One of the most attractive aspects of freelance copywriting is the freedom to explore virtually any topic under the sun. Many of the freelancers we know are the kinds of people who love learning and have endless curiosity, but if you never settle down into a niche, you may find that your career doesn't develop and advance like you want it to. Why is that?
Each time you begin writing in a new niche it's like starting over as a freelance writer. You have to find new stories, new sources for statistics and background information, and new clients. And as you start over in a new niche your pay rate will be that of a beginner for a while until you prove your expertise in the subject matter.
With niche expertise, however, your freelance copywriting life gets easier. Sources catch on to the fact that you write about a certain topic, and they send tips your way about breaking news and coming trends. You meet people in your niche, and your network grows, bringing you new clients and better paying jobs.
So how do you find your niche?
Start by Taking Any Job You Can Get
If you're new to freelance copywriting, now is not the time to be picky. At the beginning, take any job you can get, but be mindful of the process. After each job ask yourself the following questions:
- Was this job interesting?
- Did I do a good job with it?
- How did it pay compared to other jobs?
When you pay attention to the development of your fledgling freelance copywriting career, you'll see trends emerge. Maybe you don't like writing about healthcare after all, but you realize that your interest in small cap stocks is a freelancing gold mine and those small cap stocks assignments paid better.
Pay Attention to Supply and Demand
When freelancers first start out, they often look for writing gigs they feel comfortable with. That's why so many freelancers look for assignments in arts and entertainment. Sure, it's fun to write about arts and entertainment, but the problem is competition. If a client has 100 writers to choose from for an arts and entertainment job, he's not going to have to pay very much. On the other hand, that credit union who needs someone to write about auto loans will be willing to pay higher rates for good quality, well-written content.
This doesn't mean you have to choose a boring niche in order to make good money; in fact, you'll find that niches with more depth lead to all kinds of interesting work once you become established as an experienced writer in the field. Don't sell yourself short by settling for a niche that is too broad or too low paying.
Build Your Network
Once you've found a niche that appeals to you and that provides a steady stream of work, start building your network. Your network shouldn't just consist of potential clients, although you'll need plenty of those. You also need sources for ideas, people you can interview in a pinch, and websites and blogs for collecting statistics and breaking news. Find a few local sources you can call on the phone, but don't overlook social media. LinkedIn and Twitter are great places to find thought leaders in your niche. Comment on industry-specific blogs when you have something interesting and thought-provoking to say. Don't be afraid to sound like you know what you're talking about. With each writing assignment your expertise grows.
If having one niche is good, then having two niches is better. Great-paying freelance clients can disappear overnight for a variety of reasons, and no industry is impervious to the volatility of the economy. When you develop two or even three niches simultaneously, you build a buffer between yourself and unemployment.
In the world of freelance copywriting, strategy is important. If you randomly choose assignments that sound fun at the moment, you'll make a little money and have a little fun. But if you strategically build your presence as a niche writer, you'll develop a bona fide career, and soon you'll have clients who depend on you. They'll need you and your expertise as an integral part of their businesses. As your value as a niche writer grows, you'll be able to charge more for your work, and you'll develop a network of clients and contacts who are great resources and can alert you to better and better jobs.
So what's your niche?
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Search engine optimization used to mean adding keywords every chance you could. Once everyone caught on, though, the black-hat players took advantage and outranked quality content. Google has changed its algorithm several times to reward good content and punish bad, but some site owners--and writers-- have struggled with that as well.
You might be frustrated that the rules of SEO have changed yet again, but these changes will actually help your client's site - if you know how to navigate them. Here's a quick reminder of what content needs to be an SEO success.
Develop a Strategy
It's OK to jot down random ideas when you're brainstorming, but not when you're writing content. You should never create a blog or infographic just for the sake of creating content. Instead, develop a content strategy and always know what you'll write.
The specifics vary from one site to another, but every strategy should include:
- Objectives: What do you want your content to accomplish?
- Scope: What kinds of topics will be covered? What tone and voice will it use?
- Calendar: When will certain topics be covered? How often will you post new content?
- Measurement: How will you know if content is meeting your goals? How can you improve it for better results?
Create a set of rules for your content and you'll reach audiences with high-quality content every time.
