Firefighter, police officer, astronaut, lawyer. These are the most common answers you hear from young children when asked what they would like to be when they grow up. Few people have childhood dreams of growing up to become a technical copywriter.
But, despite the job’s lack of traditional appeal, technical writing is a field on the rise. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that between 2012 and 2022, technical writer employment is projected to grow 15%, faster than the average profession in the United States. Additionally, the median pay for a technical writer is $65,500 per year, which is substantially higher than the median net compensation of workers in the U.S. in that same year, $27,519.10.
For many, these statistics beg the question: should an aspiring writer become a technical copywriter? How does technical writing differ from other forms of writing? To answer these questions, it is necessary to take a look at what a technical copywriter does and how they usually work.
A Technical Writer’s Role
If you have ever purchased an electronic device, appliance, or any other product that came with a manual or user guide, it is likely that these documents were written by a technical writer. Technical copywriters often specialize in a specific industry or field. They are sometimes responsible for producing work that involves specialized terms within these industries, or for translating this jargon into copy that can be understood by the average consumer.
The Society for Technical Communication provides a broader label for technical copywriters: technical communicators. According to the STC, technical communicators either communicate about technical topics, communicate by using technology, or provide instructions about how to do something. Above all, remember that technical writers are responsible for delivering instructions to their readers, whether those readers have just purchased a new TV or are scientists looking for information about materials in their laboratory.
Technical Writing Vs. Other Forms Of Writing
Now that you know a bit more about what it means to be a technical copywriter, you are probably wondering if this type of work is for you. There are some pros and some cons that you should know about before making your final decision on technical copywriting:
Technical copywriters usually work full-time at a single company. This means that once they find a job, technical writers never have to be concerned about finding new clients or marketing themselves the way that freelance writers do
The robust growth of the technical writing field means that it will be easier to find technical writing jobs than it is to find work in some other fields
Technical writers can find work with a huge variety of employers. Electronics manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment manufacturers, and the federal government are just a few examples of the kinds of organizations that technical writers can get a job with
Since technical writers usually work full-time for one company, they aren’t afforded the freedom and lifestyle flexibility enjoyed by freelance writers. Because technical copywriters usually are paid on salary, there is also little opportunity to earn more money at work without an official raise
Once you get a technical writing job or contract, you will be handling a certain type of work for the duration of your employment. Although there are exceptions, technical writers are usually hired to write just a few types of documents for their employer: on the other hand, freelancers can work on a wide array of projects on vastly different subjects
Technical writing usually requires not only writing experience and formal education, but also some type of specialization in the field you will be writing about. For example, writers at engineering companies usually need to have some type of formal training in engineering. If you don’t have any sort of specialized education or certification, it will be more difficult to break into the technical writing field
Remember that everyone is different: some writers may be extremely attracted to the positive elements of becoming a technical copywriter, while others may be put off by the drawbacks of this type of work. There are also freelance writers who do some of this writing in addition to their normal marketing writing work. Deciding whether or not becoming a technical copywriter is for you requires some soul-searching based on the information available about this kind of work and whether or not it aligns with your skills, interests, and professional goals as a writer.
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When it comes to the web, audiences have pretty short attention spans. This means that you have to get right to the point and get them hooked before they get a Facebook notification, a text message, or simply wander away from your page. Before you waste another minute writing content that gets passed over, here are 6 mistakes to avoid.
1. Being Overly Complex
Writing is as much of an art as it is a skill and all artists love to show off. The trouble with blogs, articles, and other web copy is that most readers aren't interested in sticking around long enough to decipher complex metaphors and read lengthy passages. Cut to the chase and keep it simple so readers can get in, get the information they need, and move on.
2. Focusing on SEO
In the past, boosting a site's search engine rankings left the writer sticking in awkward keywords, including alternate spellings, and repeating a word until you were absolutely sick of it. Google has had enough of that and now favors writing that is well written and focused on being informative and useful. If you're assigned a keyword or two, be sure to use them strategically, but focus first on producing outstanding content. Otherwise, you're just producing words that nobody will waste their time reading.
