If you're a blogger, video marketer, internet marketer, or an information product creator you've no doubt struggled with the question of content. You can have the best ideas, but if you don't know how to use that idea to build quality content for a website, it probably won't be successful. When it comes to your website, every part is important. Sure you want the right font, color, design, etc. The most important part of your website, however, is your content. Without quality content, your website cannot survive. It is important to remember-Content is everything! When you first start your site, you give a great deal of time to picking out the perfect domain name. There's a reason you select a good domain name. It's where your site lives. If your website is your domain, then think of content as the king of that domain. In other words…content rules!
Many start-up businesses, and even established business owners who've decided it's time their business had a professional web presence, don't know where to start when it comes to planning their website. There are so many things to consider, and so many choices. Just getting the design and layout of the website can be intimidating. Then you have to determine what will be on the site. It can be mind-boggling.
Sometimes, by the time you get to the content portion of the site, your brain is fried from trying to make the other decisions. When you begin to think about the content, you're probably asking yourself, "What do I write about" or "Where do I start?" If so, you've come to the right place. You only have one chance to make that first impression. If you take your content seriously then your audience will too. You want your audience to visit your site over and over again. If you provide quality content for them time and time again, they will keep returning to your site.
Getting started is the most important step. If you know how to write, you are already 95% of the way there. You don't need to be an English major to understand any of the tips in this book either. It is written in plain English that everyone can understand.
Writing for the internet requires different skills to those covered in most school writing lessons. If you've never been much of a writer, starting writing as an adult may seem difficult. The upside of that is that as an adult you have more experience, skills, and knowledge that you can share with your readers. This knowledge, skills and experience can be valuable to you and to others. Writing an article, series of articles, or blog posts can be an excellent way to share what you know and what you've experienced with your audience.
While the writing you need for your site can be outsourced to professionals, it is very possible, and definitely more personal, for you to do it yourself. That's what the tips in this book can help you do. Professional content writers are exactly that, professional. They take their jobs seriously. When a professional writer has been provided with instructions from a client, they read them carefully to get an understanding of what is required. The problem with outsourcing to a professional is they don't know what you know or haven't experienced the things that you have. They don't know how you feel. In other words, they don't have your heart. They can write in the way you instruct them, but they can't write with your heart. They can give information, but they can't give a reader a sense of who you are. They can't share your personal experiences with the same passion you feel.
Writing your own content can also be a very rewarding experience. It can help you make a personal connection with your readers. It gives them a sense of who you are, because you will be sharing your knowledge, thoughts, and feelings in everything you write. Writing content that connects to your readers is what you want to do.
If you've never written anything for a website before, don't worry. You're not alone. That's why you're reading this book. The information here will help you create that quality content. For your convenience, the book is sectioned into the four main content areas: articles, blog posts, ebooks, and videos. Together, there are 70 great tips to give your website the "WOW" factor.
STEP IN WRITING PROCESS
Before you begin writing anything, it is important to understand the writing process. Writing is more than just putting words on paper. It takes thought and planning to produce quality content, and having quality content is more than important…it's imperative! Never has the phrase, "Anything worth doing is worth doing right," more important than when preparing content for your site.
When you prepare to write an article, series of articles, blog posts, or even a script for a video for your site, ask yourself what you are going to write about and in what way are you going to talk about the topic. Think about the final use of the article and tailor the article to suit its purpose. Think about it: is it promotion, informative article with an action involved from the reader, or is it purely for education purposes. There are many different ways to write and many approaches you can take. Look at all the ways you can approach the article, and select the best approach for your purpose.
After you know your topic, brainstorm for ideas. This is simply writing down ideas and thoughts about the subject. Jot down all of the ideas you can come up. They might seem silly at the time, but write them anyway. Jot down everything you can think of. You may find it helpful to keep some means of writing ideas with you at all times. It can be a note pad and pen, or an electronic device. Whichever it is, you'll be able to write down the ideas as they come to you. You don't have to use them all. You can decide that later. Just get your creative juices flowing and come up with anything relative to your topic.
Think about who your audience will be. If you think about movies, they're rated for a reason. People don't begin a movie for a "G" rated audience in an "R" rated format. Having an understanding of your audience will allow you to set a suitable tone and create content the audience finds value in. Will your readers be adult, children, or teenagers? Will they be male or female? Will they be educated or perhaps high school dropouts? Will there be a particular ethnic group more likely to read than others? All these things are important when you decide what you want to write and how you will go about writing it. You want to write to the audience in a way they can relate to what you've written and understand it.
Research the topic you want to write about in detail to provide information that is not common knowledge. You may know a lot about the topic, in fact, it's better to have a good knowledge of what you're writing about, because you'll find it easier to write. There are, however, many resources you can use to find relevant content about a subject that you might not know about. You may find information about a topic you know well that you didn't know. You may want to pull information from several different sources for one article. Just remember, when using these resources, it is important to rewrite the information in your own way. Do not copy information from other sites or you'll be guilty of copyright infringement.
