Content is King: 10 Tips on Effective Writing

by | Apr 13, 2011

Content is king as I’ve learned from mentor Michael Gass. He says it doesn’t matter how great a writer you are, if people don’t read it, then there’s no benefit to anyone. I’m sharing his 10 tips which I try to live by when writing for social media. I’m a living testament that if you follow the rules, your writing will be read and shared.

According to a social media study by King Fish Media, HubSpot and Junta42, original content, both branded and expert, is by far the most employed tactic for social media.

And … “businesses that blog get 55% more website traffic than those that don’t.”

Creating valuable content increases website traffic that will equate into new business leads. But writing for the web can be daunting, even for experienced copywriters. They are often the ones that struggle the most with making the transition from print to web.

“Content marketing is a commitment, not a campaign.” – Jon Buscall

You need to think carefully about structuring and formatting your online content to ensure your readers find it  and read it. Here are my 10 tips to help you write better for the Web:

  1. Provide a Reader’s Digest or Executive Summary version. Readers love bullet pointed and numbered lists. That’s why so many readers are attracted to post titles that offer 10 tips or 25 ideas, etc. The work you do on behalf of your readers to simplify will be greatly appreciated and keep them coming back for more.
  2. Key words in every post titles. Write for SEO. It doesn’t matter how great your article is if no one can find it. A simple tip to help boost your rankings in Google search is to identify and use certain key words in every post title. 90% of my posts will contain ‘ad agency new business’ in the title. It helps not only for search but will also help drive ‘targeted traffic’ as your posts are repurposed through Twitter. With only 140 characters that you can use for Twitter, that’s not much more than your title and a shortened URL.
  3. Lead with the conclusion. I advise that you begin each post by starting with the conclusion, a take-away or benefits statement. Just answer this question, ‘what is my benefit if I commit to read this post?’
  4. Break up long paragraphs. A reader’s attention span online is much less than for print. Readers tend to scan instead of reading word-for-word. Keep paragraphs concise and short.
  5. Be sure and provide hyper links to your sources. Don’t be afraid that you will lose your audience if they go to another source. Your blog should become a repository of helpful resources for your readers.
  6. Make your content scannable to the eye. Use bold, italics, quotation marks, indentation, etc. to make copy pop. A person should be able to quickly scan through your article and get the most important parts.
  7. Write in an Inverted Pyramid style. Similar to the way a newspaper reported would write, the most important copy should be at the top of your post.
  8. Use common language. This is an opportunity to do away with industry jargon and agency speak and write content that resonates with your intended audience.
  9. Get to the point, quickly. Online readers are extremely impatient. If you wade into a story and it takes 3 or 4 paragraphs to show how it relates, you will have lost your audience before you’ve made your point.
  10. Make your post visually pleasing. I always include a nice photo or graphic to further drive home the main purpose of a post. Using them will create interest and help draw in a reader.

Follow these 10 tips and it will help get your message delivered.

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