Freelance writing online—a part-time gig to fill your spare time, a common misconception that many have.
Sure, writing online can be a fun hobby for some; however, for others, it’s a passion that fuels a fire that some simply don’t understand. Content writing is oftentimes a thankless job—in some cases, you work hours on end researching and toiling over a keyboard creating an outstanding piece of content that doesn’t even garner you a byline. So why bother doing it?
Here’s my answer: because it’s my passion.
I’ve been a writer my entire life—I kid you not. Before I could even write, I was telling wild stories that my family would write for me so I could have a copy to show off to my friends, family, and maybe my own children someday. That passion turned into a love of reading and a love of creation, one that spurred my love of education. An odd combination, sure, but it all comes together, I promise!
I knew college was my dream in elementary school, but when the time came, choosing what road I was going to take and what I was going to do with the rest of my life…
Talk about an impossible task!
Freelance Writing Online: From Dream to Present & Future
What started as a love of education and wanting to educate other’s, quickly fizzled out as soon as the job market told me that becoming an educator wasn’t ideal. Teachers were getting laid off left and right, so why bother wasting my time and tuition money in a dead-end dream?
Okay, so it was time to choose a fallback option. I loved to read and create, so English was an obvious choice, but what kind of job could I get as an English major… Besides teaching English? Enter in Dr. Terri Fredrick, and there began my journey in professional and technical writing. This was a professor who encouraged us to look at every option available, including freelance writing online.
She taught us every lesson in the book:
- How to spot scams
- How to research clients
- How to cold-pitch ideas
- To not count yourself short
However, the lesson that stuck with me the most was to do what you love.
Upon graduating in 2013, this English major with her background in professional and technical writing knew that she wanted to write, but oddly enough, there weren’t all that many positions open for in-office writers. So, despite my family’s objections, I headed online, hit up ProBlogger.com, and landed my first writing position for a journalistic style website.
Interested in working from home and writing? We’re always interviewing for additional writers. Send in your resume or samples here!
Freelance Writing Online: Part-Time Gig or Full-Time Job?
The overall job outlook for writers and authors is projected to grow 8% between 2016 and 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and with traditional publishing declining due to the uprising of online publication, the demand for online freelance writers is expected to grow.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
What does that mean for anyone looking to start freelance writing online? Is this a position for part-timers looking to fill in some downtime? Alternatively, are there real possibilities to go full-time and make a living?
It all comes down to your intentions and personal preferences. For those looking to make a hobby of it, there are plenty of opportunities, both paid and unpaid; however, for those looking to make a career of it, I have some advice:
Prepare to get dirty and fight for your position.
Becoming a full-time freelance content writer takes a lot of time, patience, dedication, and yes, maybe a few tears along the way. Just like any other dream, you must be willing to work for it.
When I first started my journey into freelance writing online, I figured my degree would be enough to land me quality work, but just like with any other position, I had to prove that I could tough it out.
This meant researching and writing on topics that I didn’t love, working long hours and when I finally had the opportunity to take on freelance editing, it meant working overnight shifts, effectively putting my social life on hold.
What made it even harder, personally, was the fact that my circle didn’t believe that freelance writing was a “real job,” simply because I worked from home. To most, a “real job” consists of putting on business casual clothing, driving into the office and working 9-5. A “real job” wasn’t working in your home office at varying times researching and writing on topics varying from healthy keto recipes to Kim Kardashian’s latest relationship dramas.
While it wasn’t a traditional reality, it was my reality, and I loved it. Not only was I writing, but I was continuing my love of education because I had to continuously research topics for client pieces, and I knew I would be educating others once they read the content I was creating.
I was living my dream…. I am living my dream.
Becoming a Full-Time Online Freelance Writer
I could go on to tell you that to become a full-time freelance writer online you must create a website, pitch your ideas and network, but I’m not going to. There are enough blogs and how-to articles out there that do just that.
That said, here are my tips on how to become a full-time online content writer.
1. Put Yourself Out There
By putting yourself out there, I mean get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If I’ve learned anything in my 6+ years of freelance writing online, it’s to be prepared to get out of your comfort zone. Since I was trained in literature during my school years, never did I imagine I would end up writing about digital marketing, celebrity entertainment, or health and wellness.
As a freelance writer, you can choose your niche; however, if you are just starting off, you need to prove your skills just as you would in any “real” job. This means researching and writing on topics you aren’t that familiar with and providing top-quality content that delivers results. Don’t be afraid of writing outside your comfort zone because it could be the difference between going full-time and struggling to land work.
2. Build Your Network
Okay, so I said I wasn’t going to go there… however, I’m going there. Building your online network matters more than you know. Writing is a creative art, even if it is technical in nature. You are creating something from nothing, and you need to have a network of people surrounding you to endorse your skills and help guide you on current trends. Think of it this way; your network works a lot like an artist’s online portfolio or a business’s testimonials page.
