Inspire your “a-ha” moment with this cauldron of content secrets. A veritable witches brew of handy, dandy tips and tricks.
This second installment of “Revealed – Secrets of Top Content Writers” will focus on the creative side of the process. This is about putting pen to paper and actually cranking out interesting and engaging content. Nothing helps to build a base of loyal readers more than a good story relating to their kingdom. Don’tcha just love to see the monsters that frustrate you so, get slayed on the battlefield by a knight very much like yourself?
- Be Yourself – Who Else Can You Be?
A big part of the game is just tapping into your everyday personality. You are good at it and it comes naturally. Why waste time and effort trying to reinvent yourself with a new writing persona and maintaining it over time. Eventually, you will fall into a comfort zone that will become your default voice.
- Boring = X
Relax, this isn’t a complicated math formula. That small “X” in the upper righthand corner of your page is the place that boring, dull and unimaginative writing goes to die! You have one chance to flutter your pretty feathers and dance the mating dance to allure the reader. Strong, creative, humorous titles are what first gets their attention causing them to click to read more.
Once your piece is in front of them – This is when you must grab them tightly and pull them into your vortex of influence. Warning – Failing with your title, or your opening two paragraphs, may cause their “scanning mode” sensors to activate. Once this happens, the reader samples various segments of the work in front of them to decide upon continuing to read or bolting to the X and moving on with their day. Some readers enter the piece already in scanning mode, so it is important to bring you’re “A” game right from the very beginning.
If they are still on the same page with you at the end of the read, then you just may find that their hearts and minds will follow you. This should be your inevitable goal for each and every piece you create. Do it well enough and long enough and you may find yourself with a collective of marketing disciples – ala Neil Patel.
- Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail
One piece of advice that was ingrained into my very being, by a writing teacher long ago, was the old adage – “Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail.” I can’t tell you how many writers just sit down and crank it out off of the top of their head.
Most of us just aren’t organized enough mentally to have it all laid out in our brains. There are those inevitable revisions, copying and pasting segments so that they follow what should be a natural flow and order of the piece. It takes less time and effort to do it the right way the first time. Flying by the seat of your pants may be fun, but it wastes time and energy in the long run.
It takes me about twenty minutes to finish developing the idea I just extracted from my handy dandy notebook (discussed in Part One). I also review any reference material that I plan to use. It is also important to look at what else is out there on the topic. If I don’t know what else is how there, then how can I differentiate my story. The outline plan follows a natural order, such as:
- Title – Something that will reach out and grab them.
- Subtitles can amplify what a somewhat vague title is referring to.
- Opening summary – a description of what’s to follow.
- The three parts of the story. (See #5)
- Detail the various topics that will be segmented separately.
- Organize these topics in sequence they should be read in.
- Sign off – Remember always leave them wanting more!
- Reference other similar voices on the topic.
- It’s a Dog Eat Dog World in the Content Kingdom
Never forget that content is a highly competitive market where every marketer and her brother are writing about the same thing. Typically, most writers have more work than they can handle, and are just scratching off their “to do” check list. Many just want to finish and publish. When you are buried in assignments, sometimes important details of the story get lost.
However, another true and useful adage is “The devil is in the details.” It is imperative that your content has a differentiation factor. To create differentiation and/or a competitive edge, you need to add some hard facts like statistics or other information missed by other content writers. These added details will ensure that your content is more authentic and attracts greater attention. When you use these statistics or quotes, be sure to hyperlink the source of the information. Give credit where credit is due. I always like to see hyperlinks because otherwise I am going to wonder if that statistic was made up off the top of the writer’s head.
- Storytelling 101
Every story has three parts – a beginning, a middle, and an end. We will look at each individually:
The Beginning – You come equipped for Act One, armed with the “5 W’s of newspaper reporting”….who, what, when, where and why. Who is the client? What was their problem? When did this occur? (The more recent the more relevant.) Where did this take place? Why was this so important?
The Middle – Act Two is where all of the action happens. This is your “conflict zone”. This is where you lead your reader on a merry chase across a battlefield that they have been staring down, all the way to the joy and rewards of resolution. This is your opportunity to create tension, do battle with the enemy (or problem), and restore peace and all that is right to the land.
The End – After your brilliant accounting of conflict resolution and good vanquishing evil, you should have your audience right where you want them. Act Three is where you tie it all together, recapping what the effects from struggle and celebrating the effects the victory had on the customer.
In the end, your storytelling is only going to be as good as your ability to creatively describe a simple story about success. Make your readers feel the pain points. Build suspense and drama. Give them good cause to feel good and celebrate at the end of the story. If this happens, you will have done your job as a storyteller.
- He Who Lives By the Sword….
Humor is a double-edged sword. Sure, we we all like humor. It lightens up our day and our moods. Warning – Some content writers are blessed with humor coming to them naturally, while some of us just may not be that funny. Use of humor definitely can be a big help in increasing your followers. Make sure you know the type of humor you are using. Dark humor and crossing the line of decency can and will lose you subscribers and their word of mouth advocacy. Using humor is a difficult call as it could be offensive to any particular segment of your readers. Tread the waters gently here.
- Standing Out in the Crowd – Differentiate Your Take
In looking for ways to differentiate my story, I like to know what else is on the web on my topic. Scanning the other content allows me to offer a new perspective on the topic No one wants to read the same old, same old. How can you make it more interesting and/or enjoyable for the reader? What elements can be modified or expressed differently to make sure that the story stands out? The goal here is to add a new perspective or different dimension to your writing. I am always searching for a new take on things. I am tired of reading the same old bandwagon of ideas that everyone else has already written. It is vital to always employ creativity and innovation to give your content a unique and readable texture.
- Lived Happily Ever After
Readers like to put themselves into the role of the main character. Readers enjoy seeing the hero do battle with similar problems they face in their own lives. They like to see the hero be victorious and live happily ever after. However, not every topic needs a conclusion. My take on this is to sum up everything at the end, helping the reader to make sense of everything they have just read. I recommend writing a concise, to the point summary to end the piece.
- The Proof is In the Pudding!
Proofreading is a essential. You cannot just publish content that hasn’t been properly proofread. You need to recognize the fact that readers want perfectly written content. Warning – Read it carefully at least twice to make sure that you have not made any spelling, grammar or contextual mistakes. Don’t be a slacker, trusting your fate and the opinion of the content consuming audience to Spell Check is fool hardy. Word processing software has limited abilities. You need to go through the content yourself before submitting it to be published. Tip – After hours of working on your piece, you are probably running out of gas. I usually recharge my batteries and focus by taking a break before beginning the proofreading. I return rested with fresh eyes and renewed observation skills. Wanting it to be over is just not a good reason for skipping a thorough proofing.
Wrapping It Up…..
Writing content is not an easy task. Your story is adrift on a rolling sea of other writer’s takes on the subject matter and you must rely upon your own wits to stand out. To achieve this you must be creative and interesting enough to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Hopefully, this paper will give you a roadmap of how to elevate your skills and help to make it so.
To hear the rantings of other voices on the same topic, try these two out:
The Secrets of Compelling Content Writing in Five Easy Steps
11 Content Writing Secrets of the Pros