3. Forgetting About SEO
Just because current SEO practices favor the web copywriter doesn't mean that there aren't a few things you should know about keyword placement. If you've been assigned a keyword, do your very best to work it into the title of the piece, into at least one subheading, and one or two more mentions throughout the piece as long as each mention doesn't interfere with the flow of the text. If you don't pay a little attention to SEO, you're wasting your time writing something that might not ever get found.
4. Using too Much Jargon
Or, sometimes, not using enough jargon. The trick is to really understand the audience that you're addressing. For example, if you're charged with writing 600 words on household insulation, it's important to know whether you're addressing installers or homeowners. If you're writing for installers and launch into a lengthy explanation of what R-Value means, they won't waste their time reading your article and they will be gone before you know it. On the other hand, if you're addressing homeowners and you leave this explanation out, you run the risk of confusing or alienating the reader. Always know who you're talking to so you can get the language correct.
5. Leaving Yourself Behind
As a web copywriter, you're probably aware of the fact that there are dozens, or even hundreds of posts about every topic you're writing about. You've also probably written for a bunch of different clients, each asking for their own voice and tone. When you put this all together, you might find yourself in the trap of churning out content that hits all the major points and keywords and is grammatically flawless, but somehow seems to be falling flat.
What's missing? You. Without your own personal point of view, your own personality shining through the words, your work is going to blend in with every other post on the topic and nobody is going to take the time to read your version. Try to find a fresh perspective on the topic, include some interesting new facts, be funny if it's appropriate, and let yourself show in each piece you produce.
6. Not Leaving Some Steam for the Conclusion
It can be easy for a web copywriter to simply be thankful that all the major points were hit and that all the mechanics are correct and call it a day. However, always save a little energy to put a bow on top of the neat little package you're about to deliver. Insert an interesting quote, come up with an inspiring call-to-action, or otherwise motivate the reader to do something because of what they've read. Let the reader know that you're thankful that they've spent the time to get to the bottom of your post by leaving them with something special.
Time is Money
Remember, as a web copywriter, you're in this to make money, too. Don't waste your time writing fancy prose that doesn't get noticed or writing boring text that never gets read. Make the most of your time and talent by avoiding these time-wasting mistakes and giving each reader just what they need.
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Business clients have their own ideas about what comprises quality online content, and those don’t always “gel” with mine. If, like me, you’ve had clients who expect every blog post you write to be about buying their products or services, then you’ll know this is an occupational hazard for every freelance writer.
And if, like me again, you hate writing keyword-stuffed, sales-y material because you know it’s not good blog content, the only solution is to educate your client so s/he understands what it’s really about. Then develop his trust so you can take make your services indispensible and add value to his business.
Show, Don’t Tell
You can talk until you’re blue in the face and it won’t mean the client has heard a word. Or even if s/he has, it doesn’t mean your advice will be followed. After all, what do you know? You’re just a freelance writer, correct? You can’t possibly understand the client’s business. So don’t bother to keep trying. Rather, find a way to show him what you mean:
Look for examples of other companies in the same industry as your client.
Bookmark specific blog posts, preferably ones that show the number of shares and Likes
Find information that supports your point of view on blogging from authoritative sites. Sites like Copyblogger, Search Engine Land and KissMetrics are good places to start.
Prepare a presentation for the client that links to a range of competitive sites and show how well their posts are doing.
This might not work right off the bat, but your client will likely be impressed enough with your display of knowledge to let you have some leeway in which to prove yourself.
Build Up the Trust
Once you’ve got the go ahead to write the client’s content the best way you know how, it’s important that you continue to build on your reputation. There are three specific areas in which to build up the client’s trust and respect, so don’t let any of these be your downfall:
Be reliable: Ask for or develop an editorial calendar so the client knows what to expect from you and when. If your client is expecting you to produce something, make sure you do it or let him know you can’t. Sure, everyone has emergencies, but I’ve lost count of how often I’ve subcontracted work out to another freelance writer with tons of lead time, only to hear excuses long after the work is overdue. Aim to write your draft at least 24 hours ahead of the submission deadline, or the expected delivery date. If you aren’t going to manage that, ask for an extension at that point. Most clients are only too happy to give you extra time occasionally, but they hate it if it seems like you only started working on it an hour before it’s due.
