Content writing tips
Have you ever wondered why only some of your childhood memories are still stuck in your brain while the others have vanished? Why do you wish to see more of LOST (famous TV series by Spielberg)? Why are some stories, articles, and websites hard to forget? It is because they all have a high Recall Quotient.
Today, the web is full of content posted just for the sake of search engine optimization. Millions of writers worldwide make a living out of rewriting old content and posting the same at several places. But, you must know this – One good article can make up for 1000 or more boring articles. If the content has value your readers would willingly share it.
So what goes into writing content that people would love to read and remember?
To begin, think about a story that you can narrate to anybody right now. It could be a book, a TV series, a movie, an advertisement, or just a blog post that you read recently. Now think why you remember it so well. You will come up with following answers:
- Emotional connect: I still remember an episode of “I shouldn’t be alive” on Discovery where a bunch of teenagers get lost in the Grand Canyon without water, food, or shade in the blistering heat. Now, why do I remember it? Because I have a kid and I can feel the pain when I see any child in trouble; because I have had an experience in my life where our team ran out of water and it was a long time before we could each get an unfulfilling sip. Although, we were waterless for just a couple of hours, I can still imagine how it could’ve been for those kids. What I am trying to say is that if the content strikes the right chord, it will hit the audience emotionally. So the most important aspect of good writing is understanding the problems and challenges faced by your audience and portray it vividly. That brings me to the next point, which is…
- Vivid presentation: A dramatic representation and good use of persuasive language, pictures and videos is essential for today’s online audience. Can you recall the first time you read or watched “Jurassic Park”? You are right, great content must be backed by greater presentation. But, I am sure that you do not remember the second and third part as well as you do the first one? The reason…
- Originality and element of surprise: You are more likely to remember something more when you see/read it for the first time. That’s why web content writers should always think of unique ideas and ways to write. J.K. Rowling has done it pretty well with her famous series of books: “Harry Potter”. Each part has a never-been-told-before story, an element of surprise as well as a flow that smoothly shifts from one part to the next – and yet each book is somewhat complete in its own way.
I know this list is incomplete. There are many more factors that go into building compelling content, and one of them is “conversational writing” style. I invite you all to please share your ideas about what goes into writing compelling web content.
So, you’re seeing too many of those “how to” and list headlines, and want to try a few different angles?
Let’s move beyond those common headline formulas you see over and over, and add some new blood to your attention-grabbing arsenal.
1. Who Else Wants [blank]?
Starting a headline with “Who Else Wants…” is a classic social proof strategy that implies an already existing consensus desire. While overused in the Internet marketing arena, it still works like gangbusters for other subject matter.
* Who Else Wants a Great Blog Template Design?
* Who Else Wants a Higher Paying Job?
* Who Else Wants More Fun and Less Stress When on Vacation?
2. The Secret of [blank]
This one is used quite a bit, but that’s because it works. Share insider knowledge and translate it into a benefit for the reader.
* The Secret of Successful Podcasting
* The Secret of Protecting Your Assets in Litigation
* The Secret of Getting Your Home Loan Approved
3. Here is a Method That is Helping [blank] to [blank]
Simply identify your target audience and the benefit you can provide them, and fill in the blanks.
* Here is a Method That is Helping Homeowners Save Hundreds on Insurance
* Here is a Method That is Helping Children Learn to Read Sooner
* Here is a Method That is Helping Bloggers Write Better Post Titles
4. Little Known Ways to [blank]
A more intriguing (and less common) way of accomplishing the same thing as “The Secret of…” headline.
* Little Known Ways to Save on Your Heating Bill
* Little Known Ways to Hack Google’s Gmail
* Little Known Ways to Lose Weight Quickly and Safely
5. Get Rid of [problem] Once and For All
A classic formula that identifies either a painful problem or an unfulfilled desire that the reader wants to remedy.
* Get Rid of Your Unproductive Work Habits Once and For All
* Get Rid of That Carpet Stain Once and For All
* Get Rid of That Lame Mullet Hairdo Once and For All
6. Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]
People love quick and easy when it comes to solving a nagging problem.
* Here’s a Quick Way to Get Over a Cold
* Here’s a Quick Way to Potty Train Junior
* Here’s a Quick Way to Backup Your Hard Drive
7. Now You Can Have [something desirable] [great circumstance]
The is the classic “have your cake and eat it too” headline — and who doesn’t like that?
* Now You Can Quit Your Job and Make Even More Money
* Now You Can Meet Sexy Singles Online Without Spending a Dime
* Now You Can Own a Cool Mac and Still Run Windows
8. [Do something] like [world-class example]
Gatorade milked this one fully with the “Be Like Mike” campaign featuring Michael Jordan in the early 1990s.
