The Writer's Resource: Tips, Tricks & Strategies for Becoming a Better Writer

7 Steps for No-Fail Quality Content

Posted by Chloe West

shutterstock_189496868If you're blogging for your business, then you need to make sure that you're always posting top-notch, quality content. After all, your blog is a reflection of your expertise in the industry and you never want to seem less-than-knowledgeable. How do you make sure that you are always creating quality content that will keep your reader coming back for more? Follow these steps for a no-fail approach every time.

1. Determine your keyword.

What is your topic? Furthermore, what are people going to type into the search engine when they're trying to find information on your topic? This is your keyword.

Many people tend to use one- or two-word keywords when writing a blog post, but long-tail keywords tend to provide more results. For example, instead of someone simply searching "depression," he may search for "how to get rid of depression." By tailoring your content to these long-tail keywords, your content is much more likely to show up in search results.

2. Create your headline.

This is probably the most daunting task of your entire writing assignment because the headline is the first thing your readers are going to see. This will make or break whether they decide to read your article or not. In fact, according to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 of those 10 will actually read the rest.

You want a headline that is unique and original and that readers will find useful. Remember, people will only read something if they think it will help them out with a problem.

3. Create original and actionable content.

Like I said, people want to read something that will help them out. Thus came the rise of actionable content. If your content provides a strict how-to/tutorial, or even adult homework including worksheets that will help people solve a problem or figure something out, they will eat that up.

4. Include content extras.

Yes, good content means that your words should be enough. However, quality content includes content extras, whether that is a downloadable ebook/worksheet, an image/infographic, or even a video showing how to do something for all of us visual learners out there.

5. Use subheadings.

Please, please, please do not ever put content up anywhere on the internet that looks like a terrifying wall of text. People on the internet have a very short attention span and will not stop to read something that doesn't allow them to easily skim. (Yes, I know, we people of the internet are a lazy breed.)

Use subheadings to break up your article. Not only do your readers appreciate you for it, but it also makes the writing process easier. By breaking each subtopic in your article into a separate heading, you're giving yourself little mini essays to write each time, rather than a giant blog post. Seems much less frightening.

6. Watch out for length.

Many online bloggers believe that shorter is sweeter, but that's not necessarily the case for online content. Sure, we don't want to read a wall of text, but if your content is properly broken up into subheadings and visually appealing, then longer is usually better.

According to Neil Patel, 1,000 to 1,500+ words is the goldmine for getting online shares.

7. Include a call-to-action.

What is the purpose of your blog post (other than to simply inform)? Are you hoping to get sign-ups to your email newsletter? Include a sign-up form at the end of your post. Are you hoping for social shares? There's nothing wrong with asking—just be sure that your site has social sharing links for ease of sharing. Are you hoping for sales? Include a link to your products/services page at the end of your post. Including a call-to-action allows for a next-step from readers who loved reading your article.

Follow these seven steps for no-fail quality content every time.

A 5-Point Quality Content Checklist

Posted by Robin Kastengren

shutterstock_208856095The idea of quality content has been around since 2011 when Google's Panda Update first hit and sites with bad content were sent to the basement of search engine results. Since then, content providers have had to be on their toes to ensure that everything they create and post is high quality. But what, exactly, does that mean? If you are worried about your content falling short, this five-point checklist will put your mind at ease.

1. Is My Content Error Free?

Trustworthiness is a major factor when it comes to a page's ranking with Google. Boosting a company's integrity is also one of the main focuses of any content marketing strategy as consumers are much more likely to make a purchase from a business they trust. Content that is riddled with grammar errors and misspellings, uses bogus or outdated sources, or is poorly organized will not only fail to rank well with Google, it will not rank at all with consumers.

Before marking any project as complete, take the time to read the text out loud to yourself. Reading aloud forces you to go slower and hearing your words can help you find clunky sentences and other errors. Don't be afraid to use tools like Grammarly, Ginger, or PaperRater. While none of them are perfect, they will all help you catch basic errors and typos.

