Writing good content for the web isn’t rocket science, but there is a formula to it and I’m going to show you how it works.
WAIT: If you haven’t read part one of this series, How To Be A Good Content Writer, you might want to go back and check that one out first. Don’t worry, I’ll wait :)
Now that we’ve read part one and we know our directive is to solve the reader’s problem, here’s how to action that directive:
Step 1: What problem are you solving?
Think about what a reader would possibly have to gain by reading your piece – what’s their problem, and how could you frame your article to help solve it?
Better still, think about what they be typing in to a search engine to find your article (aka the solution to their problem). It might help to put yourself in the reader’s position – if you had the reader’s problem, what would you type in to a search engine to find a solution?
Here’s an example:
You really want to write about your favourite brand of tote bag, Cragle, but you don’t know how to angle it.
Think about why a reader would be looking at tote bags online – what problem could they be trying to solve? I know that if I was looking at tote bags, it would probably be because I was looking to buy one. I would want to know I was purchasing the very best tote bag on the market that suits all my needs (not too expensive, durable, eco-friendly, ect). In other words, I’m looking for a review. That’s where you come in.
Your topic: Your personal favourite brand of tote bag, Cragle.
Reader’s problem: I don’t know what tote bag to get.
Reader’s search engine query: Tote bag reviews.
Your article: Cragle Tote Bag Review
If you’re not sure what angle to use, do a quick Google search and figure out what other content writers are saying about your chosen topic, and how they’re framing it. This will reveal a lot about the market you’re trying to appeal to and give you an idea of what they respond to.
Step 2: The Solution
Reader’s hate surprises, so provide the solution at the beginning.
This piece of advice comes as a shock to some, but remember in the last post when we talked about the human instinct to use less energy to survive? This is where that comes in to play – the reader has a problem and they want to use as little energy as possible to find the solution. Food blogs are a great example.
Anyone who has ever looked for a recipe online has probably found a series of food blogs and found themselves trawling through paragraph upon paragraph of details about why the blogger invented the recipe, what was happening in their lives when they first made it, why nut milk is better than soy milk, and how much they love macadamias but couldn’t find a way of incorporating them in to the recipe, ect, ect, ect. This goes on until you get to the very end of the page and find the full recipe. Scrolling through all the information is frustrating if you’re not a follower of their blog – it means you’re not interested in all that extra information, you just want the recipe – the solution to your problem.
I’m not saying I don’t appreciate what food bloggers do – they’re not simple recipe sites, they’re blogs, so there will be blog posts – but when you’re just looking for a simple recipe, often you don’t want to scroll through what can be a very long post to get to the pot of gold at the end.
Due to the nature of blogging, food bloggers are the only ones that can kind of get away with having the big reveal at the end. If you’re not a food blogger, don’t hold the solution for ransom until the end – the reader will probably click out of your site.
Step 3: Structure the solution.
We talked a lot about structure in the first part of this series, but now we’re going to dive a bit deeper and talk about length and perspective.
If possible, use the first line of the article to solve the problem, then use the rest fo the article to explain why that’s the solution.
A great piece of content does the following:
Solves the reader’s problem.
Provides useful or actionable information clearly and concisely.
Explains how this solution is the best solution by responding to a series of questions or concerns the reader may have.
Doesn’t place judgement or make assumptions about the reader (eg: where they live, their income, race, political stance, faith, marital status, ect).
The actual information you’ll need to include greatly depends on the kind of article you’re writing, but the general rule to keep people engaged is get to the point.
As a general rule, a blog post should be at least 700 words – 1,000 is preferable, but it depends on your topic. If you’re reviewing something with a lot of specs or components (technology, cars, health, ect), your post will probably be longer. That’s ok, as long as you stick to the point.
While you may be passionate about the absurd amount of tote bags on the market and how many brands shouldn’t bother manufacturing bags because they’re low-quality and they don’t last, it doesn’t mean the reader wants to hear about it – all they want is a new bag.
Skip all that info and immediately tell them why your favourite brand is the best brand, and why it’s so great with a range of relevant sub-headings and key points. If you’re struggling to come up with great sub-headings and key points, look at what other’s are doing and echo them (don’t copy them – that’s illegal – just take inspiration).