Tips to help you produce content
I think the hardest part is getting started. I constantly have ideas for our website’s content but can’t find the time to start. Or at least that’s what I like to tell myself. But most of the times that’s not the case. There is always time, you just have to start. Now.
So let’s stop making excuses and start writing. Here are some tips to help you turn your writing mode on.
Know your audience
Consider your target audience, as well as other potential readers, when writing content. Are they students, potential clients, curious George? Write what you think would be relevant to them. What do they need? What are they searching for? What are their concerns?
Types of articles
The articles you produce need to help your target audience. Perhaps by answering simple questions such as: ‘Why do I need X?’ ‘Where can I fix X?’ or ‘5 tips for ________.’ ‘5 reason you______.’
Be helpful and don’t hold anything back. People can tell when you are genuinely trying to help.
Start with the end in mind
Have goals when creating content. What do you want to achieve from each piece of content you produce? More shares on social media? More comments? Conversions?
The guys at Buffer wrote an article on 7 ways to increase your Facebook engagement. I always have this in mind when I’m creating content for Facebook.
Before you start writing formulate your key points. Address different reasons, benefits, opinions, or concerns in separate paragraphs.
Make it shareable
Make your article shareable. Provide thought provoking information and studies. Consider taking a different perspective to the norm and challenge the status quo. ‘Why is _________ overrated or overhyped?’ Let everyone know that you know what you are talking about and are an authority in your field. Share quotes, ask questions, be involved and write create content YOU would share.
Support your claims
Find other sources that back your claims. Use real life examples. E.g. How Apple’s website made minimalist designs mainstream. Use percentages and numbers where possible. If you know of other articles or studies that touch the same topic you are and/or complement your article. Use them as well.
Don’t be afraid to use links
If you are including links make sure they are valuable. If you think content from different websites might add value to yours, go for it! When possible, link to other relevant articles you have written on your website.
When adding links try to make the anchor text useful. For example instead of writing “you can find them here, here and here…” try instead “…you can find them at Wikipedia, eHow and Yahoo”
Don’t beat around the bush
Writing, especially for the web, should be direct and clear. Keep sentences short; remove content that doesn’t add value. Be concise. Simplify!
Make content easy to scan
Before reading your content, readers are going to scan it. If they don’t recognise any relevant, valuable content they will most likely move on.
Use catchy headers, subheadings, highlighted text, bulleted lists, graphics and more. But be careful! Don’t confuse the reader by overemphasising.
Write memorable headers
Readers count on headers to navigate through content. Choose headers and sub-headers wisely. Use emotive and powerful language in the headline that arouses curiosity and makes the reader pay attention.
Have small paragraphs
Try to keep paragraphs small. There is no perfect word count, but try to keep them below 80 words.
Use bulleted lists
If you can use them, go for it! Your readers will be able to scan the content more easily. If you are listing lots of items consider a bulleted list or bulleted number lists. If you know how to make a graph or chart to illustrate your point go for it! It adds credibility.
Use active voice
Writing in the active voice is clearer, engaging and conversational. E.g . ‘our neighbours invited us to their party’ is clearer and more direct than ‘we were invited by our neighbours to their party’
Use common language
Don’t pretend to be an erudite and confuse your potential customers and readers by using big, confusing words.
Use keywords wisely, don’t overuse them.
Don’t be a robot, be human!
How would you talk with someone standing in front of you? Write the same way! Be approachable, be personal.
Don’t swipe content from other websites. Be creative! Research and write your own content, make it yours.
Use images to break the article. Too much copy can make readers lose attention and get bored quickly.