Having a strong network of people to endorse your work is one of the best ways to prove to future clients that you are capable of completing given tasks. Better yet, this network can also work to give you feedback to help shape your future work. Having a networking profile, such as a LinkedIn profile, is beneficial on so many different levels because it helps you continue learning from industry experts, all while allowing you to showcase your talents to prospective clients—all of which are vital steps in your journey to freelance writing online.
3. Your Client is Your Customer, Treat Them as Such
Another essential lesson I’ve learned through my years of online freelance work is always to treat each client as if they are the only one you have. Whether you found a steady job with a content creation agency or are choosing individual assignments on your own, each client needs to be treated as if they are your only focus.
Freelance writing online is a service that you are providing, and just like any other service, you are being hired to fulfill a customer’s needs. Treat your clients with the respect they deserve and always give them your best work. If you don’t feel like as if you can do their assignment justice, do the right thing, and tell them so. The absolute last thing you should be doing is handing in half-@$$ed work. That’s not going to get you the reputation you want. So, remember, the client is your customer, treat them as if they are the only one you have, and give them the quality work they deserve.
4. Let Go of Stigmas
If I’m being honest, this is probably one of the biggest struggles I had to overcome as a freelance content writer. Between disapproving loved ones, the stigma of being “lazy,” not having a “real job” and dealing with the instability of the job market, there were many times when I felt that freelance writing online simply wasn’t a viable position.
Here’s the lesson—I let outside influences tell me that it wasn’t viable, when, in fact, online content creation is a booming industry. With over 1.6 billion websites online, businesses are turning to online freelance writers to create expert-level writing that will attract new readers that will eventually lead to new customers.
That said, let go of all stigmas! The more you tell yourself you can’t, the more real that negativity becomes.
LET IT GO!
Get Serious About Freelance Writing Online
Sure, while many individuals turn to freelance writing online as a source of extra income or even just as a hobby, there are many out there that want to make this more than that and turn it into a full-time career.
To do that, you must get serious and buckle down. There are dozens of different ways to go about finding a freelance writing job, but until you let go of those stigmas I mentioned earlier and start treating this as the passion you claim it to be, you won’t see much in the way of results.
Get Serious. Put Yourself Out There. Live Your Passion and Create Something Amazing!
Writing content for SEO (search engine optimization) is a necessary, vital skill for online marketers.
Just look at some of these stats around search…
While the purpose of content is to be helpful and useful for readers, it also needs to appear in search engines — otherwise, you’re losing out on the potential your content could have.
Like all types of online writing, however, learning how to write content for SEO is a skill that you must learn.
With this in mind, let’s dive into how to write content for SEO, and what proactive steps you can take to make your online content visible, relevant, and interesting.
How to Write Content for SEO: 7 Steps
Here’s a sneak peek at the 7 steps we’re going to cover in today’s blog.
1. Outline and ideate the content in your head before you write it.
2. Structure your content for easy readability & long-tail keywords.
3. Format all of your content into short chunks.
4. Make your headings descriptive.
5. Nail the transition.
6. Have other people proofread your posts.
7. Have other people proofread your posts.
8. Make sure your articles are long enough to provide ample main content.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. By making online content easy for the crawlers of search engines like Google to understand, good SEO principals help written material rank more efficiently. They can even make it easier for readers to find your written material online!
There are two different segments of SEO: technical SEO and on-page SEO. While technical SEO refers to the links, structure, and code of a website, on-page SEO is the keyword inclusion, length, outbound links, images, and style of a post – all of which help Google “read” it and rank it accordingly.
Both technical and on-page SEO are methods of optimizing content and getting it to rank in a favorable manner. Common SEO tactics involve keyword research and inclusion, image optimization, link building, and content formatting.
Need step-by-step guidance on how to write SEO content? After earning 20,000+ keyword rankings in Google across 8 years, I’m now teaching SEO writing! Download for FREE: The SEO Content Writer’s Cheat Sheet.
How to Create Content That Supports Good SEO: 7 Formatting & Structure Tips
Today, good SEO and good content go hand-in-hand. If your content is poorly formatted, improperly structured, or carelessly thrown together, it’s going to be difficult to shape it into something that supports effective SEO. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you correctly develop all of your blog posts, starting now:
1. Outline and ideate the content in your head before you write it.
While nobody is saying you need to sit down and create a “brain map” of your various ideas, content that supports good SEO is the opposite of an impressionist painting. Instead of being random and sudden, it is methodical and categorical. Because of this, brainstorming content is a powerful way to ensure that you’re including all of your main points and topics, and that you can use the content to input links, keywords, and other important SEO elements.
