Do you know how much work it takes to write quality blog content and articles? At Penquin, we write our own content and have been running our blog for several years now. In this process, we’ve learnt a few lessons.
Content is the engine driving the internet, and content marketing and inbound marketing are rapidly growing as brands see the huge potential of creating useful content for customers. As an indication of this growth: “The marketing software market is expected to grow to more than $32.3 billion in 2018. It will be one of the fastest-growing areas in high tech, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4 percent,” says Content Marketing Institute.
But do you know how much work it takes to write quality blog content and articles? At Penquin, we write our own content and have been running our blog for several years now. In this process, we’ve learnt a few lessons.
We’ve discovered on our content journey that creating good content is hard work! In essence, these are the important factors that make up quality content production:
1.A strong strategy behind the post
We do this by creating a quarterly content strategy, where we look at what metrics we want to achieve from our content, ensure it has an appropriate ratio of top of the funnel content to bottom of the funnel content, and more. However, this is a challenge for many marketers tackling content. “Forty six percent of marketers said their organization has a documented strategy for managing content as a business asset; 44 percent said they don’t, and ten percent weren’t sure,” according to Curata.
2.Understanding who you’re writing it for (and why!)
Says HubSpot, the world’s leading inbound marketing agency, “Before you start to write, have a clear understanding of your target audience and their pain points. What do they want to know about? What will resonate with them?” This is really key to creating the right content.
3.Research, research and more research!
Any strong article, once you’ve locked it down conceptually and strategically, is backed by a variety of resources that weave a tapestry of data behind each article. First person articles, columns and satire are naturally different, but most of our content - especially when it’s leading people down a path to purchase, is backed by cold hard facts. The American Press Institute puts it like this: “The best stories are more complete and more comprehensive. They contain more verified information from more sources with more viewpoints and expertise. They exhibit more enterprise, more reportorial effort.”
4.Plan your article
What’s your message? What facts, quotes or images do you have that help to tell your story? What are the most salient facts that need to be put up front? What makes this story interesting? Once you’ve got the information backing up your article, plan a basic narrative around how you’ll tell this story, and which quotes and stats you’ll use to make it interesting and relevant to your audience.
Now it’s time to follow Hemingway’s timeless advice - write drunk (and then edit sober). This doesn’t mean literally writing drunk (though hey, a glass of wine never hurts) but rather to write out the big, creative ideas and later to..
Once you’ve spewed out your masterpiece, it’s essential to edit it for clarity and brevity. Are you waffling? Are you sharing salient information? Is it grammatically correct? Editing is an absolutely essential part of writing and hones it for the reader.
What makes a good article
There are a few writing techniques to keep in mind that take an article from useful to readable - and remember, readability is key if you want your readers to take that next
step on an article! Here are some takeaways from some of our favourite resources online.
- “Treatment trumps topic. How a story is told is more important to the audience than its topic, what it is about. The best story is a well-told tale about something the reader feels is relevant or significant.” - American Press Institute
- “Powerful writing is readable. A work that’s readable is grammatically sound (not necessarily grammatically correct – what’s important is that grammar not get in the way of the meaning) and stylistically clear, requiring only as much work to understand as is necessary.” - Lifehack
- “‘Occam’s razor’, named after the fourteenth century English theologian and philosopher William of Occam, describes the idea that the best way to get to the truth is to discard as much unnecessary information as possible.” - Writing Machine
- “Rule #1 for writing a good article: minimize your barrier to entry. Make it easy for your reader to be drawn in. A large opening paragraph at the start of an article is a huge barrier to entry. Your reader has to wade through a large wall of text before determining if the article is really interesting and worth reading. This requires a large expenditure of effort. Most people won’t bother.” - The Mission
- “Powerful writing is not just focused on a goal, it leads the reader inescapably towards that goal. That may be through the use of evidence in support of an argument, through the relaying of a narrative describing events occurring over time, or in some other way, but it must be graceful – without gaps of reasoning, unsupported assumptions, missing information, or anything else that would cause a reader to stumble.” - Lifehack
- “The top three things that make content effective: audience relevance (58 percent); engaging and compelling storytelling (57 percent); triggers a response/action (54 percent).” - Curata
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