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By ben on November 24, 2015
When I first started writing couple of months ago, coming up with content ideas can be quite challenging at times, especially when I do not have any proper planning or a clear direction or objective on what I should be writing for my upcoming blog posts.
However, what I’ve learned so far is that with some proper planning and some guidelines, my content writing can never be much easier. All I’ve to do is just by asking myself these five simple questions each time when I’m writing a new blog post.
If you’ve read about my previous blog post on buyer persona, you’re probably know who Taylor is…but if you don’t, read on.
Anyway, she is my imaginary buyer that I’ve created to help me out with my content writing. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, having a buyer persona in mind is extremely crucial especially when I need to generate some ideas on any topics for my upcoming blog post.
Asking some of the above questions help me to pen down the outline of my article in a more appealing and engaging way. At the end of the day – I wouldn’t want to see Taylor, falling asleep after reading my article or running away and never returned to my blog.
Scaring Taylor away is definitely not something that I would have on my to-do list. And I bet you’ll have to agree with me on this because scaring your imaginary buyer away is definitely the dumbest thing to do and it is definitely not going to bring any ROI to your business.
So, whenever I get to answer to her question, my happy feet would start tapping to the beat and my heart would just start singing “boogie wonderland, wonderland!” And if you wish to experience the same kind of euphoric moments I just did, you need to ensure that your article is interesting enough that all your readers would not fall asleep and would never miss a chance of reading your latest blog post.
The following method is one of the way best ways to find out whether your article is an interesting piece of work or just another random blog post that bored people to death.
Step 1: Now ask your fellow colleagues, or Bff, to sit down and read to them aloud.
Step 2: Then take a peek at their eyes and see if they are engaged or if their eyes are caught gazing somewhere else. (If such situation arise, you probably can tell that they seem to be a little distracted or impatiently waiting for you to finish reading the whole article.)
Step 3: And once you’ve finished reading it, see if they are willing to reread it on their own.
So judging from the reaction of your colleagues, I’m sure you will be able to know whether your piece of article really needs some further polishing or improvements.
Then second question that I used to ask myself – Is my writing easy to read?
When I write my own blog posts, I try to avoid giving big words or vocabulary. This is something that I’ve learned over the past few months that, being a content writer is very much different from a fictional writer.
Fictional writer can write anything and can be as descriptively as possible. But as a content writer myself, I have to take into consideration of my reader’s attention span.
I came across an interesting article the other day while doing a research on this.
According to Microsoft, they have found out that Goldfish have higher attention span than most of us now.
In year 2000, human tend to have an average attention span of 12 seconds. But due to the obsession of our digital lifestyles in recent years, our attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds, while Goldfish is believed to have even better attention span than human by one second.
As you can see from the above, human attention span is getting shorter than ever before. That means…
we only have like 8 seconds to convince them to read our blog posts.
If we failed to do so, chances are they are more likely to be scrolling or clicking away.
Well, a good rule of thumb to prevent such situation from happening is to write highly-readable content. Bear in mind that it is also always a good choice if we can write as if we are writing to a 4th grader.
Always remember that people are now looking for information that is easy-to-read and preferably in an easily scannable and digestible format. So, just keep on writing simple and clear sentences so that our message can shine through.
According to Copyblogger, 8 in 10 people will read our headline, but only 2 out of 10 will actually read the rest of the article. That means over 60% of people don’t read past the headline.
So, my next question would be – Is my headline compelling enough to capture my reader’s attention? Imagine if Taylor were to stumble upon any of my posts on the Internet, will she be excited enough to click on my headline instead of the others.
Well, my duty is to ensure that my headline is captivating and irresistibly enough for her to resist and she would be more than happy to click on it and to read the rest of the article.
Having said that, it is really our job to make sure that our headlines are compelling enough for our readers to keep on reading. So, it is always advisable to spend more time in creating your best headline as much as you’ve spent on writing your entire article.
Take time to try out different headlines.
Always look at the headlines of the top 10 ranking posts on the first page of Google.
Then make a comparison on the headlines for some of your other best performing and non-performing blog posts.
Study them and see if you can find any identical patterns within those headlines.
