While I am fan of serialising great ideas, I think we all deserve a break from being schooled on the essentials of developing conversion content; saturating your eye sockets and bending your brains was never my plan. Instead, this week we’ll keep it short, sweet and to the point – after all, it’s the final curtain of August and your in-tray probably resembles an exploded land mine of panic and pedantry. Take a moment to breathe and calm yourself with the following three content mistakes everybody makes, no matter how awesome they claim to be:
Treating content as a mega-phone is a dangerous past time of many amateur content writers, digital marketers and hopeful bloggers. Why? Smashing an entry for just anybody ensures your witty drabbles translate through as blah, blah, blah. Why should anybody give a toss about a trail of words, meandering somewhere near a point but never really striking to the heart of the matter or reader mood? Audience is key. Take a tip and pretend you’re writing for a specific person or group of people. Figure out their style, what they do on the weekend, if they use words like “jelly”, colourful acronyms like “YOLO”, or shudder at the thought of rewinding English back to its adolescence. Before picking up the pen or keyboard, figure out WHO you’re writing for.
When you pick up a book, what compels you to turn the page and run your retinas feverishly from sentence to sentence? A striking prologue or first chapter usually converts a cynical reader into a hungry, hungry word hippo, consuming the book on the bus, the train and during lunch breaks. Upon finishing, they experience a brief moment of regret; there’s no way to re-read a good story for the first time. A virtuous article is very similar. Instead of thirty or so chapters, the writer has around five hundred words to transcend the common realm of the forgettable, and make an impression to be shared and savoured. A strong opening or introduction acts as a hook – think of your first few lines as a fishing line, cast out into the internet ether. Do you feel hopeful as you wait? Ravenous for success? Strong introductions tantalise and tease, opening up natural segues into the central topic and assure the audience they’re in the right place.
Don’t you hate skimming over an article and coming across a word or acronym so convoluted and confident in its own position, you just want to stop reading? I certainly do. Jargon is great, it really is, the extensive list of acronyms swirling around the Search Factory office is quite breathtaking; if an outsider were to visit, it would be a bit alienating. This ultimately comes back to refining your message for a specific audience and tapping into their linguistical idiosyncrasies; or spoken plainly (see, no one is immune) do they understand what you’re saying or are you assuming they understand? Pull back your word whip for now and make sure you’re on their level – after all, you should never write audience driven content for yourself.
Phew! Feeling refreshed? Bored? Tired? Possibly underwhelmed and disinterested with the world? Don’t despair, the weekend is almost here. Until next time, word warriors, may the social shares be ever in your favour.