To this end, think about all of your content, with these questions, before you write it:
- Who are you trying to reach?
- Which keywords will you include?
- What’s the overall point of your material?
- What do you want the content to communicate?
- By thinking through the course and structure of your content clearly, it’s easier to publish great content that lends itself nicely to SEO.
2. Structure your content for easy readability & long-tail keywords.
Great blog posts rely on great structure, and good SEO does, too. With this in mind, consider mapping or outlining your blog posts before you write them. In addition to giving you a structure to abide by, this simple task will also help you lay out your introduction, body, and conclusion, and ensure that your content is easy to read, which, in turn, makes it more reader- and search engine-friendly.
Long-tail keywords are your best friends in terms of optimizing for keywords that won’t break the bank (take too long or too much $). Read my guide here for more on how to go after long-tail keywords, including which tools to use.
3. Format all of your content into short chunks.
A large brick of text is intimidating to readers, and it will push people away. With this in mind, be sure to divide all of your content into readable chunks of text, with a beginning, middle, and end.
As a general rule, paragraphs should be only 3-4 sentences in length, and you should do your best to insert subheaders at intervals of every 300 or so words. This makes your content easier for readers to approach and helps keep it from feeling intimidating on the page. It also has the potential to improve your click-through rate, which can boost your overall SEO scores.
Look through some posts here to see examples of readable content:
4. Make your headings descriptive.
Beyond just using headings, you need to know how to make them descriptive and useful. Headlines are meant to guide readers through your blog post, and headlines that are highly descriptive and include target keywords will do the best job of this. They’ll also work as a sort of advertisement on Google’s search engine results page and, if they’re written well enough, will draw more people to your content.
5. Nail the transition.
Transition words are important to your writing, and they can go a long way toward making it smoother and easier to understand for readers. While this sounds simple, it’s important to remember that good content is the foundation of good SEO, and content your customers can’t read doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance of ranking well.
With this in mind, don’t hesitate to use transition words and phrases like “However,” “Secondly,” etc. These help your readers keep pace and will work wonders to streamline your writing.
6. Have other people proofread your posts.
While you may be an effective writer and editor, having other people read your posts will cut down on errors and improve your writing. With this in mind, hire an editor or another writer to help you look over your post before you publish them. Don’t ever make a habit out of publishing something you’ve not adequately proofread since this is a recipe for mistakes and sloppiness, both of which can damage your rankings.
7. Make sure your articles are long enough to provide ample main content.
According to Yoast, every article you post should have at least 300 words. The reason for that is that content shorter than that doesn’t provide enough of what Google, in its updated Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, calls “main content.”
While it’s true that longer articles tend to perform better in the world of SEO, the main priority you have as a writer is simply to ensure that your articles provide enough main content to be useful to search engines and people.
How to Write Content for SEO: 6 Critical Tips for all of Your Content
Once you’ve learned what it takes to develop content with a favorable SEO structure, let’s talk about what it takes to actually write content for SEO.
While some bloggers overlook SEO, you simply cannot afford to take this approach, especially in light of the fact that many of the things mentioned in this article, like page load time and ample amounts of quality main page content, are things that Google has been prioritizing with recent algorithm updates.
Designed to help you rank well in search engines and enjoy a wider audience, writing content for SEO is a critical part of becoming a well-known blogger in your given field.
1. Optimize your content to load quickly.
While it’s not an element of on-page SEO necessarily, page load time is a huge factor in the world of SEO, and there are certain steps you can take during the writing process to streamline load times. According to Neil Patel, 40% of people abandon web page when they take more than 3 seconds to load, so it’s essential to keep load time in mind as you craft your pages.
To determine how your site does in terms of load time, use a tool like the Pingdom website speed tool. It’s super easy to use. Just plug in your URL and location.
If the results aren’t quite what you had hoped for, there are a few things you can do to alter your on-page SEO and speed load times accordingly:
- Optimize your images. Images are an important part of a good blog, and they’re critical for SEO, as well. When they’re too long, though, they can easily harm a page’s load times. With this in mind, optimize your images to load more rapidly. This involves adjusting your image sizes so that they’re not excessively large, uploading speed-friendly image formats (JPEGS are the best options), and inputting image src codes to prevent the browser from surveying the page directory in an attempt to “read” the image.
- Keep redirects at bay. Redirects can destroy your page load time, so it’s important to keep them to the bare minimum. As much as you can, avoid citing URLs in your content that redirect to other URLs. This will help enhance your load time and create a better user experience.
