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6 Steps for Writing Content Your Audience Wants to Read

6 Steps for Writing Content Your Audience Wants to Read

Great content rests on a solid foundation, which includes writing style, research, and plenty of editing.

The differences in sharability and engagement between normal content and the kind that explodes virally are huge, but the differences in how the content is created can be subtle. Is your content not receiving enough engagement or retaining an audience, despite brilliant ideas and promotions?

Maybe your writing is to blame.

How can you tailor your writing to improve engagement and keep your audience coming back? Below we’ll examine the elements that comprise the foundation of remarkable content.

Before You Begin

While your content is still in the idea phase, ask these three questions:

1. Who is your target audience?

Researching your audience is essential.  Learn what content your audience shares and how they communicate.  Feedback can go a long way to helping you understand who your audience is and what content they’ll most likely share.

2. Why are you targeting this audience?

Look beyond marketing.  What practical reasons influence you to share your content with your audience?  What is your audience going to take away from your content?  Consider your angle.  Is your content so entertaining or helpful to your audience that they’d feel compelled to share it with others?

3. What content does my target audience consume?

Does your audience prefer light-hearted pieces or more serious, technical ones?  What social data can you obtain before production?

Consider:

  • Audience size
  • How established your audience is
  • Demographic information like age, gender, and education level

Understanding who is consuming your content can help you properly decide what to produce. With a limited understanding of your audience, you risk writing a great piece of content that fizzles out before its prime.

6 Ways to Write Better for Your Audience

Now that we’ve learned about our audience, how do we hook them?

1. Create Your Own Voice

Early on we’re taught the mechanics of writing (like grammar and spelling), but not the additional elements that makes certain writing enjoyable to read and share.  Good writing is technically correct but also much more natural and personalized.  The best writing has a well-defined style.

At BlueGlass LA, we learned about the importance of high quality writing and why it’s essential to the future of marketing.  Brian Clark of Copyblogger discussed having a distinctive voice and using it to build a relationship with your audience.

Put some personal touches on your writing to better cultivate your voice.  Infuse your writing with your interests and personality.  Whether you’re sarcastic, geeky, or a “short and to the point” type of person, embrace it in your writing.  You’ll be surprised not only how much more natural your content sounds, but how much easier it is to create once you get the hang of it.

Example: Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a great example of a writer who effortlessly writes in his own voice.  He uses a concise, direct style with a clear call to action.  His writing is informal, pleasing to the eyes, and easy to absorb.  You want to read his writing.

2. Leverage Your Resources

Good research is crucial to high quality writing.  At BlueGlass, we reference data in nearly every facet of marketing.

As you’re creating your content, consider these questions:

  • What is my topic?
  • What area of expertise does my topic fall into?
  • Are there others out there with similar expertise and skill sets?

Use research to supplement your knowledge and personal views.  This gives your content authority and you’ll gain a trustworthy reputation.

NOT ALL SOURCES ARE CREATED EQUAL

The Internet is a big place, so it goes without saying that there is a lot of bad information out there.  You should always consider web site authority and relevancy when doing your research to avoid this pitfall.  Bad sources offer nothing to your content and can destroy your credibility (or worse, your reputation).

Think like a journalist. Remain cautious but diligent when doing your research.  Start your research with high quality sites (major news publications, .gov and .edu websites) and then slowly work your way down to less authoritative sources.

Always try to use primary sources when possible.  If you’re reading an article and it says it took a statistic from a ““government website,” find the original source and use that instead of referencing the article.

If your content is more light-hearted or fun, you can sometimes get away with personal blogs and less authoritative sites.  Just be choosy.

Keep digging. Avoid sites with little information or that rely on user-generated content for facts.  When in doubt, look for a different source.  There are usually several reputable sources to choose from.

Do it Yourself. Occasionally an idea will come along that’s so timely or unique that there’s little to no information on it.  If you can make the time investment, consider researching it yourself.  Awesome ideas often start this way.

Let it Go. If you don’t have the time to do your own research or you’re unable to find legitimate sources that back up your idea, consider scrapping or reworking your concept.  Don’t set yourself up for failure with a shoddy idea.

3. Offer Your Own Perspective

Let’s face it.  It’s getting harder and harder to write about a unique topic.  If you’re worried about your content coming off as too generic, then let your own perspective be your focal point.

Personal insight is great for refreshing a stale or complicated topic, or when you’re passionate about your idea but your research has come up a little short.

Example: SEOmoz

The SEOmoz blog content comes from both their team and community members, so their posts offer a range of perspectives. This helps to brighten up dense or technical content, but also appeals to a wide audience since there are often divergent points of views among authors.   