Write for People, Not Search Engines
As with all products or services, content is most successful when it meets customer needs. The search engines didn't always use this to rank pages, though. Now that they are, stop developing content the engines like and start writing what potential readers want.
Whatever you write about, make sure it hits the following marks:
- Relevance: Write about what matters to the people you want to reach.
- Value: Offer information readers can use, including next steps and calls to action.
- Clarity: Avoid jargon and write short, clear sentences in a language readers will quickly grasp.
- Good Editing: Edit and proofread content to remove confusing phrases, misspelled words and bad grammar.
Create the most valuable content possible because under these new SEO rules, good trumps bad every time.
Make Content Shareable
Search engine marketing and social media marketing used to be two separate things. Nowadays, the two are inextricably linked. Upping social media activity is a great way to boost search engine rankings, and that means making content easy to share with social networks.
Your SEO efforts are more effective when you:
- Write a succinct title that generates excitement.
- Keep content short and sweet.
- Put Share buttons in a prominent place.
- Ask readers to share or retweet your piece.
As more people share your content, you'll see your web pages ranking higher and higher.
Stop Obsessing Over Keywords
Remember when all you had to do to rank high was stuff keywords throughout your content? Thankfully, those days are gone. Bad players started abusing this policy, which led to a lot of crappy content reaching the top of the list. Keep using keywords, but focus on quality, not quantity.
To get the most out of each keyword, you need to:
- Write long-tail and descriptive key phrases.
- Use phrases that match reader searches.
- Place keywords in prime real estate like titles and metatags
- Eliminate monotony by using keyword variations.
Good SEO marketers know that keywords should be built around content, not the other way around.
Words and pictures aren't mutually exclusive. If anything, a few visual enhancements can make written content even more compelling. Consider adding them to make your content more valuable - and help it rank higher.
Visual elements enhance content in lots of ways:
- Infographics make complex information easier to digest
- Company logos and taglines reinforce brand identity
- Videos and photos are easily absorbed and quickly spread across social media;
- Brightly-colored buttons make calls to action more noticeable
If the right word can capture a reader's attention, the right visual can do a thousand times more.
SEO has changed a lot, and it'll probably change several times more. As long as you follow a few basic rules, including the ones above, your content will come out on top.
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The human race thrives on stories. Which would you remember better: a list of facts or a story that weaves those facts into a meaningful narrative? When you write content for websites you must be a storyteller, drawing in readers with compelling marketing content and persuading them to stay awhile.
Most of you are already storytellers; you just forget how to do it when you sit down to write marketing content. You have been so inundated with advice about formatting, fonts, and color selection you lose sight of content as a narrative device.
These 5 techniques for crafting compelling marketing content for websites will guide you back to your storytelling roots.
Know Your Audience
This is at the heart and soul of any writer’s craft. You must know who you are addressing before you can develop content that will be meaningful. Marketers build a buyer persona to provide a specific target, or audience, to directly address.
By knowing your audience you will know what level to write at, where to start, and what type of details to put into the story. This information will change from one step in the buying process to the next but the basic needs of the audience won’t change.
Select Frame and Premise
The frame is the audience’s world view. A strict vegan will have a difference world view from a barbeque aficionado. A 16 year old high school boy looks at the world differently than the 45 year old mother of a 16 year old high school boy. If you know your audience you will know how to present the story so it fits within its frame of reference. Who are you writing to?
The premise is how to tell the story. This is what provides the dramatic tension by delivering the framed story to the audience in a way that draws it in and brings it along for the ride. How can you present the story so it makes logical sense to your target and fits within their worldview?
Determine a Focus
What is the kernel of your story? Boy meets girl? Bo knows baseball? Without a focus a story risks scope creep. Pretty soon you are trying to address everyone at the same time and have lost the momentum of a personalized experience.
You should be able to tell your focus in three words using a noun, a verb, and an object. These words imply what the customer wants.
Create a Character
Stories are always more interesting when they are about someone, preferably someone like your target audience. Your character is your buyer persona expanded to human form. You give it a name and use it to give your story a human perspective.
Bob Businessman received a query from a potential client that would really put his business on the map. But it took him 3 days to put together a proposal and the client went with a company that completed a proposal in just a few hours. Bob wondered if there was a way to streamline his proposal process.
