Creating checklists may seem like a daunting task to some, but in the world of content creation, it can be one of the best tools to focus the intent and execution of stellar writing. Inaccurate or “bad” writing can be avoided by eliminating a handful of common mistakes – once you know what they are. This may be a time-consuming process at first, but once you command these “one-and-done” items, you’ll have all the necessary checkmarks to go from draft to publish more easily than ever.
Have a Clear Focus – Do you have a clear objective for the piece you are penning? Once you are clear on the intent or objective, you can create a brief outline of key points you want to make. This helps to keep the flow of your writing smooth and helps to avoid rambling or inadvertently veering in an unproductive direction.
Great Expectations – Nothing entices a reader like a compelling and intriguing headline or title. Think creatively about what grabs your attention when surfing the web, watching television or listening to your favorite radio station. And don’t be afraid to interject a little humor or allow it to be slightly politically jarring. Keep it clean but not boring!
Consistency is Key – Erratic writing makes for limited reading. Nothing frustrates readers more than schizophrenic writing, positioning and tone. So make sure you are consistent in these areas.
Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder – Imagery is what most people will hone in on once they read the title. Therefore supporting imagery is very important and please make sure it is indeed supportive of the written content that surrounds it. Remember- in this busy, digital age, most people don’t fully read-they skim. So give them something eye-catching to capture and keep their attention as long as possible.
2 Sets of Eyes Are Better Than One – When writing content, it’s easy to make obvious spelling, grammar and formatting mistakes. So don’t be afraid to let someone else take a gander at your masterpiece before publishing. Additionally, its helpful to get a reader’s perspective before exposing it to the masses. This is critical when publishing blogs or on a business website since once it’s on the web, it’s there forever.
The Wrap Up – There are a ton of other content creators out there clamoring for reader’s attention. Therefore, quality content is a must if you want to stand out from the crowd, have your craft respected and captivate your audience. By following even a few of the tips listed above, doubtlessly your content will improve. Don’t forget – writing good content is an art and being an artist takes practice.
What are your tried & true content creation writing tips?
A writer’s style is what sets one’s writing apart, is unique and intriguing. Such style is the way writing is dressed up (or down) to fit the specific context, purpose and target audience. Word choice, sentence fluency, and the writer’s voice — all contribute to one’s style of writing. How a writer chooses words and structures sentences to achieve a certain effect is also a facet of the own writers style and flare for words. I lean more towards funny, edgy and witty humor writing which is often noted and enjoyed by my readership.
Do you know what your writing style is? Here’s a short-list of the most commonly used writing styles in media and on the web.
Style #1 – Persuasive Writing is a critical skill for marketing that can be a slightly intimidating to a novice. Looking at a service or product, it is imperative to convince your audience that they want it and need it. This is where the “why” of the 5 W’s come into play. A great starting point is to jot down the main points of what would be a verbal persuasive argument. From establishing your oral argument, you can translate that into persuasive writing to craft an effective, persuasive marketing pieces. Check out 9 Simple Tips for Writing Persuasive Web Content.
Style #2 – Informative Writing does exactly what is says-it informs your audience beyond their current knowledge base. In other words, a fact-based writing style. Here is not the place for overly embellished sentences but moreover researched facts & true precedents. This writing style is most frequently used in news reporting, medical media and outlets that use less “fluffy words” and more punch line information. you need to follow some simple guidelines that will ensure that your words are memorable, informative, and concise So remember Top 5 Informative Writing Tips for Bloggers
Style #3 -Anecdotal Writing is most often found in the blogging forum where anecdotal free form writing is not only common, but very much welcomed. “People love stories—tales about real people doing real things. We can’t resist them”, PR Daily. People love great lead-ins with a short story that ties directly into the main point of the article. It is often witty, even playful and is the antithesis of informative writing. For several great tips on writing anecdotal leads, see this excellent article from PR Daily.E
Great Articles & Infographics on Writing Styles
3 Style and the Stylebook
10 Elements of Writing Style Infographic
Hot & Cold Writing Styles In Advertising
Using the Inverted Pyramid Style of Writing for Ad Agency New Business
Bright Lights Big City…NYC – it beckons hope, energy and creativity. I remember arriving for my first big job at NASDAQ -I felt like I could do any & everything with hard work, tenacity and a great resume. Some years later I started a small home-based business which grew considerably in the first 6 months and I was pleased with its progress. But then after the first full year, it just…leveled off. Not down, not up – just…STAGNANT. Leveraging those experiences, I now assist new & ever-growing companies with their content strategies as well as those stuck in their own quagmire of stagnant content on their website and branding materials. As a result, the lessons I learned about the success & initially unnoticed failures have helped me help others avoid the quicksand.
We all start out the gate at top speed – shooting on all 4 cannons with creativity, hutzpah and the excitement that surges like the jumbotron in Times Square. But knowing that as any business grows, you need to keep focused on consistent evolution in both your business model and the content on your website & marketing materials. In the Reinvent Your Content series, I will highlight some of the key elements worthy of consideration, to move your content (and business) forward on a consistent basis so that as time, Social Media and technology evolves, you will be on board with progressive motion.
Realize Stagnation When You See It~ Pond Scum…Ouch! Now I would never refer to the content on anyone’s website or marketing materials in such a tasteless manner. However, a business website can’t just put some stellar content on there and think thats it! I’m all set – ready to grow like eBay’s IPO. Even if you have William Faulkner-like skills when it comes to writing (or employing someone who does), one go around the bend will not be enough to reflect a business/company that is evolving with the times & technology. Fresh content on a regular basis is an ABSOLUTE MUST and that’s not always easy to get across to clients who are happy with the work you’ve done the first time around. When we think about the success of let’s say Apple (dare we?),we all acknowledge that Steve Jobs was nothing short of sheer genius-bubbling with overflowing creativity & endless ideas. But it was his appetite for constant evolution and challenging his whole company to make Apple products better, faster with seemingly limitless capabilities. It is this tenacity that consistently kept (and continues to keep) the company wow’ing the consumer while driving sales to unprecedented heights. So the moral here is to know that your content MUST GROW, EVOLVE & MORPH to keep the attention and business of your consumers.
