January 03, 2018 @ 12:00am

If you create digital content, you know how hard it can be to connect with the increasing market savvy readers online. Here are three tips to get you writing better content this year.

1. Write for your readers, not just the search engines. Yes, SEO is extremely important and should be a part of your online strategy. But if you write simply to check all the SEO boxes, your work is not necessarily written with a reader in mind. It’s this kind of disingenuous work that creates so many cynical consumers: Why bother to read your work if there’s nothing of value behind it except making sure Google notices you?

A good way to make sure you’re creating reader-focused work is to think about other businesses. As a content creator, you want consumers to consume your content and to like it, which is really no different than a company trying to sell a shirt or a pair of shoes. When Nike tries to sell you a pair of running shoes, they invest in R&D that guarantees those shoes are built to perform at a high level. They’re providing a product with real value, not just a box to catch your eye at the store.

As a content creator, always think about how what you’re doing will benefit your target. Is there value in your work beyond a sales pitch? Are you teaching? Sharing an insider tip? If not, readers will likely sniff it out pretty quick. 

2. Despite what you might see, originality is important. If you’ve ever researched something on the internet you’ve probably had this experience: All the advice from a myriad of websites sounds almost exactly the same. That’s because one very easy way to create content is to simply “borrow” it—either the ideas or the actual copy—from established sources. The recent phenomenon of “content mills,” which encourage speed of output over quality, isn’t helping either.

From uses of baking soda to finding the love of your life, a quick online search reveals an unnatural consensus among writers. For example: Here’s a line from eHarmony from a 2009 article: “Offer a flattering remark on her time well spent and she will be delighted that you noticed.” Here’s another line from a different blog written in 2017: “Offer a flattering remark on her time well spent and she will be delighted that you noticed.” (Imitation, of course, being the sincerest form of flattery.)

This laziness can, however, be very good for an enterprising writer. By using your unique voice and writing about topics that really matter to you, you can be far more engaging than the also-ran retreads out there. Utilize your experience and ideas to stand out.

3. Resist the idea that you must create content. Like real estate, reaching your consumers is all about location. Before you convince yourself that a blog or other piece of online content is necessary, make sure it’s a medium that will have a potential readership. If a blog doesn’t make sense, maybe social media will. Don’t feel pressured to generate content if it isn’t something you can commit to and keep fresh.

And remember: You don’t have to be a linguistic genius to create content people will want to read. If you can provide original, insightful work that’s easy for the search engines to find—and, if you know you have a potential audience who will appreciate your content—make crafting great content part of your business’s New Year’s resolution.

About the author: Micah Riecker

Micah Riecker has been 6AM Marketing's Copy Jedi and Chief Wordsmith since June of 2016. A graduate of Knox College, the University of Illinois and Madison College, he specializes in using copy to wake up tired advertising concepts.

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