Tag: Writing

The 10 Ingredients of Great Content Writing

Content writing can be difficult.

Just consider these numbers. An astonishing 98 percent of all marketing teams say written content is their most-used content type, yet one in three marketers admit their content writing is only “somewhat” or “not so” effective.

is content writing effective - graphs

In other words, there’s a whole lot of content out there that isn’t doing what it should be.

This article aims to help you and your team improve your content writing quality and success levels.

Fortunately, content writing is something people can get better at with a little bit of study and practice. Below you can find the 10 ingredients of great content writing to help you improve.

1. Craft a Compelling Headline

Say you get 100 people to visit your blog. On average, 80 of them will read your headline copy, but only 20 will read the rest.

In other words, your headlines have a lot of heavy lifting to do.

Strong headlines provide specific information and give a little detail to draw people in but stop short of telling the whole story.

We can see how this looks in practice thanks to a BuzzSumo analysis of 100 million headlines on Facebook and Twitter. It found approximately 65 characters (about 11 words) is the sweet spot for headline length.

content writing optimum headline length

Of course, it’s not just about the length of your headline. The words are important, too.

Headlines containing instructional phrases like “you need to know” and “why you should” are most likely to be shared on Facebook.

content writing best words for headlines

People often want to read content that teaches them something, whether it’s how to improve content writing or a rundown of the hottest draft prospects in Major League Baseball.

2. Hook Readers With an Interesting Intro

Your headline compelled a reader to click on your content. Now you need to persuade them to read on.

That’s easier said than done. According to Nielsen Norman Group, approximately 57 percent of page-viewing time is spent above the fold, before readers need to scroll. For the second screenful of content, that figure plummets to just 17 percent, and only the most dedicated make it much further.

content writing - average scroll depth

In other words, if your intro doesn’t immediately grab your readers’ attention, don’t expect them to stick around.

The best way to keep your audience reading is by jumping straight into the content promised by your headline.

For instance, if you’re reading this article, it’s a fair bet you want to write better content. So, in the introduction, I acknowledged your challenge and explained this article is here to help you find a solution.

Presumably, that intro worked because you’re still reading!

3. Write for Your Audience

A snappy introduction may help you keep your readers’ attention for longer, but it’s not a silver bullet. You need to write with your specific audience in mind.

Or, to put it another way, write for a small subset of people, not for everyone.

To give a simple example, it’s like the difference between an article on “great content writing” and one on “great writing.”

Because you’re searching for tips on content writing, I can make informed guesses about you. For instance, chances are you work in marketing or are creating marketing-related content.

On the other hand, if this was an article on “great writing,” you could be anyone from a student to a novelist struggling with writer’s block. If I tried to write for all those possible audiences, I’d likely not hit the mark for any of them.

4. Narrow Your Article’s Focus

Each article should have a single clear idea from headline to conclusion.

Following this approach can help you form more logical arguments, write copy that flows naturally, and provide your readers with clear takeaways.

Unless you’re writing a pillar page acting as a central point for discussing a broad topic, keep your focus as tight as possible. For instance:

  • Bad: How to improve your marketing
  • Better: How to do better small business marketing
  • Best: How to do social media marketing for SaaS startups

It’d be impossible to write a valuable piece of content on that first theme because the potential audience is just too broad. You simply can’t offer advice relevant to everyone, from a one-person startup to a multinational brand.

By narrowing your focus, you could provide real value around a specific topic.

5. Be Engaging

However enticing your headline may be, if your content doesn’t quickly engage your audience once they land on your page, they’re going to bounce.

Let’s look at some more BuzzSumo research to demonstrate this. They used machine learning models to discover the keys to engaging content writing.

Of the articles the researchers looked at, only a fraction performed strongly on both Facebook and Twitter.

make your content writing engaging

This shows people on different platforms engage with different types of content.

Then, there’s the writing itself.

As a marketer, I bet you’ve been told excellent content writing is about using simple language.

However, that same BuzzSumo study found content with high readability scores (shorter sentences and words) doesn’t generally perform notably better than those with lower readability scores overall.

engaging language in content writing

In other words, engaging content writing is about using language your specific audience will understand and appreciate. Therefore, oversimplifying or overcomplicating for the sake of doing so is likely less effective.

6. Write in Your Unique Brand Voice

Why do some brands stand out more than others through their content?

Thanks to Sprout Social, we know it’s down to a range of factors, most of which are directly related to brand voice, aka the personality you attach to your brand.

content writing - brand voice

Once you’ve figured out who you’re writing for and what engages them, keep doing it. It’s all about consistency.

