Before I even start, I must admit that I’ve always been a bit odd… For example, when I was really young, (maybe 7 or 8?) I remember writing lots of poetry and even enjoying writing entire poetry books. Later on I moved into writing action adventure books, which I would then proudly present to my parents. I don’t know what I expected; the theme of my books was almost always the same. Action hero loses girl, effortlessly dispatches bad guys responsible and then rides off into the sunset at the end of it all, completely unscathed of course. Despite our hero having been in the middle of nothing but fire fights and explosions throughout the entire book…
I really don’t know if writing in this slightly weird and obsessive way as a child has had an influence on the way I am now? But let’s be honest it seems probable. So what I’m saying is that I can’t claim that these tips will help everyone, but these have really helped me with my writing and I hope that they help you too.
Make it Conversational
When I write I like to think I’m sat opposite somebody having a conversation. Not in a weird ‘I’m asking questions to empty space’ way, I just think it and then I write it. There’s always time to reread what I’ve written, so I aim to get the first draft out and make all of my key points as objective one. With me this will usually go one of two ways…
1: I end up with a 1800 word diatribe on whatever I’m writing about
2: I end up with lots of paragraphs scattered all over the page and they usually have no real flow or structure at all.
But either way I have gotten something down and it’s taken less time than if I were to have sat there pining over every single comma and grammar correction as I went along. By letting it ‘roll off the tongue’ at least I have a first draft and now I can move on to building the content around this sort of text skeleton!
There’s no shame in enlisting the help of others
You need to build a small network of people around you that can read and write proficiently. Having people around that you know you can call upon throughout any of your content marketing campaigns. It’s important to remember though that the key here is still efficiency, so if it takes someone 2 days to come back with their edits / recommendations, then you are already going to come in massively overdue.
Ask around the office and at home, you’d be amazed how many people are actually adept at this. The more involved people you have around you, the faster you can get your content produced and the more efficient you will be.
When I have completed a draft, I usually ask my boss to take a look at it there and then (The Mrs – English Degree). But I also email it to half a dozen people that I know are great eyes on content. Chances are a couple will get the chance to skim over it within the hour and that’s all I really need at this point. The kinds of things you need to know are ‘Do you get the general gist of the article’, ‘Is there any repetition?’ and ‘Please include any grammar or punctuation changes’, I’m always amazed at what I miss.
Most important of all you need to pick people that you know have the ability to suggest the proper edits and whom you can trust to be completely honest with you. It’s no use being told something is great if it isn’t, because if it sucks, then you need to know sooner rather than later.
If you shoot straight with your writing, you will engage the reader and this is important because this conversation could be the trigger for a relationship. At the end of the day our web content is here to serve a purpose and that purpose is almost always a conversion – whatever the conversion may be. So writing it in a way that doesn’t come across too ‘salesy’, is very important.
- No Self Promotion
- No internal linking ‘Try our mortgage calculator’
- No sales calls to action
Take this article you are reading now as an example. I haven’t tried to sell to you during this conversation, I’m presenting information that I feel might be useful to you if you are stumped on how to get started writing something!
When you next sit down and draw up your potential content topics, really push the boat out and try to think of your whole sales process from the user perspective. Think about yourself when you are making a buying decision, or perhaps even just researching something. You Google direct questions and the search engine returns (usually and certainly more often than not nowadays!) a direct answer to that question.
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You need to start thinking about typical questions that could be asked in relation to your business, its products and its services, then prepare conversational content that answers these questions both comprehensively and honestly. This means you can think more openly about your content and you should find it far easier to come up with new ideas.
These are just a few things that have helped me and I hope that they help you even if only in a small way. Remember that you are trying to engage someone, so be conversational with your writing and focus on maintaining a flow and direction. Enlist the help of others to ensure you get the most from your finished articles and always offer honest, impartial advice in your writing.
Better content means higher visibility and increased levels of social sharing. Reach is everything nowadays, so only the highest quality and most original articles will really make an impact. Be bold, but cover all the bases and see the process through from publication of your content, through promotion and then finally analysis.