4. Be Transparent

Offer a way for your audience to give you feedback (and when they do, return the favor).  Legitimate criticism is extremely valuable.  Responding to your audience’s feedback shows that you’re invested in your content and gives your audience a reason to share it.  Blogs and social media platforms make this incredibly simple.

Ask for your audience’s opinion at the end of posts. They may know more about your topic than you do.

Feedback is also a great way for you to learn more about your audience and come up with future content ideas.  Short polls and surveys asking what your audience wants you to write about can be a great source of ideas tailor-made for your readers.

Example: Copyblogger

The Copyblogger has a high level of community interaction not only because they write great content, but their team consistently responds to reader comments and questions. This encourages others to comment as well, since they know they’ll get a response. In the example below, the commentor received responses not only from Sonia and Brian from Copyblogger, but another reader also chimed in with advice.

5. Edit Your Butt Off

Few things will cost you an audience faster than glaring errors in your otherwise awesome content.  Nobody expects absolute perfection, but content riddled with typos and factual errors is ugly and can make you look silly.

Consider these basic editing tips:

Be Concise. Brevity is often better.  Your audience will only spend a few precious seconds reading your content, so make them count.  Keep sentences brief and your voice conversational.

Make Your Content Visually Appealing . Display your information tastefully and in easy-to-digest chunks.  Well-designed headers, pictures, short lists, and bullet points are great.

Fix Your Typos . Check for grammar, spelling, and syntax errors.  Be thorough when checking facts from your sources.  Be consistent in your writing style to make your editing easier.

Fix Your Typos… Again. Always double-check your content one last time before publication.  Consider having your colleagues look it over as well.  A second or third pair of eyes can catch hard to find typos that may otherwise be missed.

6. Relax

Having trouble finding your motivation?  Step away from your computer and go unwind a bit.  A change of pace and environment makes for a wonderful muse and can be incredibly therapeutic.  Spending too much time working on the same task can actually hurt your productivity.

On a bit of a time crunch?  Consider doing the more time-consuming aspects of your writing, like your research and outline, ahead of time and come back later to finish.

Conclusion

The key to a successful long-term content marketing strategy is reaching your target audience and enticing them to return. While there is no perfect formula for writing content, following the steps above will keep your work consistent and in tune with your audience.  Incorporating these into your writing process will not only improve your content overall but also increase your audience engagement.

How do you connect your content with your audience?  What motivates you to write? Let us know in the comments below.

Want to Get Inside?

Become a BlueGlass Insider Today!

  • Be the first to know about BlueGlass events, meetups, and surprise releases. Before they’re made public…
  • Exclusive access to the latest tools, tips and must-read posts.From people who have been doing this for years…
  • Insider perspective on the latest trends in digital marketing. Info that you won’t get anywhere else…

Enter your email below to join for free!




Comments

  1. Cornwallseo says:

    The first step is adopt the mindset.

    • Matthew Branson says:

      I agree that a proper mindset is essential. You have to be able to get behind any content you produce from the very beginning. If you’re not invested in your work, why would your audience be?

  2. Sebastian says:

    Also, setting up a Theme-plan helps alot. Often, by planning a little ahead, it makes sense to develop content that is relevant for the audience during their time-on-year, i.e. “how to blablabla during christmas”, “what to do when blablabla “relevant industry event or award”", and so on.

    Many of our Content strategies include a mapping of relevant events, marketing efforts, holiday specials that is relevant for our customers and their customers :)

    • Matthew Branson says:

      Absolutely, Sebastian. Timeliness is always something to highly consider when you’re writing for your audience.

  3. Sunny says:

    Hey Mathew! Don’t you think a good start is what a content needs? I’ve come across many quality blogs where they have huge content. Now if the content doesn’t really lure the readers, no one would even be bothered to read rest of the crap?

  4. Content doesn’t always need to be text based. Maybe your target audience likes to watch videos or listen to podcasts. Consider other avenues to help promote your product or service.

    • Matthew Branson says:

      I agree. Nice tip, Nick. :)

      Proper research, transparency, and providing your own perspective can be considerably helpful in a multitude of content types. The key is pick what works for you (and your audience) and go with it.

  5. Angela Brown says:

    These ways are really superb.

  6. Sarah says:

    Some great tips. Nick had a good point about a target audience maybe preferring more visuals than text based posts. I think this is a really good point. Why not test out different options and see what posts get a hire rating based on the style and way your post has been structured. I personally prefer a post that is short and too the point with visuals to back it up.

