You know that there is no business like show business, right? But who is to say exactly what is meant by “show business”? When you create content, you do so in an attempt to show readers that you know what you are talking about and that they should go to you if they want to learn more or use your service/product.
So when it comes to the show business of content creation, how can you make sure your writing is a box office smash? (Or at least a cult hit or award favorite)?
7 Methods To Shout From the Rooftops (Or Get Your Content A Lot of Viewers)
There are actually a lot of things you can do to make sure your content is seen by a whole lot of viewers, but here are seven good places to start.
1. The Preview Looked Good: Use Social Media to Attract Readers. Have you ever determined whether you would see a movie based off of its preview? There is a good chance that you have. Here are some things that my friends and I have been known to say after a preview:
- “I didn’t think I would want to see that, but the preview looked good.”
- “The preview looked funny, but they probably put all the funny parts in it. So it’s probably not going to be that good.”
- “I’m disappointed. I thought I was going to like it, but not if the preview is anything to go by.”
You have probably said something similar at some point too. So what does that mean for content production?
It’s not just the writing itself that counts, it is all the small, social media content you do along the way to advertise for your content. What you say in the Tweet, Facebook post, or summary can be just as important as the actual content.
Because it is what viewers are most likely to see first, it is the main component in deciding whether they are going to read on. So you have to grab their attention there if you want to have any chance at grabbing their attention in the long-form post.
Moral of this point: If you can’t catch them in the previews, then you are not likely to catch them at all.
2. Be the Headliner: Create Good Headlines. Just like it is the star headliner that is going to draw a lot of the crowd, it is your catchy headline that is going to get people interested in reading your content. So you know that you need to work hard on crafting a great title.
Knowing you need a good headline and actually being able to come up with one, though, are two very different things. Not only do you have to get your creative juices flowing in order to write a good title, you also have stop trying so hard because people can always tell when you are trying too hard.
Luckily for all of us, there are all sorts of tools to help us create amazing titles.
- Advanced Marketing Institute. The AMI has a headline tool that allows you to enter your headline and have its Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) ranked. It then walks you through how many EMV words a good headline should have and what type of EMV words you are using (e.g., intellectual EMV).
- Crazyegg Blog. This post walks you through several ways almost guaranteed to convert readers and tells you why they are successful.
- The Future of Ink. This post basically gives you some fill in the blank headlines that you can use with your own content.
Moral of this point: If the headliner isn’t drawing in crowds, then everything else had better be a hundred times better to make up for it.
3. Open Strong: Create Catchy Intros. After the opening night of a movie or play, reviews are going to come in. That opening could just make or break the show because if it gets all bad reviews, people aren’t likely to come back for the rest of the performances.
Think of your opening paragraph as the one that is going to get you the initial reviews. People are going to read it, and then they are going to determine whether they want to read more. If your intro paragraph is getting bad reviews, then no matter how good the rest of the content is, people likely aren’t going to be reading it.
On the other hand, if you capture the attention of your readers from your opening lines, then you have a better chance of making it to the end of your run (i.e., getting people to read the entire article.) So don’t ignore that opening paragraph or rush through it to get to the meat of what you are trying to say.
Moral of this point: If you want a long run, make sure you get good reviews from the opening.
4. You’re Gonna Be in the Pictures: Use Images. I’m making a long, drawn out analogy here comparing writing to show business, so you can see why images are going to be an important component to what I am saying. If you want to be a success in show business, then you need to actually show something.
People like pictures. It’s just a fact of life. That’s why they say a picture is worth a thousand words. A good image will draw the eye so that the potential reader can see that great headline you created, which will cause them to read that opening line that is going to get you great reviews, which will make them read whatever it is you have to say. And all because you caught their eyes with a good image.
Images could even help your SEO ranking because Google loves images as much as us mortals. You can find free images on places such as Wikimedia Commons or by searching Flickr’s creative commons images. You can also set up accounts on platforms such as iStock in order to find pictures.
Moral of this point: People love going to the pictures, so give them a picture worth seeing.
5. Take 5: Use Breaks Wisely. Looking at a giant block of text is bound to give you a headache. It doesn’t matter what it says, it just looks intimidating. Think about going to a play. You are going to have notable act breaks and likely an intermission. Even movies, which very rarely have intermissions unless they are three plus hours long, have Act and Scene breaks. Imagine watching a movie that was done all in one shot. Sounds dull to me.
When you are writing any type of long-form content, you need those “Act” and “Scene” breaks not only to help guide the flow of the piece, but to keep from scaring off potential readers.
In order to do this, use subheadings (and give them the same consideration you give the title), bullets, numbers, charts, images, etc. Just whatever you do, don’t create a giant body of text and expect people to want to read it.
Moral of this point: Give people short breaks so that they can digest all of the great performances they have been watching (or reading as the case may be.)
6. Lights, Camera, Action: Don’t Just Use a Bunch of Words, Say Something Important. Everybody wants to see it because of the previews, the headliner is drawing lots of attention, the images are stunning, and the actual movie is … blah. This could be a big flop on Rotten Tomatoes. What went wrong?
You can do everything else exactly right, but it does not mean anything if the actual content is bad. People want action. They want plot. They want to be able to trust the piece they are reading. Don’t just say words to fill in space. Make every word count, and back up your claims with proof.
If you give people interesting content and prove that you aren’t just making things up, people are going to enjoy what you have to say and believe that you are an expert. That is the way you will become a success.
Moral of this point: Without a believable plot, no one is going to like the story.
7. They’ll Remember the Closing Act: Leave Them Wanting More. Now that you have done everything right, end strong. People like endings. Just recently, one of my friends was discussing a book with me, and he said that the book was good, but then it just kind of ended. He wouldn’t recommend it because he hated when books did that. What does this tell you? Wrap things up if you want to leave people satisfied.
When they are finished reading, people should have all their questions answered. What was the point of what they just read? Why were you the right person to tell them about it? And, perhaps most importantly, what should they do next?
In order to close strong, wrap up all your points. Did you ask why carrots are orange in the beginning, but you never finished with the answer? Then you aren’t finished yet. Did you write a great post, but never explained why the post was written? Then you aren’t finished yet.
The ending is where you can place your call to action if you have one – such as donate to a cause or fill out a form. It is also where you make sure all of your points are wrapped up.
Moral of the point: When they leave, the ending is what they’ll remember most: make sure they remember something great.
Successful Content Is Like A Well-Oiled Machine
Just like a movie is not just a preview or a scene or an actor, a good piece of writing is not just one thing. In order to be successful, you have to make sure everything is working together to be the exact thing your reader needs. Only then will it be successful.
Photo credit: Dmitrii Kotin/iStock