Journalists and content marketers share a common purpose, they write to be read.
By adopting a simplistic approach to their writing and having the reader at the core of everything they do, journalists are particularly successful at having their content enjoyed and shared.
The Inbound marketplace is overflowing with writers all wanting to be heard, these ten simple tips will help your content stand out.
1. Understand your target audience
Before writing you need to think about your target audience. A one-size-fits-all approach appeals meaningfully to no one. Realise what your audiences’ likely goals might be, what problems they might face and gather an idea as to what makes them tick.
2. Write engaging headlines
Keep it short and simple, yet use intriguing adjectives. The most effective length is 65 characters (or less), this is so the title will be listed in its entirety on search engines. The optimal word length is just six, most people scan headlines and if it’s too long they’ll miss the point. Ensure each and every, single word adds something. Make sure the title reflects the content, otherwise, readers will feel irritated and cheated. Besides, you want people interested in your content to read your content.
3. Create an intriguing introduction
Your introduction is the most important part of your writing. It’s in this moment the reader decides whether or not what you have to say will be of any interest to them. It’s important to ‘grab’ them at this stage.
A good introduction adds intrigue, condensing the wording down so that only the phrasing that needs to be there is actually present. Your intro should be short and to the point, enticing your reader to read on.
Many a journalist is taught this by trying to imagine dashing into a pub. Something interesting has happened outside the pub, what can be said in that instant to sum up the whole event?
Simply put, view it from the perspective of the barman, he only wants to know the juiciest pieces of information and he’d like it delivered in a way that’s easy to understand.
Make sure what you have to say stands out. Always include: what makes it out of the ordinary? And what makes it relevant to the reader?
4. Use a natural writing voice
It’s important to use your natural writing voice. If trying to become someone else in your writing it feels unnatural to the reader.
Many a writer falls down at this hurdle. They want to appear like a knowledgeable writer, throwing lots of long words in to make their vocabulary appear impressive. When a reader has to pick up a dictionary during a sentence you’ve lost them.
5. Get rid of words that don’t add anything
If you can cut words out without changing the mood or meaning of the article always dispose of them. By having too many meaningless words your message loses clarity.
Avoid empty business buzzwords and phrases that bore and make readers switch-off. Be more descriptive in your writing and say what you mean rather than dancing around it.
6. Keep it simple
By using a long word that doesn’t fit in a sentence, the writer’s voice is lost alongside interest from the reader. It appears like a bump in the road, throwing the reader off course and interrupting the flow of the article. Repetition of a word creates the same effect and this should be avoided if possible.
When attempting to add mood to a piece it’s hard not to start sprinkling adjectives everywhere. What this usually results in is writing that feels cheesy and awkward. Many accomplished writers avoid this pitfall by reading extensively. It’s a good idea to follow suit and make notes on sentences you particularly like, adding them to a journal to look back on. There are no short-cuts when it comes to wider vocabulary, if you don’t have one don’t pretend you do.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. – George Orwell
7. Become a master of your subject
To write about something, you really need to know all about it. For SEO, Google likes in-depth text which doesn’t just skim over a subject. Many attempt the latter in everyday life (especially in business) and often in their writing. If you don’t know what you are talking about it’s wise to spend more time on your research.
Write as straight as you can. – Ernest Hemingway
8. Say something different
Why are you saying what you are saying? Is it relevant, has it been said before? Unless you have something captivating to say in all honesty it’s probably best to avoid writing about it.
Wherever possible use a human angle, use real people and real perspectives. However, it’s always best to avoid authority figures that radiate boredom.
9. Create structure
Try to make sure there are juicy bits of information at the top, providing an immediate hook and the more mundane detailing toward the bottom, but also, there’s an importance of leaving a little back to encourage the reader to go further into the article, avoiding overwhelming them with information. This is commonly known as the inverted pyramid.
People have become more and more impatient when reading articles, they want to cut straight to the part they’re looking for which is why the inverted pyramid works particularly well for web content.
An inexperienced writer is frequently caught out with structure. Without some form of order, the story will feel messy and difficult to follow.
10. View from your audiences’ perspective
Write what you feel the reader would like to hear rather than what you’d like to say. Never write with the aim of boosting your own ego.
If you make it your intention to write something your audience would enjoy reading, you really can’t go too far wrong.
Many attempt the latter in everyday life (especially in business) and often in their writing. If you don’t know what you are talking about it’s wise to spend more time on your research.