Of course, unless you have a single person handling all your content writing and communications, you need to clarify your brand voice with your entire team in one central, easily accessible document. Otherwise, you run the risk of different writers using conflicting perspectives and tones.

As a minimum, your brand voice document should include:

  • your brand’s core values and mission statement
  • a description of your audience and the way they speak
  • your ideal relationship with your audience
  • examples of specific words and phrases you do (and don’t) use

7. Provide Knowledge That Readers Want

Imagine you searched for content writing tips on Google, came across this article, then found a bunch of information about creating better video content.

Or imagine if, instead of specific tips, I just wrote 2,000 words about why it’s essential to have great content but never told you what it looks like or how to do it.

You probably wouldn’t come back to my site in the future if that happened.

That’s why it’s crucial to figure out what people want from your content before you start writing via keyword research.

Fortunately, data isn’t difficult to get hold of. By using a tool like Ubersuggest, you can find commonly asked questions about your chosen subject.

Say I’m going to write about SEO, but I haven’t decided on an exact topic yet. Ubersuggest tells me people are asking about what SEO means and why it’s important. This tells me what to include in my article.

Content writing - Use Ubersuggest

8. Use an Outline

Once you’ve done your research and worked out what your audience expects from your content, it’s time to create an outline.

Why bother outlining your content? Because it helps you write a more useful, well-structured article.

What’s more, it allows you to find valuable sources and statistics to strengthen your arguments and provide additional context.

It’s simple. Just take the questions from your keyword research and lay them out in a logical order. For instance, “What is SEO?” would come before “Why is SEO important?”

Need to reference multiple points in a single section? Break those points down into subsections with subheadings. For instance, you might include the following subsections under “Why is SEO important?”

  • organic traffic is highly valuable
  • local SEO drives conversions
  • SEO offers long-lasting results

Finally, search for relevant third-party sources and existing content on your site to reference in each section (and subsection).

9. Include Actionable Tips

Your content writing goal should be to ensure readers learn something valuable. That way, there’s a better chance they’ll share it and come back to you down the line. They might even sign up to your mailing list or download gated content.

The simplest way to teach your readers something is to provide specific, actionable tips spelling out exactly how to do whatever you’re talking about.

To do this well, you need to be an expert in your field. That’s why I write about marketing rather than brain surgery!

In other words, write what you know. Discuss how you tackle real-world problems step by step. Reference tools and processes you use; if you created them yourself, all the better.

10. Add Trust Factors

There’s a whole lot of content out there. Even if you’re in an obscure niche, there are likely hundreds of articles covering similar topics to you.

Why should readers choose your content over anyone else’s?

One of the best ways to stand out from the crowd is to make your content trustworthy. If people know your content is well researched and authoritative, they’re more likely to click on it.

Frankly, being a big name in your field helps. Now that a lot of people know who I am, I naturally have an advantage over lesser-known publishers.

However, it wasn’t always like that. I had to start somewhere to prove my worth. Backlinks helped me do it, and they could help you too. Specifically, you should:

  • Support the points in your content by linking out to authoritative sources. Linking to mainstream media sources, government sites, universities, and high-profile brands could make your content writing more credible.
  • Get credible sites to link to your content. If a high-authority site like the New York Times links to your content, that’s a great sign people can trust you. As a bonus, it can help you rank better in organic search.

Examples of Excellent Content Writing

What does fantastic content writing look like in practice? Here are three sites consistently getting it right:

1. HubSpot

Time after time, HubSpot demonstrates the benefits of creating in-depth content on topics that matter to its core audience of sales and marketing teams. It even has separate blogs dedicated to marketers and salespeople. In addition to being informative, its content plays a key part in the buyer cycle by pointing readers toward its paid tools and gated content.

2. LinkedIn

As the world’s largest professional social networking platform, LinkedIn is a highly credible source. Rather than churning out low-value content, its articles often include unique research, making it more valuable.

3. WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the single most popular e-commerce technology solution on the market.

Its plugin is designed to make it easy to start an online store, and its blog aims to support that. In addition to practical advice, it regularly features stories from brands serving niche markets, which can be a fantastic source of inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Content Writing FAQs

What skills does a content writer need?

The average content writer needs to have research skills and the ability to translate findings into engaging copy. In addition, self-discipline and time management are a must, and knowledge of SEO best practices helps.

Is content writing hard?