2. Did I Follow Proper Formatting Guidelines?

Most people do not have time to carefully read everything they come across on the web. Instead, people tend to skim through a page for the most important details and only go back and read everything if something clues them in that it's worth it. Make skimming efficient by breaking up large blocks of text with descriptive subheadings and breaking out long lists into bullets. It is also helpful to keep most of your web content light and conversational to make it easy to digest quickly while keeping paragraphs short so readers are not overwhelmed with huge blocks of text.

3. Is My Content Useful?

Think about what people are trying to do when they type keywords into a search engine. Create content that addresses what they want to do rather than the particular words they type. In other words, if someone types "signs of a failing furnace" into a search engine, it's probable that her furnace is doing something weird, and she wants to know if it's failing. Don't waste everyone's time by writing about a variety of home appliances while artfully working in a few instances of "failing furnace" because that's your assigned keyword. Instead, be useful and provide a cohesive list of signs.

4. Is My Content Relevant?

Kardashians might draw a lot of attention, but they do not have any business hanging around an appliance repair website. Google's algorithms are pretty smart, and they can detect when you are trying to piggyback on a hot topic to draw attention to yourself and will not be fooled into thinking it's quality content. Whenever it works out that a hot topic is relevant to the industry you are writing for, then by all means, use it. Otherwise, stick to topics that make sense for the content's destination.

5. Did I Use Keywords Correctly?

Even if you are writing something useful to support a keyword phrase like "signs of a failing furnace," keyword stuffing will not earn you any love from Google. Cramming a page with many instances of a keyword may have been effective in the past, but now it's one of the fastest ways to get sent to the bottom of the pile. Keep in mind that keyword stuffing is not always intentional. If you are writing really tight, highly-focused content around a particular keyword, it can be easy to end up repeating it too many times without realizing it. Do a quick search and if your content has more than a few mentions, reword your sentences or substitute synonyms instead.

Always Write for People

Understanding what makes Google give one page the green light while dumping another is an essential part of creating content for the web. Quality content may be only one of hundreds of factors, but it is one that we have direct control over every time we create something new. The easiest shortcut to creating quality content is to make sure it is written for real people who need help solving problems. After that, check this list for a few technicalities and you'll be good to go.

5 Web Content Writing Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

Posted by Laura Holton

shutterstock_267620516You are an expert in your industry, and optimize each piece of content for search engines, but readers are still failing to be converted. Web content writing is far more complex than it may first appear, and there are plenty of places to slip up. Before you embark on your next piece of content, bear in mind these frequently-made mistakes to avoid doing the same.

1. Aiming Your Content at Everyone

As much as you may like to believe that your products and services can benefit everyone, the likelihood is you can divide your target audience into just a few buyer personas. When web content writing targets these ideal customers alone, you can address specific needs, issues, and wants to create content that satisfies your readers’ expectations.

2. Keyword Stuffing

You should already be aware that it is essential to optimize your content to gain the top spots in search results and reach the widest possible audience. However, keyword stuffing is a poor way to achieve this. Firstly, it makes your content jarring and difficult to read, which increases the risk that users will close the page without converting. Secondly, Google now considers keyword stuffing to be a black hat technique and may penalize your entire site for low quality content, which will actually result in far fewer visitors.

3. Neglecting Format

A study by the Nielsen Norman Group found that reducing text by half the words improved usability by 58 percent and using a scannable layout improved usability by 47 percent.

Blocks of text are hard on the eyes and off-putting to read. Making simple format changes, such as increasing white space and using bullet points, subheadings, and numbers encourages readers to consume more content in each post and to return to your blog for more.

4. Rehashing Old Ideas

Every post you write needs to have value for your readers. Even if you’re struggling to find inspiration, it is important to avoid returning to a previous idea. Every piece of content should offer something that your readers are unable to find elsewhere; for instance, you could offer novel information, provide a new solution to an old problem, or challenge preconceptions — anything your audience will find interesting and useful.

5. Making Factual Errors

To establish your brand as an industry leader and a great source of information, it is essential that you do thorough research for every piece of content. This will enable you to build trust with your readers and improve conversions. In addition to ensuring that content is error-free, you can give visitors a reason to believe facts and statistics by quoting reputable sources and including links in your content.

Any one of the above mistakes can be devastating to your web content writing, impacting the number of people who view your content, repeat visitors to your blog, and conversions. In the planning stages of your next blog post, consider all five in turn and determine how you will be able to overcome each to create great content.

