You can write anything. How you can reap the rewards of producing regular, fresh content for your website.
Part 1 – You can write anything
Chapter 1 – Introduction
‘I don’t have a good vocabulary.’
‘I’m no good at spelling.’
‘Why would anyone want to read anything that I wrote?’
Are those the messages your brain is telling you about writing? Perhaps you’ve decided to sit down and write something, but are struck dumb by the blank page?
Fear not. I’m here to tell you that you can write anything. I’m also going to show you how.
Writing is creative, it’s fun, and if you’re in business, it’s essential. If you’re in business, there are so many benefits to producing content regularly.
You can develop a system that will make it easy for you to let those words flow out of you.
Chapter 2 – Articles
You have it in you to write anything about anything.
To run a successful business, you may need sales letters, landing pages, advertisements, brochures, annual reports. Someone is writing those. Why not you?
However, for the purposes of this book, I’m going to focus on articles.
You might call them blogs, but I’m going to stick with articles for now. I’m talking about articles around 500-800 words long, although you’re welcome to write more. I’m talking about a structure that is easy for your reader to follow, easily replicable for any subject.
Here’s a simple structure for an article. 5 paragraphs, after a headline that intrigues the reader and draws them in.
1 – Introduction
Set the scene. Draw your reader’s attention to a particular question that you’re going to answer, a problem you’re going to solve. Preview the points you’re going to be making. Draw the reader in for the rest of the article.
2 – Point no1
Explain the most important point you want to make. If you’ve posed a question in the headline, answer it. We don’t want your reader to stop reading here, but if they did, make them remember one thing.
3 – Point no2
This is where you can make additional points to back up the assertion you made in the previous paragraph. Alternatively, you can delve deeper into the point you made, using statistics, quotes, or other pieces of evidence.
4 – Your choice
Paragraph 4 is a bit more of a free choice. Choose between adding more additional points to back up the assertion you made previously. Alternatively, present a counterargument. Explain why everything you’ve said before may be wrong, and something else may be right. Another option is to relate everything you’ve said before back to your business. If you’ve been making far-reaching statements before, narrow it down to what matters to you.
5 – Conclusion
This is where you tie the article up. Sum up what you’ve written before, and tell your reader what problem you have solved for them. End the article with a call to action. Ask them to leave a comment, or ask them to read another article. If you’re really feeling bold, ask them to buy something.
Chapter 3 – The benefits of articles
If you’re in business, you need to know the numerous benefits of producing regular, consistent articles for your website.
1 – Google
Keeping your site updated with fresh content tells Google that your site is living and breathing, a going concern. While keywords aren’t as important as they used to be, and keyword stuffing is a Google crime, fresh articles give you an opportunity to add more keywords to your site. Fresh articles also get more visitors, shares and backlinks. All these things help your site rise up the Google rankings, as Google strives to give their customers the best possible search experience.
2 – Authority
New articles on your site give you an opportunity to position yourself as an authority in your industry. If your articles explain developments in your industry, it shows your audience that you have your finger on the pulse. If your article is good, it will be shared around. It will grow your audience exponentially, boosting your brand. Finally, articles are an opportunity to solve a problem for your audience. If you can do that, they’ll think you’re great.
3 – Sales
Most importantly for your business, articles help you sell. Fresh content brings visitors to your site, and while they’re there, they might buy something. You can use articles to create desire for a product or service you’re selling. You can use articles to move leads through your business. Sign them up to a newsletter, for example. Use calls to action to drive your business.
You can read more about these benefits in actual articles, written by me.
Part 2 – How to write anything
Chapter 4 – Goals
You can just sit down in front of a blank screen and start writing, but it probably won’t be very good. You need to make a detailed plan of what you’re going to write. However, before you even start doing that, figure out what you’re looking to achieve from this particular piece of writing.
1 – Who?
Firstly, work out who you’re writing for. One clue, you’re not writing for yourself. If you’re writing for your customer, you should already have a good picture of who that is. However, you may be writing for a prospect, or an influencer. Work out who you want to read your article, and keep them in your mind throughout the writing process
2 – What?
What are you going to write about? This is where you want to get as narrow as you can. You can’t write 800 words about your entire industry and expect it to cover much, so pinpoint something, anything. You don’t need to come up with a headline or angle yet, just a subject.