Anyone can put some words on a page, but writing quality content that resonates with your audience can be tricky.

What is SEO copywriting?

It’s all about creating content search engines can understand. It used to be about stuffing keywords into every sentence, but there’s a little more to it now.

What are the main types of content writing?

Content writing can be split into two categories: content marketing and copywriting. The former includes things like blogs and e-books, while the latter encompasses website and ad copy.

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Content Writing Conclusion

Great content writing starts with defining your target audience.

If you don’t understand who you’re writing for and what they want to hear, you can’t create compelling content. Sure, you might write nice words, but they likely won’t generate leads or sales because they aren’t targeting the right people.

Start with your audience in mind every time, and chances are you’ll create better content.

What are your tried-and-trusted techniques for superb content writing?

Substack (YC W18) is hiring technical recruiters to build the future of writing

Article URL: https://jobs.lever.co/substackinc/c98439dd-6560-4b58-b827-42eb92c61dbd

Comments URL: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27239912

Points: 1

# Comments: 0

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5 AI Copywriting Tools to Make Writing Content Easier

Copywriting is hard. Whether you’re writing product descriptions or PPC ads, there’s a huge volume of work involved, and the repetitive nature of the tasks can drain your creativity.

Could you give a machine a few instructions and let it generate engaging copy while you focused on more pressing tasks?

Well, now it’s possible, thanks to AI copywriting tools powered by machine learning. Let me introduce you to how it works and how it could transform your marketing strategy.

What Is AI Copywriting and How Does It Work?

AI copywriting is essentially computer-generated writing created using natural language processing tools.

First, you decide what you want to write about and the type of content you need. This could be anything from a blog post to a short ad. Then, you set certain parameters for the AI tool to follow. For example, maybe you decide you want a social media post advertising a new yoga class.

Once the machine receives the instructions, it generates content based on these parameters by analyzing similar preexisting content from around the web and processing it into something new and plagiarism-free.

How are companies using AI copywriting? I’ll give you an example.

JPMorgan Chase used an AI copywriting tool to improve its CTAs and online ad copy for home equity lines of credit. They asked human copywriters to perform a similar task, and then they compared the results.

The findings? While the “human” copy generated 25 home equity applications, the AI copy generated 47. With the help of AI, JPMorgan Chase generated more potential customers than before. Impressive, right?

Why Should You Use an AI Copywriting Tool?

There are a few reasons why marketers and copywriters might check out AI copywriting tools.

First, AI copywriting saves you time. These tools can analyze data much quicker than humans can, so they can instantly generate full articles. They work 24/7, too, so you can literally craft content in your sleep!

Also, just think about how convenient AI copywriting is. If you need bulk content, such as product descriptions, AI copywriting handles these jobs for you, so you’re free to focus on more demanding marketing tasks like lead generation and KPI tracking.

Finally, AI copywriting tools can save you from the dreaded “writer’s block” that every writer experiences at some point. Whether you need help brainstorming ideas or generating some content, an AI tool can help you get going again.

If you’re a busy content creator with multiple deadlines or dreams of scaling your content production, it’s worth exploring how AI copywriting may help you.

AI Copywriting Limitations

Like any digital marketing tool, AI copywriting has its limitations.

First, although AI tech is impressive, AI copywriting tools don’t write anything truly original. Remember, we’re talking about a machine. They’re “fed” articles and content written by human copywriters and essentially mix them up to create something new.

AI tools produce great copy, but just because it’s “new” copy doesn’t mean it’s original.

What’s more, AI tools can’t replicate human emotion. Why is this a drawback? Well, emotion matters in marketing. In fact, when it comes to consumer buying behavior, feelings are more influential than any other variable, so you should try to invoke emotion through your content.

In short, while it’s great for bulk projects, you might not find AI copywriting helpful for crafting those more emotive posts that need a personal touch and true creative thought.

Finally, the AI tools we have right now aren’t great at picking up “awkward” phrasing. Although the writing (usually) makes grammatical sense, you’ll still need to proofread the copy to identify any incorrect phrases and awkward wording.

The takeaway? AI copywriting tools can support your marketing efforts, sure, but they’re not a complete substitute for human content creation. Just think of them as another highly useful tool in your toolbox.

5 AI Copywriting Tools for Content Creation

Ready to try out some AI copywriting tools? There are plenty out there, but here are the five I suggest you try first.

1. CopyAI

Got writer’s block? CopyAI is here to help. From brainstorming topics to crafting social media posts, CopyAI can help you go from stuck to inspired within minutes.