6 Steps for Writing Content Your Audience Wants to Read
e

Like what you see? Let's talk about how we can help your business. Contact Us -->

6 Steps for Writing Content Your Audience Wants to Read

6 Steps for Writing Content Your Audience Wants to Read

Great content rests on a solid foundation, which includes writing style, research, and plenty of editing.

The differences in sharability and engagement between normal content and the kind that explodes virally are huge, but the differences in how the content is created can be subtle. Is your content not receiving enough engagement or retaining an audience, despite brilliant ideas and promotions?

Maybe your writing is to blame.

How can you tailor your writing to improve engagement and keep your audience coming back? Below we’ll examine the elements that comprise the foundation of remarkable content.

Before You Begin

While your content is still in the idea phase, ask these three questions:

1. Who is your target audience?

Researching your audience is essential.  Learn what content your audience shares and how they communicate.  Feedback can go a long way to helping you understand who your audience is and what content they’ll most likely share.

2. Why are you targeting this audience?

Look beyond marketing.  What practical reasons influence you to share your content with your audience?  What is your audience going to take away from your content?  Consider your angle.  Is your content so entertaining or helpful to your audience that they’d feel compelled to share it with others?

3. What content does my target audience consume?

Does your audience prefer light-hearted pieces or more serious, technical ones?  What social data can you obtain before production?

Consider:

  • Audience size
  • How established your audience is
  • Demographic information like age, gender, and education level

Understanding who is consuming your content can help you properly decide what to produce. With a limited understanding of your audience, you risk writing a great piece of content that fizzles out before its prime.

6 Ways to Write Better for Your Audience

Now that we’ve learned about our audience, how do we hook them?

1. Create Your Own Voice

Early on we’re taught the mechanics of writing (like grammar and spelling), but not the additional elements that makes certain writing enjoyable to read and share.  Good writing is technically correct but also much more natural and personalized.  The best writing has a well-defined style.

At BlueGlass LA, we learned about the importance of high quality writing and why it’s essential to the future of marketing.  Brian Clark of Copyblogger discussed having a distinctive voice and using it to build a relationship with your audience.

Put some personal touches on your writing to better cultivate your voice.  Infuse your writing with your interests and personality.  Whether you’re sarcastic, geeky, or a “short and to the point” type of person, embrace it in your writing.  You’ll be surprised not only how much more natural your content sounds, but how much easier it is to create once you get the hang of it.

Example: Seth Godin

Seth Godin is a great example of a writer who effortlessly writes in his own voice.  He uses a concise, direct style with a clear call to action.  His writing is informal, pleasing to the eyes, and easy to absorb.  You want to read his writing.

2. Leverage Your Resources

Good research is crucial to high quality writing.  At BlueGlass, we reference data in nearly every facet of marketing.

As you’re creating your content, consider these questions:

  • What is my topic?
  • What area of expertise does my topic fall into?
  • Are there others out there with similar expertise and skill sets?

Use research to supplement your knowledge and personal views.  This gives your content authority and you’ll gain a trustworthy reputation.

NOT ALL SOURCES ARE CREATED EQUAL

The Internet is a big place, so it goes without saying that there is a lot of bad information out there.  You should always consider web site authority and relevancy when doing your research to avoid this pitfall.  Bad sources offer nothing to your content and can destroy your credibility (or worse, your reputation).

Think like a journalist. Remain cautious but diligent when doing your research.  Start your research with high quality sites (major news publications, .gov and .edu websites) and then slowly work your way down to less authoritative sources.

Always try to use primary sources when possible.  If you’re reading an article and it says it took a statistic from a ““government website,” find the original source and use that instead of referencing the article.

If your content is more light-hearted or fun, you can sometimes get away with personal blogs and less authoritative sites.  Just be choosy.

Keep digging. Avoid sites with little information or that rely on user-generated content for facts.  When in doubt, look for a different source.  There are usually several reputable sources to choose from.

Do it Yourself. Occasionally an idea will come along that’s so timely or unique that there’s little to no information on it.  If you can make the time investment, consider researching it yourself.  Awesome ideas often start this way.

Let it Go. If you don’t have the time to do your own research or you’re unable to find legitimate sources that back up your idea, consider scrapping or reworking your concept.  Don’t set yourself up for failure with a shoddy idea.

3. Offer Your Own Perspective

Let’s face it.  It’s getting harder and harder to write about a unique topic.  If you’re worried about your content coming off as too generic, then let your own perspective be your focal point.

Personal insight is great for refreshing a stale or complicated topic, or when you’re passionate about your idea but your research has come up a little short.