5 Essential Ways to Improve Blog Posts for an SEO Content Marketing Strategy

Posted by Laura Holton

shutterstock_175303778No matter how much time and energy you put into your SEO content marketing strategy, your blog posts can still fall short if you neglect best practices. In most cases, this comes down to several simple errors, such as:

  • Your content targets too general an audience
  • You rarely release anything unique
  • Your titles don’t inspire clicks
  • Your blog lacks consistency
  • Users are unsure how to act after consuming your content

Clearly, none of the above are good reasons to give up on your SEO content marketing strategy entirely; rather, you need to adapt your efforts to create great content that does result in conversions. Here are a few ideas to turn your posts around.

1. Build Buyer Personas

When you create content, you must have a clear idea of exactly who you are targeting, and the best way to achieve this is by building buyer personas. Once you have gathered the essential information about your prospects and customers, this becomes a reasonably simple task. The exact criteria you require will depend on the products or services you offer, but you may like to capture data such as:

  • Job title and industry
  • Professional goals
  • Skills and knowledge
  • Age
  • Level of education
  • Challenges
  • Any relevant personal demographics

2. Use Brainstorming Worksheets

To publish a couple pieces of content a week, you will, over time, need a huge number of ideas. One way to simplify the process is with brainstorming worksheets. HubSpot offers an outline, which they call a content brainstorming key, but you can also use the document for inspiration to create your own. Such worksheets will enable you to derive several ideas from a single topic, giving you several potential blog posts that you can use over the upcoming months.

3. Create Clickable Titles

An aspect of blog posts that is often overlooked is the title, despite being equally important as (if not more important than) the content itself. Headlines tell users why they should click on a post; they need to inspire a sense of urgency, advertising that, should readers put off reading a post until later, they will be missing out on vital information. Even if the content that follows is unique, fascinating, and useful, poor titles lead to content going largely unread.

Here are a few ways to create titles that increase clicks:

  • Keep them short. Users scan headlines just as they scan content. Use as few words as possible to ensure that you communicate your point.
  • Take a controversial angle.
  • Use numbers; for instance, to introduce a list.
  • Explain why users need the following information, perhaps in the form of a warning or promise of a benefit.
  • Ask a pressing question.
  • Include powerful words, such as free, latest, limited, affordable, expert, simple, emerging, or better.

4. Incorporate an Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar helps you stay organized, making sure you release a strategic mix of ideas and types of content. Input your ideas from your brainstorming worksheets, along with their corresponding titles, into a spreadsheet that details when you intend to publish, what format the blog post will take, who will create the content, and other essential information.

There is a fine line between publishing too little content and too much. Release posts too infrequently and your prospects will soon forget about you; publish too often and you risk sacrificing quality, running out of ideas, and overwhelming your audience. Analyze data relating to engagement and conversions to determine optimal posting times and frequency.

5. Focus on CTAs

Finally, you can increase your conversions by adding relevant calls-to-action (CTAs) that offer your audience the chance to receive additional information for free. Not only will this be appealing to your prospects, it will also enable you to gather email addresses and other information to advance your content marketing efforts.

The above ideas involve just a few simple changes to your current SEO content marketing strategy, but all of them can have a huge impact. Success relies on knowing your audience well and having the creativity to provide prospects with exactly what they want, when they want it. Closely monitor results and adapt your SEO content marketing strategy accordingly for the best possible results.

Email Newsletter Writing: A Tried and True Content Marketing Skill

Posted by Don Musacchio

shutterstock_150034484Email newsletters have been a staple of online marketing for a long time. Email was around long before social media and smartphones were available to people as communication channels. While some say that email marketing is dead, this is just not the case. By the end of 2017, research predicts that there will be 4.9 billion email accounts in the world. This is far greater than the number of Facebook and Twitter accounts combined.

The bottom line is that email newsletters are still an effective and important communication channel for marketers. As a writer, you should follow these basic pointers to make your email newsletter writing more effective:

Email Marketing
Businesses send out email newsletters in order to build relationships with their customers and prospects. A lot of effort goes into building a strong email list of people interested in the products or services that the business offers. People who opt-in to the list want to have more information about the business. An email newsletter is meant to provide this information, demonstrate the expertise of the business and provide some incentives to make a purchase.

