Alia Coster: The four pillars of becoming a better business writer

Published on December 5, 2022 by Alex Eade

No matter who we are or what we do, writing is an essential part of our professional lives. Being able to land the right message can be the difference between getting the job or not. Winning new business. Growing your brand. Securing funding. Creating a productive work environment.

All roads lead back to not just what we write, but also how we write. With multiple channels of communication, relationships spanning the globe, and a burgeoning work-from-home culture, our reliance on the written word is only increasing. If we want to be heard loud and clear and achieve all our professional goals, we need to learn how to say what we mean.

If you’ve ever thought your pitches could be tighter, your emails clearer, or your CV more impactful, then ‘How to write when you’re not a writer’ is the book for you. It covers the four key pillars to levelling up your writing and communication. We sat down with its author, Alia Coster of The Four Pillars, to discuss where the inspiration came from and how it’s changed her and her clients’ habits for the better.

What led to you writing your book?

Over the years, I’ve read plenty of excellent books that have helped me on my journey to becoming a better writer. But at the same time, I noticed a glaring gap in the market: there wasn’t anything to address the fundamental lessons you need before you put pen to paper.

Imagine the number of incredible businesses currently not flourishing. Solutions that could tackle the housing crisis, gender inequality, climate change, or any other social issues we’re falling behind on. People who could change lives, if only they could communicate with greater confidence and authority.

I created this guide to empower people to embrace the writer within and improve their communication skills. And the ultimate goal is to help build a stronger professional sphere and overall society. Think of what those same people could do if they had the tools they needed to unlock a more fulfilling life for themselves. That’s the power of communication, and the key to getting there is simpler than you might think.

Who is this book for?

This book is for anyone who writes in any capacity as part of their profession, but whose job is not a writer. People who know they have the capacity to grow as a writer and communicator, but don’t know where to start.

This might include:

  •       Marketers that manage websites and social media
  •       Salespeople writing proposals and tenders
  •       Customer service teams writing emails
  •       Leaders communicating with their teams
  •       Business owners writing pitch decks and presentations
  •       Job applicants writing CVs

Though it can be a book for anyone who wants to learn the four pillars to take their writing skills from good to great. It isn’t for beginners, nor is it for experts. It’s for anyone who’s on that self-improvement journey.

What are the four pillars that you mention?

This book distils all the teachings and writing experience professionals need into one easy-to-read resource that’s jam-packed with actionable tips and tricks. And it’s based upon the same four-pillared approach I’ve developed over the years as a content writer, business owner, and coach. The one that I teach to my staff and clients.

At its core, it embraces the fact that writing is a skill that you can learn and improve over time. That any of us have the power to excel at written communication.

What people sometimes forget is that writing is a discipline in its own right, yet people beat themselves up and compare their journeys to others. You wouldn’t expect yourself to open a piano and start playing like Mozart, so why are you expecting Stephen King to fall out of your fingertips? While good writing isn’t an overnight success, you don’t need a degree in English to become a more effective writer.

So, what does it take to write?

I believe to communicate effectively you can’t jump straight to the actual writing part.

You need a solid foundation first; a full and thorough awareness of yourself and others. What you stand for, the stories you want to tell, your values and guiding principles, and the needs, desires, and personalities of your audience. 

Then, it’s about translating this into the right format – whether that’s a business proposal, presentation, blog post, or brochure.

All content forms require a different, nuanced approach.

Then, and only then, can you begin writing and, eventually, editing whatever it is you want to say. 

Before we go, what’s your top tip you think people need to know?

Communicating well requires a deep awareness and understanding of who you’re speaking to. Great writing is about the people on the other end, and this is a critical skill that so many professionals can overlook.

If you’re not writing to the unique needs of a specific audience, your content runs the risk of being white noise. People want content that adds tangible value to their lives and shows a deep understanding of their experience. And it’s impossible to do this for multiple people at once.

Instead, hone in on a specific subsection of your audience with each content type. Your audience on Instagram, for example, is going to be vastly different from the one on LinkedIn. Know which personas are on which platform and write to them. You’ll be surprised by the results.

You’ll find a full breakdown of the four pillars, as well as an A-Z guide of all the content types you might encounter in your work, in How to write when you’re not a writer

It’s a resource you can return to again and again throughout your career. A guide to turn to whenever you’re unsure how to get what you want or the best way to approach a conversation or piece of written communication.

If you’d like to pick up your own copy today, you can find it here or head over to Footprint Digital’s Linkedin between 5-9th December 2022 to enter a competition to WIN a copy of Alia’s book, alongside 4 of our other favourite books.