Example: SEOmoz

The SEOmoz blog content comes from both their team and community members, so their posts offer a range of perspectives. This helps to brighten up dense or technical content, but also appeals to a wide audience since there are often divergent points of views among authors.   

4. Be Transparent

Offer a way for your audience to give you feedback (and when they do, return the favor).  Legitimate criticism is extremely valuable.  Responding to your audience’s feedback shows that you’re invested in your content and gives your audience a reason to share it.  Blogs and social media platforms make this incredibly simple.

Ask for your audience’s opinion at the end of posts. They may know more about your topic than you do.

Feedback is also a great way for you to learn more about your audience and come up with future content ideas.  Short polls and surveys asking what your audience wants you to write about can be a great source of ideas tailor-made for your readers.

Example: Copyblogger

The Copyblogger has a high level of community interaction not only because they write great content, but their team consistently responds to reader comments and questions. This encourages others to comment as well, since they know they’ll get a response. In the example below, the commentor received responses not only from Sonia and Brian from Copyblogger, but another reader also chimed in with advice.

5. Edit Your Butt Off

Few things will cost you an audience faster than glaring errors in your otherwise awesome content.  Nobody expects absolute perfection, but content riddled with typos and factual errors is ugly and can make you look silly.

Consider these basic editing tips:

Be Concise. Brevity is often better.  Your audience will only spend a few precious seconds reading your content, so make them count.  Keep sentences brief and your voice conversational.

Make Your Content Visually Appealing . Display your information tastefully and in easy-to-digest chunks.  Well-designed headers, pictures, short lists, and bullet points are great.

Fix Your Typos . Check for grammar, spelling, and syntax errors.  Be thorough when checking facts from your sources.  Be consistent in your writing style to make your editing easier.

Fix Your Typos… Again. Always double-check your content one last time before publication.  Consider having your colleagues look it over as well.  A second or third pair of eyes can catch hard to find typos that may otherwise be missed.

6. Relax

Having trouble finding your motivation?  Step away from your computer and go unwind a bit.  A change of pace and environment makes for a wonderful muse and can be incredibly therapeutic.  Spending too much time working on the same task can actually hurt your productivity.

On a bit of a time crunch?  Consider doing the more time-consuming aspects of your writing, like your research and outline, ahead of time and come back later to finish.

Conclusion

The key to a successful long-term content marketing strategy is reaching your target audience and enticing them to return. While there is no perfect formula for writing content, following the steps above will keep your work consistent and in tune with your audience.  Incorporating these into your writing process will not only improve your content overall but also increase your audience engagement.

How do you connect your content with your audience?  What motivates you to write? Let us know in the comments below.

Want to Get Inside?

Become a BlueGlass Insider Today!

  • Be the first to know about BlueGlass events, meetups, and surprise releases. Before they’re made public…
  • Exclusive access to the latest tools, tips and must-read posts.From people who have been doing this for years…
  • Insider perspective on the latest trends in digital marketing. Info that you won’t get anywhere else…

Enter your email below to join for free!




Comments

  1. Cornwallseo says:

    The first step is adopt the mindset.

    • Matthew Branson says:

      I agree that a proper mindset is essential. You have to be able to get behind any content you produce from the very beginning. If you’re not invested in your work, why would your audience be?

  2. Sebastian says:

    Also, setting up a Theme-plan helps alot. Often, by planning a little ahead, it makes sense to develop content that is relevant for the audience during their time-on-year, i.e. “how to blablabla during christmas”, “what to do when blablabla “relevant industry event or award”", and so on.

    Many of our Content strategies include a mapping of relevant events, marketing efforts, holiday specials that is relevant for our customers and their customers :)

    • Matthew Branson says:

      Absolutely, Sebastian. Timeliness is always something to highly consider when you’re writing for your audience.

  3. Sunny says:

    Hey Mathew! Don’t you think a good start is what a content needs? I’ve come across many quality blogs where they have huge content. Now if the content doesn’t really lure the readers, no one would even be bothered to read rest of the crap?

  4. Content doesn’t always need to be text based. Maybe your target audience likes to watch videos or listen to podcasts. Consider other avenues to help promote your product or service.

    • Matthew Branson says:

      I agree. Nice tip, Nick. :)

      Proper research, transparency, and providing your own perspective can be considerably helpful in a multitude of content types. The key is pick what works for you (and your audience) and go with it.

  5. Angela Brown says:

    These ways are really superb.

  6. Sarah says:

    Some great tips. Nick had a good point about a target audience maybe preferring more visuals than text based posts. I think this is a really good point. Why not test out different options and see what posts get a hire rating based on the style and way your post has been structured. I personally prefer a post that is short and too the point with visuals to back it up.