How to be Content With Your Content

On January 18, 2012, in Web Content Writing, by lesley
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Content creation has recently become more contentious because Google, it seems, wants quality. Those of us who have been trying to deliver can only yell ‘hurray!’ but now that it is more difficult to whip up contentless fluff (or rather, now that it is less likely that mass produced content ess fluff will be accepted by an article directory) what is a webstore owner to do to promote his or her store? You need to learn

How to write good content.

 

Promotional writing isn’t difficult, the standard 500 word article is something most people can produce with relative ease, where the challenge comes is in the quantity; how do you find topics to write about? Everyone can write an article a day, but a constant supply of fresh ways to look at the same set of products is a challenge. The problem is that if you have a web store, or even a niche blog, your subject doesn’t change, it just goes on and on until  even the most motivated store owner can feel heartily sick of it.

So what can you do?

The simplest type of article to write is the ‘Top Ten Tips’ article. Its also an article type which is frequently picked up by blog publishers looking for content.

So let’s break it down.

Ezine no longer accept 250 word articles. So lets say you are writing 500 words. A sentence is typically 12-15 words; a paragraph has no fixed length but article directories like them to be short – say 3 sentences.

So a ‘Top Ten Tips’ article should look something like this

Introduction – 30 words – two sentences
Point 1 – 10 – 3 sentences to each point (45 words)
Conclusion – two short sentences – 20 words

Each paragraph or ‘tip’ will represent a different idea. When  you create an outline of the article, and you should create an outline, the ‘tip’ will be represented by a single word.

Here’s an outline for a very basic top ten tip article

Introduction: Answer the question
Who needs to know about these tips?
Why do they need to know about them?
What will they be able to do once they know about them?
Tip 1 – What is the most important tip? Why is it important What difference will it make? (save your second most important tip for last)
For tips 2-9 answer the questions:
What is the tip
Why is it useful
Tip 10 – What is the second most important tip. Why is it important and what difference will it make?
Conclusion:
What are you readers now able to do as a result of knowing these tips and how does that make a difference to their life?

If you really find it impossible to flesh each point out to 45 words or so, increase the size of the introduction. It is always a good idea to convince your readers that there is a reason to read!

Once you have created an outline for your document, keep it. You can generate another article based on the same outline; you will use different words and hence produce unique content which can be used on your site or in another article directory.

But suppose you are a complete beginner. You are new to your niche, new to your store, you have no idea what to write.

Well there are two ways to fix that problem.

a. Plagiarism.
b. Research.

Of the two, I recommend research, so let's look at what that means.

Look at other articles on your niche. If there are none – then you have a problem. Not because of the lack of articles, but because your niche is most probably not a real niche. This is the Internet we’re talking about. There are articles on everything.  

Many of the articles around are fairly low quality, but you should be able to extract some points from each one. Think about what people want to know; how to do something, how to learn something, how to make something or how to change something. You can find questions which have been asked about your niche in Yahoo answers,  I searched there for questions on baby quilts. The first few questions were around making and selling quilts, but by narrowing the category to ‘newborn and baby’ I found some really useful, and unexpected questions:

  1. What color baby quilt should I buy for a boy or a girl?
  2. What do you do with baby quilts
  3. Where can I find fabric for baby quilts?
  4. can I cover my baby with a baby quilt at night
  5. where can I find a patriotic baby quilt
  6. where can I find a reputable site to provide hand made baby quilts for the couple who have everything?
  7. What gift is most appreciated by first time parents
  8. is it safe to have buttons sewn on a baby quilt
  9. What fabric should I use for a baby quilt
  10. how to I make sure my baby quilt is safe?

From these it’s easy to see that there are some recurring themes, especially safety, decor and gifts. Could I have come up with these myself? Yes, but I'm a mother, I have some experience of babies. If you don't then it's research for you!

This suggests the following as possible titles for articles designed to promote a baby quilt store.

  1. Top Ten Ideas for a Nursery Color Scheme (this can discuss baby quilts as part of the scheme) This is a great starting point for a series of articles about nursery decor, the best color choices for babies etc.
  2. Top Ten Gift Ideas for New Parents (Can mention baby quilts as one of the ideas)
  3. Top Ten Gift Ideas for the New Parent Who Has Everything (can stress hand made quality of quilts )
  4. Top Ten Reasons to Buy a Baby Quilt (can address what you do with them and whether to use them at night)
  5. Top Ten Tips for Choosing a baby quilt. (can discuss safety, color, fabric etc) This is another great starting point, once you’ve have researched this you can write ‘Ten things to avoid when choosing a baby quilt’
  6. Top Ten Things to Look For in a Baby Quilt (essentially the same article as the one above, but could, for example be targeted to grand parents)
  7. Top Ten Things I Love About My Baby Quilt (can discuss joy at receiving such a wonderufl gift and how it is used and why it is safe and how easy it is to wash. If it isn’t, it should be) Another great starter – how about ‘Ten things to do once you’ve bought your first baby quilt’ – articles don’t all have to center on Baby quilts, but they do have to center on items of interest to people buying baby quilts at the time they are buying.
  8. Top Ten Ways to Get Your New Baby To Sleep (can discuss the right bedding) Research this one and you can almost certainly write a whole article about each method. Top Ten Ways to Avoid Sleepless Nights with Your New Baby is another slant on the same information.
  9. Top Ten Ways to Save When Designing a Nursery. (Can mention the benefits of a baby quilt and that you can save by making you own, or discuss the many things you can do yourself but stress its better to leave something like bedding to an expert.)
  10. Top Ten Places to Buy a Baby Quilt. (Yes, you have to mention the competition, but that’s a good thing. You get a chance to say why the type you sell is better)

The point here is that you get nothing for nothing. You can find out what to write about, but you have to do some research. When you do, you need to store the result (the outline and research notes, not the article)  You’ll find it’s quick and easy to dig out the information and use it again.

What If You’re A Writer?

Research is a normal part of writing, but clearly, If you need to do a lot of research, you have to charge for your time. One way you can do that is to bundle; agree to write a number of articles on one subject so your research time can be distributed across them all.

If you are writing articles which your client wants to submit to an article directory you’ll have to have some content, as well as a reasonable command of written English. If you are not prepared to spend time researching then think up front about the subjects you are expert in, and write about those.

What If You Outsource Your Writing?

When you employ a writer, be sure to tell them what you want to do with the articles they write for you. Most professional writers will write to an adequate standard, and you will see their writing on their website. If you are working through odesk or elance, then get a sample of the writing, and remember you get what you pay for. When you pay a low rate it is unlikely you will get a thoroughly researched article, so if you’re subject is one that requires some experise, make it clear and ask for someone who with that interest or hobby.  You may also find it useful to send a list of titles or topics for them to use, rather than have your writer come up with their own. That way you can be sure to build a selection of articles which, when put together, can turn into a free report, something you can provide to site visitors as an incentive to sign up on your mailing list.

  • How do you approach content?
  • Do you write an outline?
  • Do you store your research notes?
  • Do you use mindmaps?

Please share you experience in the comments.

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