Follow a Dramatic Arc
Stories have a beginning, middle, and end. The dramatic arc drives the narrative forward bringing the reader with it.
- Beginning = Exposition: This is the starting point where you give the reader context and a beginning for the action.
- Middle = Conflict and climax: The middle is where the problem is presented. You are telling the reader about the change in circumstances that creates a problem that must be resolved.
- End = Conclusion: The end tells the reader about the resolution to the problem and ties the story up. It is a logical and/or emotional stopping point.
With a great hook and a dramatic arc your reader can’t help but go along for the ride. At the end give them a satisfying conclusion.
Presenting content for websites in the form of stories is the most successful way of attracting readers and converting customers. The human psyche is already wired to understand and remember stories; it’s how the world passed along knowledge before the written word was created. Putting experience into a story made it memorable and sharable.
Memorable and sharable are two of the most important characteristics of effective content for websites.
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The content marketing machine is voraciously hungry, and with the concept having really taken off the past couple of years there’s a golden opportunity for writers to make a killing. If you can get it right, that is. And getting it right means producing content for clients that makes you an indispensable asset for them. It means producing content that gets results, generates leads and builds up readership.
Here’s how to simplify and streamline the process so it becomes lucrative and viable for you.
Interpreting the Client’s Instructions
Some clients really don’t know how to give instructions, do they? Often, that’s because they don’t understand what works, or because don’t know how to ask for what they want. So, sometimes you have to interpret. I always ask for the following info, if it isn’t included upfront:
- Where is this content going to be published (e.g. website address, blog, online publication etc)?
- Who will be listed as the author, and where can I read other work by this person (for tone etc)?
- What’s the primary purpose of the content? Sounds simple enough, but clients often don’t tell you what the call to action is going to be, and that’s important to help you produce a balanced piece that supports what they want to get out of it. So, I want to know if the purpose is to drive traffic, encourage downloads or generate commentary and discussion.
If anything is unclear, ask! I’d rather ask stupid questions than make stupid mistakes, even if they are legitimate ones (i.e. the client forgot to tell you something important). Here’s an example: I’m currently writing for a proctology client, qualified to deal with colorectal issues. The client neglected to tell me he specializes in rectal conditions, not colonic ones! Who knew… So now I have to review everything and remove all references to colorectal. There’s no way I would have even thought of asking whether a colorectal specialist actually does, well – colorectal stuff!
Simplicity is Key
How often have you heard the phrase “keep it simple, stupid?” Users don’t want to read copy that requires a university degree to understand it, and far too many writers still use language that came out of the ark. Either that, or it’s too technical for easy consumption. How do you write using plain language? Simple. Just write it the way you say it.
I often sit down to write a piece of content and get tangled up in how to start it. When that happens I step back and forget about the introduction, and just write the body copy. Instead of trying to figure out how best to phrase something, I “just do it.” Just write it. I can always edit it later, right? Just get it down so I know what I want to cover. Then I go back and write the intro last.
If you leave generating content subject matter to an inexperienced client, you’re going to be writing the same topic over and over again, every which way from Sunday. And each piece will be a promotion of the client’s product or service. With new clients I like to give them a chance, because there are some who know how it works. After the second or third attempt, I’ll know whether they need help brainstorming topic ideas. Then I’ll tactfully email them with a few suggested topics, which I find by researching their keywords, checking their analytics to see what pages are popular (if they’re available and meaningful) and setting up alerts based on their industry. Usually, they’re only too grateful to leave the process in my hands after that!
Fulfilling the Topic
Staying on topic is one of the hardest things for a writer to do, but it’s vital if you want to capture and keep the reader’s attention. And let’s face it, if they don’t get to the end of the piece and the call to action, the content you’ve written isn’t going to achieve its objective, now is it? Here are my tricks for fulfilling the title:
- Outline first. When you know what you want to cover, you can flesh out the sections in your own time without getting lost in the topic.
- Reiterate the title throughout the copy, at least once in each section. That will keep you from straying from what you—or your client—are trying to say.
- Say what you’re going to say, say it and then say what you said. It’s an oldie but it still holds true.
