I’m a big fan of cooking shows, cookbooks and those Facebook videos that show a pro chef creating something truly magnificent. But when I think about what it is that captures my attention, I would have to say that it is firstly the tantalising images, followed by the creative process; the bringing together of key ingredients to create something special.
Creating a delicious dish is a lot like creating compelling content. There are certain steps to follow and key ingredients that come together to create a piece of content that captivates and encourages leads. Now you could be tempted to take a churn and burn approach, where your focus is primarily on serving something up on a regular basis. But just like in the kitchen, a quick, slapped together piece of writing will not entice your intended audience. Consider my key ingredients for creating compelling content, and you could be cooking up a storm online.
Ingredient 1: Your Target Audience
Before you begin to write, you need to have a clear understanding of your audience. Who are they? What do they like, dislike? How old are they? Where do they hang out (online)? And most importantly, what do they want to know? These questions (and many more) will help you to identify who you are writing for, and can guide the topic of your article.
Ingredient 2: The Topic
Before you write anything, you need to pick a topic. Something that will resonate with your target audience, capture their attention and encourage them to share, comment and engage with your content. A clear topic will also help you to identify the keywords that can enhance the success of the article.
Ingredient 3: The Structure
All good stories or blog posts should have a clear structure including an introduction, main body (with subheadings) and a conclusion. Readers can be intimidated by too much information and the length of the blog. By organising your content into a clear structure with headings or lists, your readers will have an opportunity to consume the content in bite-sized pieces. And don’t forget to include a clear call to action (CTA). This will give your readers an opportunity to connect with you or gain further information.
Ingredient 4: Your Words
Obviously, the main ingredient of any written piece are the words. Use your topic and structure to guide what you say and be sure to expand on all your points as needed. It is a good idea to write about what you know, and if necessary, do a bit of research to gather information and data to back up your points.
I’m a big believer in using a story format to share your thoughts and ideas. Click here to find out how storytelling can be a powerful engagement tool when it comes to your content.
If you struggle to string sentences together, you’re not alone. There are hundreds of online resources you can refer to, including this list of tools for improving your writing skills by HubSpot. You can also seek the assistance of someone for whom writing is their bread and butter (me, for instance).
Ingredient 5: Proofreading and Editing
The editing process is an important part of content creation. Ask a grammar-conscious friend, co-worker or family member to proofread your article. Also read, and re-read your own article. I edited this article three times before I posted it.
Ingredient 6: The Images
Choosing a visually appealing and relevant image is a key step when it comes to the success of your post or article, particularly when sharing on social platforms. But there are a few things to consider in your selection:
- Ensure you have the right to use the image. Not all images on the web are free for businesses to use.
- Choose an image that is relevant and has a connection to the topic or headline.
- The image should be compelling. By that I mean interesting, appealing and eye-catching.
- Ensure the image is high quality. You do not want to use something that is pixilated.
- Size the image appropriately and ensure it is optimised for varying screen sizes.
Ingredient 7: Visual Appearance
It is not just images that make a post or article visually appealing. The formatting and organisation of the post play a big part. Utilise headings and additional images to break up big blocks of text. You should also ensure that your headings are styled consistently.
Ingredient 8: The Call to Action
At the end of every blog post, you should have a Call to Action (CTA) that indicates what you want the reader to do next. Do you want them to subscribe to your blog, download an eBook, register for a webinar or event, read a related article or email you? Your CTA should relate to the purpose of your article, provide readers with an opportunity to learn more and provide you with a lead you can nurture.
Ingredient 9: SEO Optimisation
After you finish writing your article, you will then need to go back over it and optimise for search. Look for opportunities to include keywords, but there is no need to max-out your copy with badly placed keywords. Some other things that you should look to amend include:
- The meta descriptions (descriptions below the post’s page title on Google’s search results pages) – While meta descriptions no longer factor into Google’s keyword ranking algorithm, they do give searchers a snapshot of what they will get by reading the post and can help improve your click through rate from search.
- Page titles and headers – As one of the most important on-page SEO elements, try and make sure that your post title is the page title.
- Mobile optimisation – Mobile devices now account for nearly 2 out of every 3 minutes spent online, so ensure your website is responsive and designed for mobile users.
Just like cooking in the kitchen, if you take time to create a structured piece of content that speaks directly to your target audiences’ needs, you are more likely to attract ‘hungry’ readers, ready to connect and become strong leads.
Do you hate the thought of having to cook up content? Email me to discover how I can create compelling content for your business.