Put in the effort: Whatever the client is paying you to write for him, if you’ve accepted the rate it’s up to you to do your best work. Another pet peeve of mine is when I contract work out to someone I believe is a dedicated freelance writer, only to get back a piece that looks like it’s been slapped together. The spelling and grammar might be fine, and even the keywords, but if the research is shoddy and the facts haven’t been verified—or it feels like the piece was rushed—I’m not going to be giving out any more work to the person.
Check your work: Perhaps this one should be first on the list. The number of times I see blog posts with errors on them is legendary; and no, it’s not the publisher or the client’s fault they didn’t edit the work of the freelance writer they used. It’s the writer’s fault for not proofreading the work. Nothing undermines your client’s trust as fast as producing work with typos and mistakes does.
Prove the Point
Nothing succeeds like success, and although it’s a cliché it’s still pretty accurate. Ask your client for access to his analytics to see which posts perform the best, so you can use the information to prove how well you’re doing for him. If he isn’t keeping a record of the improvement in traffic, undertake to do it yourself so you can show it to him.
The magic formula for being a successful freelancer writer is a) telling your client what you can do for him, b) doing it, and then c) showing him proof that you did it.
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Although content marketing is making its way to the forefront of advertising, it's important as a marketing writer to make sure that the content still sounds genuine because consumers don't want to read plain old advertising copy. As a marketing writer, your job is to make sure that you write good copy that also grabs a reader's attention.
Blog posts such as "6 Ways to Relieve Stress With Exercise" and "14 Reasons to Exercise Daily" can both easily conceal a sales pitch from a gym while also giving readers an opportunity to learn something new or get inspired.
When writing content like this, you must always be careful that you don't end up sounding like a salesman. Follow these tips for writing marketing content that is still authentic and real.
1. Tell a story.
You may not realize that your tone is coming off as sales-pitch-y during your call to action, but your readers automatically will. One good way to keep your tone sounding natural is to tell your readers a story. It doesn't have to be a long story--it can just be a quick paragraph, or maybe even a sentence or two, that emphasizes a point. Something that your reader can relate to. Something that can be drawn into the point you're trying to make and will help you and your article sound more real.
2. Read your content out loud.
How does it sound? If it sounds like you're holding a normal conversation with your potential reader, then you've got a winner. But if you sound stiff and like you're trying to sell something, you need to do some editing.
Write your content like you speak. Write like a human and not like a robot or a crappy old radio commercial. Imagine yourself having a conversation with someone as you write. Then read your content out loud again to see if you've solved the problem.
3. Be funny.
Not only will this help your writing to be more natural and much less sales-y, you'll be able to win trust more easily by implementing humor. Don't try too hard to incorporate a joke into your article, but if it comes, by all means, let it come.
4. Help your audience.
As a marketing writer, you will know exactly who the audience you're writing for is. Think to yourself, why do they care about what I'm trying to say? When you've asked yourself this question enough times and have come up with a real, genuine answer for why your readers care, you've got yourself the perfect start.
Advertising used to be about making a sale. The switch to content marketing is simply making it more important to build a relationship with your audience. Write content that will help them solve a problem or answer a question they may have about the product. Don't sell. Help and solve problems.
5. End with a call-to-action.
Don't write your entire post centered around a call-to-action. Your post should be your story, your jokes, or your problem-solving. Other than interlinks, you shouldn't relate your content back to the product or other aspects of the business at all. This should be saved for the end, when you should have a strong one- or two-sentence call-to-action.
For example, if you wrote an article on decorating for Christmas for a craft store, you could end with, "If you want to make a puff-paint Santa Claus, we'll help you find everything you need." Or if your article is about the top five ab workouts for a gym, end with something similar to, "Our personal trainers would love to help with your quest for ab definition. Contact us today!"
Be specific with your call-to-action, keep it relevant to your article, and tell your readers exactly what you want them to do.
A job as a marketing writer can be tough when you're faced with the challenge of writing marketing content without actually trying to market. But by keeping a conversational tone and telling a story to your audience, you will write great content and you won't sound like a salesman.