Keep your approach as simple as possible and don’t let it become complicated. That way, you’ll satisfy your clients’ needs for easy-to-read content that achieves its purpose—and your own need to build up clients and generate income.
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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 120,000 professional writers working in the United States. If you're one of them, you know that post-holidays can be lean times...and this year is no exception. Many clients are still re-grouping after the holidays and re-evaluating their budgets to see how much content they can afford for the new year.
If these clients enlist the help of an advertising agency to secure their content, that adds even more time before they start offering work to copywriters. If you work within writing platforms, you know that what that means for the job boards.
What's a professional copywriter to do? You could spend the month cleaning out your closets, soaking up the rays in Florida or working on that great American novel you started in 2005. However, if you want to be able to pay the rent during these lean times, you need to be proactive. Below are a few tips for doing just that:
1. Contact existing clients and ask for work. Your clients are busy, too, and sometimes trying to think of good topics can prevent them from posting orders for articles they need. When the job board is slow is a good time to run through your approved orders and send a brief message to clients you've worked with in the past, suggesting one or two article topics. You might be surprised how quickly such messages can turn into orders.
2. Send a thank you message to a client for the order. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (and isn't being a professional copywriter really a small business?), one of the most effective ways to get repeat business is to follow up with each and every client. On writing platforms, that means just sending a nice message on the private message board thanking the client for the order and telling them that you would like to work with them again (if you do.) If it's a new client and the platform you're working on has such a function, consider rating the client. Not only does that help other writers, but it helps the client attract qualified writers.
3. Make the most of the work you have. This one can be a little tricky. Certainly, you don't want to write fluff or be repetitious. However, if you can maximum the word count on your orders by giving the client the full maximum of quality words and content, you'll also maximize the amount of revenue you get from each order. If you're the type of professional copywriter who waits until the last minute to start an order and then just gets the minimum number of words written before the deadline, maybe it's time to re-think your approach, at least during lean times.
4. Work on your profiles. If all else fails, make sure that you're ready when the orders start pouring in come February and March by updating your profiles. On Zerys, for example, that means making sure that you've chosen all of the first, second and third level categories that you're allowed. On other platforms, it can mean making sure that you've completed all of the biographical and professional information and that it portrays you in the best light.
Having been a professional copywriter for nearly 10 years, I can say that the good news is that this job slump will pass. The new year will likely bring at least a few changes to the copywriting job front before it's done, but, if history is any indication, the number of writing jobs will start picking up about the time the weather starts to warm in the Midwest and Northeast. In the mean time, spend a little extra time on making the most of the clients, the orders and the writing jobs that you have.
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"Content marketing is the only marketing left". Attributed to Seth Godin, this simple statement expresses the view that traditional marketing in all of its various forms (print, radio and TV advertising, for example) has been played out, no longer as effective as it once was.
Magazine and newspaper subscriptions are down, viewers DVR their televisions shows and skip through the ads, and many people have replaced commercial radio with premium stations like Sirius/XM, Pandora and Spotify, to name a few. And that's not even accounting for the fact that the Internet has substantially and irreversibly changed how we seek, obtain, disseminate and exchange information. All of which is to say that content marketing is here to stay for the foreseeable future.
So what, exactly, is content marketing?
Basically, content marketing is the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling. It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are delivering information that makes your buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if we, as businesses, deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, they ultimately reward us with their business and loyalty. (http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/what-is-content-marketing/)
If we accept this definition as accurate, then content marketing is the vehicle by which companies offer information to the marketplace in hopes of converting consumers to customers. And therein, as the saying goes, lies the rub.
The dissemination of informational content may be marketing, but it isn't necessarily effective marketing. Copywriting isn't rocket science, but there is an art to it. You might be knowledgeable about a topic or be a good technical writer but neither guarantees that you can write content that achieves some company's marketing goals.
What do we mean? Let's look at my story as an example. My education, background and training is in law and, more specifically, in personnel/employment law. I can competently communicate on topics related to labor law, workers compensation and the like. My vocabulary is solid and I consider my issue identification skills (i.e., the ability to see the forest from the trees) to be among my strongest professional attributes. None of these necessarily ensure copywriting success, however.