Add Value
In order to build relationships, the content of the email is not focused around selling. Instead, the email should provide valuable information for the reader. This demonstrates that the business is an expert in the field. When readers receive value from a newsletter, they're going to look forward to receiving the newsletter in their inbox. Email newsletter writing must convey valuable information in a clear, concise format. Some things you could include in an email newsletter are:

  • The latest industry news and updates

  • Tips for getting things done

  • Insider secrets that are not available elsewhere

  • Solid technical information that educates the reader about the field

For example, a sporting goods store could send an email newsletter that gives information about how to select the right equipment for a particular sport. By providing this information, the store demonstrates its expertise in its niche, provides valuable information and reminds people that they can purchase sporting goods at the store - all without making a sales pitch.

Stay Focused
Typically, email newsletters are focused around a single topic. A sporting goods store might have a newsletter devoted to soccer in the fall and lacrosse in the spring. Sometimes a newsletter might cover a wider variety of items, but this makes it harder for the reader to follow and stay engaged in the content.

Many email newsletters will contain a call-to-action (CTA). So while the copy is not directed at selling, a small portion of the newsletter is dedicated to prompting an action. This could be a special offer to motivate a purchase, a free consultation or even a small gift. The email newsletter is 90% information and 10% promotion. A writer needs to seamlessly integrate the promotional part into the email without a hard sell. It's important to focus on a single CTA and not include multiple offers in the same email.

Know Your Audience
The tone is important for email newsletters and should reflect the audience. Some newsletters will require a professional tone, while others need a more informal tone. Understanding the target audience is important for determining the tone of the writing.

Be Interactive
Email newsletters are about relationships, so there must be a give-and-take. Encourage readers to respond to questions or give their perspective on issues addressed in the newsletter.

Copywriting Tips for Email Newsletter Writing

  • Have a stunning subject line. This ensures that more people open the email and read the copy.
  • Address the reader. It's important to write in the second person to engage with your readers.

  • Make the text easily scannable. Today's readers will often skim through an email. Use persuasive headlines and bullet points to focus their attention on important details. You might even use some bold within the copy to highlight key points or the details of an offer.

  • Use short paragraphs and sentences that are easy for readers to digest.

Email newsletter writing is an essential skill for content marketing. By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to writing effective email newsletters.

How to Create Compelling Copy for Landing Pages

Posted by Don Musacchio

shutterstock_297897029A landing page is one of the fundamental components of content marketing. These tips for composing compelling copy for a landing page will help you to master this marketing tool.

What Is A Landing Page
The main goal of a landing page is to get visitors to take a specific action. When this happens, it is called a conversion. The action could be downloading a free ebook, subscribing to a newsletter, setting up a free consultation or making a purchase at a discounted price. Visitors land on this page by clicking on an advertisement, an opt-in button or an offer in an email.

For a marketing perspective, the landing page is the focal point - the bottom of the funnel. The reason content exists is to create the excitement and trust that will lead visitors to respond to an offer. That is why it is import to write compelling copy for the landing page. You don't want to drop the ball just as you are about to cross the goal line.

Tips for Compelling Copy
Now that you understand the importance of the landing page in content marketing, here are a few tips for writing compelling copy for these pages.

Be Clear

  • Confusing copy is a conversion killer. No one is going to respond if they cannot figure out what the offer is.

  • Use clear language that communicates your point. If you can be clever, that is a plus. But don't sacrifice clarity for cleverness.

  • Avoid using industry jargon that your reader may not understand.

  • Make sure that your copy is scan-able. People often don't carefully read text on a website, they just look at the headlines and bullet points. So make sure your headlines and bullets clearly explain the offer.

Be Engaging

  • Address the reader. Use the second person to engage the reader directly.

  • Use action-oriented words. Action verbs give clear instructions to your reader. They guide the reader to do something.

  • Create urgency by using words like "now" and "today." If the offer has a time limit, be sure to mention it to convey that the visitor should act now.

  • Unbounce's offer of a free course on landing pages is really clear and engaging. The benefits of taking the course are clear from the headline. Action-oriented verbs are used to engage the reader about the content of the course. The call-to-action expresses urgency, asking the reader to start the course now.