3 – Why?
What are you looking to achieve with this piece of writing? Are you looking to solve a reader’s problem? Show them how to do something? Do you want to sell a product or service? Figure out your ‘why’ and you’ll soon know whether you’ve achieved it or not.
Chapter 5 – Research
If you’ve decided what you want to write about, it’s time to do some research. Even if you’re writing about something you already know a lot about, I’d still advise doing some research. You don’t want to forget anything.
I would advise reading a minimum of 3 other articles around your subject. Don’t choose the first 3 that come up on Google. Dig a little deeper. Read the perspective of someone you wouldn’t normally read. You’ll be surprised what you discover.
Chapter 6 – Find an angle
After reading around your subject, you should be armed with enough information to come up with an angle for your article. Try and make it different from pieces you’ve read elsewhere. You don’t have to follow the crowd.
Remember to write about only one subject at a time. People only want to read about one thing at a time. Plus, it saves you subjects to write about later. You do not need to generalise.
Decide on a headline for your piece of writing that matches the angle you’ve decided to take. Here are some tips on how to write a headline.
1 – Be accurate
Nothing is more annoying than clicking on an article headline only to find that the article doesn’t satisfactorily match it.
2 – Use positive language
Use the headline to sell the benefit of reading the article.
3 – Have fun
Use humour, alliteration, contemporary references, if you can.
Chapter 7 – Brainstorm
You’ve identified your goals, done your research and decided on a headline. It’s now time to put some meat on the bones.
Get a blank sheet of paper and write down (I always do this by hand, but I suppose you can use a computer if you wish) everything piece of information you think you might want to put in your article.
It doesn’t have to be in any order. It doesn’t need to make any sense at this stage. To be honest, it doesn’t have to be legible to anyone other than yourself. Just get it down.
Chapter 8 – Structure
This is the part where you decide on a structure for your article. You could choose the structure I outlined in Chapter 2, or you could make your own. It is important that you plan a structure, and decide what each paragraph is going to be about though.
Once that’s done, write a number next to every point on your brainstorming list. The number will correspond to the paragraph of the article that it’s going to go in.
You will probably find at this stage, not every point you’ve brainstormed will make it into the article. That’s fine. You now have a detailed article plan.
Chapter 9 – Just write it
Fire up the computer, conquer the fear of the blank page. It’s time to write your article. Write methodically. Stick to the plan you’ve made, you know everything you need to say is on there. Work your way from top to bottom.
Once you’re in the zone, you’ll find the words flowing out of you. It shouldn’t be material you’re unfamiliar with. You know it all. Let the writing take care of itself.
Keep in mind the goals you set earlier. Does every sentence, or even every word, serve your purpose? Does it help your reader understand what you’re trying to say to them?
Part 3 – Writing tips
Chapter 10 – A little help
You didn’t think that was the end, did you?
Here in no particular order, are some tips on how to write effective articles that will delight your audience and fulfil your goals.
1 – Keep your goal in mind
As mentioned before, keep your goal in mind as you write. Make sure you’ve fulfilled the mission you set out on. Also, don’t forget who you’re writing for. Remember that it isn’t you.
2 – Keep your audience interested
Your reader can click elsewhere anytime they like. Make sure they don’t. Make every sentence an advertisement for the next one. Stick to your plan. Don’t go off on irrelevant tangents.
Chapter 11 – Make your article easy to read
People today don’t have the time or the inclination to persevere with an article that is hard to read, no matter how interesting or relevant it is. Here are some tips on how to direct your reader from intro to conclusion without any mishaps.
1 – Be direct
You may have noticed, that I have a very direct style of writing. I write like I speak. I abbreviate words. You won’t find me using complicated or flowery language for the sake of it.
2 – Avoid jargon and buzzwords
Just because a piece of industry terminology is part of your everyday language, it doesn’t mean it’s the same for your reader. Keep it simple. Buzzwords are fun to use, but date your writing very quickly. Write something that is built to last.
3 – Less is more.
Write short sentences. Write short paragraphs. 3 or 4 sentences per paragraph should be enough. Use the infinite space available.
