Content is king.. or so we’re told. Every. Day.
By now, we’re all well aware that content is important for search marketing. It’s important for building an audience. It’s important for telling your brand’s story.
And it’s also easier said than done. With every post you publish there are a million others competing with you for that same search traffic; to compound matters worse, writing isn’t easy for all of us. It doesn’t come naturally to everyone out there in internet land. Sure, there are plenty of bloggers that have advice, and there are no shortage of lists that tick off all the “blogging tips” you can read, but it still comes down to one thing:
You actually have to write.
Allow me to share something personal: as much as I enjoy writing (when I am inspired to), I absolutely hate it. That is my paradox. I like to write, but I despise it at the same time. When I see someone who effortlessly puts out post after post, every day, with grace and style — I secretly hate them inside.
Well, it’s not that I actually hate them. It’s more that I am jealous that I do not have their zest for finding inspiring topics to write about. Once I have a topic, I typically do pretty well on getting my ideas on the computer screen, but before inspiration hits I feel like I’m stuck out in no man’s land fending for myself.
Until I cracked the code…
Hold your horses, sport. I’m not turning this into my own little rendition of “The Secret”. I have not unlocked some vast, celestial mystery that has been locked away for ages, waiting for the chosen one to find the key…
No, this is not that at all. But, what I have found is there are a few tricks that even the most uninspired can beat their writing self into shape and start kicking ass in the content department.
10 Tips To Ditch Writer’s Block & Become A Better Writer
#1 Be consistent
If you want I CAN WRITE IN CAPS SO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS IS IMPORTANT. If you can recognize that I made this number one for a reason, I’ll stop typing like a d-bag and we can move on to the lesson at hand.
The number one thing keeping you from developing your writing chops is consistency. You literally need to set a time to write… and write. Don’t check your email. Don’t see what’s happening on Facebook. Grab a cup of coffee and sit your ass down. Once your buttocks is firmly planted, start typing.
#2 Set the clock
You have to set a limit to your writing. The point of the first step and this one is developing good habits. As a writer — especially if you plan on doing this for a living — you have to learn how to limit the time you spend on writing projects. In other words, you need to become accustomed to writing for a set period, without interruption. What this will do is make you a more efficient writer. Ultimately, that will mean you can write faster, and (again, if you blog for a living) it means your business becomes more profitable.
Pro tip: Use Task Timer, set the clock to an hour, and write away.
#3 Use a content calendar
Everyone talks about content calendars and, well… they do it for a reason. It’s always easier to write about something when you know what you need to write about. What I’ve found though is planning the actual calendar can be difficult without knowing where to start (or what you should be writing about). This section really deserves its own post, and rather than rehash ideas found elsewhere I’ve dug up some tips you can find here, here and here.
Pro tip: Use this WordPress plugin.
#4 Find ideas (easily)
One way you end up burning up time is looking for ideas/inspiration/topics/etc. You usually end up typing things into Google, hoping to find a bit of news or something that catches your eye. The best way to stay current is to set up your own RSS dashboard. I use Feedly.
For the most part, my interests our web hosting, online marketing, small business and information security. I also like to stay up-to-date on tech news. So, all I do is create folders for all of my general interests (or niches), and when I come across a blog that posts some good stuff, I add it to Feedly. This way, instead of having to search around Google, I can just take a glance through the headlines and see what the hot topics are.
For the lazy: Use Alltop.
#5 Write your titles first
A title sets the tone for the rest of your article. Use it as your compass. It’s good to put some thought into your titles, and that is why I recommend an RSS reader to scan the headlines — you’ll learn the art of a solid headline just by reading what the pros are doing. A good title means higher click-throughs and more shares on social media. It’s the foundation to every good post, and starting with a title makes the rest of the article easier.
#6 Outline your posts
Outlines work. Remember how you had to do outlines and rough drafts in English class? If you don’t, now is time to start paying attention. Good writing has a cohesive flow. Your ideas and thought processes should flow naturally to a conclusion. If you don’t know how to get from point A to point B, your readers won’t make it to the end either.
For example, when I wrote this post, I started with my title. From there, I rough drafted my headings and added each step. Once I was finished with that, it was a matter of filling in the blanks.
#7 Write an Intro that sizzles
Your title helps reel in the readers, but without a good follow up your visitors will quickly begin dropping off. Just don’t forget your keywords — you don’t want to be so clever with the title that the search engines don’t get the.. um, cleverness.
#8 Use brevity
Statistically speaking, most people do not read articles online. They are scanning, not reading. You can get the details here, but suffice it to say that you should write your articles with short paragraphs and clear language. Make your writing enjoyable, not filled with big words and complicated jargon. Your readers will thank you.
#9 Be personable
Don’t let your writing come off sounding like the guy from the “Clear Eyes for dry eyes” commercials. Inject your personality into your writing; whether you are opinionated, sarcastic, or funny, your readers would rather get a glimpse of the person behind the writing. Lose the corporate speak and talk like a person, not a drone.
#10 Let people have their 2 cents
This last part is important. In fact, you can say it is the most important. If you want to connect with your readers and ratchet up engagement on your site, you need to pass the torch. Solicit the opinions of your readers, and when you do get a comment, be sure to respond.