Content marketing isn't for everybody. You're probably a good writer. But are you a good copywriter? Can you write content that helps clients connect with consumers? Here are some things I've learned over the past several years that help keep me on task and remind me that I'm not writing for me:
Read. The. Instructions. If you accept an assignment, read the instructions. All of the instructions. Too often writers accept work that interests them only to discover, on closer inspection, that the content requested requires more research than anticipated or that it must be formatted a certain way with which they're not comfortable working, for example. Be sure you understand exactly what the client wants. Not sure? Ask.
Research the client. If you're provided a website, go there. If you're given examples of what is being sought, review them. Get to know the enterprise so that you can speak in their language and tone and, therefore, more effectively communicate to the target demographic.
Target the target. Be sure you are comfortable that you've correctly identified the market the client is attempting to reach. Not sure? Again, ask.
"Once upon a time...". One of the keys to effective content marketing is storytelling. No matter how well you can detail facts or information, that in and of itself won't be sufficient to engage the reader. And make no mistake, effective content marketing is all about engaging the reader. It's been suggested that online content has somewhere between 2 and 3 seconds to connect with consumers, failing which they'll click away to another site (and likely never return). Telling a story engages the reader because it provides an opportunity for the consumer to make a personal connection with the content.
Action! In order for content to truly "market" a product or service, it should call the reader to action, thereby converting them from consumer to customer (which is, if you'll remember, the whole idea!). Ask for contact info, provide links, solicit comments/feedback.
Your ego is not your amigo. It's content marketing, not a Pulitzer piece. Don't take criticism or revision requests personally. It's not easy writing for others. Have patience, do your best work and keep your eyes on the prize: The satisfaction of being paid for your writing. Isn't that why you're here?
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According to "Business News Daily," more than 40 percent of Americans will be freelancing in some capacity by 2020. If you currently are a freelance writer, you know that working for yourself has a lot to recommend it. You can set your own hours, choose your own clients as well as the much touted being able to work in your pajamas.
However, there's one area where freelancers are particularly vulnerable and that's in saving for retirement. Unlike their neighbors and friend who work for large corporations, freelancers bear the entire burden of retirement savings. For freelancers, there are no company pensions or matching 401k contributions. However, being a freelancer doesn't mean that you have to work until you're 90 years old. You just have to make retirement planning a priority.
Retirement plans for freelancers
If you're a freelance writer working at home, there are several retirement plans that will work for you. Some even offer tax benefits, a big help towards off-setting the self-employment tax.
1. Social Security. Most self-employed individuals still qualify for Social Security benefits. That's part of what you're paying for with that self-employment tax. Like your friends who work for companies, your benefits will be based on how much money you earn in your 35 highest earning years. (If you work less than 35 years prior to retirement, the government uses zeroes for those absent years.) What differs for self-employed individuals is that this amount is your net income from your writing business. That's after your business expenses are deducted. You can claim Social Security benefits beginning at age 62, depending on what year you were born, but the monthly benefits are greater if you wait until you are age 70.
2. SEP IRA plan. A Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) IRA plan is an easy way for freelance writers to save, no matter how much or how little income you make. This type of plan is available from most banks, credit unions and savings banks and has few, if any, fees associated with it. The government allows you to contribute up to 25 percent of your income (up to a cap of 52,000 in 2014) without having to pay income tax on the money. You are taxed when you withdraw the money from the account at retirement. "CNN Money" calls the SEP IRA the best best for those who work by themselves and plan to keep it that way.
3. Solo 401k. A solo 401k is a good choice if you have other writers or employees working for you because you can make contributions both as a boss AND as an employee. Currently, you can contribute up to $5,500 as an employee ($6,500 if you are age 50 or older) and up to 25% of your income (subject to a cap of 52,000 in 2014) as a boss. Like the SEP IRA, your contributions are not subject to income tax until you retire and withdraw the money from the account.
4. SIMPLE IRA. A Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) IRA makes sense for a freelance writer who plans on hiring employees at some time in the future as it combines the best features of a traditional IRA and a 401k plan. With a SIMPLE IRA, you can continue to contribute to the same saving plan you started as an sole employee even after you grow your business and add employees. Each employee (including you) can contribute up to $12,000 each year. However, unlike the other plans, the company (that's you, again) is required to match 3% of each employee's contributions. As with the other plans, the funds are tax-deferred until the money is withdrawn at retirement.