4 – Use active voice
Try, as much as you can, to write in active voice. That means putting the verb before the subject in the sentence. Here’s an example:
‘The cheese sandwich was eaten by John.’ – Wrong!
‘John ate the cheese sandwich.’ – Right!
5 – Don’t use the following words
Here are some words that professional copywriters try not to use when they write. See if you can eliminate them from your writing style too
Very – This word is devoid of meaning. Use more descriptive language instead. For example, instead of writing ‘It was very hot.’ Write, ‘It was scorching.’
Adverbs – words ending in ‘ly’ if you can remember that from school. They take up space and distract your reader. As above, use more descriptive language.
Many / Few / Frequently etc – Many is in the eye of the beholder. Use exact numbers. Instead of ‘I walked past a lot of sheep.’ Write, ‘I walked past 20 sheep.’
That – When you write the word ‘that’, read the sentence back to yourself, removing the word. If it still makes sense, you can lose it.
Can / May / Could / Perhaps, Up to – These are wishy-washy words. Write with confidence. Don’t say what your problems your business can solve. Say what problems they will solve.
For more on this, read my article ‘5 words you don’t need when you write copy.’
Chapter 12 – Don’t worry
Look, nothing anyone ever does is perfect, so quit stalling, waiting for perfection. Here are some things you might be worried about when writing, that you don’t need to.
1 – Don’t worry about SEO
Although I write for SEO a good chunk of the time, I’m not an SEO expert. The SEO game changes so quickly, it’s best left to the professionals. Unless you’re an expert in SEO and you know what you’re doing, don’t think about it. Write an article that serves your goal, that your audience will like and engage with, and the SEO will take care of itself.
2 – Don’t worry about spelling and grammar
It breaks my heart as a fully paid-up member of the grammar police to write this, but no one really cares anymore. Your word processing program will correct your spelling and tidy up your grammar for you (see image below). Proofread your article, at least a day after you’ve written it, to make sure nothing has slipped through the net. However, even if something does, I don’t believe it’s the end of the world. You can go back and correct it later anyway.
3 – Don’t worry about what people think
As long as you keep your audience and goals in mind, anything goes. If you want to write something controversial, tell a joke, make a bold claim, do it. Write with utter confidence. If you don’t, it shows. No one will have confidence in what you’ve written.
Part 4 – Extras
Chapter 13 – Images
If you follow your plan and take note of these tips, your words will amaze. However, words aren’t always enough. Pictures are essential too.
You need at least one image to feature in your article, ideally, you’ll have more. You can just use any old photo you find on the internet though. The people who own the photo might have something to say.
The best thing to do is to make your own images, but if that’s not an option, use royalty-free images that you can find online. Here are a couple of sites where you can download great royalty-free images.
What I like to do is download a royalty-free image, but customise it. I alter the size or shape, I also add text. For this, I use an iPad app called Snapseed. See the example below.
Chapter 14 – Links
Once your words are down, and you’ve added your images, there’s one thing left to do. Get some links in there. You can use your article to link to sources, other sites that may be useful for your reader, and most importantly, other articles that you’ve written.
If you’re loading your article on to your site yourself, using a content management system like WordPress, this is really easy. If your web developer is loading it on, then make sure they have the right links to hand.
In the example below, the blue text denotes the links.
And you’re done!
Part 5 – Conclusion
Chapter 19 – Conclusion
We’ve seen why you need fresh articles on your site on a consistent basis. We’ve talked about how to plan out an article and how to write one that effectively reaches your goals.
You’re now armed with all the information you need to write articles about anything. All you need to do now is get started.
Practice. Adapt and develop your own system, one that works for you. Reap the rewards.
Refine your system so you can write anything. Next time you want to overhaul your site, or devise an ad, or put a landing page together, you could do it yourself.
Chapter 20 – Call to action
Do you have time for this?
You have it in you to write anything about anything, but one thing you don’t always have is time. Your time may be better spent doing what you’re good at than writing articles. That’s where I come in. I’m Mike The Writer.
I write copy for startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses. I write anything about anything, consistently and accurately. Whatever you need, I can provide.
Mike Albert – Mike The Writer
+44 (0)7885 657774
Follow me on Twitter – @writeymikey
and on Facebook – www.facebook.com/writeymikey/
or LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/writeymikey/
Thank you for reading.