Tips to Improve Your Writing for Better Content Marketing
Forget everything you learned in college. A thesis paper this is not. Throw your rules out the window because Content is King, and digital content has a new set of rules. Content is devoured by the millions of people who run around the internet every day and content marketers and content producers have a unique ability to capture those readers, audiences, and customers. The problem right now tends to be, is any of the content good? Consensus says a vast majority isn’t.
While there is great content out there, often the problem with not-so-good content is that writers and content marketers fail to recognize that content for online use has a different set of quality parameters than print. It is a fairly new field compared to print and content writers must adapt.
Here are some tried and true ways to make your online content better, good, or maybe downright great.
Develop a style guide and stick with it.
Every content creator knows there are a plethora of style guides out there to use as a resource (if you don’t know of any, quit your job right now and go back to school you heretic to the written word). The old faithful’s, APA and CMS, are a good place to start. Digital content’s rise in popularity has even lead to the development of “rules” and style guides specifically for digital content (such as this one).
Having guides like this is a good place to start. But if your company or business is planning on having a good amount of dedicated content, then you need to develop one of your own as well. Include normal style rules, preference based rules, and company-specific issues (such as unique words and branding).
Oh, and please use the Oxford comma. Seriously, just do it.
Adopt the rule: No dead ends.
A piece of content should always have at least 5-10 places a reader can go during or after they are finished devouring said content. Deep links or links to other relevant sites are a must. Links to your products or services can be used as well. Links to related posts is the best tool to put readers in a content tornado. Aside from links, forms to sign up for updates or newsletters, social media profiles, and lead generation tools are also important. Whatever it is you use, make it a habit. On. Every. Page.
Find a good balance between speed and quality.
27 million pieces of content are shared daily on the Internet. Much of it sucks. Some of it is good. Very rarely is any of it fantastic. To stand out in the world of content, you have to be fantastic, or at least have a few gems floating around out there. We get it — the online audience is an impatient flock of instant gratification addicts. They want something and they want it now. So finding a good balance between speedy content (make it at least good) and fantastic content (make it dazzling) is key. Invest in the time and resources to publish fantastic content.
Write for the reader first, search engines second, and then your product.
The sales team may fight it, but the facts show the best way to sell products or services with content marketing, is to not actually sell products or services. Without a reader, your brand will not be discovered and your products will never be seen. Always write to the reader first. Once that is done, optimize your content for SEO. Then, if it is relevant and actually fits in with the content, throw in a product mention or link.
Think foolishly. Write recklessly. Edit prudently.
Foolish Thinking: An article is linear but our thoughts are not. And, if you are like me your thoughts are a chaotic highway of data moving at warp speed in circles, up to the sky, and in rapid spirals (all at the same time). Don’t try to think about what you will write in a linear way. Let your thoughts wander. Let your thoughts get foolish. And it is in the depths of those foolish ideas that, all too often, a golden nugget of an idea is born.
Reckless Writing: When you write your first draft, do so with reckless abandon. Forget about sentence structure. Throw the grammar police out the window. Your first draft will contain your best ideas if there is the shortest road possible between your brain and the keyboard.
Prudent Editing: Now that you have a giant pile of genius level Mensa poo in front of you, edit the crap out of your work. Edit it down. Replace repetitive words. Find the flow. Use active voice. Break up your content to work visually on a digital platform. Have someone else check for grammar and spelling. If done correctly, editing may take the longest but your final result will be magnifique!