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How To Create Readable, Shareable Content For Your Business (Really)

Typewriter...For Writing Great Content
The most common advice in marketing today is “create great content.”

Duh.

That’s the biggest no-brainer in the world, and anyone who writes a blog post on why business owners need to create blogs is just filling the Internet with digital carbon dioxide.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

I don’t care if businesses know why they need to blog – I want them to actually do it. And I want them to do it well.

I want businesses to create readable, shareable content.

There’s a lot that goes into successful blogging and promoting and sharing and attributing and so on and so on and so on. But right here, right now, take a look at this quote:

“USC’s Center for the Digital Future announced recently that 80 percent of Americans’ online time is spent at 15 or fewer online destinations. What is the chance that your corporate website is one of those 15? Essentially, no chance. Thus, the key to effective content marketing is to create informational outposts that represent your brand in as many of those ‘magic 15’ as possible.”

– Chris Moody for Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/sites/oracle/2014/04/16/secrets-to-great-content-marketing-value-place-and-being-the-best/)

What’s more…

Content creation is useful for search engines, but search engines are increasingly sensitive to online marketing tactics that are “useful for search engines” but aren’t that useful or, frankly, desirable for search engine users.

Fact: Dwell time is a big factor for SEO. That means the longer someone stays on your site and reads your content, the better your content will rank. You need your readers to dwell on your content.

If you want your blog to appear in search engines, or in someone’s Facebook feed, it needs to be a really, really good blog.

And before we get into how to write good content, we need to know what good content really is.

What Exactly Is Good Content?

Most of us know good content when we see it, but it’s usually “good” in an abstract way. Let’s talk about specifics.

Your content must be good for both education and entertainment.

These are the two most basic reasons for anyone to use a search engine – or, for that matter, to click on a link they see in their social stream. To answer a question that already exists in their head, or to view a specific piece of entertainment.

Before you even write your content, make sure you’re not wasting anyone’s time (including your own):

Primary Questions to Ask:

  • Is my content useful? Does it answer important questions?
  • Is my content entertaining? Would anyone appreciate seeing it if it was shared by someone else in their casual social media stream or email?
  • Is my content appropriate to the desired overall user experience on the site where I’m publishing it?

If your answer isn’t an enthusiastic “yes,” you probably shouldn’t write the piece.

Secondary Questions to Ask:

  • Does my content show my expertise and build my authority in this niche?
  • Is my content properly connected to additional relevant content (either on my site or somewhere else with proper niche authority)?

These will help kick your content up a notch.

Questions NOT to Ask:

  • Will my content improve my rankings?
  • Will my content make sales?
  • Will my content make me famous? Will it go viral?

If you’re only asking these questions, you shouldn’t be writing blogs.



…A question for you: how is your own website performing?

Increase Traffic and Sales Online


Entertaining and Educational:Content Creation Advice - Typewriter

It should be entertaining enough that readers will read all of it and then want more. It should be educational enough that your readers are smarter than before they read your piece.

To that end…

Style matters.

Your writing ability matters.

The topics you choose to write about matter.

Blogs that fail to entertain inevitably fail to educate, because they lose their readers before the education is delivered.

This means that if your blog isn’t a good read, then its value to your business or your website is effectively nothing at all.

You must have entertaining content. And that’s easier said than done.

So let’s get into it.

How To Write Entertaining Content:

“Entertaining” doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write a comedy piece, or a musical, or a blockbuster, or anything other than a piece of content that readers enjoy. If nobody enjoys reading it, guess where your content will never appear?

Those magic fifteen websites that your customers visit regularly, that’s where.

There are plenty of ways to create a readable, entertaining blog post. Be cautious, and be aware of your audience – business-to-business blogging is a different beast than business-to-consumer blogging. But at the end of the day, your reader is a human being, and human beings have limited patience for boring articles.

You can go through various personas to figure out your best tone, and every company will have a different tone for their unique audience, but there are some things you’ll always need at a foundational level for all content, and it’s important to master those things first.

Basic Content Truisms That Nearly Always Apply:                                      

  • Set your expectations right. A clever title is a good thing to have, but what matters more is that the title gives a clue as to what the reader is getting into.
  • Set the tone in the first paragraph. If you’re going to be edgy, be edgy from the very first sentence. If you’re going to use the Socratic Method to get your message across, ask those questions early.
  • Create an outline in advance to keep yourself on topic. Stay on target.
  • Find an anchor and wrap your content around it. That can be a symbol, a phrase with multiple meanings, an image – anything that centers your piece. Make sure your intro and conclusion agree. Readers lose interest when a piece lacks cohesion.
  • Check for spelling and grammar before publishing. This is an absolute must. It may seem trivial, but many customers lose trust in a company immediately when they don’t believe its CEO knows the difference between “lose” and “loose.”

Those are the basics…Now for the good stuff.

Hemingway - Famous Content Creator
Hemingway tip: use shorter sentences.

Four Ways To Keep Your Readers Tuned In:

  1. Create a setup, then create a payoff.
    • Ask a question, then give an answer.
    • Take it a level deeper: give an answer, then give another answer that adds additional value to the first answer.
    • Make a questionable statement, then prove that statement true.
    • Make a questionable statement, then prove that statement false.
  2. Create anticipation.
    • Ask a question, then don’t give an answer.
    • Describe a mystery, and prolong the reveal.
  3. Lead with a statement that creates a question in your reader’s mind.
    • For example: Blogs matter more to local customers than they do to national customers.
    • The immediate questions that come to mind are, Why? How do you know that? How exactly do they matter?
  4. Acknowledge controversy.
    • Take the side of righteousness, even if it’s not popular.
    • Defend your position sharply and boldly. Remember: you’re making the world a better place.
    • If possible, show data to back up your stance, or at least cite your sources.

Bonus tip: do all these things at the outline level. You’ll save tons of time.

Entertaining content is readable content. Readable content has the potential to be educational content.

Readable, educational content is shareable content.

Shareable content gets shared on your customers’ fifteen most frequented sites.

You can get there.

Your content can get there.

Your customers want you there.

Get there.

Author: Rahul Alim
Custom Creatives was established to serve as your full-service one-stop Digital Marketing Company, offering graphic design, web design and web development agency, catering to businesses of all sizes. Custom Creatives has designed and deployed over 100,000 banner ads, as well as thousands of websites and landing pages and print collateral for small businesses and large international corporations. Providing exceptional quality services and products with a high return on investment is at the heart of everything we do.

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