How does it work? It’s a simple enough concept. CopyAI uses a highly advanced machine language model, GPT-3, to produce authentic, human-like copy almost instantly. You just select a copy type, provide some words, phrases, and descriptions to base content around, and watch CopyAI do the rest.

Key Features

One thing that’s great about CopyAI is how simple it is to get going. You only need to provide a few words to generate copy including Instagram captions, product descriptions, and even product value propositions in seconds.

What makes CopyAI stand out, though, is its suite of idea generation tools. Whether you need a viral post idea or you’re just stuck on what to write about next, CopyAI gets you moving again.

Pricing

You can choose from two packages. The “Solo” package costs $420 a year (billed monthly at $35) or $49 for rolling monthly subscriptions, and it gives you access to all CopyAI tools, unlimited runs, and around-the-clock support.

The “Multiple Seats” package is better for larger businesses because it includes collaboration tools to support multiple teams. Prices are on request.

Not sure if CopyAI is right for you? You can try it free for seven days.

AI Copywriting Tools for Content Creation - CopyAI

2. Wordtune

Do you have trouble saying exactly what you mean? Wordtune can help you get the words right. This AI copywriting companion works alongside you in real-time, helping you rephrase and reword your content without sacrificing flow, tone, or meaning.

Since it’s not a fully-fledged article generator like CopyAI, it’s best for marketers who want to write copy and need help shaping it. It could save you time spent agonizing over word choice and sentence structure while giving you the creative freedom to write your content.

AI Copywriting Tools for Content Creation - Wordtune

Key Features

Designed with the discerning content writer in mind, Wordtune can assist with everything from sentence length to full-length article rewrites. This could be great for marketers looking to repurpose content across different platforms who want help condensing and rewording their copy.

Once you add the Chrome extension, you can instantly use it across popular websites such as Twitter, Grammarly, and LinkedIn, making it one of the most efficient AI copywriting and grammar-assistance tools out there.

Pricing

If you just want help rewording a sentence or two, there’s a free plan.

However, if you want access to features like sentence length controllers, tone controllers, and word searches, sign up for Premium. You can either pay $24.99 a month or save money and pay $119 for the year. You’ll get access to all features other than team billing.

Do you have a larger business or multiple teams working together? Check out the Premium for Teams tier. The prices vary depending on the scope of the services you require.

3. Copysmith

Need help scaling your marketing and driving growth through copy? Check out Copysmith.

Whether you’re a freelancer or you’re managing an in-house marketing team, Copysmith gives you the tools you need to actually accelerate your growth through tailored marketing, not just create great copy.

Key Features

Copysmith boasts a really impressive range of tools for busy marketing teams and copywriters.

For example, if you run an online store, Copysmith can generate a whole FAQ section for you plus unlimited product descriptions. Need taglines to boost your brand profile? Copysmith can turn your brand vision into engaging, memorable ad copy, and you can store all your client copy in one place.

AI Copywriting Tools for Content Creation - Copysmith

Pricing

Unfortunately, there’s no free option, but if you’re happy paying for AI copywriting support, you have three choices.

First, we’ve got the Starter package. For an annual subscription, it’s $192 which works out at $16 per month. However, you can instead opt for a monthly subscription, which is $19 per month. For your money, you’ll get 20 plagiarism checks per month, Google Ad integrations and Chrome extensions so you can access copywriting support within your browser.

Next, there’s the Professional tier, which costs $600 per year (working out at $50 per month) or $59 for a monthly subscription. You’ll get everything in the Starter package, plus extra plagiarism checks and 100 generated blog posts to get your creative juices flowing.

Finally, there’s the Enterprise package, which comes in at $5,088 annually or $499 if you pay monthly instead. It comes with unlimited plagiarism checks and blog ideas, plus a suite of integrations including Shopify, so you’ll never be stuck for a product description again!

4. Wordsmith

Do you rely heavily on data for your day-to-day decision-making? If so, check out Wordsmith. This platform generates natural-sounding content based on analyzing large data sets, so you can use it for everything from journalism to financial reporting.

Key Features

Like Copysmith, Wordsmith is all about scale. All you need to do is create one template, set up a few variables, and Wordsmith will generate multiple alternative scripts. For example, you can write chatbot scripts for responding to various complex customer requests or write a video game script.

Wordsmith is also great for presenting financial data in understandable English to help you with your financial reporting and tracking needs: The AP uses it to publish more than 3,000 financial reports every quarter!

