Welcome to day two of the Marketing for Designers article series! Today, we focus on the next step in your journey to successful internet marketing – writing useful content.
Let’s be honest: Writing good content is hard work and requires a lot of effort. It’s also not done in a day or two, it needs continuous effort.
Writing useful content is a choice. You can choose to put in the time and work required to create great content and build a prosperous brand. Or you can choose to take the easy path and write poor content – a path that ultimately will get you nowhere. It will only result in a waste of time, energy and resources.
If you write useful and original content, search engines will help your site get more exposure. So not only does great content make a better website, it also improves your site’s rankings, which can have a very positive impact on your business.
Whatever your reason for having a content site, whether it’s for business or a personal hobby, it’s important to do it right. In this blog post, we’ll break down some tips for developing great content.
First, let’s look at what makes great content, and then we’ll move on to sites that produce great content.
Create Original Content
Write about what makes our heart sing, and what you’re good at.
Start by making a list: Which questions people keep asking in related forums or Facebook groups? (An example: If you’re a knitter and not afraid of working from charts, you should put “working with charts” on this list.)
Continue by writing useful content based on this list. Create one blog post (article) for each point on your list and write down everything you know about the chosen topic.
Original also means originality. Your ideas should be original! Rehashing the same concepts or other posts over and over again is not original. If your content is played out, no one will link to it – and that defeats the purpose of writing content in the first place.
Remember these two rules in life:
- You get what you pay for.
- If you don’t have anything useful to say, then don’t say it at all.
These two simple points will keep you on the path of making quality content that will yield returns for years to come.
Create Strong Headlines
A good headline sparks interest and invites readers in, and it is as important as the article or post itself. They are the first thing people read, and they are the basis those people use to decide if they want to read your article or not.
Take time with your headlines. If possible, make a few and select which one you like best. Don’t skim over them.
To get started with writing headlines (and with copywriting in general) we strongly recommend reading the article The Ultimate Guide to No-Pain Copywriting on copyhackers.com.
Make Your Content Actionable
What was the last blog post you wrote? Did it give readers advice on how they can apply the lessons right away?
The best content gives the user a sense of how to apply the information. It doesn’t degrade users by telling them what to do, but rather respects them and provides them with assurance that they know best how to use the material. When you write your blog post, give users tips on applying what you are offering them. Many times, just writing well about a topic will spark some ideas for readers.
Why do people read non-fiction? To learn and become better. Help your readers do the same.
What is the ultimate purpose of a search engine? Most people would be correct in saying “to deliver sets of answers.” Google is great at this. Type a query into Google and you’ll be presented with links, pictures, and videos.
It’s the same when people are reading a blog post: They want an answer so they can gain knowledge. An additional tip here is: people don’t just want answers, they want answers fast. So make your content easy to scan so people can pick up the juicy, important bits quickly.
An example: when people search for “knitting from charts” they expect useful content – like a tutorial in this specific case – for how to get started with working from charts in knitting.
Create Engaging Content
An engaged audience takes in all that you write or say. But the only way to get an engaged audience is to create engaging content! It all starts with you and what you write. Here are a few tips to help you write engaging content:
- Leave readers with questions. This doesn’t mean to have an incomplete post, but rather to include questions that make readers reflect on how they can implement the knowledge you provided.
- Have an important and promising introduction. Ever wondered how quickly people make judgments about blog posts? Most people probably decide within the first few sentences if the post is worth reading. Tell users why they should care and what you’ll be discussing in the blog post. Make them want to read it.
- People love stories. You can use an anecdote in your introduction or have a story woven into your blog post. Stories can also help clarify a point. When possible, add a story to your blog post. It will make it more engaging and may also help the reader learn.
A final tip on this point: If you provide content that sparks a flurry of comments, the search engines will notice that your post is important and is being updated regularly. This is a great way to get the engines to come back to your site more frequently.
Communicate Better by Adding Images and Video
You already know that people learn differently. Some people learn better by seeing, while others learn better by hearing. What’s important is that no one learns less by having visual aids. Whether you use pictures, videos, or diagrams, they can help illustrate your point. Open any modern textbook and you’ll find pictures used to enhance the reading experience and to reinforce the author’s lesson.
Whatever you’re writing about, add pictures. No one wants to look at paragraphs of text, unless you’re writing a book.
Have a look at pixabay.com for free high-quality stock images you can use in your website. Use free services like canva.com for image editing, adding text or otherwise enhancing images you plan on using on your website.
However, only add images that help or add value. Don’t use stock photography without thinking about the message an image communicates first.
Write Short and Pointed Content
One of the best writing lessons I’ve learned is to eliminate fluff. It’s challenging and takes work, but it makes for a significantly better composition. There is nothing better than a brief, to-the-point blog post or article that is filled with information. Writing useful content starts with actually being useful!
Make Continual Updates to Your Website or Blog
Starting a blog or website is a commitment. While you can write a couple of posts and then abandon the work, you won’t get many readers or new customers. Not just that, but search engines don’t favor sites that aren’t regularly updated.
If you have a blog or content site, you need to update it regularly with useful content. Many of the best content sites are regularly updated.
How often should your blog or site be updated? That’s up to you. Everyone has different resources and priorities. You should make an effort to update at least twice a week. It is a content site you’re building, after all.
Some Final Points
A few final points about writing useful content:
Don’t treat a blog post or any other sort of content site lightly. It’s difficult, and good ones take time to research and write. Proper title, grammar, and organization are a must. When you reread your post, ask yourself:
- Are there any words I can take out?
- Have I given the readers the best information I possibly can?
- Is it complete?
The free tool hemingwayapp.com can help you with improving your writing skills.
For deeper insights about copywriting in general, make sure to check out Copyhackers – their content is simply awesome, and it really helped us improving our copywriting skills!
Cheers, Julia <3
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