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Business blog writing is something that companies in all kinds of fields are embracing. With a successful approach to blogging, companies can improve their exposure to prospective customers, reinforce relationships with existing customers, and establish an expert presence in their industry. A skilled blog writer needs to add value in order to provide the most benefit to the company running the blog. That being said, there is some confusion over the best way to do this.
What Does Adding Value Mean?
Internet marketers have a tendency to use buzzwords about digital marketing techniques that are not fully understood by mainstream business professionals. Adding value is a term that simply means providing marketing content that potential customers will choose to engage.
In an article on Entrepreneur, marketing executive Bob Gilbreath does an excellent job of explaining the idea of adding value. Gilbreath says that the old “interruptive” model of advertising is dead, because people have learned to ignore the thousands of advertising messages they see on a daily basis. Instead of using these antiquated techniques, Gilbreath recommends that marketers deliver information and services that will help customers make smart decisions about the things they are thinking about purchasing.
How Today's Blog Writers Are Adding Value
Simply understanding what value means to the modern customer is not enough for businesses today. Those responsible for coming up with blog posts have to know some of the common ways that companies add value with business blog writing so that they can think about how to create value in their own work. A few common techniques used for adding value to a blog post are:
Guides and other helpful information: many companies are coming out with buying guides that help advise consumers about things they want to purchase. Providing information is especially important for businesses that operate in complex fields: the Zillow Blog is a good example of a blog that helps consumers in the real estate world, which is constantly changing and can be difficult to navigate
Leveraging their customer base: testimonials are a very powerful tool for winning business. People are interested in hearing what other people like them have to say. What are customers of your client saying about trends in their industry? Providing a platform for people to talk on a blog will be very helpful to your efforts to provide value for clients
Stay current: providing the latest breaking news for people to read can be especially important in an industry where things happen quickly and news developments have a huge impact on the way industry professionals operate. Even if you cannot be the first one to report a new story, adding a comment or new tidbit can still provide value for your readers
Don’t Be Afraid Of Being Creative
Remember that you do not have to model your value adding techniques after existing templates. Marcus Sheridan at The Sales Lion raises a good point about adding value: it is a fluid term that is defined only by the people that use it. Sheridan goes on to point out that the art of communication is in itself a valuable endeavor, and that you should never be dissuaded from creating content just because you are concerned about whether or not it adds enough value. With some careful thought and a willingness to try new things, you can use value adding techniques as a secret weapon to take your business blog writing to the next level and thoroughly impress your clients.
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Most content writing tasks are focused on a specific keyword or term. However, it’s essential to ensure you don’t simply weave a narrative that successfully incorporates that word or words into a grammatically correct text. Individuals decide in microseconds if they are going to read a piece, and you title and first words have to convince them you’re presenting something worth their time.
Get a Nibble
I have found it useful to consider a successful content writing strategy similar to my favorite hobby of fishing. If you want to land the big ones, you have to plan exactly what you’re going after. That determines the bait you are going to use and how you are going to get it in front of your potential catch. If you cast the wrong bait, it will sail on by that fish without a glimmer of interest.
Similarly, the title you select will serve as the initial point of interest for your reader, and you only get one chance to get a nibble. Sometimes that perfect title is humorous, other times it is best to be informative, such as offering a certain number of tips or hints. And, other times, the title can be a bit curious, just as long as it is on point enough to pique some initial interest.
Set the Hook
If you succeed in getting that first flash of interest, you have to provide enough content in the first few lines to get your target to actually try the bait. Make it clear that you are offering something enticing dealing with the keyword, but not focused on the word itself. Remember the purpose of bait is to camouflage the hook and replace it with an irresistible morsel or treat.
Fishermen will tell you that the right bait will get a solid nibble, but if you don’t set that hook quickly, the interested fish will simply move on to other, more interesting opportunities. The browsing internet reader has more than enough possible baits being dangled before them, and they won’t waste time trying to figure out if your information is worthwhile beyond that first nibble.
