Ever feel like you're shouting into the void when it comes to creating online content? Whether you have big plans to hire out content writing services in 2020, or are determined to keep plugging away at it yourself, this article will help ground you in the world of content writing.
This is Part I in a series of content writing posts. It assumes that you're a small business owner who:
Content Marketing: a Definition
According to intensive research (okay, Google), it appears no one knows who first coined the term content writing. It's cousin, copywriting, has been around for a lot longer. According to Copyblogger, the guru of copywriting, the term is defined as this:
"Copywriting is the art and science of strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action."
Note: people sometimes confuse copywriting with copyright. The two are not related: copywriting deals with written communication while copyright deals with security for people's creative works.
Doesn't Every Small Business Owner Write Content?
Yes. If you have a blog or an account on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook, then you are creating content for these platforms. The trouble with writing content for most business owners is three-fold:
What Makes Content Writing Effective?
This is a question I'm often asked indirectly by clients. Sure, they get that I'm a writer. They can see from my bio that I've been at this for nearly 12 years. But is my writing really effective?
I completely understand a client's hesitation. When you're handing over hard-earned money, you want to see results, otherwise you won't stay in business very long. So, let me give you a quick example.
An Example of Effective Content Writing
When *Roger came to me, he was worried. His new website was about to launch and he wasn't confident the writing was going to draw in readers. Because Roger's company sold high-tech medical goods, it was important not only that the language was engaging, but also that it built confidence in readers (i.e., medical professionals).
After our conversation and reviewing the current website copy, I could see Roger's point. The copy was long and filled with acronyms and high-tech medical words and procedures that I needed to stop and look up every few minutes. While there was a lot of good information, it was buried within the text and would be easily overlooked by website visitors.
According to The Daily Egg, website visitors spend an average of 15 seconds on a website before clicking away. 15 seconds! Of course, that's an average with some visitors spending much longer and some visiting accidentally and quickly clicking away. Still, it's a startling statistic.
I began by briefing Roger on the goal of his site. Every business owner wants to draw in new website traffic. But what were his goals beyond that? It turned out that Roger was pairing the launch of his new website with a huge direct mail campaign.
He wanted the medical professionals who would be receiving a glossy brochure to have a site to visit that was packed with reasons why they should hire Roger. We also created a free gift: a white paper that offered real-life, helpful tips on the pain points his product solved.
What Made the Final Site More Effective
Here are the steps I took to streamline Roger's site and make it more effective:
While all of these steps were necessary, the key was creating action/goal-oriented writing. This is the type of writing that makes you feel excited to stop reading an article or post so that you can hurry up and take action before someone else does.
Content writing, like any marketing, needs to be consistent, aimed at the right audience and memorable in order to be effective.
What are your challenges when it comes to content writing? Do you find that you lack time, focus or creativity? Please share in the comments and I'll do my best to help you find the resources you need.
*Roger is a real client but I've changed his name/business details to protect his privacy.
Joy Choquette has been writing professionally from her home office in northwestern Vermont for the past 11 years. She helps small business owners to cut through the clutter online by creating shareable stories and memorable messages that motivate customers to action. She specializes in the areas of business, environmental and health and wellness issues.