Pricing

The pricing structure isn’t public, so you’ll need to request a free demo and tell Wordsmith a little more about your business and content needs to get a quote.

5. Writesonic

Looking for an AI tool you can scale as your business grows? Writesonic might be for you.

“Trained” on successful copy from popular brands, Writesonic can help you generate everything from landing pages to Facebook ads, and it’s designed to maximize your chances of ranking well on search engines. Simply select a template and supply a few lines of description, and Writesonic will provide multiple copy samples for you to choose from.

Key Features

Writesonic is great for marketers who want to automate their more mundane writing tasks like welcome emails and SEO meta descriptions. The billing structure is really flexible, too, so you can scale your package to suit your evolving business needs.

However, one of the standout features is the landing page generator. By supplying just a few key details, you can instantly generate an optimized, engaging landing page. Check out an example of a landing page for Monday.com.

Pricing

There are three pricing tiers.

  • Starter: It’s $29 per month (or $25 per month if you pay for an annual subscription) to get 75 credits and access to basic features like SEO tags and the content rephraser.
  • Professional: You can pay $99 for monthly rolling subscriptions, but it’s cheaper to buy an annual subscription and pay $89 per month. However, you’re capped at 150 credits per month for features such as blog outlines.
  • Business: Coming in at $449 per month for annual subscriptions or $499 for a single month, you get everything in the Professional package plus 1200 credits for advanced features like full article writing.

Writesonic offers 10 free credits so you can check out the functionality before committing to a paid package. You can also pay-as-you-go rather than buy a monthly subscription if your content needs vary from month to month.

AI Copywriting Tools for Content Creation - Writesonic

Conclusion

Whether you’re a digital marketer or a busy copywriter, AI copywriting tools can help you scale your content creation and achieve your business goals. They’re easy to learn and fun to use, and best of all, they produce natural, engaging copy to support your content needs.

Since every AI copywriting tool is slightly different, it’s best to check out a free trial or two before you commit to a purchase. This way, you’ll get a sense of how the tools work and which one best supports your business strategy.

Have you tried AI copywriting tools yet?

Ann Patchett On Writing During The Pandemic And Her 2019 Novel “The Dutch House”

As part of Diane’s remote author interview series, she had the chance to speak with Ann Patchett in January over video Zoom as a live audience watched. Here’s that conversation.

The post Ann Patchett On Writing During The Pandemic And Her 2019 Novel “The Dutch House” appeared first on Buy It At A Bargain – Deals And Reviews.

10 Tips For Writing a Winning LinkedIn Headline

LinkedIn’s 690 million members include 180 million senior-level influencers, 63 million decision-makers and 10 million C-level executives. 

Hence, there are a lot of influential people on LinkedIn that have hiring power and purchase power. Whatever you hope to achieve from using the network, you’ll want to make a good impression.

Your headline is the first thing that people see aside from your profile picture. It’s how decision-makers will find you. It’s how you get people to notice you and what will make them want to visit your profile to learn more. Thus, it’s safe to say your headline is pretty important.

So, I thought I’d share my top tips for creating an effective headline with you. But, first, let’s look at the basics:

What is Your LinkedIn Headline?

Your headline is the tagline that appears under your name on LinkedIn and at the top of your profile page. The headline used to be limited to 120 characters. But, here’s some good news, LinkedIn extended the headline to 220 characters in 2020. So, you have a little more space to sell yourself, share your vision or whatever it is you’d like to express via your headline.

What Makes a Winning LinkedIn Headline

There are some important criteria for creating an impactful headline. The best LinkedIn headlines do the following:

Make Use of Keywords

Keywords aren’t the only thing your headline should include. But they are key to helping the right people find your profile. Keywords can include your job title, skills and areas you specialize in. Place keywords towards the beginning of your headline and then expand with further information.

Express Your Value

Expressing you or your company’s value means sharing more than the tasks you carry out. Your headline should be driven by the benefits of the services you provide and the kind of results you achieve. For example, rather than saying you do tax planning, you’d say you help businesses to save money.

Are Unique

A winning LinkedIn headline is one that stands out from the crowd. Think about how many people do the exact same job as you or offer similar services. You can give yourself a competitive edge and encourage more people to visit your profile by making your headline different.

Help You Meet Your Goals

You need to think carefully about why you’re on LinkedIn and what you hope to achieve. This should inform what you include in your headline (and the rest of your profile). If you’re not sure about what you can accomplish on LinkedIn or how to go about it, you may wish to speak with a social media consultant.