Reel Them In
Even when you get that bite from your target, you have to deliver on what you promise. The entire article must build on that first enticing promise and deliver worthwhile content throughout the process. Readers are notorious for leaving an article before completing it if they discover this is just an effort to deliver a keyword message.
Remember, those readers are searching for something they can digest and from which they can get real value. If you deliver that in each paragraph, they will keep reading through the article to then end. If you land them, you increase the chance of getting a click through, a share, or a like. At any rate, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you did your job with a successful content writing strategy.
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When you start a blog, you have to commit to it. You need to write a set amount of days a week and have your blog post published by a set time--and you need to stick with it. In order to keep up a successful blog, your readers need to know what to expect from you and when.
Although blogs that post 3-5 (or more) times each week generate much more traffic than blogs that blog only once or twice a week, you also need to be able to keep up with your blogging schedule. But not only that, you need to be able to produce quality content each time you publish a new blog post so that you can keep your readers coming back as well as gain new ones. Follow these seven steps in order to write great blog content every time.
1. Keep a list of blog post ideas.
Whenever an idea for a great blog post strikes you, be sure to write it down immediately. It could be just seconds before it's gone again. This way, whenever you're running low on inspiration, you have your blog topic list to fall back on.
2. Don't just stop at post topics.
I like to use the Notes app that comes on my iPhone to outline my blog posts. I have one note just for post topics and then I'll start another note when I begin brainstorming what I want to write about. Although I may not get the entire blog content outlined, I'll at least have enough sections to have a good start. It's really helpful--not to mention a real stress-reliever--to keep a consistent list of blog posts going rather than writing from scratch each night.
3. Write your blog content ahead of time.
Write up your blog post then set it aside. Look at it a day or two later--chances are, you'll find at least one thing that you'll be able to improve that will make your writing even better.
4. Include links in your blog post.
Link to your own old blog posts and link to posts by other bloggers. Do the former to drive traffic to other posts that you've written and do the latter to give credit and to draw others into the conversation.
5. Research your topic.
Of course you should be familiar enough about your topic to write a good bit of it on your own, but it's important to see what others are saying. There are many ways to do research, depending on the type of blog post that you're writing, but it's still important to gather further information for your blog post. You want your blog content to be factual, useful, and informative to your readers.
6. Avoid the wall of text.
A couple of things that Internet writing and reading requires are short paragraphs and concise ideas. People reading your blog posts are typically doing this while also doing something else--drinking their coffee, working at their desk, or on their lunch break--and they want to be able to quickly scan your post and be able to understand your main ideas quickly. You need to make sure that you are getting straight to the point in all of your blog posts.
7. Write what your readers want to read.
I'm sure you've chosen your blog's niche by now. You should have just a handful of categories that readers can expect to see blog topics fall under. This means that your readers know what to expect from you and this is why they keep coming back. Don't suddenly switch blog niches or write something that is completely different from your typical blog content. You should know by now what your readers like--stick with that.
It is important to keep quality content on your blog in order to keep your readers coming back. Create your blogging schedule, stick to it, and consistently generate well written blog content in order to maintain a successful blog.
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Content marketing often seems like a very modern concept: now that the digital age is in full swing and people have volumes of content at their fingertips thanks to the Internet, every company seems to be jumping on the content marketing bandwagon.
Despite content marketing's strong roots in the 21st century, though, modern writers would be remiss to ignore the wise words of writing greats from centuries past. Even though they might have never known what a blog was or how to write in a way that is sensitive to the principles of SEO, there is still much that we can learn about the art of content writing from these important historical writers.
“Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club” – Jack London, from “Getting Into Print” in The Editor Magazine, 1903
In this quote, London addresses the dreaded concept of “writer’s block," something every writer faces: sitting down at their computer, a blank page staring back, and not having any idea where to begin. London encourages writers to aggressively seek out ideas to write instead of sitting back and waiting for them to come around. For content writers, going after inspiration could mean reading similar works by other writers, researching their assigned topic, or learning more about their clients.
