Web Content: 5 Genius Tips to Make Writing Content Easy

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Web content creation is an integral part of business these days.

From email messages to website content, someone has to write it. If you dislike the chore, and can’t get out of it, you might as well make it easy on yourself.

Start by forgetting about “writing.” I coach people in communication skills, and it amazes me how many excellent communicators tell me that they “can’t write.”

You can. Here are some tips to turn you into a Web content genius.

1. Forget writing: do you like talking?

Start by forgetting that you “can’t write.” Just talk. Dictation software will turn your chats with yourself into Web content; the software is easy to learn. These voice-to-text programs have a 98 per cent accuracy.

Once you get used to your dictation program, you’ll find that writing becomes a chore you enjoy.

Important: don’t try to censor yourself as you speak. You can edit and restructure the content later. Speak as if you were speaking to a friend.

I like to jot some notes before I dictate, but this is optional.

2. What do you wish customers knew about your business?

If you find it a challenge to come up with ideas for Web content, make a list of things you wish that customers knew about your business, and the products you sell. The first time you do this, you’ll be able to come up with several dozen ideas.

Keep adding to these ideas. Ask your colleagues what they wish customers knew.

3. Create a list of 20 questions customers have asked in the past month.

Want ideas for content you can create immediately? Talk to your customer service people. Ask them what questions they’re asked. In addition, ask them to keep a list of customers’ questions.

If you have a database program, create a Knowledge Base database, and have all your staff record the questions they’re asked into the database.

Choose 20 questions which are asked most often, then write Web content around those questions.

4. Pick others’ brains: have content brainstorming meetings.

For on-going content-creation ideas, ask for others’ input into your Web content. Set up monthly meetings to brainstorm content.

Alternatively, ask for suggestions. Give bonuses to people whose suggestions you use.

Remember that you can ask customers for what information they would like to see on your website. Create a form, and add links to the form to your website.

5. Get out of your office: talk to your customers, suppliers, and other business people.

You’ll be amazed at what you learn when you talk to people. Ask customers what they find challenging about your website.

One client, who sells shoes, discovered that customers wanted to know more about the shoes — how and where they were manufactured; the company’s policies on returns; better sizing information; and custom orders.

Ideas for Web content are everywhere. Forget about “writing”, just communicate. Your customers will appreciate it, and your sales will go up.

Web Content: How to Get Ideas When Your Mind’s a Blank

Web Content: How to Get Ideas When Your Mind's a Blank

Web content creation is becoming more and more important to businesses. If you’re chosen as the creator, what do you do when your mind’s a blank? Here are some ideas.

Great Web content is the body and soul of your website. Whatever your business happens to be, customers find you and judge you by your content. So you know you need it, but what if your mind’s a blank?

Relax. You don’t need to start from scratch. You’ve got the seeds of great content already: the seeds are right within your business.

You know your business. All you need to do is share your knowledge.

Let’s look at five ways you can get ideas.

1. Expand on What You’ve Already Written

If your website already has content, browsing through what you already have is the easiest way to get fresh ideas. Nothing stays the same, especially on the Web. Check through your website, blog, press releases, and marketing materials.

If you haven’t created a content inventory, now’s a good time to start. Record the content you already have in a spreadsheet. As you do this, think about what’s changed since the content was created. Can you expand on it? Correct it?

Before you know it, you’ll have many fresh ideas. Make a note of them.

2. Check Your Emails — What Did You Say?

You spend time on email every day. You answer questions, either in brief, or at length.

Look through your Sent folder. Make a list of responses you’ve made. You’re sure to find lots of ideas for content.

3. Check Your Emails — What Were You Asked?

While you’re going through your messages, look at the questions you’re asked. Perhaps you’ll find ideas for content. If someone else is responsible for customer service, ask to browse through the database of customer questions. (If questions aren’t being recorded, now would be a good time to start.)

Yes, some questions will be unique. However, many of the questions you’re asked are asked over and over again. Use the questions as seeds for content.

Remember too, that “content” may be images, audio, video, or slideshows. Sometimes content begs for video, rather than text alone. Look for ideas for content in formats other than text.

4. Read More: Read the Latest News and Books in Your Industry

You’re the expert in your business. You need to keep up with the thought leaders not only in your business, but also in business news in general.

Read the news, as well as books in your industry. Make notes as you read. Your notes will provide you with many content ideas.

