Writing like a pro for content marketing gets easier with time and practice. Most content-marketing solopreneurs struggle initially, but become adept soon enough. There was a time, a few years ago, when the raging debate was whether we should write for the search engines (and stuff keywords into our articles) or whether we should write for people and sound natural and not made-for-Google. Fortunately, Google became more intelligent like a human, and so we can now write articles for our content marketing aimed at people – and Google, in fact, values that!
When writing like a polished pro, it’s not so much about grammar, headlines, being a good copywriter or having a journalistic background. Content writing expertise is a bit different. All good writing qualities are important, but most important of all is to know your audience very well and to write what they want to hear. And added to that,you have to find the fun in writing, and to find your “mojo. When you have to write a lot, day after day, writing elegantly had better become one of your joys. It’s not a science, it’s an art. Be true to yourself, be empathetic with your audiences, and go have fun. That’s the small secret to big writing!
4 ideas that can boost the creative quality of content you produce!
Although there are many articles that describe where you should look for great new ideas to improve the quality of your content, I have seen very few that deal with the attitudinal changes in yourself that can make a big change to the content you put out. You have to cultivate some traits in yourself that are conducive to getting big ideas …
Challenge the status quo and don’t be afraid to get controversial. If you’d like to write in a way that’s different and memorable, you have to first ask yourself if you merely want people to read your content – or if you want people to read your piece and then get provoked to apply their own minds to the question. Then look around to see if you can have some fun playing the “devil’s advocate” and questioning all that you read or see around you with a cynical or even skeptical eye. Who knows, you may find a point of view on a much-bandied about topic! Experiment!
Get in the habit of trying to see patterns of thought that others don’t see. If you look around you, you will notice many people who are able to see patterns of thoughts in ways very different from most others. We often term such people as “creative”, as if creativity was a rare gift from birth. We don’t realize that creativity can be learnt and it’s nothing but a different kind of thinking ability. The more you use those unused mental muscles, the more creative you will become. To begin getting creative you have to learn to juxtapose unrelated things together to see if you can see some way they can fit together. Kids do it all the time. Try it! It always works!
Look at subjects through many different emotional angles. Here’s something very interesting you can do if you want to find refreshing new ideas on topics that have gone stale from tons of other people writing the same things about it. You just have to imagine the same topic through the eyes of eight people having eight different emotions as they read it. It’s all in the emotionality. All experience is emotional. Different emotions beget different ideas. When you want a new look at an old problem, try wearing a different emotion for a moment and the whole topic will change to show up aspects you never saw before!
Break things and ideas apart mentally and put them back again differently. Most adults forget the joys of taking apart thoughts and re-assembling them differently. I once read an article on how people hate to see a list that says “Here are the main points in no particular order”. So one of the easiest ways to take someone else’s ideas and make something original out of it is to take it all apart, break the sequence, turn it all upside down, put it all in some other order and see what you get. You’ll surprise yourself, I’ll guarantee!
3 ways to write content that makes readers sigh with satisfaction!
Writing content is not just about purveying valuable information or even interesting information. There is a type of content that subliminally annoys people, and a kind of content that feels satisfying to read. Satisfaction is a whole different emotion than curiosity or even need fulfilment.
Satisfaction, especially in the sense that makes meaning to readers of content, lies in the small things. The eye feels glad to be on the page, the mind finds assimilation easy, and the whole piece flows like casual conversation. The reader doesn’t have to backtrack to catch what was said, or get “interrupted” by a choppy layout, or have to hurdle mentally over passages that suddenly get pedantic.
Can you write content for “reader satisfaction”? Sure you can … there are at least 3 ways to create reader satisfaction with the very first read of your content!
Keep the language very natural! Natural language is key to a satisfying read for the reader of content. Imagine the nightmares we would all have with this kind of information overload we’re swimming in, if all of this content was written in the style of a heavy textbook on Mechanical Engineering! Write as you speak, let the tone be informal even if the points are heavy, and don’t throw it all out in huge chunks. Let the reader breathe every now and again, and stop to ponder a bit. Give satisfying pauses.
