for feedback

Twice a year, you might also want to survey the meeting attendees for feedback and advice: have the tips been valuable? Do people want more, less, different types of items, or anything else?

You can even use an actual survey tool like SurveyMonkey to calculate an NPS score, if numbers like that are valuable for your team to see.

In my own experience, I’ve received feedback ranging from “The tips are short and cute!” to “I had no idea some of these were in our style guide. Who would’ve known? I’ve learned so much.”

Designers told me the tips were helpful to the point where they remembered things from the style guide as they were designing—Wait, I think that button should say, “Buy,” not “Purchase”—which is evidence that the tips worked, and that partners are able to take advantage of resources like style guides if they learn how and why they exist.

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