Hello, my lovelies!
I took a week off, but I’m back and motivated to get some serious writing tutorials done! My husband surprised me with a December camping trip in Indiana! (We have a very nice Travel trailer… it’s really not like camping at all:) The temps had been super warm, hovering in the high 50’s and low 60’s so it was the perfect weather for it.
I love a nice break once in a while. It gives you a chance to unwind and relax. We took the dogs on a hike and talked about the new writing classes that I’m teaching in 2016. My husband inadvertently gave me a few ideas for my classroom exercises that made me redo my entire intermediate workbook. That was a bummer. On the bright side, the new workbook is gonna ROCK!
Now, back to the content writing…
Introducing- How to write content for blogs (including some skill building exercises).
I had started the content writing tutorials with a little step-by-step gem called, How to become a better writer now, and followed it up with, How to write content for your website. I gave you 2 very important tools to use when writing that would help you look more professional immediately. I also broke the basic 5-700-word content article down for you so it doesn’t seem so scary.
Today, I’d like to do a little exercise to help you get more comfortable with the basic content article. As we move through the writing lessons, we will write more and more words until we reach the standard article, which is around the 1200 word mark. By the time we get to the end of my lessons, you will be writing very informative 2000 word articles. I know that seems tough, but I promise you can do it!
There are just a few basic rules to what makes a good content article.
You should already have a good grasp of using SEO in your writing. The majority of your articles should be Search Engine Optimized. It helps drive traffic to your website AND helps show the crawlers that your site has beneficial and useful information. I try to read at least one new SEO article per week. Algorithms are tweaked and search engines are given new parameters… stay on top of the industry standards. Technology will constantly change. Change with it or become obsolete.
If you don’t connect, you don’t have readers.
The most important rule is to keep it simple. Don’t use a bunch of long words just because you can. If you keep the writing simple, you guarantee that more readers have a chance to connect with you. Blogging is built on connections with your readers. If you don’t connect, you don’t have readers.
The ‘You’ is what gives your writing style…
Think about how you would talk to your best friend. Now, remove all the cursing. Just kidding. You can keep a swear word or two.;) Just be sure that your writing is not peppered with swear words used as nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, pronouns… it just gets too difficult to read. Writing the way you would talk is a way to connect with your audience. So be sure to put yourself into your writing. The ‘You’ is what gives your writing style…
Let’s work on a little project today that will help you keep your writing more simple. Read the following paragraph and rewrite it to simplify the message.
*The work we are using for this exercise are excerpts from past students writing. I have permission to use them, but they can’t be reprinted!
It was quite some years ago that I began down my road to writing. I remember being in the advanced writing class that was reserved for the seniors when I was just a freshman in high school. I was befriended by my teacher who put me on a fast track to college. While the majority of my classmates were partying and struggling with a full high school credit load, I was also taking correspondence classes through Indiana University. I did graduate high school early, by just one semester. One month after my completion of high school I became a junior in college. I owe most of my life successes to my penchant for writing.
Before you go any further, be sure you have simplified that paragraph as much as possible. You should be able to cut that paragraph in half! (discuss in comments)
Now, read this paragraph and simplify.
I was learning to fly and it was the most freeing thing I had ever done. I no longer wanted to go to work or any other of the normal day to day things I used to do. Even the things that once brought me great joy were now just a shadow of a past life. I dreamt flying. I could only think about flying. It had invaded my life like an army of thoughts sent to drown me in happiness. I am no musician, nor can I sing, yet all day long I play an ode to flying in my head. I fear that this new love will be the death of me, sooner rather than later.
You can also chop this one in half. I know… you are removing all of the feels by simplifying… there are strong arguments on both sides. You can either write in a simplified manner and reach more people or give lots of feeling and reach less. You will lose readers if you over ‘feel’ your writing. This is content writing, not novel writing… and believe me, the difference is huge.
If you are wondering how you’re doing, please put your simplified version in the comments for further discussion.
The Basics of simplified writing-
- Using Business lingo is rarely acceptable.
UNLESS you are writing or talking to a group of people inside your field that do not need any of the words or terms explained, consider it a DON’T. You should write for your audience, but in a way that a noob could keep up. If you use a bunch of industry lingo, you kinda come off arrogant and that’s a no-go, my friend.
2. You still need style.
The readers connect to the writer… the story-teller. You can simplify and still put a bit of you into it. Nobody wants to read a dry, run-on article. Keep it simple, but Use the force, Luke.
3. Each Paragraph should stay on point.
Your paragraph should (roughly) complete a thought. When you are finished talking about that point, start a new paragraph. Be careful that you don’t make your paragraphs too big while trying to finish your thought. Keep your points clean and clear. If you read your work and edit properly (and you should be!!!) you will find each paragraph starts and finishes a thought or idea before you publish.
4. Avoid the run-on sentence.
You know the sentence that I’m talking about, the one that has several strings of words that should be separated by a period, but instead, a ton of commas are used and the entire paragraph ends up being just one very hard to read, really poorly constructed sentence, that you can never unread and now you don’t even know what they were talking about anymore because the laws of writing were completely ignored. Keep sentences structured and avoid this wookie mistake. (ha!:)
Don’t let your sentences run-on. DON’T.
5. Don’t focus on the word count. Focus on the message.
This is probably one of the easiest ways to keep things simple. Just get your message out there, even if it’s only 500 words. I would much rather read a solid 500 word article than an obnoxious 2000 word article. Yes, there are plenty of people that will tell you, “I only write 2000 plus word articles now”. They are full of Bantha fodder. Not every story needs to be over 2000 words. If you clearly make your point, the count is of no concern.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it…
Let’s say that I am the editor for an online publication in your area of expertise (or passion) with an open writing position that you desperately want. Send an email to Nicki@licensetoblog.com detailing the following:
Tell me who you are and what you want from me.
3-4 Paragraph body
Tell me why you want this prestigious position, what you have to offer, when and how you will fulfill the job duties. Feel free to take liberties… I love creativitiy:)
1-2 paragraph Closing
This should summarize and sell me on YOU.
No word count- just sell me on hiring you.
This concludes our lesson today. Come back next week where we explore other ways to make writing content easier.
REMEMBER to K.I.S.S. when writing! (Keep It Simple, Sweetie)
Best wishes and happy writing!
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