Trial, Error & Rebuilding~ Most people are familiar with the word “troubleshooting” and many understand it in the context of problem recognition & solution. The same approach should be taken when looking at your business, it’s success or lack thereof. If your client base is not growing (or your profit margin), if client retention is an issue, or if sales are stationary, these are all red flags that require some assessment, realigning your goals and then plan implementation to chart your business boat in a new direction. A quote from my own business & life philosophy = There’s no shame in failing – the shame is when you recognize it but don’t react to it. And remember, data never lies. Want to know if your content strategies are working? Just look at your analytics, ROI and how many new customers you’ve gained in the last 6 months. There’s nothing wrong with scrapping the old, trying the new and testing the waters accordingly. Not every piece or facet of content works all the time. Be willing to find out if its working or not, go back to the drawing board to figure out why and jump in the think tank to come up with creative ways to solve the issues. This is where your pull from your team resources, be willing to hear multiple ideas and put the best ones into play.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Join me in the discussion by commenting on this blog and letting me know how you reinvent your content or would like to.
You want me to do what? Something else besides read your blog or watch your commercial? Call right now? Give you the name of my friends & their email addresses? As if businesses don’t already require so much from the average consumer already, right! In the grocery stores, they want you to scan your own items & bag your own food. Don’t bother going into the bank when you can just do that account transfer yourself at home.
If you let businesses tell it, it’s really for your benefit you see…all in the name of quicker & saving you $. So when it comes to reading articles online, watching TV or surfing the web, Calls To Action (CTA’s) are peppered throughout just about every source of media to go beyond the current action of the user. For those unfamiliar with the term, a CTA is a statement imbedded in the content of the media source that summons the consumer to act. The goal is to implore the consumer to act upon information for the purpose of obtaining something from the consumer and most often, for making a sale. CTA’s often require an immediate response such as “call now, while supplies last,” write a Congressman to stop some agenda, or as simple as utilizing a coupon before a deadline.
So why are CTA’s so important in the first place and why are they a taking a leading role of so much media content? Here’s why: I have seen & heard of various marketing campaigns falling flat on their faces by failing to compel reaction from its audience. Although entertaining, a witty commercial can totally fail to sell the volume of product stocked in a warehouse because they lacked a clear call to action.
Terminology – Create, View, Buy Now, Subscribe…all are examples of businesses telling users/consumers what they want them to do. The words are usually short & concise because too many options & too many “too good to be true” statements turn users off. Word choice and terminology should always be relevant to the industry of the business. But in order for a business to see any ROI based on these efforts, they have to create a sense of urgency and/or create a limitation that once again, compels the reader or viewer to do something that is advantageous to the business.
Incentives & other “Bene’s” – Creative use of expiration dates and gifting incentives are very important in the world of CTA’s. In most cases, there has to be some type of incentive for the reader/user/consumer to go beyond what they are already doing. Such incentives may include a small token of appreciation such as a gift or discount that is relevant to they company or promotion of another business.
Make it Standout! I just love to see the little blue & white Cox Cable Digeez’ spin & flip around solving my internet & high-speed cable dilemma. http://bit.ly/CoxEspn3 Use of BOLD text, flash media and the like, as well as hyperlinks in web content are all tricks of the trade to peek the curiosity of the user to move them along the conveyor of consume & purchase world. So the main goal of both advertising agencies and media companies is to know how to stand out, get your attention and how to hold it long enough to profit them.
Use natural sounding phrases that are friendly yet enticing
Use testimonials to encourage participation
Use words that accurately describe the result of your interaction
Don’t be overly verbose-create simple & strong CTA’s
The bigger and more pronounced your call to action, the more chance it will be noticed and acted upon.
Focus on Client Needs – The whole point of writing content for your clients is to provide value whether on their website, via their print marketing materials or on a billboard.
#1. Know their needs – spend time with your client obtaining relevant industry information, current marketing materials and noting their business insight into the industry (if it’s unfamiliar) and lastly, their company’s goals & desires.
#2. Know & Convey How Your Services Can Make Their Company Better – Be clear yourself and then convey to the client the benefits your services can provide them. Most importantly here is to establish a trustworthy relationship with them by making sure they know that:
- they have a professional who has the talent and experience to fulfill their needs. Provide references and previous examples of your work if needed. AND
- by connecting that experience & expertise to their content needs and how you can improve their professional credibility and financial line.
Stay Focused! – We may have our own ideas about a particular industry, political topic or the like, but you are being hired to do the job THEY want you to do. You have been hired to write about this client’s business, needs, ideas and standpoints-not your own. No matter how well you may write, you need to keep your writing focused on their area of expertise, products and/or services.
The Key to Keywords
#1. Remember to talk & write in the same industry language of your customers. A good tactic to employ here is to do some keyword research.
#2. Figure out how your customers (and their competition) think and how to write from that same level of expertise. See more from one of my previous articles http://bit.ly/Nsuub4 .
#3. Use a business based thesaurus. Here you will find other related words for a particular term that will showcase your assumed business prowess as well as increasing your clients SEO success.
I hope these few tidbits have been helpful. I’d love to hear what’s in your content writing toolbox and what tools you employ that I can add to sharpen my own content writing skills.