Every writer has their motivation, routine and reason(s) for writing. They also have their own way of communicating that works for them. But as writing is a subjective medium, I know that most of us are always trying to improve.
Following are seven things that help me produce informative content – content that pays off in (ebook, e-class) sales and leads. How many of these do you do?
Note: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.
I. Work with Your Body Clock as a Freelance Writer
I can do a lot of things when I’m tired, but writing is not one of them. When you couple this with the fact that I’m not a super-early morning person, I know that getting up early to write just doesn’t work for me.
Now I can respond to email, work out and interact on social media with no problem when I’m tired, but writing on an ebook is not one of the things I’m very effective at. So, I push this until late mornings (usually around 10 or 11 when I finally REALLY wake up) or in the afternoons or late night.
Takeaway Lesson: When you work with your body clock instead of against it, you’re more likely to produce your best work.
II. Conduct Research
I like to read stats that back up what a blogger/writer is telling me, so I like to see research in a piece I’m reading.
Takeaway Lesson: Not only does this lend credibility to what you’re saying, it gives the reader a starting point to dig further if they want to.
Also, your work will seem less like a sales pitch because you’re backing up what you’re saying, and readers will trust what you write more.
Trust is one of the main building blocks along the sales funnel; in fact, it’s the foundational block on which everything else is built.
I’ve said this numerous times on this blog, but people do business with those they (i) know; (ii) like; and (iii) trust. When they run across your content and read it, you get them to know (and hopefully, like) you. Then, the more they hear from you – whether it’s a blog post or a video or podcast, etc. – they start to trust what you’re saying.
Once a visitor trusts, you, it’s just a matter of time before a sale is made (if you produce the type of product/service they’re looking for). So do your research –- it will more than pay off in the end.
The article, The Value of Research in Writing on Suite101.com sums up the importance of research in the following manner:
In any writing, whether it be academic, professional, fiction or non-fiction, research is a valuable tool for good writing.
Well done research helps a writer to write easier, to write more knowledgeably on the topic and to broaden the scope of his or her writing. Research … helps a writer reach more readers with better writing.
As an aside, many of your clients won’t want you to link to other sites (especially competitors) in their niche. So cite noted organizations/sources that are umbrella, authority entities. For example, if I was writing a piece on real estate for a client, I might cite stats from the National Association of Realtors (Realtor.org) or The National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB.org).
Think about it this way: when you read a piece in a noted publication like The New York Times, what makes that writing stand out? Well one thing is statistics or quotes. It’s not just the writer’s opinion; it’s a well-sourced piece of journalism that can withstand scrutiny.
III. Learn How to Write Great Headlines
With today’s short attention spans, you have less than 10 seconds to catch a web surfer’s attention, according to most research. And what usually catches a web surfer’s attention first? The headline, of course.
I still struggle with writing great headlines to be honest. It’s one of the reasons I’m always reading about how to get better at it. One of the best articles I’ve ever read on this subject recently is How To Write Great Headlines That Earn Clicks. The tip in that post that really hit home for me was this . . .
ADDRESS YOUR READER
Explicitly addressing your reader as “You” or by their title, or by job can spike interest as well. This is getting their attention by directly calling them out or relating to that individual.
“How You Can Earn Money on the Weekend.”
– How I can earn money on the weekend? Me? Yes, you.
“5 Thoughts to make You a Better Salesperson.”
– This addresses both you and salesperson. Either one will be drawn to this headline.
Takeaway Lesson: This is simply personalization at its best. It addresses the “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) complex advertising experts say all of us have. Hence, it’s easy to see why this would be effective.
FYI, I also like to turn it around and use “me,” “I” and “my.” Why? Because people like to know what “I” did that may work for them.
IV. Make Your Content Timely and Relevant
This works particularly well for some industries, eg, real estate. For example, I have a blog that I started a few years ago addressing issues of the foreclosure crisis.
I originally started the blog to sell an ebook my sister wrote about how to start a foreclosure cleaning business. Foreclosures were in the news a lot back in 2007-2010; still is today to a large degree.
And do you know what? That little blog still brings in between $50-125 per month – and I only update it nowadays once every month or so.
Lesson to be learned: I digress a bit, but my overall point is, when you tie something you’re writing to something that’s relevant/newsworthy/buzzworthy, it not only helps to attract search engine juice, it’s just naturally more interesting because it’s current.
One drawback to this is that it can work against creating evergreen content. The Search Engine Journal article, What is Evergreen Content and Why Should You Care? explains why this type of content is important to every blog, saying:
. . . Publishing evergreen content diminishes the workload on blog managers, as these posts can be re-run in the future while still providing value to the audience at large. At the same time, evergreen content benefits readers by providing basic information that’s crucial to understanding and enjoying other articles posted to the site.
So find the balance when and where you can.
V. Study Great Content Writers
This is one of the easiest things to do. When you find a piece that resonates with you, ask yourself, “What makes this so appealing? What is it about it that I find interesting? Is it the headline, is it funny, does it cause me to tear up?”
Whatever it is, write it down. Start a swipe file of content that you find appealing.
Also, follow the content marketers whose stuff gets retweeted, Liked, StumbledUpon, Google+’d and Pinned a lot. Over time, I’m willing to bet you’ll start seeing some patterns that resonate with you – patterns you can start replicating in your own writing.
VI. Tell a Story
Who doesn’t love a good story? One of the things I try to do to make my stuff relatable is to tell a story. For example, just yesterday I wrote an article for a client on a pretty dry subject – team strategies in the workplace. I started it with:
Jeff, a first-time dad, had to hand in his resignation because his project management job didn’t allow him the flexibility he needed to adjust to the realities of his new family life.
Then I went on to explain how team-building starts starts with people blah, blah, blah.
Takeaway Lesson: Stories draw readers in – and if you’ve done a good enough job with #3 here (writing a good headline), then you know the next step in the process is to keep readers reading. A good story will do this.
And again, who doesn’t love a good story, right?!
VII: Be You!
You can do all of the above, and NOT be true to who you are, and your words just won’t resonate. So above all, be yourself when you write. Don’t try to be LIKE anyone else. Just be you.
Takeaway Lesson: The Creator made no mistakes when he made each of us. He/She/It put you here to be YOU. Trust that and let it shine through. You’ll turn off some, but you’ll gain a lot of “authentic” others – because you’re being true to you.
Share Your Blogging, Content Marketing and Article Writing Tips
What writing tips would you add to this list? How do you write? What do you think would make you a better writer? Please share in the comments section below.
P.S.: Don’t Feel Qualified Enough to Apply for Online Writing Jobs?
There are so many online writing opportunities these days. With the right knowledge, it’s an excellent way to earn a living from home – part-time or full-time. Get online (SEO) copywriter training. You can get started for free.