Now let’s look in more detail at exactly how you can create a winning headline:

1. Get Inspiration

By default, LinkedIn uses your job title and employer as your headline. What a snooze fest. If you want to do better, the first step is to get inspired.

Search for people in your field or who have similar roles to you. Take a look at how they’ve formulated their headlines. See what appeals to you and what doesn’t. Of course, you shouldn’t just nab somebody else’s headline. But, doing this will help you come up with ideas for how you want your headline to appear.

Also, pay attention to those who appear at the top of the search results for your industry. What keywords do they use? Note these keywords as they likely contribute to why these pros are doing so well in the search results.

2. Ask Yourself These Questions

When you decide to upgrade your LinkedIn headline to maximize its impact, it’s a good idea to have a little brainstorming sesh. Here are some questions that will guide you when you’re coming up with ideas:

  • How would you describe yourself to a new colleague if you only had five seconds?
  • What makes you different from others with the same job title?
  • Why should users click on your profile?
  • What are your most in-demand skills?
  • What are your biggest accomplishments?
  • What makes you unique?

3. Choose the Right Keywords

Include relevant keywords in your headline so that you appear in more search results. 

To do this, you’ll first need to think about who you want to find your profile on LinkedIn. A recruiter? A potential lead? Influencers you hope to connect with? And so on…

This will guide you in figuring out the right keywords to use. For example, you may include your specific skills or specialisms to get found by recruiters with the most relevant job opportunities. 

In this example, we don’t just have a “developer”, nor do we just have a “chatbot developer”, the user goes even more specific with the terms “Facebook Messenger Marketing” and “Automation Practitioner”:

Whereas, if you’re using LinkedIn to network and boost your authority, you may want to use broader terms. Your job role might be “Artworker” but in order to be found by more people, it’d be a very good idea to include the term “Graphic Design”.

4. Include Your Unique Selling Proposition

Keywords alone aren’t enticing enough to get users to visit your profile. State the value that you provide by doing what you do, in particular something that makes you stand out from the crowd.

There’s a simple formula you can use to express this: I help X do Y by doing Z. Here’s an example from an accounting consultant:

When she says “I help women build profitable businesses”, she outlines the beneficial results of her work, not just the tasks that she performs. You should do something similar.

You can also use data to drive your point home. Here an email marketer shares the average results he achieves:

There are tons of relevant data points you could include to prove your value, such as the number of customers you’ve helped achieve a particular outcome or the results of an impressive case study.

5. Share Your Achievements/Credentials

When you make self-aggrandizing claims on LinkedIn, people will either think you’re arrogant or full of it. Instead, you should go by the old adage, “Show don’t tell”. Show that you’re great at what you do via your achievements or credentials.

What’s your most impressive achievement? Have you won an award perhaps? Been featured on top media outlets? Sold a bunch of books? Grew a well-known company? Those are the kind of things you’ll want to share.

This professional shares the fact that he’s been a LinkedIn Top Voice honoree four times and sprinkles in some serious social proof by mentioning his work with Mark Cuban:

Furthermore, certain credentials that are recognized by people in your industry will give you clout. For example, in the marketing world it’s good to be Google-certified, like this pro:

Share credentials relevant to your position to show that you’re not just messing around, you really know what you’re doing.

6. Use Natural Language

Keep your headline free of jargon, particularly if you’re using LinkedIn for sales or lead generation. If a prospect doesn’t understand what you’re selling, you won’t have much luck.

Similarly, make your job title clear and simple unless you’re seeking a specific job role. Again, users you want to connect with may not understand what you do. Even if you think the term “Business Development Manager” is clear, trust me, simplifying it to “Sales Manager” is much more transparent.

Also, avoid buzzwords. After a time, every Tom, Dick and Harry will be using the same trendy terminology to describe their services. Thus, your words become meaningless.

And saying that you’re a “Guru”, “Ninja” or “Wizard” is a bit cheesy and old-fashioned. It won’t help you in the search results either. When was the last time you searched for a ninja on LinkedIn or anywhere for that matter?

Try to use simple, everyday language to explain your role or value proposition. Here’s an excellent example from a marketing professional:

Her target audience, small businesses, may not be familiar with or fully understand industry terms so she offers a straightforward, benefit-driven value proposition.

7. Don’t Put “Unemployed”

Even if you’re currently looking for a job, you shouldn’t put “Unemployed”, “Seeking New Opportunities” or similar in your headline. 

