So, you’ve decided to put pen to paper – or your fingers to the keyboard – and you’re wondering just how to start crafting prose your audience is going to enjoy reading.
You’ve got your killer headline, but where do you begin when it comes to drafting the rest of the content?
Based upon our experience here at Scriba HQ, here are eight important steps to consider when the creative juices are in full flow…
- Do some digging into ‘what’s hot?’
First off the mark, you need to know what you’re writing about and who you’re writing for. Once you have this nailed, it’s time to do some research into the type of content that works well and gets the most engagement online.
There are many tools – such as BuzzSumo, Google Trends and Answer the Public – which can help you put your ear to the ground and uncover not only what topics are creating lots of noise but also the types of articles which are getting the most clicks and shares on social media.
It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to pepper in some SEO-friendly keywords too!
- Embrace subheadings
You’ve got your headline and introduction off to a good start and you’ve planned what you’re going to say in each paragraph – now comes the subheadings.
Thanks to the evolution of technology, attention spans are shorter than ever and our ability to process content is quicker, so keeping readers engaged after the intros is tough – unless you’re armed with intriguing titles which capture their curiosity.
Splitting up paragraphs not only makes the text easier to digest, but it also allows readers to pick and choose which sections resonate most with them.
- Choose punchy visuals
As well as the written word itself being important, as is the artwork you select to include alongside the piece.
An image can draw people in just as much – if not more – than a headline, so it’s vital that any picture you lead with has the same level of ‘oomph’ as the content it accompanies.
Think of it like a cup of Yorkshire Tea without a biscuit – it’s ludicrous and just plain wrong!
It’s crucial to remember though that when we talk about ‘visuals’, we’re not just referring to images. Infographics, GIFs and quizzes can all be integrated into the text to make it more user-inclusive as well as to convey key stats and facts in a more eye-catching way.
- Keep it simple
One of the most basic, yet often overlooked, steps in ensuring content is engaging is by keeping the text simple and concise. As a rule of thumb, don’t try to explain something in 20 words, if it only really needs 10.
The important thing to remember is that more content doesn’t necessarily mean better content – it’s all about quality over quantity. If the narrative rambles too much, readers will simply exit the page and likely ghost your site forever – not cool!
- Inject some personality
Each person and media publication has a different tone of voice and overall writing style, so it’s important to stick to this. But whether you’re writing something from your own – or your brand’s – perspective, personality is integral for developing and maintaining not only a one-time reader, but one which returns to view more content.
The purpose of your text – whether it’s to inform or entertain – should contain some key takeaways, so your audience feel like they’ve gained something from spending the time reading the article or blog post. It doesn’t always have to be funny either – it just has to be relevant and meaningful.
- Regularly ask questions
Facts and figures are great and really help to set the scene when writing about a topic, but one quick and easy way to engage your audience is to frequently give them some food for thought.
Creating natural pauses within your text which encourage readers to ponder their own personal view or approach to something are really helpful when it comes to keeping interest spiked and a sense of wanting to read on – am I right?
- Link it into wider comms activity
A one-off article can, without a doubt, be engaging, but if it’s part of a wider stream of related communications – such as multiple blog posts, a video series or e-shots – this can help to ‘pack a punch’ from all angles.
Also, if it’s part of a wider campaign, you can add useful links throughout the text which point the reader in the right direction if they do want to watch the videos or sign up to receive emails. Variety is, after all, the spice of life!
- Offer a call to action
It’s no secret that the world is a busy place and people’s lives are more chaotic than ever, so it’s no surprise that we like to ‘gain something’ from taking time out of our day to read an article.
Offering a clear call-to-action (CTA) within your text – usually at the end – helps readers to understand why they’ve read the copy and what they’ve achieved by doing so. For example, if you’ve published a piece on how to increase social media following, it might be a nice idea to offer a free-to-download ‘top 10 tips’ style document. This continues the dialogue without being pushy or a nuisance and allows people to digest additional content at their own leisure.
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