Learn What “Original” Content Really Means
Let’s face it, original content in the truest sense of the word borders on impossible when it comes to writing for your business or for the internet in general. Yes, believe it or not, 5 million or so people have already beat you to it. Unless you invent something new, are a pioneer in a research study that uncovers a phenomena, or have figured out a way to survive on Mars, then writing totally original content is not what you’re looking to do. Let go of that ideology now and settle into reality. Your goal in creating award winning copy is about offering perspective, also known as “spin”. You are going to take previously covered topics and put your own spin on them. This is precisely what blogging is all about! Whether it’s well educated, humorous, thought provoking, realistic, challenging, philosophical, or downright political, this is what makes your content unique. So when you hear, over and over again, that you need to create “original” content for your website, this is what is meant by “original.” So, cancel the nudist retreat you had planned (though a valiant effort for stirring up some exciting and fresh content), and just let your perspective flow – with your clothes on….or not!
Before You Begin Choose Your Audience
As previously mentioned in, How to Create Targeted Messages Part 1 and Part 2, the first step to writing a good blog post is choosing the audience. If you first choose the audience, the ideas will come much easier. Then, after you have carefully chosen the ears you want to perk with your message, ask yourself what that audience would be interested in reading. What would make them look twice at your headline and message? Please remember to break your market up into smaller groups. Don’t try to write a piece that speaks to everyone whose ever needed an oil change. That’s pretty much the entire planet. Instead, break your market up into smaller groups so that your message resonates with the group it was intended. It’s okay don’t worry, there are plenty more blog posts to write for the other half of your market, that you may have left out this time around.
How To Spin the Right Message for Your Blog
Say for example you sell insurance and are taxed with writing an article for the blog once per week. On week 1 you decide the audience you want to capture with your message is existing customers who although use your company for their car insurance have yet to insure their homes or rental properties with you. It’s important to remember that we aren’t necessarily trying to convert our audience with this copy.
Your job is to point out the benefits of bundling their car and homeowners insurance together as a general rule of thumb, but not why it’s better to do it with your company. This will come across too salesy and you will lose trust. Talk about the general benefits for individuals who bundle insurance services. Even if these benefits are standard with every insurance provider. That’s okay you are just teaching the public the best way to buy insurance. People respect that, but not if you make it about buying that insurance with you or your company. If perhaps your company has a benefit other insurance providers don’t, when bundling services, then it’s certainly okay to mention, just don’t make the entire article about that feature. A mention one time in the article works and doesn’t come across as a sales pitch.
Become a Subject Matter Expert
Overall, when you write articles for a blog, your goal is to frame yourself as a subject matter expert and provide useful content to your market that you hope will not only provide brand recognition but will at some point turn them into a customer. This isn’t a direct sales piece nor should any of your articles read that way. You have to first build trust and authority in your brand and in your blog personality. You do that by writing content that displays the knowledge you have within your industry. So although you may put a persuasive spin on your article(s), overall you should be more focused on writing about the in’s and out’s of your business and displaying the many details of the insurance industry that you know.
Give Your Content Edge
Don’t forget to give away some juicy bits too. Edgy content has an incredible draw and people respect those who dare to walk that fine line. I’m not saying you should talk trash about your business but don’t be afraid to talk about blunders you’ve made early on in your career (if they are humorous) or unusual circumstances that occur within your day to day. Just be sure that you follow the mistakes up by outlining the lessons that were learned.
Creativity can be fickle. In fact most days I am an average writer. Some days I have an abundance of creativity and some days there is not a creative bone or cell in my body. Even my cat is bored to death with me. For the creative moments, you never know when their going to strike . I could be in the checkout line at the grocery store when my brain suddenly goes into over drive as if someone tripped the switch. A stenographer couldn’t keep up with the ideas flowing at these moments. It’s like a light goes on and every one and thing rushes into their place perfectly awaiting reveal. I’m certain I can hear the choir in the background singing “AWWWWWW” very faintly.
But most of the time my creativity is well just average. Those golden opportunities are golden for a reason. They don’t happen that often but when they do, that’s when you need to capture them.
Learning how to tame the wild animal that is creativity can help you become more productive on days when it’s abundant, and build a reserve for when it’s not.