You should prepare an outline of your article, blog post, or ebook. Preparing an outline will help you to prepare quality content for your website. It keeps you focused and on track. You know that your content helps the websites web marketing, web ranking and content marketing efforts. The outline will help you create a logical order and flow to what you write, and improve your chances of higher web rankings.
Once the outline is complete, you're ready to begin writing. Follow the outline, and use the information you know or the information gathered from researching other resources to fill in the blanks. If you remember the "fill in the blank" tests from school, you'll know that this is an important part of the writing process. If you don't put the right words in the right blanks, you fail the test. If you don't fill in the blank in the right way, your writing will fail. People will click on your site, begin reading, see it isn't quality content, and then click off. You've probably done that yourself many times. The internet makes it so easy it has become automatic to some people. Click on-read junk-click off. It's as simple as that. Filling in the blanks properly, however, will cause people to click on to your site repeatedly.
There are three major portions to any written material: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. You should always start with a good introduction. Then you prepare the body, which is the meat of the material. Last, but certainly not least, is the conclusion. In the introduction you should tell the audience what you are going to tell them and what they can expect to learn. The body of the article will include the details about the topic and mention different points that will connect to the reader. These details should give the reader what you told them they were going to get. The conclusion is where you summarize and state any conclusions that the reader should have come to once they've read your material. The conclusion is the last impression you will make on the readers, so you always want to go out in style. Let them leave feeling taking the time to read your material has been worth their while.
Write your first draft without being over-critical. In your first draft, you're basically getting all your information down on paper in a fairly logical format. Then, you go back and revise the draft in a more critical manner. It often helps to read the article aloud. As you do, make mental notes to fully pronounce every word. This will help you find grammar errors and inconstancy in the article. It will also help you keep a good, steady flow to your writing that isn't confusing. If you stumble over the words when you read it, so will your reader. Once you've completed reading the material and any errors have been corrected, you'll probably repeat the process again and again until the article is satisfactory to you. You may discover you need to:
Rearrange paragraph to make it flow better
Reword awkward sentences
Remove extra words, repetitive sentences, or even whole paragraphs
You need to realize that no one is perfect. Learning to write articles, blogs, or ebooks takes time, creativity, patience, and practice. You may feel you have something great and find out it wasn't so good after all. Don't be discouraged if you have to change your draft several times before you get it right. Just remember, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again." Once you have that article, blog, ebook, or video that you feel is "just right," it will be worth it. Not only will you feel great about yourself, you'll have quality content that is fit to reign. You'll be surprised. Once you have been through the process of writing your rough draft and editing the drafts a few times, you'll get used to all of these things. It will become automatic, unconscious competence writing and you'll wonder why you ever thought it would be so difficult to start with.
If you follow the all of the above steps, before you know it you will be able to be a competent writer. Being a competent writer is the first step to creating that dynamic content you need for your website.
Now, you know the writing process. It's time to take the information you know, follow the process, and begin creating content fit for a king. Below are 70 great tips to help you create that content you can be proud of. It will be the type of quality content that will keep your audience returning to your site for more.
WEB ARTICLE TIPS
1. Answer the questions: who, why, where, when, what and how. If you answer these questions, you are half way to writing a good article. You've no doubt read newspaper articles. Journalists always use this type of format. Practice reading news articles and identifying these six things. You'll see how journalists use them to create quality content for their newspaper. Then write your article in a similar fashion answering these questions.
2. Check grammar and spelling as you go and when you have finished the article. Nothing shows lack of professionalism more than an article full of misspelled words and poor grammar. Be sure to check for homonyms that spell check won't correct like: they're, their, there-to, two, too. You'll want to make sure you use the right form of each when you write. Sure, some people won't notice, but those who do won't take your information seriously if it's riddled with grammatical errors.
3. Give your article a good hook. This is the first impression the reader will have of your article. You could write the most fantastic, helpful article ever, have an average title, and it would never get read. This is one of the worst things that can happen to a great piece of writing. The trick is to have a good hook. Make it something that catches the reader' attention. Readers want to know that if they're going to spend time reading your work that it is going to be worth it. The best titles express exactly what the reader will take away from your article. A good hook in an article will reel your audience in again to see what you write next.
4. Prepare a good introduction. After your title, your introduction is your second impression you make on the reader and it is very important. If a reader sees a captivating title, clicks on it, and starts reading the first paragraph only to find it irrelevant or uninteresting, they're not going to waste another two seconds to read the second paragraph, let alone the rest of the article. Give them a reason to continue reading.
Write something bold or controversial. Use a famous or entertaining relative quote. Tell them what they're going to learn from you, and then jump right in.
5. Organize your article well. Reading an internet article is much different than reading one in print. Generally, online, people tend to skim rather than actually read, regardless of what the content is. This makes organization and readability two key factors to consider when writing any online content. You can use subheadings, numbers, and bullets. Create bold subject headings or bulleted points throughout your article to guide your reader's eye and help speed-readers grasp the concepts quickly and more effectively.