The thing is, recruiters or companies aren’t searching for the term “Unemployed” on LinkedIn. You only get a couple hundred characters for your headline, so it would be better to utilize that space for keywords that they are likely to search for, and your experience, specialisms, credentials etc.

You can show that you’re looking for work on your profile instead. At the top of your profile, you’ll see a section that says, “Show recruiters you’re open to work”. 

Simply, fill in details about the type of role you’re looking for and the location. You can even change the settings so that your current employers won’t see that you’re seeking work.

8. Share Your Mission

Maybe you’re not looking to promote yourself. Perhaps, you’re in the process of growing a startup or maybe you or your company are trying to achieve a wider goal that you want people to know about.

If this sounds like you, then you should definitely share your vision in your headline. In this example, the professional shares what he does “mass transit” but also why he does it “to reduce our carbon footprint and create a more connected community”:

You could use a similar formula. Start with the what and then go into the why. If you’re unsure about how to phrase your goals, you can always take inspiration from your company’s mission statement.

9. Show Your Personality

Like with any other social media platform, users skim through their LinkedIn feed, groups and even search results at speed. So, you need a headline that’s going to make somebody stop and take notice.

Get creative and use your headline to express your personality. Not only will it make you stand out but it’ll also make your profile memorable.

Here’s an example from an SEO manager with a quirky sense of humor:

Don’t worry, though. You don’t have to be the Kevin Hart of LinkedIn. There are other ways to express your personality via your headline. Perhaps, you want to project positive vibes or enthusiasm. 

You could even share a little personal tidbit about yourself. Maybe you do PR during the day and rule at Settlers of Catan by night… This kind of thing will also help start conversations between you and new connections.

10. Keep Your Headline Updated

It’s easy to set and forget your headline. But to get the most from it you need to keep it up to date.

Firstly, be sure to add new skills, achievements, career developments and so on when they arise. Your skillset will develop over time and your headline should reflect this.

Moreover, you may wish to test the impact of your headline and update it accordingly. When you make an alteration, keep an eye on the number of people who have viewed your profile. 

With LinkedIn Premium, you can also see who has viewed your profile. Therefore, you can discover if your headline is attracting who you want to attract or your target audience.

Conclusion

You can use your LinkedIn headline to get noticed by influential professionals and encourage more people to visit your profile. A winning headline combines relevant keywords and your unique value proposition.

Don’t forget to think carefully about who you hope to attract with your headline. And don’t be afraid to sell yourself as long as it doesn’t come across as too boastful.

Take the first step towards creating a great LinkedIn headline. Do some research to see what works well in your industry and brainstorm ideas for your own headline.

The post 10 Tips For Writing a Winning LinkedIn Headline appeared first on Neil Patel.

The 6 Step Guide to Writing Listicle Content

Regardless of how you feel about listicles, you’ve probably read a number of them. Listicles help present a large amount of information in small, easy-to-scan, numbered sections.

List posts can cover all kinds of topics, from the more educational posts on HubSpot like “How to Create a Cinemagraph in 7 Easy Steps” to the clickbaity Buzzfeed lists like “23 People You Seriously Won’t Believe Actually Exist.”

In this article, I’ll guide you through six steps to create an effective list post.

I’ll also explain why these posts are so popular and why they are critical to a successful content marketing strategy.

What is a Listicle?

Simply put, it’s an article made up of a list of items or ideas.

Despite what you might think, Buzzfeed didn’t invent listicle content. It’s been around for centuries.

Sei Shonagon, an 11th-century Japanese poet and lady-in-waiting, is believed to have penned the first listicle, which included gems like her list of  “Rare things” such as “Two people living together who continue to be overawed by each other’s excellence.”

That being said, Buzzfeed has indeed popularized listicles as online content.

Listicle Content How to Write Them The 6 step Guide

For content creators and marketers, listicles are a convenient way of presenting information in bite-size portions. Producing the content becomes a bit easier, and consuming it more enjoyable.

Why are Listicles So Popular?

Imagine coming across the following two topics during a Google search:

  • 11 Effective Email Marketing Tips
  • How to Do Email Marketing

Which of the two are you more likely to click? The first one, right? By specifying a fixed number of tips, the first topic promises easy-to-skim content.

With the average human attention span down to about eight seconds, it’s harder to pay attention to one thing for very long. An article that allows readers to skim is far more appealing.

