Once upon a time, I helped a law firm show its solicitors how easy it is to create content for its clients. Here are the bones of my quick lunch-time training session.
Writing with the reader in mind
As proud as you are of what you do, visitors to your website are only really interested in what you can do for them.
Too many websites focus on the ‘we’ rather than the ‘you’. And in doing so, alienate the reader from the off.
If you want web visitors to buy into what you’re selling, you need to put yourself in their shoes.
Top tips to help you connect
- Imagine who you are talking to and write as if you were in the room talking to them
- Use everyday words (e.g. ‘help’ rather than ‘facilitate’)
- Be specific. Leave no room for doubt
- Make it personal. Refer to ‘us’ and ‘you’
- Avoid jargon and acronyms
- Don’t be a salesman!
Give them what they want
People are swamped by a variety of sales messages every day.
Also, low-quality content pollutes the internet, turning people (and those pesky search engines!) off at every turn.
Good quality content will help you to stand out from the crowd; while positioning you as a trusted advisor.
What do business clients want from a blog?
What do private clients want from a blog?
Creating sharable content
The key to content sharing lies in expanding its reach.
Give your audience something so good they want to share it with their connections.
What makes people share content?
- It makes them look smart
- It helps them to strengthen their relationships
- It helps them to connect
- It helps define who they are
- It’s useful to them.
How to make it shareable
- Create something good!
- Take the time to get it right
- Give the reader something for nothing (e.g. top tips/original opinion, etc.)
- Think about what matters to your readers
- Ask clients what they’d like to read about.
Read all about it
A final consideration when it comes to writing blogs is to tap into ‘hot topics’.
If everyone is talking about a particular subject, use that to your advantage.
Just remember to add your own unique take and insight.
Keep it simple
However elegant your writing, the truth is, in most cases, web visitors don’t read very much of it.
Instead, they scan the page, seeking out words and phrases which interest them, disregarding the rest of your carefully constructed prose.
The key to writing successful web copy is to engage the reader while meeting this need for information as quickly as possible.
How to keep it simple
- Make sure the heading spells out what to expect
- Give the reader the ‘who’ ‘why’, ‘where’ and ‘what’ in the intro paragraph
- Don’t try to impress with your extensive vocabulary
- Avoid overly long pages
- Use bullets to break copy up (a maximum of seven!)
Make it personal
In a competitive marketplace, nothing differentiates like your own personality. A big dash of personality makes everything so much easier to read and keeps you front of mind.
It changes the way you deliver key messages, and it changes the way customers think about you.
Straight away – you’re approachable.
Top tips to add personality
- Keep it professional but lead with your personality
- Talk the same way you would face-to-face
- Choose the right topic – you can’t fake enthusiasm!
- Have confidence in your convictions
- Give them something they can’t get elsewhere
In summary (if you forget everything else)
- Plan in advance. Writing takes time. An afterthought will show
- Throw your plan away if something more exciting crops up!
- Respect your reader’s time. Give them what they are looking for
- Proof, edit and proof again
- Get to know your reader and their needs.
- Write just because it’s on your calendar. Readers will forgive gaps in posting, but they won’t forgive boring articles!
- Try to be someone else
- Be afraid to take a stance. Just make sure your facts are correct and your reasoning solid!
- Play the spammy headline game. Let people know what to expect
- Miss the boat. Hot news has a time frame. Miss it, miss out.
Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard)
- Don’t be beaten by the blank page. Write headings/ideas, anything to start the process
- Don’t get bogged down in detail. Structure, length and the right words can come later
- Not sure if it’s interesting enough? Ask ‘so-what?’ to everything you write
- Think of the questions you’re asking and start with one-word answers, Try asking, who, what, why, when and how
- Think about how you would phrase it if you were talking to a client. Sounds good right?