The Formula for Writing Top Content

by | Apr 14, 2016 | Content Marketing, How to

The best long-term marketing results can be gained by writing good content. The problem today is the sheer volume of high quality content that is freely available and to a greater extent behind paywalls. The challenge is how to write good content to cut through? In preparing to succeed, start with a plan, a formula, and a determination to produce consistently good content. Following these steps to help solve your customers’ problems will deliver your content in the most appealing way possible on whatever medium your customers are on for best results and engagement.

While this makes sense, most business owners are not writers, designers or marketers, and it’s easy to see why creating content becomes a daunting task left on the back-burner, then it’sthe too-hard basketand eventually drops off the list.

This doesn’t need to happen; with a valid content formula, you can cut through to engage and delight your readers to bring results that last.

Learning how to write good content starts with the reason we are in business, to solve clients’ problems. We are not aiming to write a lead generation article or to please the search engines. Solve problems by first identifying your ideal clientunderstand their problems then aim to solve those problems. Aim to be the best problem solver in your industry!

With this foundation, you are ready to look at what you want to write about, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the most frequently asked questions my customers ask?
  • What are the biggest problems or challenges in my industry?
  • With my experience, how can I genuinely provide useful information?

Preparing your topics ahead of time allows your mind to absorb related content and gather your ideas and experiences. You will be amazed at how much this helps you launch into your article when you are ready. Answering common questions via forums and blog posts position you as an authority, builds a library of ideas, helps identify trends or simply for content you can share.

Use an Editorial Calendar

A good tip is the use of an editorial calendar, either on your website or with your favorite calendar and category. This way, you can start sketching rough headlines, ideas and even intro paragraphs before you write. Doing this gets the ideas out of your head and provides a visual reference for when you want to publish, the ability to spot patterns and inspiration to finish the article and press the publish button.

1. Headline and Title Formula

In our fast-moving digital lives, social media character limits and our desire to consume, the value of a strong, catchy headline and lead introduction can be the difference between your article being read or simply passed over, no matter how good it is. Many of the top publications now require writers to submit as many as 10 headlines with their article! Headlines are not only tested to see, which get the most click-through but more importantly which headline delivers the most accurate result.

If you want to see the power of good headlines take a moment to study the headlines that stop you, then the reaction to want to know more. News sites or sites like Buzzfeed have grown by mastering headline writing. It turns out; we are a predictable lot stimulated by specific formulas that apply to headline writing. Once you are clear on who you are writing to and what you want to help with then work out, which is the best option to bring your reader in. Here are eight headline ideas backed by psychology. You can read more on headline formulas on the buffer blog.

  1. Surprise“This Is Not a Perfect Blog Post (But It Could’ve Been)”
  2. Questions“Do You Know How to Create the Perfect Blog Post?”
  3. Curiosity gap“10 Ingredients in a Perfect Blog Post. Number 9 Is Impossible!”
  4. Negatives“Never Write a Boring Blog Post Again”
  5. How to“How to Create a Perfect Blog Post”
  6. Numbers“10 Tips to Creating a Perfect Blog Post”
  7. Audience referencing“For People on the Verge of Writing the Perfect Blog Post”
  8. Specificity“The 6-Part Process to Getting Twice the Traffic to Your Blog Post”

Another good read for more ideas, and inspiration is: “10 Article Headline Examples That Got Us 10 Million Readers” is over at Income Diary covers the classic “How To” headlines, Identify and solve the problem, Make a declaration, Strike a note of controversy, Shorter is better and more.

Headline and Blog Topic Generator Tools

Fortunately, there are a number of tools available that you can search for to generate strong headlines. A new headline generator with a chrome extension is Headlinr. The other is from the online specialists Hubspot, who created a great tool to help generate blog topic ideas. Just visit the generator, add in a few nouns that your customers would want to read about, and it will create article ideas and blog titles that you can use for inspiration.

Take a look at the HubSpot Blog Topic Generator

2. The Content Formula

Standing out from the crowd or rising to the top is our challenge.

With a strong, article title; you’ve managed to get the click and someone reading your contentgreat! Now how can we take it to the next level with high engagement, comments and social shares? To write good content, here’s the structure to help you build out your content, plus some examples to help you along to illustrate the points.

