There are plenty of articles out there about writing perfect content for your blog or social network campaigns. They cover broad spectrum of problems and all of them promise you to be successful if following their rules. So why bother and write another one on the same subject? Well, because most of those mentioned articles are worthless. Yes, you read right. They are worthless. While some of the advice might actually work for someone, they won't work for the majority.
As for why is this the case, the answer is really simple: because most of them are marketing gibberish and they don't take into account the real life. And there is also one important thing they won't mention (because they are meant to sell some ideas / products, not to help you cope with real life problems, and most of them are written with this annoying American rule – smile and pretend bad things don't exist) and this thing is LUCK. You can have the best content out there, written according to all those magic rules, have a perfect timing but still fail. Why? Because the world is a complicated place and human relations are even more chaotic. There are many unseen factors, many situations and many coincidences that can help promote your content or on the contrary bury it deep in the archives of internet.
The great example would be your Facebook (or any other social network feed) wall. You have millions or posts of identical horribly sweet cat pictures but for some strange reason only few of them will get milions of likes or views. Of course SEO/marketing experts will tell you that this is because blablabla (put there a random set of rules you must follow when posting cat pictures) but the truth is that there is no correlation, there is no data to backup their statements. The answer is pure luck and coincidence! You cannot control or manipulate other people perfectly or totally. This world is not perfect.
What is a good article
Before going any further I would like to clarify one important thing: what I mean by a good article, perfect content etc. A good article is not necessarily an article written correctly (grammar-wise) or according to academic sentence construction rules, or that describes things helpful to others or explains how to do something well. No, all that doesn't matter. When I write those two words together, "good article", I think "something INTERESTING to read". It doesn't matter how it is written, about what, by who, but it must be a piece of text that is sucking you in, you don't want to stop reading it and when finishing you say to yourself that was something, I like it.
Having said that, here at RedMarlin we have commited many mediocre texts, they are helpful, they even help solve important issues for our clients but they are dull. They are boring and grey, they doesn't have the spark. I really hope that at least this one will be different.
Would writing this article mean a new start perhaps in quality of our posts? Well I can say one thing, dreaming is good thing but don't expect too much :P
After this too long introduction lets start with the core of the article.
Anybody can write, right?
One of the most overlooked things in this whole writing bussines is that, contrary to what those "rules" suggest, not everybody is meant to write! I can't stress it enough, really. There are types of people that shouldn't write at all. It would be best for their bussines if they wouldn't write a single word, and I mean it. Many articles will try to convince you that it is easy, anybody can do that and similar stuff. But it is utterly false. There are people that are great speakers, they could convince a rock to throw itself into the ocean, but at the same time they suck at writng. So if you are one of them, don't write, get professional help (and I don't mean a doctor here, but a person that will write a blog or conduct social media campaign for you). Having said that, there are situations when you should write even if you are not good at it. But in such case, don't write an article, just a few words (and don't write a blog, please). Of course get it viewed by an expert and be sincere, state clearly that you don't know how to write and you won't write more than this. You could even admit that apart from those 2 sencences all other texts are written by a professional and not by you.
It is about knowing yourself and being consious of your good and bad traits. It might not be easy but it will help you do better bussines.
But enough of "bitching", don't feel discouraged, that doesn't mean you should stop writing or promoting your company (if you have some talent in this area). You should just make a concious choice and take the risk. You might get lucky, or you might not, but working hard makes your chances higher...Or not, you never know.
But then...are there ANY rules you could follow to make your content better, make your chances higher?
NO, there are NO fixed rules or dogmas on this matter. There is no easy fix-it-all solution. There are hovewer some hints and tips that could help you in some situations. But they are no magic chants. They won't cover up for your bad luck or convert a talentless graphoman into Sheakspeare. In the end writing is an art and you cannot constrain artist by some rules!
First of all, you should use force... I mean, follow common sense, not things you read on the internet (including this article). You know, common sense, this forgotten something that most of the living human beings should possess naturally.
The best article title ever?
So don't name your article "10 Steps to Get Healthier", or "3 Ways to Solve Your Problems With Windows" just because somebody told you that using numbers and steps in title is a great way to promote your content. Think about it carefully. How many articles have you seen with numbers in the title lately? I would say way too much! How are you supposed to stand out if you are using a technique (and a cheap one at that) that 99% of other articles uses? Besides, this title forces you to make the article structure be divided in those steps, ways, rules etc. That makes them boring and sometimes unnecessary divisions for topics that don't need them. If things feel unnatural, you have less chances of getting to your readers.
This applies to any title rule that will emerge eventually in the future. Just use a title that you like, don't listen to them!
Write to your competition...ehm don't!
Next thing you might want to consider when writing is to think WHO you are writing FOR. Should be obvious, but well, nowadays it isn't. Many of those bad mouthed articles in the beggining try to convince you that you should write to...guess who?
COMPETITION. They advise you to write to the people and relate (on social media) with people that do the same. I mean, could anyone out there use common sense for once!? Internet is the same as real life. Being an apple seller, would you try to convince other apple sellers to buy your apples? Would you hang out with other apple sellers all the time in hope that they in future would purchase apples from you?
Wasted effort. You should be relating and speaking to people that need apples, that are looking for this kind of food, etc. Selling sand on the desert, while not impossible (I'm sure that there are some sales representatives out there capable of doing that), is extremely hard and not really the smartest thing to do.
So think who it is that you are writing for. Who your clients are. Don't write complicated technical stuff if you are not writing to your fellow engineers or doctors. Use language and style that is understandable.