No time to read? Business books often come out in audio as soon as they’re published. You can listen while you drive to work, or exercise.

5. Pick a Brain: You Don’t Need to Struggle Alone

You’re not alone. Ask your colleagues for content ideas. You never know, perhaps you’ll find someone to share your content creation duties.

Ideas for content are everywhere. Start creating ideas from what you already have. Each idea will spark another one. Before you know it, you’ll be able to say, in all honesty: “I love creating content — I have more ideas than I’ll ever need.”

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, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

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Manage Your Writing Problems: 4 Ways

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I develop Web content strategies for my clients, and write some of their initial content myself. However, sooner or later it’s time to turn content development over to subject matter experts (SMEs) within the company.

While these people are experts, they don’t have much writing experience, so they’re always shocked when they have problems. They don’t realize that every writer has problems. Professional writers have methods to eliminate their problems, or to work through them.

No matter how much you’ve written before, each piece of writing is unique and starts with a blank page.

These five ways will help you to deal with the blank page, as well as with problems at any time.

1. Get clear: if you don’t understand it you can’t write it

Writing tends to morph, because our brain works via associations.

Let’s say you’re writing about a new development in your industry. You learned about this development at a conference. Before you know it, you’ve written two pages about the conference itself.

Your boss reminds you that you’re supposed to be writing about the development…

You can avoid going off on tangents. Your first step when you’re working on a new writing project, or if you’re stuck on a project, is to describe it.

In a paragraph of five sentences or less, describe what you’re about to write, or have written.

Is it clear to you? If it isn’t, go back to the person who gave you the project and ask him to explain. If it’s your own project think about what your goal is, and why you’re writing.

2. Who’s it for?

Who’s the audience for that piece of writing?

Imagine one person from your target audience as clearly as you can. Pretend you’re speaking to this person about the topic. Keep this person in mind as you write.

If you’re still stuck, imagine you’re sending an email message to this person. Start your message with Dear Bob, what I want to tell you is … and then go ahead and write.

This sounds like a silly psychological trick, and is, but it works.

3. What’s the call to action?

So what’s the call to action? If the writing is purely informative, give the reader a way in which they can use the information.

If you want the reader to do something, ask him to do it. Be straightforward, and say: buy now, click here, call us…

4. Use mind maps as outlines

If you’re creating new piece of writing, create a simple mind map of what you intend to include before you start writing. This helps you with structure, and because you’re looking at a visual representation, it will also help you to develop ideas.

A mind map is even more useful if you’ve written something and it has problems. Just mind map what you have. Occasionally you’ll be shocked. You’ll see immediately where there are holes in your logic, and where you need more information. You’ll also see where you’ve gone off on tangents.

4. What else is needed?

Even if you’re writing something from your own experience, you’ll need to research.

Researching can be a wonderful way to put off writing, therefore I ask my writing students not to research until they’ve written a first draft.

Once you’ve written a draft you know exactly what you need to research. If you research before you write, you can research forever. You’re just procrastinating.

“Research” sounds complicated. It’s not. It’s talking to people or reading what you need to read so that you can understand your topic and can write clearly.

Everyone has writing problems. If you follow the tips above, you can solve them quickly.

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Social Media and Content Creation: Set Goals

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Everything you put online is content. Everything helps. But you need to set goals and track them.

I’ve been working with a client whose first venture into content marketing is daily interactions via Twitter and Facebook. He doesn’t think it’s producing any returns. I tend to agree.

Social media marketing is ephemeral. It’s “social.” It produces the best returns for businesses which use it for customer service, or to make special offerings to customers who already know their business.

You can use social media for lead generation too – but your prospects need to be aware of your business already. Maybe they’re responding to an ad in a magazine or a newspaper, or an ad on a website. Either way, they know you. They’ve heard your message, and are responding.

Without strong content to back it up however, chats and interactions on social media are meaningless. The messages have no foundation; they’re clouds drifting and scattering on the wind.

Tip: think in terms of goals, and trackable results.

Create a marketing goal. Use content creation and social media as part of that goal, if they fit. They may not fit at all. Your audience may not be searching online. Perhaps they don’t use social media, or use it sparingly, to communicate with close friends.

I’m often asked, “how much content do I need?”

The short answer is: enough to meet your goals.

You must set goals, and track them. Even if a campaign fails, you’ll learn something.