* Speak Spanish Like a Diplomat
* Party Like Paris Hilton
* Blog Like an A-Lister
9. Have a [or] Build a [blank] You Can Be Proud Of
Appeal to vanity, dissatisfaction, or shame. Enough said.
* Build a Body You Can Be Proud Of
* Have a Smile You Can Be Proud Of
* Build a Blog Network You Can Be Proud Of
10. What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]
Big curiosity draw with this type of headline, and it acts almost as a challenge to the reader to go ahead and see if they are missing something.
* What Everybody Ought to Know About ASP
* What Everybody Ought to Know About Adjustable Rate Mortgages
* What Everybody Ought to Know About Writing Great Headlines
11. Warning: [blank].
If you’ve read this far, I guess it still works. Starting a headline with the word warning will almost always catch attention, but it’s what you say next that will determine how well it works for your particular content.
* Warning: If You Depend on Google for Both Traffic and Advertising, You Pretty Much Work for Google
* Warning: Two Out of Every Three People in Your Industry Will be Out of Work in 5 Years—Will You Be One of Them?
* Warning: Do You Recognize These 7 Early Warning Signs of Blogger Burnout?
12. How [blank] Made Me [blank].
Use this structure when relating a personal story. The key to the most effective use of this template is for the two blanks to dramatically contrast, so that the curiosity factor goes way up and people feel compelled to read more.
* How a “Fool Stunt” Made Me a Star Salesman
* How an Obvious Idea Made Me $3.5 Million
* How Moving to Iowa Improved My Sex Life
13. Are You [blank]?
A nice use of the question headline, designed to catch attention with curiosity or a challenge to the reader. Don’t be afraid to be bold with this one.
* Are You Ashamed of Smells in Your House?
* Are You Ready to Learn Chinese for Your Next Job?
* Are You a Courageous Blogger?
14. [Blank] Ways to [blank].
One of the best list structures, because it’s really a “how to” headline enhanced by specificity that either impresses the prospective reader with how many tips you’ve got, or at minimum let’s them know exactly what to expect.
* 101 Ways to Cope With Stress
* 21 Ways to Live a Better Life With Less
* 5 Ways to Write Killer Headlines
15. If You’re [blank], You Can [blank].
Another great use of specificity, this headline addresses a particular type of person with the first blank, and the beneficial promise to that person in the content or body copy with the second.
* If You’re a Non-Smoker, You Can Save 33% on Life Insurance.
* If You’re an Accountant, Our Frequent Flyer Program Really Adds Up
* If You Love Scuba, You Can Dive Belize This Week Only for a Song!
16. Give Me [short time period] and I’ll Give You [blank].
This headline promises a strong benefit to the reader, like all good headlines do. But this one is especially effective because it promises to deliver in a very short time period.
* Give Me Five Days – And I’ll Give You the Secret of Learning any Subject!
* Give Me Three Minutes a Day – and I’ll Give You a Better Complexion.
* Give Me 3 Minutes and I’ll Make You a Better Blogger.
17. If You Don’t [blank] Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later.
We love to belong, but feeling excluded is a real bummer. Whether it be a financial opportunity or the social event of the year, we simply hate it when we get left out.
* If You’re Out of the Market Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later.
* If You’re Not at SXSW 2007, You’ll Hate Yourself Later.
* If You Don’t Edit Your .htaccess Now, Google Will Hate You Later.
18. The Lazy [blank’s] Way to [blank].
This headline has always worked well with time-pressured people, and that’s certainly true for most people today. No one likes to think of themselves as lazy, but everyone likes to save time and effort.
* The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches.
* The Lazy Dad’s Way to Quickly Getting Dinner on the Table.
* The Lazy Blogger’s Way to Write Great Post Titles.
19. Do You Recognize the [number] Early Warning Signs of [blank]?
OK, technically this is still a list, but it’s wrapped up in a much more compelling structure than your typical “Top 10” article. People want to avoid problems, and this headline promises the critical tips before it’s too late.
* Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of High Blood Pressure?
* Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of an Employee Meltdown?
* Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of Digg Addiction?
20. See How Easily You Can [desirable result].
We love quick and easy when it comes to learning something new or gaining some advantage.
* See How Easily You Can Learn to Dance This New Way.
* See How Easily You Can Own a Lamborghini Miura.
* See How Easily You Can Increase Traffic With Social Media.
21. You Don’t Have to Be [something challenging] to be [desired result].
People almost always have preconceived notions about things, and this can be a barrier to taking action. Remove the barrier that stands between them and the desired result with your headline, and people will flock to read what you have to say.
* You Don’t Have to Be Rich to Retire on a Guaranteed Income for Life.
* You Don’t Have to Be a Geek to Make Money Online.
