Content is often regarded as the lifeblood of an online business. Many entrepreneurs, however, still choose to focus the majority of their efforts on short-term marketing tactics.
This begs the question: what’s the efficacy in bringing more users to a website whose content is mediocre?
The same can be said for design. Even though looks do matter, high quality content has a greater impact in the long run and can set you above the crowd more quickly.
Here's my point: if your content has the ability to naturally attract attention, then your marketing job down the road will be much easier.
In this post I will cover 22 effective writing strategies to help you make your content truly useful and compelling.
1. Know your audience
You can’t write compelling content when you don’t know who you are making it compelling for. Interests, tastes and needs vary from an audience to another so it’s ideal to identify a “audience” to write to. What I mean by audience is a group of people with common interests that share the same needs, worries, passions or goals.
Knowing your audience is basically a question of determining those commonalities. You are not going to write for start-up runners, for example, the same way you write for established entrepreneurs with years of experience.
In case you haven’t defined your audience yet, I recommend you download my free eBook, Pick Your Niche, and go through the simple exercises step by step.
In many ways, you are the link between your readers’ needs and the actions they have to take to fulfill those needs. You are a sort of a middleman who embodies this “need to action” transition.
One of your primary goals, therefore, is to motivate others to take action and ultimately make real change in their lives.
3. Give Real Examples
As a motivator, you need to be credible and reliable enough so that your readers trust you and decide to follow your guidance while taking action. The best way of ensuring this is to support what you’re writing about with specific and concrete examples from your own life.
Try to be transparent and share what you've learned in your journey by turning your experiences into wisdom.
And if you're struggling to think of examples, ask yourself: “Who do I need to be to give my readers what they want?" and then become that person.
4. Be Authentic
Authenticity has become a buzzword which made it lose a bit of its efficiency but it's still one of the most important components for wring compelling content.
Your goal is to simply present the real you in an angle that your readers are more likely to find original and worth following.
You don’t have to be a complete open book though. There are things that are better left unsaid, primarily because they bring nothing useful to the content.
5. Tell a story
The fact is that people tend to remember a story much better than they would remember anything else.
Your readers will subconsciously put themselves in the story. It incites them to imagine the scenes, envision the environment and look forward to hearing how the story ends.
So, instead of presenting a series of formal information, portray your topic through the lens of a story teller and a scene setter.
6. Be Original
If you want to provide your readers with a content that’s epic, you want to come up with something that is unique and different. One way to do so is by creating your content from actual experiences. There has to be something that you’ve done and that nobody else has done before.
Try also to experiment with different topics and types of writing, especially when you are at the first stage of starting your business and establishing relationships with your audience. Don’t think you should avoid a topic because it is taboo or because you might get criticism for going against the trend. As you may find out in the future, these unconventional topics can turn to be quite beneficial.
7. Have a Conversational Tone
Writing in a tone that’s a friendly, conversational, yet instructive and argumentative, is a way of drawing the reader into whatever it is that you're espousing, be it an elaborate business
strategy or a simple tip on how to choose a business name.
By having a conversational tone, you don't appear to be lecturing your readers or come off as condescending. Additionally, this also makes the reader feel "one" with you, as if they're just discussing these matters casually over coffee.
8. Shorter Paragraphs
Avoid lengthy paragraphs and write in shorter sentences in order to hold the reader's attention.
Some people think that the long paragraphs impress readers and leave them wishing for more. This might be true for a fiction book but in the online world the truth is that the longer the paragraph, the more chance that someone will skip it.
The space between paragraphs also allows the reader to establish visual landmarks, so his eyes don't get lost especially in a long text.
9. It’s all in the opening
Since the whole purpose of publishing content is to get the reader to read it, the opening paragraph and the opening sentence cannot be bland.
Try to put more emphasis on writing great introductions so your readers are drawn to them like bees to honey.
Breaking the article into sections with catchy headings whether in the form of questions (anticipate the reader's questions as the reading is progressing) or steps (e.g. things to do or not to do, tutorial steps...) will help your readers find what that want quickly.