Add Value

  • Customers make decisions based on the perceived value of the offer. You must focus on the value that the customer will receive from the offer.

  • In other words, show how the offer will solve a problem for the customer. For example, pest control companies should not spell out the technical details of how their pest control system works. Consumers really want to know that the company will take care of their bug problem and preserve their home from damage.

  • The traditional copyrighting advice applies here: focus on benefits and not features. Describe the benefits and value that the visitor will get.

  • Check out the landing page for Freckle, a time management tool. The copy goes right to the pain point of many businesses: the difficulty of keeping track of time spent on projects. It then offers a set of benefits for users. They could have stronger headlines and more scan-able copy to improve the page. Notice the strong and clear CTA at the bottom of the page.

Use a Strong Call-To-Action

  • The call-to-action (CTA) is the point where you ask the visitor to respond. It is the moment of truth for a marketer.

  • The CTA should be clear and strong. Phrases like "Download Your Free eBook now!" or "Schedule Your Free Consultation Today!" are good examples.

  • Make sure that all CTAs on the page are the same. Don't include links to both a "contact us" page and a "schedule free consultation" page. Using different CTAs on the same page sends mixed messages.

  • The landing page for Webprofits, an Australian online marketing agency, has a strong offer with a solid CTA. They are offering an analysis of the visitor's website that is worth $197 for free. Note the urgency expressed in the final CTA where it says "Get a free analysis now." The text uses a lot of SEO jargon, so it may be confusing for the layman.

Armed with these tips, you are ready to start writing high-converting landing pages.



The Art of Writing a Conclusion

Posted by Robin Kastengren

shutterstock_138382064The conclusion may be the last part of a blog post or article, but that does not mean that it should be an afterthought. When you are creating custom content for your customers, the conclusion is your opportunity to tidy up any loose ends and to offer your readers an action to take. Stop wasting space at the bottom of your posts with lame endings or, worse, skipping the conclusion altogether. Use this 5-step process to exceed expectations with your endings.

1. Give it a Heading

For blogs, articles, and other custom content for the web, you'll be breaking up your text with plenty of headings, bulleted lists, and numbered lists. Slice your conclusion off from the rest of the text by giving it a heading of its own. If you have an opinion or recommendation to offer based on the rest of the writing, you can even use the word "conclusion" for the heading. Otherwise, use a heading that suggests an action to take or offers some inspiration that goes along with the main body of your post.

2. Summarize (This is not synonymous with "repeat")

We are not writing five paragraph essays here, so the "tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em; tell 'em; tell 'em what you told 'em" formula does not work so well. Don't waste space in your summary by restating what you have already said or people will skip over it. Instead, summarize in no more than two sentences what the main takeaways should be from your post. This will help bring everything full-circle, and send any skimmers back up to the main body of the text to pick up anything they may have missed.

3. Inspire Action

Now that your readers have gathered some useful information from your content, give them something useful to do with it. What this should be depends on the customer and the audience. In most cases, when we are creating custom content our customers are looking for a call to action in the conclusion. Call now! Click here! Register today! In other cases, you only need to be a little inspirational. For example, if you are writing five ways for homeowners to boost their curb appeal, you can tell your readers to get out there and fancy up those frontsides!

4. Kindly Ask for Interaction

The purpose of most custom content is first to get the reader to like the company and to take an action. The second thing it should do is to spark a little interaction. Ask your readers to share this post with their friends on Facebook or to +1 it on Google+. Or, ask a question that relates to the information you provided to get the comments section rolling. 

5. Cut it In Half

If you have followed the first four steps, your conclusion is probably too long now. Go back and cut it in half. A conclusion should not be another two-paragraph section of your post. Instead, cut it down so that it is no more than four or five lines of easily-digestible text. If it is still looking too long and you don't want to cut anything else out, set your final question or request for interaction on a new line at the very bottom of the post. 

Go Forth and Conclude!

Conclusions should be a short synopsis of your main body along with a couple sentences that motivate your readers to do something because of what they read. They should help the reader feel like they have finished with the content and point them in the right direction moving forward. By following these five steps, you will be able to write hard-hitting conclusions that convert more readers and inspire more interaction with your custom content. 