Let the headline evoke some emotion! A lot of content is for business growth, and so marketers may see it as a form of “logic to sell”. But nothing sells logic like emotion. So make sure the headline of the article roundly and soundly emphasizes a deeply felt emotion. If you want to write about a tool that your company has created that can help small businesses, you don’t talk of the merits of the tool, you talk of the change it can make to the business owner’s life. In a survey I read about recently, people were exposed to headlines of content like “Get 500,000 people to visit your site in just one and a half days!”. Did they get awed by the number 500,000? No they got all fired up by the “ease of life” that was hinted at in the “one and a half days”.
Don’t sound like a tabloid – or a PhD thesis! A final point about content that is satisfying to the reader … neither style at the extremes of the continuum is comfortable to a reader. The frippery tabloid style of writing is as hard on the reader as the ponderous thesis style of writing. Tabloid writers often feel compelled to “make a piece juicy” and the lumbering effort behind the seeming frivolousness shows itself up to the reader. Similarly, writing too much detail like in a dissertation is very hard on target audiences, who (as we have heard), simply can’t cope with too much sideways travel along a topic.
3 ways to write content that looks and feels very polished!
Give the who, what, when, where, why and how! No piece of content is truly perfect without the five “Ws” and one “H” type of information. Human thirst needs to be given the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How, whatever else is given. So like all good journalists do, start your piece with these six mandatories sequenced in. Journalists also believe that if this order of information is maintained (i.e. if the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How are ideally be presented in that same order), readers find it even more satisfying, perhaps because they have a need for the Who before the Why, and the What before the Where.
Watch the article’s structure! You can bet that very few writers worry about an article’s structure. Most professional articles, from great writers, have some structure that speaks of thinking clarity. There is some method to the layout and logical stream, and a question the article provokes you to begin thinking about also gets answered in a well-rounded way by the time you’ve finished the article. You feel like you’ve done a circle instead of being led up a path with no beginning and no end and you’re all lost in the woods.
Garnish with some influencer validations! It always adds authority to know that other people – especially important other people – validate the arguments in the article. So seeing quotations of influencer names that matter, matters more than the quotation itself! It’s not exactly what is said by the biggies that makes you feel good to read about it, it’s the person who said that who makes you feel good to be in that company!
3 ways to differentiate your writing for customers versus writing for influencers!
Experts advocate having two clear sets of informational content created separately: one set is clearly “written up” and aimed at peers and other bloggers and influencers in lingo that satisfies their credentials and expectations of value; while the other set of content is “written down” to target audiences, who may need less theory and more commonsensical, do-able lists of actions.
There are three points to keep in mind when executing your content separately for both groups:
The “content” part of the content has to be different. For influencers, include a lot of expert quotes, facts, statistics, debates, trends, research findings, cutting edge predictions etc. They need something in your piece that surprises them because all of them may have done intensive reading themselves. For customers, include lots of bulleted lists, names and details of tools, process details, cheat sheet style delivery, links to other sources of explanation …
The “language and vocabulary” of the content has to be different. For influencers, you need to “up your style”. You need to sound like “one of them” rather than like a Domain Authority 20 site writing to a Domain Authority 78 site! For customer-content, the process is in the reverse. Write down to the lowest denominator of audience, so that the language and vocabulary is not daunting, the reading is easy, the instructions are clear and crisp, and there’s a lot of “hand-holding”.
The “tone-of-voice” of the brand content has to be nuanced. This is a bit of a tough one to master. If you are a solopreneur, you need to wear two hats and wear the boss’s tone-and-style versus the informal tone-and-style in tandem. If you practice at it a lot, and do an equal number of pieces for both audiences, you will get into a tone-and-style eventually that can shift up and down a continuum.
So what are your thoughts on this topic? Do share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of content-marketer solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
Other articles in our series “Content Writing Expertise”:
- How To Create Truly Original Content – And Not Be A Copycat!
- Writing content for customers versus writing for influencer outreach!