These headings, usually in bold, also help the reader structure the proposed information and allow an overall view making it easy to come back to a particular section.
11. Call to action
You want to be writing the kind of content that encourages the reader to come back to the website in the future.
One effective way of doing so is by inviting your readers to react to the subject and including a call to action from their side. For example, you can pose a question for them to reflect on and explore their own understanding.
Calling people for action is a way to get them involved in your business. It’s a great way to deepen their engagement and strengthen that spirit of community which is all about sharing and taking actions.
12. Be Passionate
Passion is infectious so make sure your passion for the topic you’re writing about shows through your written words.
When you're passionate, your sincerity show through, and people would feel compelled to trust you and what you present.
13. Be Vulnerable
Show some vulnerability in your writing. This will allow people to better relate to you as a human being who has, just like they do, some weaknesses.
Your vulnerability and imperfection will make you look even more trustworthy in the eye of the reader.
14. Show Some Authority
Your readers expect you to be a leader so you want to show them your deep understanding on the subject you are writing about.
Try to stand in your reader's shoes by anticipating questions a regular reader may ask themselves while reading your content and give them the solutions they are looking for.
15. Don't Offer the Moon
Success usually doesn’t come on a silver platter and that it takes time and hard work to achieve it.
A business that promises success with zero efforts makes the reader think “This is too good to be true, there’s got to be a trick somewhere”
16. Engage with Your Readers
You can get your readers more involved in the article by inviting them comment and share their points of view.
This is generally done by asking opinion-involving questions to the reader. For example, Have you ever used this kind of technique? Do you think these tips could be useful in your case? Leave a comment below and tell us!
17. Create a sense of community
People like it when the content they’re reading make them feel at home and has a sense of community to it.
You can nurture that feeling by giving something exclusive to your group, such as free eBook or other exclusive content.
18. Spice up your content
Content that is too formal looks deadly pale and can easily bore readers.
Spicing up your content with personal touch, edgy writing, and a well-developed voice keeps readers more stimulated and engaged in what you have to say. It will also prevent you, as a writer, from getting bored yourself (bonus!)
19. Have a fresh eye on your writing
When you spend hours writing a long article you tend to get more and more subjective about it.
The result: you wind up liking everything you come up with, over-looking badly structured sentences, and having many run-on sentences.
The solution: just stop. One way to avoid being trapped by your own subjectivity is to save your draft and forget about it for a while.
Having fresh eyes will help you trim the fat off your article, reorganize, and realign your thoughts to reflect your original intentions.
20. Edit your Work
I suggest you avoid editing too much as you go along. Instead, just write what you have to say, and leave the editing until later. Writing and editing simultaneously tends not to save time and may cause you to forget spontaneous ideas.
Once you're draft is complete, use editing and proofreading to ensure your content is concise and elegant. Effective editing will eliminate grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, structural problems, inconsistencies and readability issues with your text.
21. Quality over Quantity
The bottom line is your content will be judged on how valuable it is to readers and not on how long or short it is. So don’t worry about length. Choose quality over quantity.
22. Write to the point
The amount of information on the internet is overwhelming and to make matters worse most of that content is just fluff - nothing specific and nothing of value.
Instead of flash and fluff, make sure you remove unnecessary sentences and eliminate filler words that don’t add any value.
All the promotion in the world won’t make your site popular if your content is well-decortaed trash.
Remember, your content has a job to do. To build a thriving audience, it has to deliver something much deeper than just getting more Facebook likes or ranking high in the search engine.
Great content is an invaluable way to provide value to your readers. It inspires them, makes them think, entertains them, and more than anything, delivers results.
So before you start working on your marketing plan or the fancy design of your website, make sure that you have a product worth promoting and put content creation at the top of your priority list.
Tal Gur is a location independent entrepreneur, author, and impact investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His most recent book and bestseller, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has set the stage for his new mission: elevating society to its abundance potential.