What are your favorite ways to create killer conclusions?

Writing Long Form Content: Telling Your Story from Beginning to End

shutterstock_120673561Writing long-form content, whether it’s a blog post or white paper, can be an overwhelming and even confusing process if you don’t take steps to prepare before you start the writing process. To stay organized and better tell your story from beginning to end, put these long-form content creation tips and tricks to use:

Create an Outline

The most important aspect of any piece of long-form content is creating an outline. Your outline will help to keep you on track from the start and give you some direction when you’re feeling lost or overwhelmed as the actual writing process plays out. Your outline should act as a road map that walks you through each section of your piece and ensures that nothing important is overlooked when all is said and done.

You’ll want to include topics to cover and research to be done, as well as a guideline to the types of visuals, reports, resources, and statistics that need to be included in your content. When putting together your outline think of it as a checklist of everything that needs to be done, but break the outline up into sections as your content will be written so you can have an effective workflow to follow that allows you to focus on just one chunk of content at a time.

Brainstorm Bullet Points

Once your outline is created, brainstorm a set of bullet points for each section of your content that highlight the most important pieces of information you want your readers to learn. You can then work from these bulleted lists first to ensure all the essentials are there, and then fill out the rest of the content around your compiled information to help fill in the missing pieces.

Once you’ve built upon your bulleted lists, you may find that some of the other parts of your outline aren’t any longer needed, which saves you time and eliminates fluff. On the other hand you might find that your content needs more in depth information than initially planned, which only makes the reading richer and more valuable to readers.

Plan Your Format

While you’re creating your content, think about how you want to present it to your readers. If your content includes a lot of statistics or historical information, you may want to lead each section with a stunning photo or short educational video that makes your audience want to read the content to the end. If you’re creating a press release, you know that the information should be presented in a succinct and straight forward manner, but you can still plan a unique format that helps the content stand out from the crowd.

For example, you can create an article in the form of a FAQ sheet with questions used as headings and answers used to answer those questions. This is an engaging way to get the word out about a new product, a company’s grand opening, or a big event that provides all the information readers need to know in order to get involved.

Ditch the Redundancies

After you’ve created your outline and your bulleted ideas, go back through everything and weed out any ideas that overlap each other by combining them in some way. This will allow you to minimize the inclusion of redundancies and ensure that every piece of content you do include is relevant to the overall topic at hand.

You’ll want to repeat the process of weeding out irrelevant ideas and those that seem too repetitive after you’ve written the core of your content. After the “meat” of the piece has been completed, you will more than likely once again find that some of the ideas left to flesh out in your outline simply aren’t needed any longer. This will give you some extra space for visuals or to get more specific about the ideas that you’ve already written about.  

In addition to using these tips and tricks, it’s important to get to know your intended audience and put yourself in their shoes during your initial brainstorming session. Read competitor blogs and check out consumer or company forums to gain some insight into what your potential readers expect to learn when reading your content – this works for all kinds of content whether a blog piece, a white paper, or an email newsletter series. 

5 Tips for Setting and Meeting Client Content Expectations

shutterstock_148591781An important part of achieving success as a professional writer is setting expectations with your clients that you are sure you can meet. Taking the time to hash out an upcoming project with a client will help ensure that you both stay on the same page throughout the process, and that each of you have clear expectations about what the project will look like once it is complete. Here are five tips you can use for effectively setting and meeting client expectations:

Tip #1: Provide a Tentative Schedule

One of the most effective ways to make sure you and your clients are on the same page is to provide a tentative work schedule to each project manager you work with before starting a new project. This will help them understand what kind of workload you have on your plate, and provide them with timeline expectations that can be used to plan other aspects of the project you are working on together. You don’t have to provide specific details about projects or clients that might be on your docket at the time, but you can outline your anticipated work hours, and how many of those hours are already committed to other projects.

Tip #2: Offer Some Insight into Creation Technique

After reviewing the specs for an upcoming project, take the time to document some content creation techniques that you think will work best for the project and share your insight with the client you’re working with. This will give them an idea of things like the topics you want to cover and what style of writing they can expect the content to feature.

This will also give your client an opportunity to provide their own feedback about technique, and keep you both on the same page in terms of how the content takes shape as you create it.

