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November 18, 2014
Every profession has a list of cherished tips that have spanned generations and helped guide its greatest practitioners to glory. Ok, that may be a little over the top, but you get where I’m going with it.
All professions, from plumbers to architects to retail store managers have tested tips and tricks or “unwritten rules” that help them get to the top of their fields. And we’re not talking about what’s trendy this week, but concepts and strategies that have stood the test of time.
Naturally, the same is true for content writers. We have a multitude of valuable tips at our disposal that have been handed down over time and are still relevant today.
Here are 7 that you should always live by:
1) Who and Why Come First
Whether you are writing an informational blog post like this one, a full website or a sales letter designed to generate 10,000 leads, figure out the “who and “why” before you begin.
The who means your target audience, prospect or visitor. The why means your reason for producing the content. In the sales letter example, if you know that you’re writing to personal injury lawyers and the goal is to get them to try a new client indexing software, it makes your job a lot easier.
2) Write Conversationally
In most cases, if you write the same way your target audience, prospect or visitor speaks your content will have a much greater effect. Sometimes, it is necessary to be more formal to please your clients, but for the most part write in the second person as if you are speaking to a friend.
3) Be Specific
Being specific in your content writing means trying to cut down on your use of the words “they,” “it,” “them,” etc. Refer to the actual item, person, animal or concept to minimize confusion and keep them reading.
You don’t have to be specific multiple times within the same sentence, ie: “The dogs broke free from the kennel, then the dogs ran for miles.” Just make sure your message is clear and there is never any doubt as to what you are writing about.
4) Prove Your Points
Writers love making points. Just remember to prove your points with relevant examples or statistical data where applicable. A point with no proof is just an opinion, and you know what they say about opinions….
5) Address the Reader Directly
This one is linked to number 2, but it’s worth mentioning twice. Speak directly to your readers. When you write in the third person it creates a disconnection that causes a lot of people to…well, disconnect.
6) Take a Step Back
A cluttered page will never allow you to get your message across the way you want. It’s imperative that your writing is “easy on the eyes” and you can accomplish this by taking a step back and looking at it as one whole document.
Whether it is a post, webpage or sales letter, you should see plenty of white space in a clean, uncluttered layout.
If you’re getting a little claustrophobic because all the content is bunched together, take a minute to space it out.
7) Spend the Most Time on Your Headline
If you’re wondering why the headline tip is at the end, it is because if you take nothing else away from this post I want you to remember that your headline is the most important element of your piece, whatever that piece may be.
Even if you know your audience and your goals and follow all the other points in this post, if no one reads it then you won’t accomplish anything. By now, you know that you only have a few precious seconds to attract your target’s attention, and it is your headline that must get the job done.
Memorize these 7 tips and follow them every time you write and you’ll get better results from your writing.
If you’d like more info about writing headlines, take a look at this past post called: The Secret Power of Headlines for All Types of Content
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