* You Don’t Have to Be an A-Lister to Be a Kick-Ass Blogger.
22. Do You Make These Mistakes?
This is always a powerful attention grabber, since no one likes to make mistakes. If you’ve targeted your content well for your intended audience, helping people avoid common mistakes is a sure-fire winner with this type of headline.
* Do You Make These Mistakes in English?
* Do You Make These Ajax Coding Mistakes?
* Do You Make These Mistakes With Your Blog?
Article source: How to write magnetic headlines from copyblogger.
Okay we all know that plagiarism, the utterly reprehensible act of using the thoughts of another, reaping the rewards of that use, and then, not even providing the source of the info, is an official bad thing. But, let us look at it from the point of view of the plagiarist.
Here are some of the advantages of a career as a plagiarist:
- Energy savings – ‘copy and paste’ uses far fewer resources than does thinking your own way around any subject. Any fool can see that.
- Time savings – quite obviously, time not spent doing your own research and your own thinking, can be spent in other, more worthwhile pursuits. Finding other people to steal from, for instance.
- Esteem of colleagues – what writer could help but admire a person who can meet the assignment deadlines with efficiency and dispatch while being abreast with the latest Page 3 doings. What could be hipper?
- Professional friends – the long-term plagiarist is guaranteed, (thanks to CopyScape), to make close acquaintanceship with any number of lawyers and other such bottom feeders. Perhaps even get to hang out with them at their clubs and stuff.
- Evolution – the plagiarist will, after all, be teaching his/her children that it is perfectly acceptable to misuse the property of another, especially if you can do it without having to go through pesky details such as permission. Surely the advantages to the body politic of that child’s adulthood, is self-evident.
There are, of course, many other advantages, but mention of them would simply be an unnecessary exercise in dealing with the bright shining justifications of the plagiarist.
However, we feel our charity slipping when we consider the concept of honor and honorable behavior. We hold this truth that honor is the lubricant that allows for a civil society. We further hold that plagiarism is a dishonorable act.
Profiting yourself at the expense of others is, and has been, an anti-social act and is, in its essence, viewed as stealing. The fact that it is a thought that is being stolen (as opposed to an object) cannot be offered as an excuse. An object, after all, is no more, nor less, than an original thought. The same can be said for the recorded thought, whatever the form of the recording. It doesn’t matter if that recorded thought may have been lying around for years unread until the plagiarists came along. The fact of an original author must be acknowledged. Most certainly, if that recorded thought is used, recompense must be made.
Having heard the justifications of the plagiarist and weighed against our concepts of civil society, it is our judgment that all convicted plagiarists should be made to listen to the troubles of the original author.
English is the lingua franca of the world. It has become an international language, and is widely spoken. It is one of the commonest communication tools and bridges the gap between known and the unknown.
While writing for a global audience, keep your content simple and to-the-point. When you’re writing for audiences for whom English is not the native language, you run into problems of obscurity and miscommunication. To overcome this, you are encouraged to write in international English, which means that you must un-Americanize your writing so that anyone who understands the English language can fully comprehend your writing.
Writing in international English for a global audience isn’t difficult if you are aware of your words. If you divert yourself while writing, you might use vernacular language or words, which tend to have two or more meanings that can easily be misinterpreted. Your job is to make your writing easy for your global audience to understand.
Avoid using phrasal and modal verbs
Phrasal verbs are those that have two or more words. For example: Please “call up” your friend for dinner tonight. “Drop out”, “turn out” are other such phrases you should avoid while forming a sentence. Always use a one-word verb that speaks the similar meaning. Modal verbs include words such as “should,” “can,” “might,” or “may.” These words can be made use of only when there is an absolute necessity in formation of a sentence.
Avoid Americanisms, clichés, and slang
Certain slang words and phrases are never understood by the masses, sometimes not even by the American audience. Also stay away from jargons and short forms.
Make sure you write a complete sentence, which makes sense
Sentence fragments might make sense in English, but they are difficult to translate. Be precise. Vagueness almost always misleads the reader. Shun analogies and metaphors that are irrelevant to a particular audience. Be consistent and never be biased. There should not be any repetitions in your sentence formation.
Write short and straight sentences
Use simple sentence constructions. Short sentences that have fifteen to twenty words are always easier to read.
Use positive language
Never use negative constructions, which can be hard to translate. It is advisable to use the active voice often. When you use passive verbs you risk making your meaning ambiguous. Use pronouns with simple, common words, which convey clear meanings.
Proofread very carefully
Your content should be grammatically correct. Many of the readers are generally good with English grammar and if you do not follow the basic rules of grammar, you are out there to confuse the audience at large. Instead, get some help! Always ask someone to read your copy for clarity and to help you identify potentially offensive or misleading language.