Professional writing has become ever more complicated for me because, in part, of how long it takes now to punch in on what’s working and what’s not. I have to keep my ear on the ground for stuff. You see, most of the things I write are marketing or SEO content.
Otherwise, it’s just a personal thing I write for my blog. That’s just me sharing things with people who wanted to read something simple or connect with me as a persona.
When I write tutorials or tips, it really, REALLY, shakes me up.
That’s why I place so much emphasis on writing for myself once in a while when I can afford the time, energy, and honestly speaking, brain juice. It takes a lot to write but it takes even more to write stuff people may want to read.
So, I am going to share with you here, how I, not everyone else, come up with content the best way (sometimes the fastest) I can.
This writer has some great advice on how to pump up your articles and write like a pro without pissing people off.
First, I need you to do something, it’s important. Ditch all ideals you have…for now. When you start off with an ideal piece of content to write, you’ll find yourself stopping yourself short much too often.
Start, instead, of a vision. The message. And imagine the kind of reaction you want from both your readers and yourself. The intent must be clear: what is the message, how do you want to convey it, and what kind of emotions do you want to evoke in your readers.
Bear in mind, the ways people do copywriting and content writing is completely different. They’re different beasts. You have to start with very different intentions.
So, here’s how I usually get started once I’ve set out the goal.
1 – Research and Drawing Up of the Outline
There are a few reliable sources that are go-to’s for me whenever I start writing and they are:-
- Google (of course. But take it, always, with a few pinches of salt)
- Advanced searches on search engines
- My archive of information and articles
- The news (whichever is your favorite source of reliable news)
When I write for my blog, a personal diary (or an online obituary as I would like to call it – LOL), there are no limits as to what I will write. It could be anything from what I cooked for dinner the night before to a recent trip to wherever it was. Often, there are no edge-of-the-seat topics or life-changing tips.
It’s just me and my life.
But when I write officially for something I truly care about and work hard for, like digital marketing and content development, I use tools to find topics that people are searching for.
- What are people searching for on the internet?
- What are they concerned about?
- How can I help them?
- If I am not the source of everything, am I going to provide them (the readers) with reliable sources they’ll find useful?
- Is it easy to connect with me through my writing or content?
- Am I personable?
- Do I know enough about the topic to write about it?
- Does my article or content help solve anything at all?
- Is the content I wrote entertaining, informational, or at least worthy of at least a 6-minute sit-down read?
For that, most of the time, I use tools like Google Adwords and AnswerThePublic. They’re free, by the way.
AHREFs wrote something insightful about content writing and you can dig your hands. To see what others in other parts of the world are seeing when they’re searching for the same terms, I use free VPNs.
But you know what, Google kinda knows what you’re going to search for before you start searching for it anyway so, start by typing your keyword into the search bar and you’ll see a whole bunch of suggestions, anyway.
So, there’s that.
Some people start by writing the headlines (or just working headlines and subheadlines) but I start with the basic content and cast the caution for headlines to the wind.
Let’s say I am writing an article about perfume and its effect on our confidence level. I would outline each paragraph and section based on what I want the content to be about and leave the headlines and subheadlines for later. It’s in simple, easy-to-scan bullet form.
I find this way less restrictive and fluid.
Once I get started with the research based on the content of the paragraph, I would use Advanced searches, and sometimes sites like Statista, Gallup, Google Public Data, or AnswerThePublic which can give you firm facts about leads, numbers, and stats.
Based on the facts, it is easier to go on. 2/3 of U.S. retailers use content marketing to this very day. So, once you’ve got the meat on the article, buff it up with the latest news and provide a link back to the site for reference.
Your readers (and search engines) will like you for it.
2 – Collect Links and Quotes to Cement Your Message
Whenever I find sources of information, it is my habit to keep a record of the links. It will, for one, be useful as references; two, there are nuggets of information, phrases, or quotes to be used in the content.
If you have content in the form of videos from Youtube, IGTV, or Dailymotion by all means go ahead and use them in your content. As far as I know, for now, you get brownie points from your readers for being helpful.
In fact, if you have content in the form of videos from Youtube, IGTV, or Dailymotion you can embed into the content, all the better. As far as I know, for now, you get brownie points from your readers for being helpful that way.
However, it’s been said that search engines do not give you credit for embedding videos, regardless of where they’re from and who produced it.
No matter how safe you are, you will always upset somebody. Someone, somewhere, will be upset that you decided to write and they didn’t (or they tried and fell flat on their ass).– Tim Denning
3 – Fleshing Out The Content, Editing, And Proofreading It
Fleshing out the content for the article is a very individualistic effort. I write like I talk most of the time – or at the very least, that’s how I start writing almost everything.
During the editing process, I might suddenly decide to sound/write like a National Geographic writer or a journalist.
For this piece of content, I am writing like you’re sitting right here in front of me and I am just sharing whatever I know about content writing with you.
