Let’s say there’s a book titled The World’s Best Content Writers Talk Content Writing. It has an awful title, and it would never sell because any writer worth his salt would read the title and feel like gouging his eyes out.
But, we’re pretending. So, theoretically this book has some great stuff in it. I mean this book is loaded with everything you need to know about the subject! Today, I’m taking this theoretical book, and pulling a page or two (or seven) out of it.
Have you ever read a blog post from Joe Pulizzi? His blogging is an art form. He can pull the reader’s eyes down the page without them even realizing it. Below you’ll find the seven critical pages pulled from our awfully-titled fictional book. And, with these concepts in mind, I think you’ll be well on your way to having Pulizzi-style engagement. (When you’re done, make sure you check out these 37 tools every writer needs!)
You’re Creating a Community
You are the man in the hat dancing around the fire. We will call you the community-builder, and everyone is coming out to see what you’re up to. Think of your college RA, the tribe leader, and that girl who would call you up to hang out every single time she ran an errand. Now, strip away all the bad parts of these people.
As the community-builder, you’re bringing people together. It could be because you’re informative, friendly, obnoxious, or just plain interesting. Whatever it is you write, you should write with the aim of bringing people together.
You Are Officially the Entertainer
Alright, Mr. Community-Builder. While you’re doing your fire dance or whatever it is that’s building community, you have to remember your entertainer hat. Unless you’re writing for a stuffy academic journal, your editor and/or client is probably going to want to be entertained. Your reader certainly will. You don’t have to go over the top, but don’t be shy about throwing in something surprising, interesting, or entertaining.
We’re switching names on you. You are now Professor Writer-Sir. (Or, you can be a Madam if you prefer.) As Professor Writer-Sir, your job as a content writer is to educate. Good content teaches. If you want to know what great educational content writing looks like, check out any article on Livestrong.com. Here’s one on different running exercises, just to get you started.
Again… You Are the Entertainer
Back to entertaining. A large part of entertaining is about being “surprising” and “interesting,” sure. But, even more importantly, you have to throw in some humor. Now, we’re not aiming for comedy worthy of a stand-up routine. Just a little bit of lightheartedness here and there. You know your client’s audience better than I do, so go easy at first if you think a piece might not fly. But, I guarantee you that you’re going to find a humorous line or two in 90% of the world’s best content writing.
Keep It Short! This is Number 5 Already!
There’s no reason to keep harping on when you’ve already communicated your message.
You Have to Be Relevant
Make sure you’re relevant. No content writer wants their reader to squint at the page and ask, “Does that date say 2002 or 2012?” Stay relevant by linking to fresh news and blog posts. Stay on top of your client’s industry trends, and let others know you’re paying attention.
Never suggest someone “ask Jeeves about that.”
Perhaps I Should Emphasize ‘Relevant’
While it’s great to show that you’re all up on the latest industry trends and everything, not everyone cares. Some people just feel reassured in knowing that their content writers have seen the latest “Twilight girl” YouTube video. “Relevant” doesn’t refer exclusively to what’s happening in the news or with an industry. It covers a lot of pop culture.
Seven is just a magic little number that we like a lot here in the blogosphere. Of course, there are many more ‘critical concepts’. What do you consider to be indispensable knowledge for content writers?