So, don't think that saving for retirement is impossible if you make your living as a freelance writer. You simply have to take charge of your savings. You'll be rewarded not only with the security of knowing you have money set aside for your future, but with tax savings as well.
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While many Internet pundits are trumpeting the demise of Google+, savvy web writers are hurrying to create a profile...if they haven't done so already. As many online marketers have learned over the past couple of years, one ignores anything Google does at one's peril. Admittedly, nearly everyone who has used the Google+ will attest to the fact that Google+ is not the easiest platform to use. However, there are several very good reasons to spend the time deciphering Google's attempt at social media:
Why a Web Writer Needs a Google+ Profile
It might seem easier to just dismiss Google+. After all, you're on Facebook, Twitter and maybe a few other social media sites. That's where your friends and fellow writers hang out. However, there are many tangible, and a few less tangible reasons, for writers to create a Google+ profile.
1. It's makes search more personal. In order to sign up for Google authorship, you must first have a Google+ profile. Google authorship is the function that ties all of a particular web writer's articles together (as long as they have byline), no matter what writing platform or what client they are written for. You've probably seen such listings in search. They are the listings with the little author's pictures next to them. According to Demian Farnworth, writing for Copyblogger.com, web surfers are more likely to click on the result that has the picture next to it than one that doesn't have a picture. It makes sense. We're a visual society.
2. It helps your Klout score. The more social media platforms you participate in and the more people like, share and comment on your work, the higher your Klout score grows. What's a Klout score? It's an attempt to measure the social media acumen and participation of a particular individual. To a web writer that can be useful in showing potential clients that you know your way around social media. Anyone can say they use Facebook and the like to promote their articles. A Klout score helps you prove it.
3. Some content sites require it. S ome content sites require a web writer to be active on Google+ before they are able to write for them. Other content sites have a Google+ requirement for certain types of assignments.
4. That Google mojo. This is the intangible benefit. Whether adding Google+ to your social media portfolio really helps your articles rank better in Google searches is debatable. However, the search engine giant's influence throughout the Internet is undeniable. Since it only takes a little time to set up a profile, it just makes sense. It couldn't hurt your rankings and it might very well help them. Many search engine pundits, such as Barbara Starr writing for Search Engine Land.com, see search moving from keyword-based algorithms to semantic search formulas that take relationships and interaction into account. Starr sees maximizing your presence on Google+ as being key to success in this new web environment.
5. It shows clients that you're serious about web writing. As with other social media profiles, being active (or at least semi-active) on Google+ shows potential clients at you are a web writer who is serious about his or her craft. For some reason, clients who aren't as web-savvy, take greater stock in a web writer having a Google+ profile than being active on sites like Facebook or LinkedIn.
Although Google+ can be a challenge to master, you'd be wise not to dismiss it entirely. Google's advent into social media may be a little clumsy, but it can offer some decided advantages in your web writing career.
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Capturing a larger online audience is a great goal for 2014, and with the right tools and strategies, you can improve your web writing and reach your objectives. What makes web writing different from traditional writing? The people reading it.
Who are these online readers you're trying to reach? More and more, they are on the go. Mobile technology has changed the way people use the Internet. A few years ago, people spent more time reading web writing as if they were reading a magazine or a book. Today, people are reading on smaller screens, and they often look for bite-sized pieces of information, grabbed in a hurry in short windows of time, like on the bus or waiting in line .
Trying to write for such an audience sounds like a nightmare, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, once you get the hang of web writing for 2014, you may enjoy it more than ever before. Here's what to remember:
1. Don't Beat Around the Bush
2014 readers are looking for information, and they have a million places to get it. If you don't give it to them fast, they'll go find what they're looking for somewhere else. This can be liberating to writers. Instead of having to come up with an enlightened-sounding introduction for every topic, just dive in. Say it well, and say it in a fresh way, but say it as quickly as possible.
One way to train yourself to get right to the point is to pretend someone is asking you what your article is about. You have just one sentence to convey the entire idea. Next, right down your summary and see how it sounds. This could be a great first sentence. You may worry that you're giving all of your best information away too soon, that your readers won't want to read the rest, but when you hook them with a power-packed first sentence, they realize that you have plenty to say, and you can use the rest of your piece to elaborate, give personal examples, and explain subtle nuances.