2. Make your headlines powerful and attention-grabbing.
The headline is a huge asset when writing content for SEO. In addition to the fact that the headline is the first thing people see, it’s also one of the primary things that Google evaluates when ranking your sites. To ensure that your headlines are performing well and drawing readers, be sure to do the following:
- Include relevant keywords. For best results, input your keyword phrase at the beginning of your headline to make it as prominent as possible.
- Keep them the correct length. Current stats say 65 characters or fewer.
- Use action words. Action words make readers want to act. When your headline asks someone to click, share, or download, they’re more likely to do just that.
- Address the reader directly. Addressing the reader directly makes your headlines more personal, and can grab a reader’s attention from the depths of the SERPs.
3. Write a fresh meta description and title.
Meta descriptions are the small snippets of descriptive text that show up in Google’s SERPs. If you want SEO juice, you CANNOT ignore this part.
For example, check out the meta description that appears for Express Writers in the SERPS.
While they’re easy to overlook, they’re critical for the health and wellbeing of your content’s SEO. To get the most from each meta description you write, include relevant keywords, direct your content to the reader personally, and keep it the right length (fewer than 160 characters) so that it doesn’t get truncated by Google.
While these may seem like simple steps, they’re essential to keep your meta descriptions on point and helpful to your readers.
4. Include keywords (in the right places).
Keywords used to be all the rage in the world of SEO. Today, the buzz has quieted a bit, but they’re still an important piece of on-page SEO. With this in mind, you’ll want to include relevant keywords in all of the writing you do, but take pains to not go too far with them and “stuff” your content like a Thanksgiving turkey.
As a general rule, your keyword or keyword phrase should be included in your title, subheaders, and throughout the body copy. While keyword density is only one of Google’s more than 200 ranking factors, it’s still an important thing to pay attention to and optimize for when you set out to write content for SEO.
My guide to SEO keyword optimization can help. Download it here.
5. Use high-quality internal and external links.
Links are a powerful tool to help improve your SEO. While internal links (links that point back to your own content) can help direct users to your other material, external links (to high DA sources with a score of 50 or above) will help communicate to Google and other search engines that your website is authoritative and relevant, and that you value quality connections to other online content.
To use links correctly, attach them to relevant, non-stuffy anchor text and ensure that you’re using only the most relevant sites for your particular information.
6. Use the right tools and resources.
While it’s true that writing content for SEO can be tough, there are dozens of great tools and resources at your disposal. Consider using apps like the following to improve your content’s SEO and help it rank more effectively.
- Yoast SEO. A simple WordPress plugin that helps optimize WordPress posts for SEO.
- Hemingway. A simple app that helps writers simplify and clarify their content for enhanced readability.
- The AMI Headline Analyzer. A tool that analyzes headlines and determines how emotive and impactful they are.
- BuzzSumo. A powerful tool designed to help bloggers mine topics, track keywords, and located trending topics.
Conclusion: How to Write Content for SEO, Made Simple
While it’s true that writing content for SEO can be tough, these simple tips can give you the roadmap you need to make the process easier and more streamlined than ever before.
With good SEO content comes good rankings, more readers, and increased online visibility – which is great for your content and your company.
Need SEO writers to help create your content? Register for free as a client today.
Sarah Shade is the Content Specialist at Express Writers.
In order for customers to want to read your online content, it needs to be valuable, unique and exciting.
No big deal, right?
While everyone knows that creating, curating and distributing valuable content on your website and throughout all your web marketing is the key to online marketing success, it’s not always that easy to create content that wows your audience in a world were 27 million pieces of content are shared across the web.
If your content hasn’t been working lately, it’s possible you’ve been missing important “value points” of great content or that you’re simply not giving readers material that is applicable to them.
Fortunately, these problems are easily fixable and content marketers who have been struggling to create successful content can do well to go back to the basic value points of fantastic content.
What are “Value Points?”
Value points are the things that make your content stand out from everybody else’s. For example, if there are 5,700 articles on the web on how to plant a garden correctly, the strength of your value points is what will make your article the one people choose to click on.
The 5 Value Points Your Online Content Should Have
Although the above definition sounds intimidating, value points can be broken down into very specific sections that outline how, exactly, content goes about providing unique value to its readers.
1) Your Content Should Be Capable of Shifting With its Audience
You’re a good content marketer so you’ve probably taken the time to develop target personas, right? The thing about even the best target personas, however, is that they change with time. Your target persona at the beginning of your business’s lifespan will absolutely not be the same as your target persona five years later.
Additionally, target personas can (and do) vary by product, location, form of content and even website or social media platform. The people you target on Instagram may not be the same people you target with your videocasts, and so on and so forth. With this in mind, one of the most notable value points of great content is that it is capable of shifting as its target persona does.
If all of the online content you create is aimed at Jane Doe, a 53 year old woman who lives in the Midwest, works a middle class job, is concerned about coupons and saving money, isn’t particularly tech-savvy and wants information about living frugally, all of the John Does and Laura Jones out there are going to be left in the dust and, as such, they won’t find your content interesting or valuable.
