You’ve got ideas, big ideas, and you want to share them with the world. Great! But where to start? Sadly there’s more bad content than good content on the web, and if you’re new to the writing game, you might well be in the former category. Fear not though dear readers, we’re here to help you beat the odds…
Ok, allow us to start by saying that we aren’t nearly arrogant enough to claim that we’re authorities on writing good content. Even if we were, as Hank Moody says, ‘I can’t teach you how to write. And anyone who says they can is full of…’, well, you get the idea…
That being said, writing copy for your website, whether it’s to check in with your existing visitors, or to entice new ones into becoming customers, is one of the most important skills you’ll need as a website owner. And so we’ve prepared a handy list of qualities that we think all good writing needs. There may well be more, but if you’re hitting all of these, you’re doing pretty well.
Just to be clear (see what we did there?), this is the by far the most important aspect of writing useful content. Of course, useful doesn’t mean good per se, but it does mean that it’s more likely to be read and therefore to fulfil its intended purpose.
Remember, content that isn’t read is useless.
So, how do you make your content clear? First, summarize your article/blog post/whatever at the beginning. As you may have noticed, we tend to include an introduction in nice big text at the beginning of each of our articles. While it’s not necessary to do it the way we do, try to answer a few key questions early on.
For instance, why are you writing this? More importantly, why should your visitor take the time to read it? If this isn’t crystal clear in the first couple of paragraphs it’s highly likely that your reader will move along before getting to your point.
Yes, yes, honesty could be argued to be just as, or even more important than clarity. We’ve put it second because people lie all the time and still succeed. It’s sad but it’s true. However the truth usually comes out, which is the point we’re making.
If you’re talking about your service, be honest about it. If you can’t do that without making it sound bad, improve your service. Sure it’s tempting to talk about what you want your business to be rather than what it is, or to gloss over some of the finer details, but you’ll generally end up with customers that feel cheated. Sorry, ex-customers.
Unless you’re the only person in the world offering your service (spoiler: you’re not), then even when your customer is looking at your website, you’re competing for their attention. Never forget that your competitors are only a click or two away.
For this reason, try to keep your message simple and to-the-point. Presenting your visitor with a huge wall of text is never a good idea but if you’ve got a lot to say, try to break it up into manageable chunks.
If appropriate, you can also try adding a pull quote or two to give the main point of a section. This can be a great way of allowing the skim-readers among us to get the gist of what you’re saying without straining our five-second attention spans.
It’s the 21st century people, there really is no excuse for failing to spell-check your work. Nothing saps your credibility faster than an article full of spelling mistakes. Yet, we see it online all of the time.
Another thing we see all of the time are articles which clearly haven’t been proofread. Always, always, always re-read your article or blog post before hitting ‘Publish’ (while you’re at it, get a friend to read it too). It’s super easy to miss a grammatical or factual mistake, the fact that you’ve repeated yourself unintentionally, or that what you’ve written is just plain awful, if you don’t read it all the way through like your visitor will.
This step can feel like a real pain, but trust us, it’s worth it.
And finally, the trickiest of the lot. But just like every Disney movie we’ve ever seen has taught us, the best advice here is simply to be yourself. Communicate your passion for your product, service or whatever it is, in the same way you would to a good friend.
If this comes off as a little cheesy or unprofessional, by all means edit it down a little to fit your market, but start with your natural voice before cleaning it up for public consumption. Try to be passionate about your content and don’t think too much about SEO. Only after you finished the article, check if your target keyword was mentioned every 100 words or so. Maybe add your keyword to a header or title, as long as you make it look natural.
People really do buy people, and if none of who you are comes across then you might just miss out on some great connections. Obviously being yourself won’t please everyone, but the fact is that nothing will.
So that’s it. If you can write content that fulfills each of these points, it’s likely that you won’t have gone too far wrong. But be patient. Writing is hard, and it may well take you a while to find a voice for your message. Stick with it and you’ll be cranking out awe-inspiring content in no time…