In case you haven’t heard the news, content is
king queen around here. And, everywhere, quite frankly.
Think about it: Content touches everything. Your website, social media posts, blogs, emails, ads, courses, webinars…we could literally go on and on. Bottom line, though: You need content to see even a glimmer of success in your small business.
But what separates regular content from good or even great content? Even though content is a necessity, you shouldn’t do the bare minimum to get by. Instead, you should always strive for great content, which can yield great results.
How do you do that, exactly? By following these tried-and-true rules.
1. Know your audience
First thing’s first: You need to know who you’re talking to. Sure, you can throw words up on a screen, but if you’re not talking to anyone in particular, then no one will listen. You need to actually know your audience, so you know how to get through to them. That includes knowing details like:
- Basic demographic information (age range, geographic location, occupations, etc.)
- Interests and hobbies
- Online behaviors and preferred digital channels
- Current problems or hurdles (so that you can help solve them!)
Understanding where your audience is coming from (you know, exercising empathy) can make all the difference between good and great content.
2. Be clear
Now that you know who you’re talking to, it’s time to make things crystal clear. The best way to make sure you’re doing just that? Outline the purpose or goal for each piece of content you write.
Now, some types of content already have an established end goal – like an FAQ page, for example. It’s where audiences go to find answers, so you should give them exactly that. Simple and to the point, right?
For most other content, though, ask yourself what the purpose or goal is. Are you trying to sell? Inform? Entertain? By figuring this out first, you’ll be clearer in your writing. And don’t forget to also be clear with your calls-to-action! Don’t dull things down with CTAs like ‘learn more’ and ‘click here.’ Tell audiences the exact action you want them to take, dammit!
3. Be concise
While you’re being clear in your writing, it’s also important to be concise. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to take a red pen to everything you’ve ever written. It just means that you have to get to the point. Your content doesn’t have to be short, but don’t make it unnecessarily long.
Another rule to remember? More is not necessarily better in most cases. If you’re writing blogs and long-form articles, you want to be mindful about word count to ensure they’re long enough for SEO purposes. But as you write each sentence, section, or paragraph, push yourself to get to the point. Your audience will thank you for it!
4. Write for the type of content
Different types of content require different writing styles. For example, a blog post should be written differently than a sales page, and a sales page should be written differently than a social media post. You get where we’re going with this.
Bottom line: Everything you write should be in your brand voice, but for the appropriate channel. On social media, your content should be more relaxed and personable. On a LinkedIn post, your content should be more polished and professional. As you write different types of content, try experimenting with various tones, cadences, and sentence structures.
5. Use active voice
Active voice – which is when the subject of your sentence performs an action – is another aspect of great content writing. That’s not to say passive voice can’t be used (like it was just there). But active voice is much more direct, which aids in more clarity and conciseness. It also makes your content easier to read, which is helpful in all aspects of content strategy. Remember: Complicated writing isn’t impressive when no one can read it.
P.S.: In case you need some brushing up on active and passive voice (no shame), we did an entire breakdown for you right here.
6. Edit your content
Imagine a world where you write some of the greatest content known to woman. It’s mind-blowing, intriguing, inspiring, and will go down in herstory as great. freaking. content. That is, until, you find that it’s riddled with spelling errors, run-on sentences, and other faux pas that discredit it completely.
Okay, so maybe that’s a little bit dramatic. But a lack of editing can leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Because if you don’t produce high-quality content, that might reflect on the quality of your products or services. We’re not asking you to be perfect here; we’re all human, after all. We’re just asking that you always reread, edit, and reread your content again before publishing.
7. Don’t be afraid to break the rules
If you only have one takeaway from this blog, let it be this: Great content is always subjective. From your editors to your readers to strangers you’re not even talking to – people will always have their own standards as to what makes great content.
And sure, you can follow all the rules and check all the boxes, but that will only get you so far. Sometimes, your content just needs some excitement and flair. It needs to go against the norm. It needs to feel authentically you. In other words: Don’t be afraid to break the rules.
Not everything is going to be grammatically correct (I will end sentences on prepositions, thank you). Not everything has to be clean and buttoned up (I will drop f-bombs as I see fit). But by following these rules – and occasionally breaking them – you can be further on your way to writing great content.
P.S.: If writing content (or writing great content) isn’t really your thing, it’s ours! Check out our services, or schedule a call with Latasha to learn how we can make your content and strategies really fucking great.