1. Become The Notetaker/Voice Recorder:
You could carry around a notepad and paper and jot down the brilliant ideas as they come to you (if you still know how to write). Or, the record button on your cell phone works too. If it’s something you must remember by heart without an aid then there is something to be said about the act of actually writing something down. It seems whenever I manually put the words on paper, I don’t need the list. I’ve tested this theory repeatedly. After creating the list for the grocery store so I won’t forget anything and then forgetting the list. Brilliant! AW but you see it is because I wrote everything down and so I remember everything I had written on the list. Sometimes you have to trick yourself into these things. It Works! Ahhh the irony of trying not to forget anything and then forgetting the thing you made to not forget anything. Wait, what was I talking about again? I forgot!
The record button on your cell phone is great for capturing stray ideas and is probably the thing you will most likely have handy when an idea comes rushing in like Hurricane Andrew. Unless your in the middle of pleading to the judge why he should not give you a ticket for going 90mph in a school zone. So much for being prepared to capture your ideas as they come. It’s okay, you’ll have plenty of time trying to remember your brilliant idea from your cell – and No that is NOT short for cell phone.
2. Organize Your Thoughts:
Sometimes it’s hard to channel the barrage of creativity that’s floating around in your head. Often mistaken for writers block, it’s the classic sign of a premature start. You are not ready to write yet. Almost, but not quite, you’ve skipped a step. In this case, but not all, an outline is in order. Refer to the basics on creating an outline in a previous post. It may sound like added work but it’s not. Once you’ve created the outline you’ll be able to write the piece in record time. How fast can you type? Building an outline helps you get a handle on the unsupervised ideas floating around in your head. It will also ensure that your content has flow and makes sense to a reader.
Tip: Before the outline, open the flood gates by simply jotting down all the ideas in your head in no particular order. Then from these ideas build the outline in the order that makes sense.
3. Hold Brainstorming Sessions or Provide a Creative Outlet:
Experiencing a dry spell? Has the creative river run dry? Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like brainstorming with other people. It really doesn’t matter who it is either, as long as they have a pulse and can speak, your good. Most often my creative ideas are sparked by something totally unrelated to the topics themselves. However, if you have access to a group whose common goal is business related then scheduling regular brainstorming sessions is not only fun, it’s the most valuable use of an employees time that I can think of. People are brilliant and have unique angles. Sadly, most of their brilliance is lost on lack of a creative outlet. Don’t be that company that stifles the very thing that could make it successful. Everyone benefits in these meetings too! Everyone gets fresh ideas for tackling their daily challenges.
Stay tuned for my next post: Get The Most Out of Your Brainstorming Session
This digital age has given new meaning to the word brevity. With information that is able to reach masses with a single click, one needs to consider how the audience is receiving it before they hit the “publish” button.
As mentioned time and time again, blog posts that are short get the most face time. Keeping your posts short will have a tremendous effect on how many actually read them. When faced with copy that overflows a page, how often do you choose to read it? More often than not, the shorter article wins out. Long posts often get passed up for something more visually palatable. Seeing an article that one is certain they can finish from beginning to end without too much effort is the likely choice for readers in this era and on this landscape. It becomes even more true when we consider how our audience may be viewing our content.
People seeking information on the fly, want to be able to read it on the fly. Reading articles on a mobile device is a common activity these days. Consider how long, even the shortest article will look on a mobile device. 9 times out of 10, readers on a mobile device are passing time while waiting to board a plane, are on a plane or waiting to be called for their scheduled appointment. They desire to learn something new, or be entertained- briefly.
Yep, that’s right, less is best, for web copy, despite what you have probably been taught your entire life, with every other form of content you’ve written or been required to write. This is why being brief with our blog posts, isn’t as easy as it sounds…..try it, I dare you.
*According to Squeeze, an online news source, a study published by Pew Research on March 15th found that 60 percent of Americans get their news from an online source.
Get Ideas on How to Stir Up Action on Your Blog
1. Make an effort to urge subscription on your blog
RSS Feed Subscriptions remind subscribers each time you create a new post which keeps them coming back to your site and keeps you/your brand – fresh in their minds.