With that in mind, take the time to research all of your target audiences and then create content that caters specifically to them. Update your target personas as your business grows or your values change. A great way to stay on top of shifting trends is to use a tool like Prismatic or Klout, which allows you to keep tabs on the people you follow via keywords, so you can stay abreast of what’s going on in your industry.
Additionally, be conscious of the customer’s position in the buying journey. If they’re in the early phases of research or inquiry, they probably don’t want product-specific content. With that in mind, seek to offer content that isn’t directly related to your company’s product, good or service but that offers helpful information nonetheless (For example, consider clothing company ModCloth’s Twitter feed, which offers everything from tasty sangria recipes to shots of the company’s clothing).
This is a valuable and non-intrusive approach that is absolutely killer at attracting new customers Additionally, it is the primary way you can ensure your material provides solid value to readers and differentiates itself solidly from the churning sea of content consumers deal with daily.
2) Your Online Content Should Fill in the Gaps
With upwards of 27 million pieces of online content whipping around the web on a daily basis, it’s hard to imagine that there are any gaps anywhere, right? Think again. What takes content from being run-of-the-mill to outstanding is its ability to see the things other content misses.
Maybe those garden articles all tell customers how to plant a garden but they leave them wondering when and where. By providing an answer for these unanswered questions, you meet an important value point and set yourself up for success by dominating the market for those queries. By filing in knowledge gaps or acknowledging unacknowledged challenges, you can stand out in the eyes of customers who want valuable, solid information.
3) Your Content Should Play the Long Game
While it’s great for content to go viral, it’s also valuable for content to draw a steady stream of customers for months on end. With that in mind, don’t allow yourself to be perpetually obsessed with content that goes straight to the top of the charts immediately.
While viral content does offer specific value, the value is typically trend-based, which means it may not offer sustainable use to customers or readers. In order to reach its peak value potential, content needs to be able to play the long game, as well. By dedicating yourself to creating varied content with a wide array of goals and functions, you can provide a variety of valuable pieces to customers.
4) Your Content Should Be Unique
While it’s all well and good to cite statistics and provide great information, truly memorable content will stand apart via its use of new information, anecdotal evidence, themes relevant to a specific audience or well-placed action tips. Again, there’s a lot of content out there and everything sounds roughly the same. In order for your content to stand out, it needs to be unique and offer the value point of substance and relate-ability to customers.
With that in mind, offer anecdotes that come from your personal experience or that they can relate to directly and, once you’ve disseminated information, offer them a series of action tips on how to use it. Incorporate these things throughout all of your content. Think of it this way: ribs all taste the same; it’s the sauce that makes them definably different. When you bring a great sauce to your content, people will happily flock to it.
5) Your Content Should Be Elegant
Nobody is going to find clunky, badly written content useful, valuable or share-worthy. With this in mind, if your content isn’t working, it’s worth it to spend some time looking at your actual style of writing. Is it elegant? Is it concise? Is it clear and to the point? Can you outline concepts in a simple way that readers can understand without a diagram?
In order to be elegant, great content needs to be written in a clean and simple style; it needs to include unique images that add value to your message and pertain directly to your audience and it needs to be presented in a format that is capable of keeping people engaged. For a blog post, this might mean that text is broken up into headers, sub headers, bulletins and short paragraphs. For a podcast, it might mean that the audio is high quality and easy to download. For a videocast, it might mean the camera angle is appropriate and the image is clear. Making content elegant applies to any form of content you choose to use and should be one of your main considerations as you seek to create material that customers will love.
The Case for Value Points
Although seeking to stand out from the online content sea may seem intimidating, it’s really a simple process of learning what works and what doesn’t. At this stage in the journey of content marketing, we know that readers want value and that the best way to deliver that value to them is to write unique, elegant, interesting content that caters to their needs and concerns. By meeting the value points mentioned in this article, you can ensure that your content is always as good as it can possibly be.
Although there are millions of pieces of content available on the web today, the difference between good content and bad content is astounding. Fortunately, with these tips, you can ensure that your content always lands on the “good” side of the page.
For great online content that brings in all the right value points, hire our industry expert copywriters to pen your content!
Ultimately, with content, blogs, social media – any aspect of maintaining a marketing presence online – the goal is to influence people.
Whether you want to coax them to your side, convince them to buy your products, or convert them into loyal followers, your influential power matters.
In the beginning, it can feel like a tall mountain to climb. How do you build your reputation, your authority, and your presence so you can reach people in the first place?
How do you appeal to them, interest them, and move them?