“You’ve got to be able to look at your thoughts on paper and discover what a fool you were” – Ray Bradbury, from a 2001 interview with Salon
Although Bradbury lived to see the dawn of the Internet era, much of his most well-known work was produced in the middle of the 20th century, and he often shunned new-age technology like video games and computers. In this quote, Bradbury speaks to the importance of being humble and willing to concede that your past work might not have been perfect. Not every piece of content that you produce will be brilliant, but by recognizing this fact and coming to terms with it you can improve your writing for the future.
“Le secret d’ennuyer est celui de tout dire (The secret of being a bore is to tell everything)” – Voltaire, from Sept Discours en Vers sur l’Homme
This quote by the famous French writer Voltaire expresses the importance of leaving things unsaid. As writers of content marketing, it is certainly our job to thoroughly cover the topics that we write about. However, it is also important that we leave our readers wanting to learn more about the clients that we write for or the products they offer. Leaving some things unsaid in our content, as Voltaire suggests, will build intrigue and entice readers to take action to get more information about the companies we write for.
“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write” – Saul Bellow, from The #1 New York Times Bestseller by John Bear (1992)
Although edits and changes are commonplace for content marketing writers, the thrust of this quote from Nobel prize winner Saul Bellow is that our best ideas often come to us when we least expect it. If you are really struggling with an assignment, put it down and focus on something else for some time. Even the most mundane household acts might bring you some inspiration that you didn’t know you had: the ideas we get when we aren’t trying to find them are often the best ones.
“I have only made this letter shorter because I have not had the time to make it longer” – Blaise Pascal, from “Letter XVI” of the Lettres Provinciales
In this quote, 17th-century French writer Blaise Pascal touches on the importance of being concise. In content marketing there is a tremendous amount of competition: not just from other marketers, but from anything that vies for the attention of readers. To have a better chance of achieving success with the content that you write, you need to be brief so that you do not bore your readers and run the risk of losing their attention.
Even web writers can learn things about their craft by heeding the words of famous historical figures. With a little help from these great authors, novelists, and philosophers of the past, you can provide your modern-day clients with highly effective content marketing.
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So you're a blogger. I'm a blogger too. Walk into a single coffee shop and I'm sure you would find a handful of more bloggers. With all of the hundreds of thousands of blogs on the Internet, how can any of us expect readers to find ours?
It's not enough for us to simply write content and then share it on our personal Facebooks or Twitters. We need to create quality, engaging content that makes our readers want to share it for us. That is how we can expect people to find our blog. It's not that hard to do, either--just follow these steps for writing content that basically shares itself.
1. Create an eye-catching headline.
Your first step is to create a headline that someone is going to see and immediately think, "I have to read what this article is about!" Create a headline that draws people in so much that they couldn't even imagine life going on without reading your article first.
How can you do that? Well first, forget about the search engines. Forcing keywords to fit into your headline can cause it to become drab and boring. Think only of your audience and what kind of headline will make them need to click to your article. Good headlines trigger emotion and curiosity in the reader. Including the words "How To" or a number in the headline also tends to provoke readers to click over to your article. No one can resist a good how-to or a list.
2. Write what people want to read.
No offense, but you're not going to attract many readers with a 10,000 word chronicle of what your cat did this morning. People want to read something that is relevant to their lives. More precisely, people want to read something that is useful or helpful to them in some way. People want solutions. They want to read something entertaining. They want to laugh and they want to relate to what you're writing. Bring your writing to life. Be funny and be engaging.
3. When in doubt, make a list.
As I mentioned previously, no one can resist a good list. Write about "5 Ways to Brush Your Hair" or "10 Tips to Taking Your Cat to the Vet Without Getting a Single Scratch." Why do we love lists so much? The New Yorker says, "lists tap into our preferred way of receiving and organizing information at a subconscious level; from an information-processing standpoint, they often hit our attentional sweet spot."
Our brains process lists easily, so we like to read them. Who can argue with that logic?
4. 1,500 is the magic number.
While conducting research on how to write the perfect blog post, Buffer found that the most shared content are articles of 1,500 words or more. So contrary to popular belief that the Internet has made our brains lazy and we don't want to read anything other than short, sweet, and skimmable blog posts, it's quite possible that longer blog posts actually have the upper hand. As long as your information is useful, important, and of quality substance, you can write as much as you need in order to get your point across.
