I’ve been asked to give a brief lesson on how to write content for the web.
While it’s writing we’re going to cover, to apply the lesson I want you to think of yourself as an artist. You’re going to paint a picture—illustrate a point (or several).
So you’ll start with a sketch. The blank canvas before you needs some simple black strokes to begin with. After we’ve got a good strong framework, we’ll apply all kinds of color.
Are you with me? Get your pencils out. Here we go.
The black and white of writing content.
Great writing is very much about preparation. Great content marketing is very much about planning. So we’ll begin with some fundamentals— black and white guidelines to outline the work that needs to be done before you start writing.
Zero in on your goal.The discipline of writing content may resemble journalism more so than advertising, but you need to remind yourself what you’re doing is marketing. You want the reader to respond.
The response can take a variety of forms. I don’t know precisely which is the optimum response you’re aiming for, but you need to. Examine what your broad objective, or objectives, are in your content marketing strategy then zero in on the specific goal of the piece you plan to write.
Uncover the pain. Definitions of “content marketing” vary, but the word “value” is a common thread. I like to simplify content marketing in three words: proactively answering questions.
Think of yourself as a friend to the reader. What do your friends do? They help you. And the most helpful ones are good listeners. They get you. They have a handle on your problems. They know what causes you pain and what gives you pleasure.
You need to identify a friend out there in your audience and understand them. “Content” is kind of cold word for what you’re going to provide. Advice is a much warmer way to think of it.
Know the turf. Where will your reader encounter your content? This can be tricky because the answer may not be singular. You may have to live with a dose of mystery, however you’ll be a far more valuable resource if you’re able to map your content to a media-driven strategy.
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