This is a question people have been asking forever. Everybody wants to be liked and respected. We’re all human, and it’s a basic human need. As Dale Carnegie says in his iconic, best-selling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:
“Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you are in business.”
Turns out, the way you approach your online communication is everything. Every single blog post, social media update, direct message, email, comment, and tweet matters.
That’s a lot of pressure, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Instead, focus on a few key areas, and you’ll naturally build up your influence so people will gravitate to you without thinking about it.
Consider this your guide to creating successful content that will influence readers positively.
Your Guide to Influencing and Winning Over Your Audience with Amazing Written Content
Ready to get into how to grow your clout and influence your audience with successful content? Follow these steps:
1. Know Who You’re Talking To
First thing’s first: It’s impossible to influence anybody without a tailored, personalized approach.
Who are you targeting? Who are you talking to? Without this knowledge, you’ll have no idea how to frame your messages and make them relevant to your readers.
So, before you ever begin thinking about how to win people over, first identify who those people are.
According to G. Riley Mills for Forbes, there are three main aspects of audience discovery to consider. He applies these to public speaking, but they also may apply to any type of marketing communication. They are:
- Demographics – General statistics pertaining to your audience group and identifying factors including gender, age, marital status, level of education, occupation, etc.
- Psychographics – Personal information such as beliefs, values, opinions, loyalties, and feelings.
- Situational factors – The factors that may change on a day-to-day basis that influence why your audience might seek out your solutions, products, services, or content.
Research each of these factors and build your understanding of your audience before you move on to writing content or communicating with them.
2. Know Your Objective (What You Want from the Interaction)
What do you hope to gain from posting that new blog, social media update, Instagram photo, or email?
When you have a general goal or objective in mind, tailoring your content to perform and complete that goal is much easier.
I shoot for three different “goal buckets” whenever I post a new piece of content. If the content won’t fit in one of my buckets or help me to advance toward a goal, I scrap it and move on to the next.
3. Write Content That Moves, Inspires, Entertains, or Educates Your Audience
Ultimately, content that’s moving, inspiring, entertaining, or educational is going to be valuable to your audience.
If your content doesn’t accomplish any of the above, stop. Re-evaluate your content goals, and set some if you haven’t yet. Then, try these tips in your content.
A. Get Personal
Getting personal in your content doesn’t necessarily mean sharing every tiny detail of your life (TMI much?) – although you can share relevant experiences, thoughts, and ideas.
Instead, it mostly means talking to your audience on a personal level. It means empathizing with them, speaking to their concerns, and relating to them.
B. Add an Element of Surprise or Delight
Injecting your content with surprise or delight will go a long way toward moving your readers. Use these suggestions to bring more light and life to your words:
- Use opposites – To jerk your readers out of reading by rote, introduce opposites in your writing. This can apply to anything, including descriptions and metaphors. For example, when describing a problem, compare it to falling into a patch of prickly thorns. Then, flip the script and compare the solution to a cloud of feathers.
- Embrace the one-liner – When you want your words to throw a punch at your reader, put them on their own line, in a one-sentence paragraph. For great examples of this technique used right, look at Seth Godin’s blog:
- Share personal anecdotes – Put humanness back in your writing and describe personal examples of whatever you’re writing about, where relevant. For instance, perhaps you experienced the problem you’re discussing or maybe you have a good learning experience to share that relates to your topic.
- Be yourself – Don’t write to impress. Instead, be yourself. Use idioms and turns-of-phrase you would insert in your speech when talking out loud. Crack bad jokes, litter your writing with puns, or include nerdy Star Wars references, if that’s your M.O. You do you.
C. Include Research, Data, Statistics, and Studies
Want to truly inform and educate your audience? Turn to research to ensure your content is stuffed to the brim with value. Don’t just spout off some numbers or facts without citing a reputable online source – you’ll actually damage your authority instead of strengthening it.
4. Be Human, Engage, and Connect
If you really want to influence your readers, find ways to connect with them and build relationships. The best way to do that is the simplest: Be human.
More specifically, be a friendly human on social media and across the web.
- Engage and interact with the people you follow. Share posts, comment on posts, and add to discussions.
- Participate in Twitter chats and live streams.
- Reply to blog comments respectfully, thoughtfully, and with depth.
Building your reputation is about more than the content you publish or the online face you reveal on your website. It’s about every single interaction you have, no matter how seemingly small.
Think about this when you send that email, reply to that DM, or post that quick update on Twitter. All these small moments add up to how you’re perceived online – and whether people feel that they can trust you.
As you build that trust, you’ll build influence at the same time.
5. Craft Compelling, Irresistible Headlines, Subheaders, and CTAs
To influence your audience, every piece of your content needs to be convincing. That’s why care and attention should infuse your headlines, subheaders, and CTAs alongside the body of your content.