This isn’t set in stone; you may like to modify it to suit. However, it is an excellent structure of the basic ingredients that readers are looking for. A blog post written like this is easy to read and its structure is understood, known to deliver results and support the aim of solving clients’ problems.

The Promise

Open with the promise that you intend to deliver. Why should your audience watch, read or listen to your content? How will it change them, what will the reader get out of this?

Example: In this article, you will learn how to structure content with a formula that benefits your audience for long term cut through results. Alternatively, Look at why Coconut Oil is one of the most naturally healthy foods available and how you can start using it in so many tasty ways to get the benefits today.

The Problem

Present the problem that your reader is facing that your content is helping them solve. Presenting the problem your reader is facing reinforces why they should read your article.

Example: As a business owner, I know I need to produce great content, but I’m not a writer. It takes to long to work out how to do it, much less the time to get it done. OR Most people have heard of the benefits of using Coconut Oil, but they don’t know how to get the most out of it or use it in a way that doesn’t taste too much like, you know, Coconut Oil.

The Process, Myth Busting

What your readers want is to be able to hear your voice, your point of view or opinion on the subject you put forward. If most people say X but you know otherwise, tell your readers about it! Put forward your point of difference to build authority and respect. This will also help start the conversation and drive engagement on your blog and social media.

Example: By making content production an easy four-step formula with examples, tips and guides, we can dissolve the myth of content being difficult to produce. OR Many dietitians recommend having Coconut Oil raw; however, when it’s combined with the right foods, it compliments the growth of natural bacteria in the gut and breaks down the important nutrients and healthy fats found in Coconut Oil.

Teach the Takeaways, Do’s and Don’t’s.

Your reader is still here, great; they are engaged and wanting more. Now it’s time to get into the meat of the content and give them something they can use. Provide some tips for advanced users and some of the common mistakes made. For real impact, create something that your audience would be proud to share with their tribe. By creating content that your audience wants to share to their audience helps make them look good and you a go-to resource; they want more of.

Examples: Adding detail to the formula with the four-step content format we can demonstrate a how to write good content to deliver results OR Coconut Oil Recipes; Infographic on how to improve gut health; video clips showing how to prepare Coconut Oil for the maximum benefit.

3. Format and Optimise your Content

You have done the research and written engaging content, next comes the delivery on the web which is unique in itself.

To make your content flow, keep your reader interested and engaged is now the mission. Break your content into short, tight paragraphs with a variety of headings, sub-headings, lists, images, quotes, links and indentations to keep content simple and easy.

We have all experienced reading a long article with few sub-heads and only paragraphs to break the monotony. No matter how good the copy is the result is a difficult read, low follow-through and a missed opportunity. Breaking your content down into headings, sub-headings, indents, lists and bullet points not only help with human readability but also improve your search engine rankings and traffic.

4. Call to action

Finish with a strong conclusion. The way you end your article is as important as the way you start. Be clear and give your readers something to do, and they are far more likely to engage or at least remember you. Even if the aim of your article is to inform or educate you still want your readers to take some form of action, to engage and hopefully ask for more. It is up to you to drive this engagement. Some call to action examples are:

Keep your messages open and engaging to attract blog comments:
End with a question or idea that prompts the reader to comment.

Set up systems and resources to increase email sign-ups:
Build into your article or end with content upgrade offers such as a PDF download in exchange for an email address.

Encourage social shares:
Include shareable quotes throughout your article and include statements such as “Know someone who would benefit from reading this? Share it with the links below!

Now What?

Start with a good outline of your ideal customer. Get to know what your customers’ pains and gains then answer the questions they ask and set up your editorial calendar. Now that you are ready to produce follow this 4-Step formula with the content plan and write your first article.

Developing a content habit is a great discipline with many valuable benefits that will improve other aspects of your business. In time, you will also find your favoured method of creating content, resources and tools to producing high quality engaging articles, videos and even podcasts.

Following this structure can help to speed up your writing time and improve the results you are getting from your content.

What challenges do you find in writing a blog post? What tips or modifications do you have on how to write good content?

One last thought

While learning how to write good content and mastering the formula is an important skill for all of us to learn and apply, it’s equally important to focus on how good our team is. In this TED video author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It’s not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.

Peter Wennersten
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Peter Wennersten

 

Passionate about family, friends and flying. Founder @iconinnovations building brand experiences for local business, small and large, to thrive in the social economy through Creative, Design, Digital, Marketing and Social.

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