6. Be yourself. This doesn't mean you have to write like you talk, but write in language that expresses your personality. Try not to use too much "technical jargon," and stay away from the Thesaurus. Big words do not equal a smarter, better article. Depending on your target audience, there may be times when it's important to use technical terms or bigger words. In general, however, you shouldn't have to use the dictionary to read an article online. If people have to do that, they not only will click off of your site, they won't care about the information you have to share. Just be yourself, and express who you are. Sure, you want your work to impress your readers. They can't be impressed, however, if they can't understand it. Just talk to them in a style you feel comfortable with, and they'll listen.
7. Use examples or tell a story. Articles with examples get the points across more effectively than those without them. Stories and examples help you engage the reader by putting the topic at hand in context and allowing them to see how the takeaways may be applied. Sometimes you read an article, and you think you understand the concepts, but you're not sure how to use them. If the writer tells a story or gives examples, then the reader won't have to wonder if they got it right. They'll see how those concepts can be used.
8. Do not tell your readers you're writing the article because you want their business. This is one of the worst things you can do. Simply share your information and show them how what you have to offer can apply directly to their business. If you do, they will begin to trust you and turn to you when they are ready, as you have already proved that you are a valuable resource.
9. Edit! Remember that "spell check" is important, but it doesn't get everything. Read and reread your article to make sure everything is correct. Make sure the flow is good, and it will make sense to the reader.
BLOG POST TIPS
10. Know the ins and outs of your blogging platform. This helps you be sure your posts look as good as they can. Take the time to master the visual editor (or raw HTML, if you prefer) so that you know how to format a post, insert an image and embed a video or podcast. If you're not comfortable with the more technical aspects of blogging, try to find someone who can be a resource for you to answer questions as they arise.
11. Establish categories and stay on topic. Whether your new blog post is a stand-alone post or part of a series you're writing, it should fit into your blog categories as well as your overall content strategy. Meaning that you want to stay on topic and have your posts fit into the categories you've established. When selecting your categories, ask yourself, if they make sense, and fit into the objectives of your business. Having clearly defined blog categories will help you continue generating meaningful content and topics for your blog.
12. Create a meta-description. Most search engines will use a maximum of 160 characters for your post description on their results pages. If you don't create a meta-description, which is a concise summary of your page's content, a search engine will often take the first 160 characters it finds on your page instead. This will not give the reader a full sense of what they'll get from reading your post. A planned description will give them an idea of why they should read your post, and make them want to read it.
13. Use an editorial calendar. Most bloggers find it helpful to use an editorial calendar for scheduling and organizing topics for posts. Some people use their calendars to track more elaborate details. This will help you produce consistently.
14. Create a good design for your site. In order for them to want to read your post, they have to stay on your site. The design is the first thing visitors see and it significantly influences bounce rate, page views, and conversions. Have a professional look, and they'll take you more seriously and be more apt to stay online to read the quality content you produce.
15. Identify five metrics to keep an eye on how your blogging is going such as: visitors, leads, subscribers, inbound links and social media shares. This will help you keep track of your viewers, and give you a greater sense of when you get it right, and when you don't.
16. Be sure to include your name, title, and a way readers can contact you. Readers are not only interested in the content in your blog post. They also want to know who wrote the post and their role at your organization. Sometimes you'll come across a thoroughly researched and well-written post only to find an attribution of "admin." Even if the blog is only written by you and you're the administrator of the blog, let the readers know who you are.
17. Publish and promote your site. Publishing and promoting are important stages of creating a successful blog post. One thing you want to do during the publishing stage is to ensure that your post has some kind of call to action. Promoting a blog post can involve a fair amount of thought and strategy. Utilize blog commenting promotion and direct messaging partners in social media to see if they'll help spread the word. Take the time to build a good foundation before you expect to execute a successful blog promotion.
18. Try answering questions. One effective way to get content ideas for blogging comes from reviewing web analytics for the kinds of questions people type into search engines like Google or Bing that deliver visitors. If it is a popular question, giving people the answer they're looking for can help build your audience.
You can also ask have your readers to write questions. When they do, you can take the answers for these questions and use them for future posts.
19. Make your work stand out. When you've been blogging for a while, chances are good that you'll see other bloggers writing on topics similar to yours. It doesn't mean that you have to stay away from the topic completely. Instead, you can take that opportunity to see what worked and didn't work in their post. Then, use that knowledge to write yours in a way that will help you to stand out in the topic area.
You may find a few articles that have good "parts," but they fail to have a good "whole." If you use the information from the good parts of several articles to create your own article, yours will stand out. It will be good in its entirety.
20. Write user-centered/valuable content. One big mistake a blog post can make is missing the mark of its readers, forgetting who they are and their needs and interests. If the content is user-centered, and knowledgeable, it will be a greater value to the reader.
You may begin with one target market in mind, and see that a different market is reading your articles. Change direction, and focus your blogs on the needs and interests of those users. Give someone what they want, and they'll come back to you again and again.
To be continued in tomorrow's post.