My only advice about fleshing out the content is to not ponder too much about it because the next stage to content development is going to drive you bananas, anyway. It’s an old spray and paint method that still works to this very day…for digital content writing.
At this point, I am not even thinking about SEO, keywords, links, or any of the other technical stuff. It’s at the back of my mind but not a priority.
4 – The Editing and Proofreading of the Content – The Painful Stuff
Like it or not, this has got to happen. I personally hate going back to the top of the content and cringe my way through it again and again…and again. Sometimes the structure is not right. Sometimes the words are wrong for the audience. Sometimes I repeat myself. Other times, I just don’t sound sane enough to be published.
So, this editing and proofreading process is inevitable. Lucky you if you have an editor or an extra pair of eyes to look out for you.
Most writers hate editors or proofreaders because their jobs are to point out your mistakes or possible changes you should make to the piece of content. It’s so bummer.
But I find that running the whole thing (or even writing the whole thing on something like Grammarly or ProWritingAid) helps you a lot!
Not only do they point out potential errors right from the start, but they also help you structure the content properly because you’re practically on edge every time a notification from those apps pops up.
The result is you’re going to have something slightly tighter. And you’re going to need it because…
“…Marketplaces like Amazon and AliExpress are flourishing, while many stand-alone retailers struggle to find their USP as brand and store loyalty are decreasing and cart abandonment rate in the industry is at 75%”– Statista
5 – The SEO Technical Stuff And Links
The next step is not as painful as it sounds. Using tools like Google Trends, Google Keyword Planner, AnswerThePublic, Ubersuggest, Keyword Everywhere Chrome Extension, SEO Minion, and many more, you’ll get a pretty good idea about what kind of keywords you want to use in the article or digital content.
Narrow the list down to primary keywords, secondary keywords, and long-tail keywords. There, you’ll have yourself a nice little list of keywords to slide into parts of your article that makes sense.
The most important part, of course, would have to be the first few paragraphs of your article. The content is going to be read by both people AND search engines – and they BOTH read keywords.
Once you’ve done that (keep it around 2% to 5% density), you would also, I assume, have a thousand tabs open where you got ideas, news, tips, and facts.
Go through your article again and find anchor words that you can use the links on. On the other hand, keep in mind that there are internal links you should plonk in there now and again – to keep the yin and yang of SEO healthy and balanced.
6 – Breaking the Content Up with Visuals and Videos
Using the internet to find useful things to plug-and-play in your digital content is one of the most amazing things for someone like me – someone who lived through the days working from home with dial-up internet.
Finding quotes or useful information and then using tools like Canva or Pixlr to fix the images up for your website is a dream come true for most of us who are not graphic designers.
I told you this was going to be back-breaking.
Anyway, here you go again...go right back up to your article and find spots to insert images, gifs, embedded videos, embedded Instagram pictures/videos/IGTVs, or even tweets.
People get bored when they’re reading para after para of text without a visual break. I don’t because I am a reader and a writer…so…
Images need to come with good ALT tags. It’s the way search engines ‘read’ images.
For those who are used to coding, you can probably alter the alt tag yourself just by looking at the codes. An image alt tag looks basically like this: <img src=”bluepartydress.jpg” alt=”short blue party dress front”>
But if you’re using a Content Management System like WordPress, it looks like this:
Anyway, the Image ALT Tag should be as short, direct, to-the-point, descriptive, and non-spammy as possible. You don’t want to earn the wrath of the almighty Google for trying to deceive it or spam it with keywords. It just wants to know what the image is about. Stick to that.
7 – Reading It Through One…Last…Time…
I know you’re tired of your article by this point. You just want to get it published so, me telling you to read it through one last time is not doing me any favors but trust me, read it one more time.
If you’re careful, things should be fine. If you’re sometimes careless like me, I publish it and run through it one more time and hit the publish button, when I load the article up on my phone and…yes, read it through one final time, there are still errors.
I don’t have to tell you how tiring this is because if you’ve read this article up to this point, you’d have done what the girl in the giphy just did.
Before you go….
There are plenty of writers out there. I am flummoxed most of the time with the determination, passion, and resourcefulness of some.
However, too many writers are writing generic stuff. This writer thinks that writers like you, me, and everyone else, are playing it too safe. Read this article on how to throw hot, boiling water on your articles here.
Writing and publishing an article, be it for SEO or anything else, is a whole load of work. Before they embark on this journey of self-inflicted mental torture, they’ve researched topics, keywords, titles, subtitles, summaries, and META tags.
This is all done before they get their boots into the mud.
These are, unbeknownst to some people who can’t see those stuff, are the very things that power the ranking of the website or article.
It may take days, sometimes weeks, but I say stay with it. Keep at it and you’ll get things published a little faster every time you do it.
It won’t be a breeze (because nothing worthy ever is) but it will get easier.
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