A compelling headline will bring readers to your content, but, more importantly, it keys into their needs, wants, and pain points. This is what makes them click over to your piece versus the other guys’.
- Touch a nerve – When you touch a nerve with your headline, you’ve succeeded. You’ve managed to get inside the reader’s head so deep, their problems have become yours. This should be your goal with every headline.
- Don’t overpromise – Don’t overpromise in your headline. If you make a wild claim but fail to deliver on that in the content, it’s a letdown for the reader, and their trust in you will deplete.
- Make the headline mirror the content – The headline should never be dangled like bait to make readers click. Instead, the headline should mirror the content, which helps the reader know what to expect when they invest their time to read it.
Subheaders have a few jobs to do inside your content.
- Subheaders break the content into parts. It’s easier to understand your topic when it’s broken down into key ideas.
- They make the content easier to skim and scan.
Neglecting your subheaders means you’ll make your content harder to read – and nobody has time for that.
Your CTAs pave the way for reader action. Without solid CTAs, you will have fewer sign-ups, downloads, subscribers, and even purchases.
Every piece of content should tell your reader what to do next. If you don’t tell them, they’ll click away – and your amazing, influential content will go to waste.
Look at this recent post by Portent and note how they include a solid CTA to sign up for their newsletter at the very end:
6. Build Better Landing Pages
Once you begin crafting influential content, you can’t stop there. Other key pieces for conversions need to get the golden touch, too, including your landing pages.
Landing pages are separate pages from your website, where visitors “land” after clicking a link or ad. The goal of your landing pages should be to get these visitors to complete one specific objective (usually, whatever your conversion goals dictate).
According to CoSchedule, your landing pages should have three elements:
- A strong headline
- Compelling body copy
- An irresistible call-to-action
Building better landing pages means:
- Making sure the page has ONE purpose
- Using conversion copywriting techniques
- Holding your audience’s attention and staying persuasive
- Focusing on the benefits of your offer (rather than the features)
- Keeping the offer about the user (NOT about you)
Without great landing pages, you’ll earn fewer conversions on your awesome content. While you’re building influence, authority, and trust, you have to make sure there’s a net in place at the end to cash in on it.
7. Optimize Your Content the Right Way
The final piece of the puzzle is optimizing your content so your influence can grow and spread organically. This means:
To Build Online Influence, Build Your Content and Social Presence
Attracting your audience, moving them, and influencing them are no small feats.
To do it, you have to have four things:
- Knowledge of your ideal readers – their needs and desires
- Amazing content that speaks to those readers
- A consistent web presence (including consistent blogs!)
If you’re just starting, start small. Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?
Lay your foundation for online influence brick by brick, and soon you’ll build a haven for your audience – one they’ll flock to in droves.
What comes to your mind when you hear the term “online content?” You might think of anything from the content populating your website and blog to social media presence, and you would be right. Online content is basically everything you put online. It can include your website, blog, social media posts and shares, and even e-commerce. It’s everything floating around cyberspace with your name on it. So if online content were to rule the (online) world, how lofty would your throne be?
A New King Ascended the SEO Throne In 2014
If you’ve asked why it’s important to publish content online, you’re not alone. Many business and brand owners have posed this question. Isn’t it enough to create eye-catching graphics, slap those puppies onto your website and social channels, and let them do the selling? After all, good marketing happens when the product or service sells itself, right?
If this were 2010, and if Google were still supporting old SEO tactics, you’d have a winning strategy. But it’s not. It’s 2014. Google’s beastly search algorithms are poised to shred online presences clinging to old habits while increasing rankings for those that play by the rules. The new rule is that content is king.
5 Types of Content You Can’t Do Without
Content comes in all sorts of flavors. It can be short or long. It can be black and white, gray, or colorful. It can take on whatever shape you need. It is 100 percent customizable and capable of achieving whatever you need, if it’s crafted with skill and care. Although the current content menu on display at copywriting agencies all over the net is sizeable, there are five types of content you simply cannot do without:
- Blog posts: Blogs are super important to businesses and brands. Your goal should be to blog at least a few times per week or month. Each topic should be relevant to your specific products or services. Be educational and informative versus sales oriented when blogging, but don’t be afraid to subtly point out the benefits or value your product or service brings to the table. A meaty blog packed full of solid material hands your audience the ability to be well informed and educated. They are much more likely to buy from an industry expert versus a company that focuses solely on conversion.
- News: Your business is constantly growing. Show your growth by creating and sharing interesting news content. Press releases are a great way to tackle newsworthy topics. Don’t shy away from posting news from your industry as well. News content has the ability to position your business as a subject matter expert that is in the know and in touch with current news and trends.