2. Manage Your White Space
Large blocks of dense text are immediate turn-offs to many readers. It looks intimidating. It looks like it's going to take a long time to read, and time is precious to 2014 readers. White space is the space in your writing that is not occupied by any text, and by paying attention to white space you can actually make your writing more intuitive and easier to follow. You can use the following tools to insert white space in your web writing:
- Bullet points
- Numbered lists
- Text boxes and sidebars
Use your white space to your best advantage, remembering that not all of these strategies work well on mobile devices. Too many large images, for instance, can do strange things to the mobile views of some websites and blogs. Always test your website out on different devices to avoid problems.
3. Optimize SEO for Local Searches
One thing that hasn't changed is the need for search engine optimization. Although you may need to be more direct and more aware of white space with 2014 readers, you still need to think about keywords and how your writing will rank with the search engines.
An important result of the growth in mobile technology is the increase in local searches. For example, you're on a business trip and need to find somewhere to eat for lunch, so you search "Mexican food Tampa." You end up eating at the restaurant with the best online reviews. Think about how people will find your business online. Have you optimized your SEO for local searches? Potential customers are out there driving around right now in need of your products and services. Is your web writing helping them to find you? If not, start today to optimize your SEO for local searches.
As you can see, capturing 2014 readers doesn't have to be difficult. Just keep in mind that these readers are in a hurry, on the go, and looking for what you have to offer. Your challenge is to reach them so you can give them what they're looking for. Do them the favor of coming right out and saying it, not cluttering their lives with huge blocks of text, and be sure to optimize your web writing for local searches. When they realize you have what they're looking for, you'll reach your goals as never before.
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Long before the concept of content marketing was invented and long before the Internet came into common use, a unique type of media existed that convinced people to pay -- every day -- for its content while it used the content as as medium to sell space to third parties for advertising. That medium -- the newspaper -- was driven by the original content marketing writer -- a journalist. The newspaper industry has gone through changes and contractions, but journalists remain experts at writing compelling content.
Journalists bring a unique and disciplined approach to writing that helps them nail content creation. Here are some of the skills that make them great web marketing writers:
Would you have read this article if it was entitled "A Study on the Relative Benefits of Journalistic Training in Content Marketing Writer Settings?" Especially on the web where everyone is buried in more great content than they can ever hope to read, readers don't glance through articles to determine if they want to read them. Instead, they make their judgments based on headlines.
In some areas, news isn't always happening. Nevertheless, just as a journalist still needs to fill all of the pages of a daily newspaper or the 51-or-so minutes of a newscast, a content marketing writer still has to create compelling content on a regular basis. A journalist knows how to look at the same stories every day and find new ways to report them, creating new content even when it might seem like nothing is happening.
The Five W's
One of the fundamental skills of journalism is to answer five basic questions -- who, what, when, where and why. While they might not always fit in a marketing piece, a journalist usually looks at a piece as being an answer to these questions by default. As a content marketing writer, this means that she will be able to craft stories that cover what the prospect wants to know, drawing the prospect closer to the brand and giving him the information he needs to make a buying decision.
While not every journalist is a strong interviewer, many were taught how to interview as a part of becoming a reporter. According to research by Software Advice, the ability to effectively interview sources, get good quotes and capture them accurately lets a content marketing writer craft new content instead of just recycling pieces based on the same old sources as everyone else.
Getting the Details Right
On the whole, journalists do an excellent job of collecting facts and reporting them accurately. While almost anyone can gather information, a journalist also knows how to check them, confirm them and find supporting sources to ensure that they're correct. This means that as a content marketing writer, she is more likely to turn out materials that is accurate. This not only enhances the credibility of your brand but can also save you from liability for reporting incorrect information. In the same vein, journalists also know how to create content that is not only accurate, but their own. This helps to eliminate the risk that your client will end up being labeled a plagiarist.
Any skilled content marketing writer can craft compelling and accurate content. However, journalists start with a set of advantages. Between their old-media experience and their formal training, they carry the skills that make for the creation of compelling content.
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