It’s easy to write content for your blog or website, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to do it well. Sure, anyone can sit down and pound out a blog post on how to unclog a drain or the dos and don’ts of making pastry dough, but the ability to simply do something is never any guarantee of quality. The unfortunate reality of a world focused on disciplines like engineering, technology, and medicine, is that developing writing skills seem to have taken a backseat to “more employable” and “more lucrative” pursuits (not that we have anything against engineers, tech innovators, or doctors). The good news is that there is, and always will be, a need for clear, clever, and engaging writers. You don’t have to have a degree in English to be a good writer (though it certainly does help), so we’ve put together a few tips to get you started writing your own copy. Too Much Branding No one wants to read a blog that only publishes overtly promotional posts. Describing what your new product can do is great, but it can be boring and probably won’t bring in visitors that aren’t already looking for your product. Follow the 80/20 rule – 80% of your content should be unbranded but related to your product offering, while the remaining 20% can be promotional. The trick is to figure out what your target audience is talking about and what they want to read, and then creating content that is actually useful. If you sell hardwood floors, don’t write a post about how great your floors are – try writing a post about how to choose the right wood color for your décor. Remember Your Audience Always keep your audience in mind when writing copy. Use keyword research and social monitoring to find out what they’re talking about and the language they’re using, then join the conversation. Don’t write an article for a homeowner looking to choose their own floors if your target audience is interior designers. Stay On Topic One of the first things any English major will learn is to be concise. High school teachers seem to love flowery, extravagant language, but most people prefer it if you get straight to the point. Make your point clearly – it leaves less room for interpretation and argument, and clearly sends the message you want to send. Choose one topic for each webpage or blog post. If you’re writing an article on how to choose the right floor color, don’t digress and talk about how to choose matching draperies. Save that topic for another post – that way, you end up with more content, and it’s usually better quality. Keyword Optimization Your copy should be optimized for your target keywords, but it shouldn’t be overly repetitive. Don’t force your keywords into your copy – let them flow naturally and your audience will thank you for it. No Personality The hardest part about writing your own copy, especially blog copy, is developing a personality. I find the best way to do this is to just start writing. Write how you would talk, get a first draft done, and then as you edit and proofread you can clean up the language. If you have a funny comment to make, make it! Always keep your writing politically correct. If you’re not sure whether someone will be offended by a particular opinion or joke, it’s best not to express it. The Biggest Mistake… The worst mistake a novice copywriter can make is to not proofread and edit their writing. There will always be a typo, inappropriate word, run-on sentence, or improper comma to fix, so always proofread your work. Edit it two or three times, and try reading it out loud before you publish it. That way, you can tell if your sentences flow together, if your point actually makes sense, and catch any wayward typos or grammar errors in the process. If you’re not confident with your writing skills, hire a professional copywriter. High-quality copywriting signals a high-quality product or service offering. Professional copywriters can help you craft creative copy that will attract new audiences and keep your current readers engaged and ready for more.
With Valentine’s Day just passed, and with love in the air, I thought it is as good of a time as ever to look at ways to show your blog some love and give it an upgrade. With many companies and bloggers using the first part of the year to improve their website and get their content strategy in order for 2014, now is the perfect time to improve your blog and make sure it is in line with your marketing strategy this year. Content development, blogging strategies, internet marketing, and of course, Google are ever changing and showing your blog some love from time to time will ensure that you stay on top of things. 5 Ways to Show Your Blog Some Love Here are five ways that you can show your blog some love. They include: Give it a new look. Just like with your website design, the look of your blog cannot remain static. To keep new and returning users interested you need to change things up. You will also need to change design elements as they become dated and more effective and efficient options become available. A few simple changes here and there (i.e. updating the format or adding a new header image) can go a long way. Break up the text with visuals. Adding visuals to your blog posts is a must these days. Simply embedding an image into your post can have a significant impact on click through rates and how much your post is viewed, shared, and liked on social media. You have lots of options – images, screen shots, embedded videos are just a few of the most popular options. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words! Post More Frequently. Posting more frequently will not only give your users more to read, it will also help your website get crawled by search engines more frequently - an added SEO benefit. But remember – always focus on quality content over quantity. Get your tagging and categorization in order. One area that often gets messy over time is tagging and categories. Invest some time in reviewing and refining how you categorize posts on your website. Limit the number of categories you use and only use one category per post. The same is relevant for tagging. Keep things simple and only use the most relevant tags given the topic of the blog post. Improve usability. Doing things like improving pagination, internal linking and adding “Previous” and “Next Post” buttons will make it easier for users to navigate through your website. The easier it is to use, the easier it will be for your users to find what they are looking for. When is the last time that you make changes to your blog? Did the changes provide the results you were looking for? Are you planning on making changes this year? What were they?