Tip #3: Discuss Keyword Distribution

Keywords are just as important as topics, angles, and writing styles you incorporate into your content. The right keywords in place help to attract the right readers who are likely to already be interested in the products and services your content is ultimately promoting.

But keyword placement isn’t set in stone when it comes to content marketing – marketing agents employ a variety of keyword implementation methods, so you need to make sure that you understand how each individual client wants to get the job done before starting a project. If a client isn’t specific about how keywords should be used, let them know your intentions so they’ll know what to expect.

Tip #4: Verify Visual Necessities

Visual implementations are an essential component of quality content because it helps bring the words to life and it inspires website visitors to read through an entire piece before moving on to something else. If you’re expected to find photos or videos for a project, ask your client which sources they’d prefer you to use and how they want the sources credited.

Otherwise, you may find yourself having to search for the ownership and reuse rights of the photos after you turn the completed work in which may require extra time without any extra pay. Make sure clients know if you charge extra for sourcing and including photos before providing the service, as some may choose to simply find the visuals using their own time and resources. Clients should also know up front how many visual effects you are willing to provide for each piece of content you create, if any at all.

Tip #5: Submit an Overview

After you feel that you have all of the information necessary to complete a project for a client, put together a quick overview of the services you expect to provide so as to minimize disappointments once the content is created. You’ll find that submitting an overview and getting approval before starting a project helps to cut down on revision requests and financial disagreements. To be thorough you’ll want to include keyword usage, topics, subheading ideas, and photo placement in your overviews.

After using these tips, the best way to make sure that you meet your client’s expectations is to schedule the workload into your personal calendar and make a commitment to review the project on a daily basis whether you plan to work on it at the time or not. 

Writing for a B2B Audience: 3 Key Points to Follow

Posted by Robin Kastengren

shutterstock_173040281Although writing for consumers may be more fun and light, the reality is that a lot of the content on the web is destined for a business audience. Even though one person can be both a consumer and a business person, when they are at work they want business solutions and content that speaks to their professional needs. Here is what you need to know to hit the right notes for a B2B audience.

1. Finding the Right Target

Content marketers know all about finding and targeting the right audience, but zeroing in on the right person for your B2B content takes a bit of extra insight. You need to know more than just the industry that you are writing for; you also have to know whether your content is destined for decision makers or those that influence decision makers, and how high up the ladder the reader is.

For example, if you are creating content for a software company that focuses on a new accounting program, you need to know whether you are writing for the CEO, the head of accounting, or an entry level software support specialist. While the head of accounting would want to know specific details of the program that will make her life easier, these concepts will probably be unfamiliar to the CEO who just wants to know the cost benefits, or to the support specialist who wants to know how this will work on their current network and desktop hardware. 

2. Language is Everything

Many of the concepts that you will discuss in B2B content is the same as content intended for consumers, but the wording is different and choosing the wrong words can set the wrong tone for your piece. For example, homeowners worry about electric bills while business owners worry about energy expenses. Homeowners want to keep a few more dollars in their pockets; business owners want to cut down on overhead. 

The ideas behind the words are the same, but in order for your ideas to resonate with B2B readers, you have to choose words that reflect their business surroundings. You also want to familiarize yourself with any industry lingo and determine the right time to use it. For the same accounting software piece, if you are addressing the head of accounting, you'll want to know how to use terms like "AP," "AR," and "closing the month," as these are all functions that accountants use software for every day.

3. Don't Forget the Fun

Even though the purpose of most B2B content is to establish the company as a leader in the industry or to provide insight into industry products or trends, it is still human beings that are consuming the content. The trick is to keep everything clean and neutral--business casual--so you can be entertaining without being unprofessional.

Think about the last time you had to sit through a meeting. If the whole thing was just slide after slide of a presentation, and the presenter simply read the information that was already on the slide, it probably will not take long for people to start doodling, checking their phones, and nodding off. On the other hand, if the presenter is lively and tosses out an occasional joke, slogging through hours of a presentation can become almost enjoyable.

Changing Gears

Writing B2B content does not have to be completely different from creating B2C content. As long as you are able to change gears and engage a few key components that B2B audiences want to see,  your messages will be well-received and do a better job of reaching their goals.