If you haven't already, make sure you have checked out the first 3 days of our series.
Caught up? Excellent, let's move on to...
Managing Your Content
Once you have a site all set up the next thing you need to do is fill it with content. Content after all is what people are arriving at your site looking for!
While nobody will expect you to become Shakespeare over night, there are some ways that you can ensure you are providing visitors with something of value.
With content management system website like My Artisan Web, you'll find that adding content is fast and efficient. This is the biggest advantage of using such a system, you can get content up and live on your site fast!
Writing Great Content
Here are some tips for making sure your articles have impact:
- Have a point – The most important tip of all is to make sure everything you write has a point, and gets to it. Nothing will put off a reader more than if your articles do not put forward a clear idea, piece of advice, item of news or some other benefit. Start with what you want the reader to take away and make sure your content builds up to just that.
- Think 'So What?' – The litmus test for if you have achieved the above “point” tip is to ask yourself if the reader will be thinking “So What”. This goes for your headlines and links too. People can agree, disagree, be motivated to take action or sent to sleep, but make sure they never ask “so what”.
- Don't force it – Readers can tell if you are forcing out content. If it is not flowing, do something else for a while rather than try to force yourself to write.
- Write like a person – Your High School English teacher is not reading, so it is safe to write as you speak. People connect more with people who write like they are speaking directly to them rather than dry, academic style formal writing.
- Draft, then edit – Don’t edit as you write, it stunts your creativity. As much as possible get into the flow then come back to polish later.
- Read your content back – A great way to know if your writing is going to work is if you read it back, aloud. If you find yourself running out of breath trying to get to the end of your paragraphs you know you need to tweak!
You will notice I have not written about great headlines and being persuasive. While those things are important and can help you create more traffic and sales, it is also important at this stage of the game for you not to feel intimidated. Don’t set the bar too high for yourself, just write and enjoy writing. Providing you offer something, create some sort of value, and it is readable enough to make sense, then people will be happy to read.
What to Write
Different sites and audiences will be drawn to different types of content. In most cases you will want to be breaking news, sharing your opinion, or creating how-to type tutorials.
Another type of content that you can produce is “bait” content. Bait content is intended to motivate people to either link to it, or vote in social media sites. These types of article tend towards lists, such as “The top 10 most outrageous _____”, or “The World’s Sexiest ______”. While done carefully this type of content does achieve what it sets out to do, it can also cause your site to look a little tabloidy, so be aware of the potential impact on your brand.
In all cases, aim to only write what you really believe and can stand behind. Don’t be tempted into starting arguments just to get attention, or posting sloppily researched material as fact.
Presenting Your Content
How you present your articles is also a vital part of whether your content will be read or not. In many cases online people are in a hurry, will have lots of content to choose from, and might find reading from the screen difficult. With this in mind make your articles “skimmable” – allow your reader to get a taste before diving in.
- Use images
- Break into subheadings
- Use short paragraphs
- Make snappy with small words, short sentences
- Use bullets and quotes
You can also inspire more comments and discussion in your articles.
- Ask for comments – You don’t get if you don’t ask!
- Don't make content too complete – Allow people to add their own thoughts or tips, leave some space
- Promote comments to posts – If you get great comments then re-post (with permission) so more people can see it
- Reply and show comments are valued – Always try to demonstrate that comments are valued and read
My main advice is to write about topics that inspire discussion. These tend to be subjects where everyone has an opinion and there is no right or wrong answer. Using Twitter also encourages comments because Twitter is a natural medium for conversation. Link up your articles with a question and see your comments increase.
Writing all your own content might not be your idea of fun, or you might just not have enough time. It can also be useful to bring in external expertise and talent. A great deal of sites use external writers and there is a lot to be gained from it, just do not rush into hiring the first writer you find.
Use freelance sites and craigslist to recruit. Put up an advert clearly outlining what the job will entail (is it just writing, or will they need to promote their work? Do they get paid by the word, article or month, and so on). Request writing samples and only shortlist those that show promise, but still hire initially on a trial basis – things can fail to work out on either side for no fault of yours or theirs.
Agreeing the role up front is vital, as is agreeing pay. Pay or terms are the number one reason for writers and site owners falling out.
Also be aware of plagiarism. Each time an article is submitted check it is original work and not copied from some other site. It’s not easy but worth it until you can be sure you can trust your writer.
Especially when you have a team of writers it is worth putting together an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is simply what you are going to post up and when.
First work out a schedule of when you will post daily, weekly and so on. For example a business subject might avoid weekends, posting only on traditional work days, but also might focus on one more in depth article a week rather than many shorter ones. Try to stick to your schedule but remember you are only as good as your last post so don’t post just to have a tick in a box.
Once you have a schedule then you can work in major dates. Add seasonal content in advance, for example you might have a major trade show, or you might work content around national holidays.
If you are likely to be away for a period of time, or in case you are taken away from your desk unexpectedly, it is worth having posts ready in draft for in emergencies.
You can also take advantage of the "publish in the future" feature of Joomla is have content get published automatically!
Promotional content should be planned in advance also, especially if you already work a marketing calendar.
Download the Mind Map
Summary of Day 4 - Managing your content
Nobody is going to tell you that writing compelling content is easy, but if you follow these guidelines you ought to be well on your way, and it can be rewarding both personally and in terms of profit. Bringing in external help can be a solution for busy people, but be aware that you should not abdicate responsibility entirely as it is your reputation on the line. Once you have content you need to promote it, we will look at that important challenge next …