- Timely: It’s vital to ensure your content is timely and properly positioned. For example, displaying outdated news or information on your site’s main page will give the impression that you’re not prioritizing. In fact, the audience might conclude you are outdated and unworthy of attention in the now. Take the time to inventory your content. Either ensure it is timely and that old information is positioned in older, dated content for those conducting research (recommended), or weed it out completely.
- Products and services: The goal of your online content is no doubt to develop interest in your business and compel the audience to take action. Therefore, your copy should include enough of an explanation about your products and/or services to generate audience appeal. They should know enough to either want to research more (via your online presence) or contact you. Always take care in deciding how much information you will present about your products and/or services. You don’t want to overwhelm your audience with so much info that they lose sight of the value you’re offering.
- Social media: It’s the “in” thing of 2014. Social media and search engine rankings go hand-in-hand because the strength of your social media will affect the strength of your overall rankings. Building this type of content is an absolute must. The key to creating killer social media is in crafting the sort of content people simply must share. This requires interesting and fresh content. Variety is vital. Give your audience a generous mix of both serious and entertaining material while keeping self-promotion to a minimum.
6 Tips for Writing Killer Online Content
According to Social Media Today, we’ve reached a point in the content marketing industry where “the line between writing [killer] SEO copy for search engines and engaging copy for humans has all but disappeared.” It sounds silly, but writing for humans means you’re writing for search engines and writing for search engines means you’re writing for humans. Confused? Don’t be! It all boils down to the basic ingredients of killer content:
- Get to the point. Don’t beat around the bush. People don’t have time for that. They want value, and they want it now. They are inundated with information at an alarming rate. Get to the point quickly or risk losing their attention.
- Keep it tight. The majority of your audiences are likely using mobile devices, which means they’re viewing your content on a compact screen. Make your copy user friendly by keeping it tight. Sentences and paragraphs should be short and concise. Headings and subheadings should be easily visible and contain the main point of the text beneath them.
- Don’t be shy. You must compel your audience to take action. Don’t be shy! Tell them what to do. Make each call to action logical and blunt. Ensure copywriting from one web page to the next transitions smoothly.
- Be professional. There’s nothing wrong with a little entertainment value, but your copy should reflect your professionalism. Tap into personal stories, funny anecdotes, and peppy wording, but don’t go overboard. Oh, and don’t misspell words either. A typo or two is understandable, but if you display a pattern of misspelling, people won’t take you seriously.
- Stay active. What’s the old adage? “A body in motion stays in motion.” The same is true of copy. Active writing engages the audience; it keeps them motivated to move through your content. Lose the active voice, risk losing that important movement.
- Choose audience friendly topics. Unless your topics are of interest to your audience, all of these tips will be for not. The best way to brainstorm is to find out what works. Invest in learning how to use a good analytics tool. Business2Community recommends researching the topics people are looking for through your website search tool or search engine referrals and cater to them.
5 Industry Standards To Remember
The best strategy for creating online content is incorporating tactics that have a proven success rate. The tactics with proven worth all have a simple quality in common: they revolve around your online content. For example, you should consider:
- Always striving to create FRESH content: Business2Community points out that when search engines determine ranking, they factor in a website’s size. More pages equates to more credibility. One of the best ways to achieve this is by constantly brainstorming, crafting, and publishing fresh content. Staying fresh also means following and using the current trends, problems, and solution in your industry to keep your audience happy and stay relevant.
- Invest in content: The truth is not everyone is gifted in the writing department. Some of us can weave words and craft a 1,000 plus word piece at lightning speed, while others struggle to craft a single paragraph. If you are the latter, don’t feel iffy about investing in a strong copywriter. It’ll likely be the best content investment you make.
- Think outside the box: Online content isn’t just written copy. Get creative with your content. Consider using infographics, podcasts, videos, and SlideShares.
- Consider syndication: According to Business2Community, search engines index content from multiple sources. Therefore, syndicating your content is something to consider. It can significantly increase visibility and ranking.
- Create and publish regularly: Business2Community points out that Google author rankings inherently favor authors who publish valuable content on a regular and frequent basis. Not only that, but Google also favors content pushed through Google Plus. Credibility and a boost in search engine rankings can be quickly earned through content that bears a combo of code markup and +1 sharing.
Online content is rapidly evolving into the foundational aspect of online presence. It really does rule the online world. It’s present in everything we publish, no matter how major or minor. It’s the biggest factor in SEO today, and it doesn’t look like this “trend” will be trending down anytime soon.
How decked out is your content throne? Are you a shining spectacle folks can’t take their eyes off of and want to exam in detail? When they pull out the magnifying glass, what will they find? If your online content isn’t ready for close inspection, then it’s time to take an inventory and apply the tips we’ve discussed. Online content is king. Don’t be caught without it!