At this point, it is hard to find any business owner who doesn’t know that they should be creating content for their business. The phrase (warning?) that “content is king” is everywhere and the business world continues to move more and more online, despite any changes in the pandemic. You know that you need to have a content strategy to grow. What you might know is how to write content that gets read and is easily discoverable online.
As professional content marketers, my team and I come across folks often who want to do some of their own writing, but are unsure of the steps they need to take to do it well. While we can’t make you a professional-level writer, there are a few things that you can do now to build strong content and attract attention for your business.
Here are the 7 top things you need to do to create the best content for your business. Use these and your content will get read by human readers and search engine crawlers alike.
What you need to know to be a better writer today
You might not be ready to create the next great American novel (or maybe you are), but you know that you could use some fresh ideas on how to improve your writing skills for online content. It is remarkably similar to what you were taught in school, with a few essential new steps. Check them out here:
Tip #1: Get to know your audience.
“If I had a dollar for every time I have said this,” my Grandpa might say. The truth is that when you create content for your business, you have to have an audience in mind. Before you even write one word. Identify your niche and target market, then create content that speaks directly to the buying decision-maker in your target audience. Read that again — the decision-maker, not just the person you think should buy.
Tip #2: Tell a story.
Who wouldn’t rather read a story than a dry list of features and benefits? Great content is not only valuable to the reader but also entertains them. Or as a minimum keeps them interested. Stories help you do that — and they are a great vehicle for sharing your “why” and brand identity. Make your customer the hero of your story — and help them solve their problems.
Tip #3: Keep it clear.
Content creation really spans a wide range of types of writing. You could be creating blogs, articles, white papers, email campaigns, or social posts. In most of these types of copy and content, you don’t need to focus on telling your reader about your expertise (it should come through) or using deeply technical terms. Remember, you aren’t writing an IKEA instruction manual (confusing) or the directions to installing a printer (do we still do that?), you are creating interesting and relevant information for your audience. Achieve clarity using short, simple paragraphs and sentences.
Tip #4: Make it valuable.
This one is a lot like the one above. Clarity of course matters, but don’t make it so simple that it is no longer valuable. The biggest issue that I see happen in this area is that content creators are so excited about their offering that they end up “selling” rather than sharing. That rarely works. Instead, identify the issue that keeps your ideal customer up at night and share tips on how to solve it. It’s relationship marketing through writing.
Tip #5: Edit mercilessly.
This is a big one. The obvious reason to edit is typos and grammatical errors (the ones that are unintentional). Another reason to edit is to ensure that you have short, easy-to-digest words, paragraphs, and sentences. Remember, a simple sentence structure is easier to read (and thus people will read it) than a longer one. A good editing example? Read the sentence just above this one. Did I need the word “remember”? No. Typically I would remove it. Did it need to be as long and complicated as it was? No. But it is a good example for you so I left it as originally written.
Tip #6: Add an image and a link (or two).
There is an old saying that says that a picture is worth a thousand words. I am not sure that this is an exact statistic for digital marketing, but the idea holds true. Adding images and links to your content serves two real purposes, to keep folks on your information rather than someone else’s, and to increase your SEO. In both cases, you benefit — and so does your reader. PRO TIP: Don’t skip adding alt text to your images. This lets search engines know what the image is about and if it doesn’t render will appear.
Tip #7: Edit it again.
Once you have taken all of the steps above, take time to go back through everything that you write — no matter how short and edit again. Read it out loud to be sure that it makes sense and is interesting. There is nothing worse than getting most of the way through a blog or article only to realize that the writer lost their train of thought and didn’t edit enough to fix it. Don’t be that writer.
Use these tips and you will soon be creating content that helps you achieve your goals. Need help? Reach out here and I would be happy to chat about your next piece of content.