5. Make it easy for your readers to share your content.
There are several different plugins that you can choose from to offer buttons for your readers to click and instantly share your blog post. Although you don't want to include share buttons for every single social media website out there (stick with the two or three that are most important to you), it makes it easy for your readers when you give them an option to share your post right from the source.
Ending your post with a call to action, such as, "If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends!" is a popular way of asking readers to share your content as well. If someone stuck around to the end of your post, chances are they enjoyed it and will have no problem posting it to their Facebook or Twitter.
6. Be conscious of what time you publish posts.
Many people have done studies on what time of day web content gets the most views, and posting during those prime times can really help your blog traffic. This infographic will give you all of the information you need to know about when your audience is reading blogs.
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To help your clients succeed in digital marketing, it’s crucial that your content works in the mobile world. Since I started writing for content marketing purposes two years ago, I’ve seen the consumption—and the demand—for content of every type growing in leaps and bounds. One of the fastest-growing methods of consumption is through mobile devices, with usage expanding at an astronomical 400% between 2013 and 2014. If users aren’t reading your copy when it hits their mobiles, your client isn’t generating leads.
Recognize User Differences
Mobile users might be the same people as web users, but their mobile habits and expectations are different in a number of ways:
They’re on the go: Mobile users have short attention spans and limited time to read lengthy blocks of copy, so content needs to be brief and easy to absorb. Twitter is popular with mobile users, particularly because the 140-character limit tweets are quick to read and get straight to the point.
The screen size is limited. Even using a tablet such as an iPad, the screen is smaller than a laptop or computer. Smartphone screens are even smaller and users typically scroll vertically, not horizontally, which limits the width available.
It’s harder to read: Reading text on a mobile device, particularly a smartphone, takes more concentration and better eyesight than a computer. If you want the user to read it through, it needs to be enticing enough to get him to do so.
Download size matters. To make your content marketing work on mobile devices, users need to be able to view it. Anything that takes more than a few seconds to load is bound to lose your reader’s attention. Neither does the average person want to use up a precious data allocation downloading content that’s not optimized for size and speed.
Animated content is out. If you’ve ever checked your phone during a boring meeting only to have a video clip start playing unexpectedly, you’ll know how awkward it can be. Users don’t want animated content that embarrasses them.
Simplicity is paramount. You just can’t fit the same content that you’d have on a computer onto a mobile device. Besides, the user might be walking and talking when they view your material, so simplify it to eliminate on-screen noise and interference. By displaying one thing at a time, you can present the single most important message you want the reader to take away with them.
Tips for Mobile Content Marketing Success
So, how do you deliver on expectations so that your client gets the desired mileage from your marketing content? By implementing these crucial criteria:
Keep your copy concise: This doesn’t have to mean short. It means presenting the content in a digestible, reader-friendly format that enables users to scan-read using headings, bulleted and numbered lists so they can easily identify what they want to consume.
Get to the point quickly: Tell the reader what you’re talking about in the first 100 words. That’s about all the time you have in which to capture their attention and avoid losing them to the next bright shiny thing.
Use imaginative headlines: It’s harder to read content marketing on a mobile than it is on a computer, so give your headlines and subheads a life of their own and a chance to tell the story. Users typically scan-read, and subheads are one of the first things they scan to decide whether a piece is worth reading in full.
Be clear on the purpose of the content: Say what you’re going to say, say it and then say what you’ve said. It’s an old maxim for writing anything but it still works in the digital world. Don’t leave your reader wondering what you’re trying to tell him and keep the piece focused on your primary point.
Use a clear call to action (CTA): Make sure your copy includes clear instructions for the reader on how to take the next step. I recently came across content that was very interesting and informative, but after hunting uselessly for half an hour through the piece (and the rest of the website) looking for a way to contact the company, I gave up and went to their competition. State your call to action near the beginning of the text, again in the middle and at the end of the piece. Just word it differently each time so your client doesn’t get hit by Google for duplicate content.
When writing web content for today's marketers, remember: keep it short, keep it sweet and keep mobile in mind!
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