Writing content is not easy, no doubt about it.
Then we usually go and start worrying about how to make that content easy to share, how to provide valuable information, how to engage readers and so on to make it even harder.
How do you write your content? There are just too many things to consider…
In the last couple of weeks I was asked a few times on what are the things I consider when writing a post, so I thought of putting a list or items together which then turned into this post. I hope it can of help to you.
I will also ask you to participate by adding to the list or simply discuss the recommendations I’m posting.
1. What’s The Goal?
Yes, you can write a post with a specific goal in mind. If you have been blogging for a while, you should know already what kind of content to write in order to achieve different objectives by observing the impact on your previous content.
Your own experience will actually tell you how to write a popular post that gets tons of love from Twitter or provide a powerful list of resources to get Delicious bookmarks like it’s 1,999. Write a controversial piece to fire up massive comments or simply answer a very specific question in your niche to build trust.
Know what you want the outcome to be before you start typing. If you’re fairly new and have no experience in how your content behaves, take a shot. Dare to try things and observe the impact.
It is very important that you’re not just repeating what someone else already said. Most of the time this happens not because we’re trying to copy other people but due to our lack of research. A simple search on Google and Twitter will give you a pretty good picture of what has been said around that topic.
Research will give you a better idea of where you stand and how to approach the topic.
3. Your 2 Cents
Chances are there is already some content published on the same topic you’re writing about, that’s fine as long as you’re adding to the conversation. Again, focus on answering questions that are still open, disagree, do something but add your 2 cents. Don’t make people leave your post with a sense of “being there, done that…”
Kick it up a notch and reference the previous material and then take the discussion further. In other words, provide value or die!
4. Be Yourself
The beauty about blogging is that you have become the publisher, the content creator. Remember that when you’re writing a piece of content.
There are two common thoughts I get from people:
- One is trying to write like somebody else. There are some awesome writers out there BTW… but you should try to bring out your own personality in your content. People will eventually see that and maybe recognize it as your writing style.
- The other one is the world famous “finding your own voice”. Great, but sometimes we force the situation and end up with a final product that doesn’t represent who you are.
Being yourself when you write content should be a natural process.
5. Forget The Search Engines
There is a lot to chew on this topic but I’ll give you the quick version. Do you write for search performance or do you write for your readers?
This is just my humble opinion, forget the search engines when you’re writing and focus on communicating with human beings, robots don’t benefit from your kick-ass piece of content. Once you’re done, go back and optimize as much as possible but please stop as soon as you feel you’re starting to sound like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Seriously.
6. Clever Headline
Of course you heard this before, first the headline then the first paragraph and so on, that’s when the reader is sitting in front of your post. I also want you to take this in consideration…
Social media is an attraction tool and if you think about it, the only part of your content that makes it to Twitter, Facebook and the others is usually the headline. With the invention of the 140 characters, we are forced to allocate a little more time on crafting that headline.
Let me also point out that I said clever, not smart-ass. Sure, a cute headline will probably get you that click but if there’s no meat on the other side, you’ll also get the visitor to bounce.
7. Never In First Person
The focus of the post should be on others, not yourself. Nobody cares about you (sorry…). People care about getting their needs covered and their questions answered.
A good exercise to accomplish that is to prohibit yourself from writing in first person.
8. Make It Fun To Read
People love when you throw in a little humor or use some sarcasm here and there, without being obnoxious of course. There are bloggers that get away with lots of this stuff, in fact, people can’t get enough of them, but this is not always the case.
This should start with you, if you’re not having fun writing it, this most likely reflect on the post. Do your readers a favor and lighten up a little =)
9. Provide Resources
Don’t be afraid to share links to other people, specially if somebody else has written a great post on something related to your topic. This is not only appreciated by your readers but it builds relationships with other bloggers.
Besides, links is the name of the game baby…
Use lots of real-life examples to illustrate your point. You can even point out people as case studies. This makes for a more entertaining read and allows people to see how a concept works in the real world.
Metaphors can also get you home if you can’t find a good example.
It might not be considered as important but I gotta be honest and say that I put some time and thought into getting photography for the post. Having a bad image (you’ve seen those blurry old images…) on your post will damage your chances of a good first impression.
There is a lot of good content you can use for free on sites such as Flickr but if you want to step up your game, paid services are also available and for a buck or two you’ll have your post looking like a million dollars.
2 quick tips on the use of images:
- Optimize for web so it doesn’t affect your loading times while it still a good quality.
- Optimize for search engines. For example, change the name from “DC_10112009.png” to “socialmouths_quick_tips_to_write_a_successful_post.png”
12. Get Rid Of The Clutter
After you finish writing your post, strip it down. Eliminate the fluff. Thank you!
Find simpler ways of getting your point across. Get rid of all the unnecessary wording we sometimes use trying to sound smarter or because we feel the post is too short.
Don’t be afraid, people appreciates the simplicity in reading.
13. Hand It To The Reader
Finish with a call to action. What do you want from the reader? If you want the reader to participate in the conversation by leaving a comment, then ask for it. Sometimes we complain because we get no interaction from readers but we fail to open a forum to discuss the topic. Leave some room for people to add their thoughts.
Here is an idea: Invite people to disagree with you!
Your Turn Now…
As I said, these are some considerations I take when writing a post and thought of sharing them with you, feel free to share your process or why not… disagree with me!