Ideally, your headlines shouldn’t be too short or too long. A good headline catches the eye, arouses the curiosity but still makes it clear what the writing is about. This takes practice, but it is well worth it.
Below are some of the examples of good headlines. Let’s find out why.
By just looking at “12 lessons from 5 content marketing case studies” may sound like you would just skip this headline and move to the next, BUT with a little additional copy in front, “Learn from the best”…Wow! It just makes a whole lot of difference – Who wouldn’t want to learn from the BEST!
The word “underused” really caught my attention! What would be some of the underused components which I didn’t even know. This really piqued my curiosity to find out more.
This may sound a little like those click-baity headlines out there, but if you can deliver what you’ve promised in the headline, then by all means…go ahead and use that. Again, who wouldn’t be tempted of getting slim without going to the gym, moreover it promises it can be done in a FUN way. I bet 9 out 10 of us would be dying to click on this to find out.
By the way, here is an article that I’ve written on how to write great headlines that can get higher blog traffic.
My next question would be – do I have enough value in my content? This is actually one of our goals here at SEOPressor. Everyone of us have agreed and promised ourselves that we will always deliver something that’s valuable to our readers.
And in my case, Taylor is always in the BIG picture. Like for instance, I always ask – what is the exact value she can get from reading any of my blog post?
So at the very beginning of the stage, I’ve to set my direction very clear that even if I’m taking an inspiration from another blog, I will have to find ways and ideas on how to write it from a different perspective. By having that in mind, it allows me to think over it over and over again, until I can come up with a less boring way to narrate my own story.
Besides, having a clear direction also allows me to think clearly on what kind of actionable steps, tips, advices, good practices, checklists, and etc to provide to her.
Follow these steps:
Read the top ten topics that’s listed on the first page of Google.
Then jot down some of the important points that they’ve missed out and see if you can actually get it covered with a slightly more detailed research on your own.
It is always advisable if the planning and the researching part can be done much earlier. Allow yourself to have more time when doing this because I found this particularly useful, especially if you are someone like me, who needs a slightly longer time to figure out on how to write it in a more appealing and enthusiastic way.
If you need to know whether you’ve done a good job in writing a perfect blog post – Look at the total comments and shares that you have for that particular post.
If your blog post is not getting the total number of shares and comments that you want, then try to compare with some of your previous posts and study it to see why.
The last question would be – Am I honest with my readers?
This is the final question which I think is very important. To be a good writer, I want to deliver only the best content for my readers, and that includes any information that I’ve gathered online or any opinionated views extracted from any industry experts’ blog – and all these need to be cited properly!
That is to ensure that all information that I’m going to publish soon are always up-to-date and it’s relevant to my readers and it’s not something that is pluck out of thin air.
Since readers are extremely Internet savvy these days, we do not want them to feel that we are actually taking them for a ride. This is something we should realize the sooner the better, because any signs of engaging in deliberate misinformation can quickly ruin our credibility.
This is also crucial for me to know that I don’t fall into the trap of misleading my readers. Considering that there are 2 million blog posts that are being published every single day, the only way to make ourselves stand out from the rest of the so-called mediocre bloggers out there, is to find our own truthful voice.
What I’ve learned so far is that, being honest and truthful to myself, I’m able to translate the honesty of my own perception into my own writing. As I’ve mentioned it earlier, even if the inspiration was taken from someone else’s blog, it is always advisable if we’ve to could cite and give credits to the original author.
So from now on, it is always recommended if we can be really honest and sincere with our own writing. For instance, whatever data or information that we’ve inserted in our articles have to be verified and cited properly and accurately. Just make sure that any statistics that we are going to include in our blog post should be the latest and up-to-date information rather than giving an obsolete information to your readers.
Remember, writing doesn’t have to be complicated. Approach it as though you were talking to a friend. Keep it simple and easy to understand. Put as much effort into your headline as you do the rest of the content. Be honest and authentic. Don’t get caught up in keywords and don’t be afraid to try new things. Be open to feedback and be prepared to change what isn’t working. These are things to keep in mind when you sit down at the keyboard. Do these things, and you will create valuable content that will get read and shared.
Updated: 8 April 2020