Providing content can be a great way for your brand to keep ‘showing up’, stay front of mind and improve your search engine ranking. But hey, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Content comes in many forms including video, podcasts, webinars and more. But while variety is great, and the following advice can be applied to most content, as a copywriter I’ll stick to what I know best – words.
Read on for tips and tricks to stop your head denting your desk as you seek content inspiration, and that can turn even the most reluctant writer into a wordsmith…
The power of storytelling
Telling a story or anecdote about your real-life everyday experiences is a great way to make your content authentic, current and relatable. It creates an emotional connection with your reader, one that helps foster trust and brand engagement.
Look closely and you’ll find inspiration everywhere. For example, a content idea came to me after visiting a new ‘zero waste’ store. The store was an eye-opener to simple sustainable lifestyle changes we can all make. Inspired and motivated, my cupboards were soon brimming with jars and pots to refill on my next visit. Shortly afterwards, I was asked for content suggestions for a well-known insurance brand. So, I proposed a piece on zero waste homes.
While not an obvious topic for the industry, the client was keen to go ahead. The result was a guide on waste-free living for consumers that also subtly linked to home insurance. It provided simple eco-friendly tips on how we can all help improve the future of our planet, while also making the insurance company that little bit more relatable.
Drawing connections between what you see, or experience, and how it relates to your audience also works. For instance, after my husband was given a box of his childhood belongings (which has been left unopened and gathering dust ever since), it sparked an idea – businesses should have life laundry sessions too. How many of us are hanging on to services, ways of working and other things that no longer make financial or practical sense, or ‘spark joy’? Perhaps that’s another storytelling opportunity right there…
You talkin’ to me?
When you can’t physically tap someone on the shoulder, addressing them as ‘you’ in your copy is the next best thing. ‘You might find this interesting’ is far more attention-grabbing than ‘businesses may be interested to know’.
Making your writing sound natural and conversational, as if the person you’re talking to is right in front of you, means people are far more likely to ‘listen’. Directly addressing your reader makes them an integral part of the story, the content more accessible and the words so much easier to read.
As with any successful conversation, it works best if you talk more about the recipient than about yourself. In essence, targeting the person reading your content helps them to feel your product is the perfect fit. And most importantly, it makes the reader feel you care.
The best things in life are three
“People do not buy goods and services. They buy relationships, stories and magic” – Seth Godin
While Seth’s words are right on the money, they also show the effectiveness of the power of three. Putting something in a sequence of three is a great way to add rhythm, tone and emphasis to a point.
It also makes what you’re saying more memorable. The recent ‘Stay alert, control the virus, save lives’ slogan from Boris Johnson is a good example, albeit a controversial one.
In the same way that stories have a beginning, middle and end, there’s something inexplicably satisfying about things grouped into three. Whether it be pictures, points of view, or polished prose, three IS a magic number.
Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good
The first draft of anything is almost never the final draft. We’re all guilty of titivating, tweaking and trying to make whatever we’re working on “perfect”. This applies to me as much as the next person. But in reality, the pursuit of perfection rarely ends happily.
Believing you need to create something perfect can be a block to even starting. So, it’s best to just let go of that idea. The main priority is to get words down on a page so you have your starting point. And make sure you set yourself a deadline. Then make your work as good as possible within the timeframe, to avoid enduring death by a thousand cuts (aka edits).
As I said at the beginning, your content can help your brand stay front of mind. So, it’s better to show up with good content, rather than risk being overlooked because you’re still busy trying to perfect it.
Wanring: Typos ahead
While perfection isn’t essential, typos, grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes can all impact your credibility. It’s great to use tools and apps like spellcheck and Grammarly, but they’re not infallible. So, proofreading is a good habit to get into.
For a start, it’s easier to check content in a hard copy than on screen. Reading your work out aloud may get you some strange looks, but you’ll be surprised how many mistakes and overly long sentences you’ll find. If you’re gasping for breath at the end of a sentence you’re probably in need of a comma or full stop. Or maybe some exercise.
Familiarity makes errors harder to spot, so try proofreading backwards; from end to start. This way your attention is focussed on individual words instead of whole sentences. But ultimately, proofreading is best done by someone with a fresh pair of eyes. As well as being well placed to notice mistakes they might also provide you with some valuable suggestions.
When you’re thinking about your content, consider what knowledge and insights you can share. This is a far more effective path to adding value, building trust and buying into your brand than just trying to sell.
Giving generously can pull people towards you. It’s also a great way to start a conversation without having to pitch. So, what content can you provide that people can find useful, helpful and, better still, will want to share? If you lead with generosity, the rewards will follow.
During this challenging time, when many of us are working remotely and social activities are limited, publishing content has never been a better way to engage with customers. It also shows that you’re still open for business. So, when it comes to putting content out there, it’s best to take a breath, feel the fear and do it anyway.
After all, as Woody Allen once wisely said, “Eighty per cent of success is just showing up”
About your author
Eve is a freelance copywriter helping businesses thrive by using the right words, style and substance to tell their story.
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