CHAPTER 5

CRAFTING CRACKING CONTENT

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CHAPTER 5 | CRAFTING CRACKING CONTENT  

They don’t call it “the writer’s craft” for nothing, you know. Writing engaging, pitch-perfect content is tantamount to an art form. Get it wrong and you’ll utterly fail to impress, get it right and you can get on your target market’s wavelength, winning followers and fans the web over
So, how do you craft content with confidence? Here are a few helpful stylistic, linguistic and structural pointers to bear in mind.
“Writing
engaging,
pitch-perfect
content is
tantamount to
an art form.”

SETTING THE ROUGH

Finding yourself in the rough might be a golfer’s worst nightmare, but it’s a writer’s staple. Rough drafts really are best practice for amazing content. They give you a chance to sum up your key points, build a strong argument, pace your piece and reach a thundering conclusion. Skip this step and you will find that your content lacks clarity and direction. You’re also likely to find that you get bogged down in certain sections, leading to a “clumpy”, poorly structured piece.

HOW TO CREATE A USEFUL ROUGH DRAFT

  • PICTURE YOUR AUDIENCE

In the theatre nervous actors are frequently told to “picture the audience naked”. How you choose to picture your target readers is up to you, but the important thing is that you take some time to really think about who this piece of content is for. Concentrate on how you would speak to them in person. What language would you use? How you would best convey your points? Jot down your ideas to keep you on track as you write.
  • PLAN OUT KEY POINTS

Don’t worry about making too much sense here, just list the most important points that your content is going to make. Once you’ve scribbled them all down, arrange them in a rough order to give your content a structural starting point.
  • WHAT'S THE TAKE-HOME MESSAGE?

Take a look at your list of key points. What is the most important message that you want your readership to take from your content? If you’re finding it difficult to identify the most important message, try summing up your whole article in just one sentence. How would you succinctly describe your piece of content to a friend? This sentence should contain your central, key point.
  • GET YOUR PROPORTIONS RIGHT

A lengthy introduction will put impatient readers right off. A great big conclusion won’t provide a nice, neat recap. Focusing for too long on just one key point will skew the direction of your article and feel “clunky”.

Your introduction needs to be intriguing but succinct. Your conclusion should be short and snappy drawing on the ground you’ve covered in the main body of your content. Get your proportions right and you’ll keep your (notoriously distracted) web audience reading and feeling like they’ve really taken something from your content at the end.

HOW TO WRITE FOR THE WEB

When a keen reader buys a book or a magazine, chances are they’re going to give it plenty of attention. They’ve invested in it and they’ve sat down with the express intention of having a jolly good read.

Content on the web is an entirely different kettle of fish. Your visitors may not have stumbled upon your content with the intention of reading and, if they start, there are a plethora of distractions and other intentions which could drag them off as soon as their attention wanes
When you’re writing online content, you need to keep an online reader’s mindset firmly in mind. Here are a few crucial medium specific points to remember...
  • KEEP IT CONCISE & BITESIZE

Web readers typically do not have the time or inclination to wade through reams of text so you need to make your points quickly and powerfully, without overwhelming visitors with huge off-putting blocks of text.
• Paragraphs should be 4 sentences long – max.

• Make good use of bullet points to sum up key points and break up your article with eye-catching formatting.

• Use smart, regular subheadings. Make sure your readers can get a good idea of what each section is about when they skim read your headings.

• Employ italics and bold text to add emphasis to key messages.
  • CUT TO THE CHASE

Never use six words where you could use three. Lengthy sentences lose readers and slow down your content. Keep it short and sweet to hold your readers’ attention.
  • FORGET CUAs (COMPLETELY USELESS ACRONYMS) & OTHER JARGON

Jargon, industry terminology, CUAs – these don’t impress, they confuse and frustrate. Be as clear and simplistic as possible to embrace the widest possible audience and get your point across as effectively as you can.
  • BE UNIQUE

Roll up, roll up, penny a pound! Nobody likes a cliché. Especially a sales patter. Use your brand’s own style and tone of voice and steer clear of any formulaic expressions to avoid boring your readership and to help you stand out from the online crowd.
  • CRAFT THE PERFECT TITLE

Titles matter online. They’re often the first thing readers see; on social platforms, in links, etc.. That’s why they need to capture attention and compel click throughs. The 4U method is worth remembering when you’re racking your brains for the perfect title. Your heading needs to be:
• Urgent (time sensitive)

• Unique (cliché-free and compelling)

• Ultra-specific (clear and descriptive)

• Useful (demonstrating what it will give the reader)

HOW TO STRUCTURE YOUR CONTENT

INTRODUCTION

Your intro needs to be concise and to the point. Craft this opening gambit to:
  • Swiftly explain the subject of your content

  • Explain why this matters and why your reader should care

  • Draw readers in with mentions of special elements to look forward to (i.e. original
    data, personal stories)

The introduction is often the hardest part for writers to perfect. If you’re stuck, consider opening with a bold statement or an interesting quote. Alternatively, get stuck into the body of your copy and come back to the introduction later when you have a firmer idea of your angle.

BODY

The main body of your content doesn’t just need to inform, it also needs to lead and encourage readers through your article. Cover all of those key points you outlined in your rough draft in a logical sequence and use those all-important bullet points, short paragraphs and headings we talked about in the “writing for the web” section to hold your reader’s interest.

CONCLUSION

Do not make any fresh points or include any new data in your conclusion. Instead provide a concise summary of your most important key points and how they add up to your central, take-home message. Make it as snappy and memorable as possible.

This is also your chance to add a killer call to action which will push readers to subscribe to your newsletter, download a white paper, visit your online store, follow you on social media – you name it. Think about the position your content leaves your readers in, on their buying journey and tailor your call to action accordingly.
Follow these rules and you’ll be creating cracking content in next to no time!

In the next chapter we’ll be explaining what to do with your content after you’ve uploaded it to make it a big success...

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