If you want to feel better and superior, then write for specialised magazines so other fellow whovever will understand you, but don't assume that it will bring you any customers. It will be just for your satisfaction or prestige, but not for your bussines.
you need to know what your are writing about.
Another obvious one.
If you don't know what you are writing about, then again, don't write. Don't write about things you believe you should write about because apparently your potential readers need that or because it is trendy but you don't know a thing about it. You should write only about things that you do and like and have knowledge about. While reading articles nowadays, you get the impression that most of them are written because the wise marketing guy read that it is "trendy topic" which in normal life words means it is popular and fashionable. This is completly contraproductive. You will only harm your reputation and this will be a big stain on your shiny company badge.
I really don't know what more could be said here. It is so simple and yet many fail here.
You should write regularly?!
This is a tricky one. Again, if you use common sense, it won't be so hard to figure this one right. There is a contradiction here: if you are a small bussines owner and you write to attract costumers and you succeed, then how are you suposed to write regularly? IF you have time to write very often, then obviously you don't have so many clients (this rule applies also to the author of this article). And when you have many clients, you don't have enough time and you stop writing. Unless you are a professional blogger or you have a dedicated staff at your company to write the stuff for you it is impossible to write regularly. Besides, it is often a fight between regularity and quality of your content. Ever read a crappy book written by a so called genius author? It happend to be crappy probably because after wrting his masterpiece the editor convinced him to write one book per year or even 2 books a year to earn more, to show the readers that you are alive and kicking and to have a constant flow of...well rubbish. It is not easy to write great content and it is even more difficult if you need to do it on a regular basis. Sometimes it is just better to write a short note to your faithful readers like, "sorry, too busy to write now becasue many clients are coming" or "I just can't make anything good right now, but I'm alive and well".
Poor service/product with great content
This one only seems simple. I guess I should say that even with great content you won't do much if you have poor services/product . But this is the case where common sense fail us. I have seen poor products that succeeded because of great marketing and content. What's more, they are still selling, they are worse than competition, they are poor quality, the are useless but they do have great advertisments and great content that attracts people to them constantly.
So yay, I can sell anything as long as I have good marketing department, you could say. But there is bad news for you (I know you probably suspected it :) ). Those companies mentioned above are spending hudge sums to promote themselves and they need more and more promotion, they can't exist without increasing their promotional efforts. Without writing provoking articles, without having top quality content, it is getting harder for them to sell.
Good products and services on the other hand, once they are decently promoted, will autopromote. So you write few good texts to attract the attention of the audience, and then the word of mouth is doing the job. In other words, if your service and product is good, writing your content (for promotional purposes, because there are people who write for fun ) will be easier for you.
So you should probably stick to having great product and stop selling hair growing potions made of 100% water :)
The one about visits
Oh, this is my favorite one. The main holy grail of content writing and marketing in the internet in general are visits. The higher the number the better. Marketing experts will show you how succesful they are (and that's why you should listen to their phony advices) by shamelessly flashing thousands of visits in your face (supposingly, you owe all those visits to the fact that you followed their rules). What's more, they will guarantee that you will get even more visits by sticking even more to those rules. Sometimes they will even deliver what they promise. The problem is though that unless you are making money from showing ads on your site, visits don't mean so much. I mean decent level of visits is needed for your bussines to roll, but not the number but quality is what's important here. You need visits converted to customers or potetnial customers (which is nicely called conversions). Without that visits are not serving their purpose.
Let's analyse this totally made-up example.
You have written an article, with this (following the rules) flashy title, you used all the search engine optimalization tricks to make it score higher and to attract people's attention. And you are getting visits, tons of them. But no sales, no potential customers are coming, there is no engagement.
Why? Because most of those visits last about 2 seconds for example, you managed to capture their attention by cool title but there is nothing to it, what's more, you've written it to your fellow apple sellers and you wrote about making a website (which you have no idea about). So your content really didn't connect, because how could it have done so?, with your audience. It was just another of thousands of mediocre articles in the net to promote oneself.
Do you get what I'm trying to say here? Yes?!
Good for you.
No? Then there is no helping you, you are a strange being doing this strange thing called having different opinion. I just need to cope with that somehow.
To wrap things up
Now we are (finally!, I hear you shout) reaching the end, so I should sum things up. I really don't like this part. I'm actually really horrible at those things called introductions and endings. I just hope that this time our company' s main editor won't yell at me as much as she did last time (in fact, most of the introductions and summaries are written by her because I'm so unable to do it properly).
Anyway, the main message here is: write good content, don't write bad content.... well the real main message here is start thinking by yourself when writing (and not only writing). But remember, writing is not for everyone and it is a tedious task and a lot of hard work, it is an ART. Not everyone can write good content, bear with it. But if you are decided and you have a clue or two how to write, well, then go for it and start thinking by yourself (yes I'm repeating myself on purpose), don't just listen to those internet experts! Forget all those strange advice, tips, rules they are trying to force on you, including this article. Don't stress so much about it, do it your way and maybe it will give you some pleasure sometimes (apart from new clients – hopefully).
And now the most important part...
Originally i wanted to say here that this article was written for money as a promotional material. But after a thought or two it didn't seem to be right. Because the truth is I can complain for free, for pure pleasure of doing it. I don't need any financial motive to critisize :)
So this article was written out of pure desire to complain, nothing more nothing less. I hope you enjoyed it a little bit.
That is all :)
Actually, in case you haven't figured it out yet, we're much better at web design than...um...writing?