The internet is the world’s largest “blank page”—and there might be nothing scarier than having to create something from scratch. Whether it’s a video or a photo essay, a Facebook post or a blog article, having to come up with fresh, original content week after week can feel super stressful—especially if you’re more comfortable talking with your clients, looking over your budgets or even behind the till at your shop than you are with storytelling. .
But be not afraid! With these five simple guidelines, you can be producing like the pros, creating killer online content that gets seen, read and shared—and brings tons of new customers to your doorstep.
You might feel like every topic you can think of has been done before. But that’s ok. Your topic doesn’t have to be original, and it doesn’t have to be the first time anyone has written about business development or the power of creativity or the benefits of fitness or whatever your niche is. So long as you share your own specific expertise, your own personal experiences, your own passion for what you do, you’ll be adding your unique spin, and creating something new.
So start by thinking about your audience. Put yourself in the head of someone who might be interested in working with you or buying what you sell, and ask yourself questions these questions:
- What type of content would help them have a better experience?
- What would they find intriguing?
- What questions or problems do they have that you could solve?
Now, start making a list of the things that come to your mind: the skills they want to learn, the gear they want to have, the fears that are holding them back. That list is now the start of your idea bank.
Finally, when you’re ready to draw on one of the subjects you’ve created, remember to narrow the concept down as tightly as you can. Find the purpose of your story and tie it into the article. Keep it clear and concise. Doing so will not only differentiate your story and keep it focused, it can also help you expand every one of the ideas on your list into a dozen new angles for future posts.
Here’s an eye-opening statistic: typically, visitors will only read about 20 percent of the content in your online story. And 80 percent of what they do read is “above the fold”—meaning, the first part of what they see.
While that may be a bit frustrating to think about after you’ve put so much work into your post, it does show just how crucial it is to craft a great headline that people will react to. Even if that’s all they react to. Your headline and your first few sentences (or the first few seconds of your video) are going to be what they notice, remember and share, even if it’s the only part of it they read or watched.
All this to say that your headlines should never be an afterthought.
Since your title is what’s getting seen the most, it’s worth spending a little extra time on it. Give away enough of your point to capture interest, but conceal enough to tickle their curiosity. A little excitement and mystery can go a long way. What gets your attention more: “5 Tips for Creating Killer Content” or “Create a Facebook Business Page in 8 Simple Steps”?
The very fact that you’re reading this shows that it pays to put a little extra effort into your headline.
Finally, try to stick to ten words or less. It can be tough to trim things down (the example above took me five tries!), but it’s worth the extra effort for a headline that grabs attention.
Always make sure your online content falls into at least one of these three categories:
No one likes being given the hard sell—and this is especially true if your reader hasn’t built a trusting relationship with you, or if they don’t know who you are at all. People spend time online to learn, to have fun and to connect with others—particularly on social media, but even when they’re just browsing the web for great stories and information about the things that interest them.
Give your audience that connection, that entertainment, that information, and you’ll start building a relationship with them. And once you have that relationship, it’s you they’ll think about when they’re ready to make a purchasing decision. Bombard them right off the bat with pushy sales tactics, and you’ll drive most of them away.
Not sure how to structure your post to keep it focused?
Try the popular 3×3 method: offer three main points, each supported by three pieces of information. Here’s an outline of how that might work for a story about learning a new skill—in this case, just as an example, let’s try “drawing.” :
Point 1: You are more talented than you think
- No one is born knowing how to draw perfectly
- Using a few simple methods, you will amaze yourself with what you can do
- All you need is some supportive guidance, and the willingness to try
Point 2: You will have fun
- Art classes are full of fun and interesting people
- The classes are guided by friendly, approachable and entertaining mentors
- The more you draw, the more you’ll love it
Point 3: You will earn tons of new confidence
- Nothing is more exciting than watching yourself improve!
- Finding out you can draw will have you wondering what else you can do
- Your newfound drawing skill will impress the heck out of your friends and family
Try to say too much at the same time, and your audience will get lost, and forget most or all of what you’ve said. Make it sharp, to the point and engaging.
The conclusion is the moment of fulfillment that answers all the questions you presented to your reader throughout your content. Make sure you stick to your message—don’t let your content get muddled for the sake of a longer post. Wrap up your main points neatly, and leave them feeling like they spent their time well.
Remember: these five guidelines aren’t just for blog posts—no matter how you want to tell your stories online, you’ll draw in more people and keep their attention longer by giving them an interesting topic, hooking them in with a great title and opening, following the 3×3 rule, and wrapping it up neatly and efficiently. Leave them feeling satisfied and inspired, and the next time they want to sign up or buy, they won’t think of your competitors, they’ll think of you.
Elevate Marketing Summit is happening March 10 & 11 and it’s all about content marketing: how to create it, curate it, and collaborate on it for exponential results.
We have over 15 speakers and topics lined up over these two days with a mix of pre-recorded and live sessions.
The best part is, it’s completely FREE to attend.
Click below to learn more and to register!