From the first title above, readers also know what to expect within the article. They know there are just 11 tips, while the other one might be five tips or 50 pages of how to write, launch, and optimize their email marketing.

Listicle content structure, on the other hand, is quite simple. Typically there’s an introduction, a list of ideas, and a conclusion. This makes listicle production relatively easy compared to other types of posts.

Listicles are also popular because they feed into our brain’s drive to categorize information and give us a sense of satisfaction when we correctly predict patterns.  

Marketers love listicles because they get clicks. According to a recent study, 36% of readers prefer titles with numbers over any other title type.

How to Use Listicles in Your Content Marketing

Because listicles have had a poor reputation, you might be hesitant to use them in your content marketing strategy. The truth is, listicles can be as helpful and informative as prose, provided the content is high quality.

For example, I created this listicle about how to use TikTok in marketing. It is in a listicle format, but still offers valuable information marketers can use to drive traffic and increase brand awareness.

Listicle on how to use TikTok in marketing

Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain readers. Listicles can help you achieve this goal and build an effective content marketing strategy.

Here are a few ways to leverage listicles’ power to drive clicks, traffic, and build brand awareness.

Listicles can also be used as lead magnets to grow your email list, to share expert advice, or as a way to expand your brand’s social media presence.

How to Write a Listicle in 6 Steps

Now that you understand the power of listicles, let’s cover how to write an effective one that will drive traffic.

1. Pick the Right Listicle Topic

This is crucial. If the topic you pick doesn’t fit a list format, it won’t earn as many clicks.

Some topics naturally fit into a list. For example, how-to guides can be broken down into distinct steps:

Blog posts consisting of a list of examples make great listicles:

What if your content is a narrative? Can you produce a listicle from that?

You’d have to be pretty creative to write a narrative as a listicle since it doesn’t lend itself to that style of writing. That said, it’s not impossible.

Take this article “Long read: The World’s Most Successful Alliance — 70 years of freedom.” It tells the story of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by listing “… the 9 biggest moments in NATO’s history.”

Another way to determine whether your topic can be a listicle is by doing a simple Google search of your target keyword.

Suppose a number of the high-ranking articles for your keyword are listicles. In that case, it’s a good indication that searchers expect or prefer a list format to tackle the topic:

Listicle Content How to Write Them The 6 step Guide 1

Another good place to look is your own Google Analytics data. If you see that a specific topic gets a ton of traffic, then it might do well as a listicle if you can easily simplify the content.

For example, I know that the listicle topic gets 6,600 searches a month, according to Ubersuggest. Since it’s already a popular topic, it might be a great choice to create a listicle around.

listicle ubersuggest example

2. Do Your Keyword Research

If the reason you’re so keen on creating a listicle is to boost your content marketing, keyword research has to be on your to-do list.

Keywords are the terms searchers type into a search engine to get information on a particular topic. They’re also the words Google and other search engines use to identify your blog post’s or web page’s focus.

When you optimize your content for particular keywords, your page is more likely to rank and appear as an option when people search for those terms.

You can use free tools to do keyword research such as Google Keyword Planner or my own Ubersuggest.

While you’re at it, look out for long-tail keywords, because listicles are perfect for targeting these valuable terms.

3. Outline Your Listicle Content Points

So far, you’ve chosen your topic and target keyword. Now let’s get into the listicle content.

Start by checking out your competition. You’ll most likely notice a few common topics. Look for any weaknesses or gaps in your competitors’ content.

For example, while creating this listicle, I took a look at what’s already been written about listicles:

Listicle content outline your list points

There are tons of articles about how to write a listicle, but only one in the search results above is a listicle itself, and we already know that listicles get more clicks. That means there’s an opportunity for me to create better content than what everyone else has already published.

Next, brainstorm and jot down any points you think would be relevant to your listicle. Then go through all the points you’ve written down. If they would be presented best in a particular order, organize them accordingly, and merge any redundant points. Split up any items that may be too weighty for just one point and try to make them multiple points.

Look at “People also ask” questions in Google. These are questions that people commonly search about the same topic. They’re an easy way to make sure you’re covering the topic thoroughly.

Listicle Content People also ask

Flesh out each post by adding examples that show why each item in your numbered list was included or how to do it if you are creating a step-by-step guide. For example, this listicle on HelloBar about lead magnets provides an example of different lead magnets and talks about why they work.

Listicle on HelloBar example

As you write your content, link to more in-depth information when necessary, but make sure you don’t link to posts trying to rank for the same keywords. This creates more informative content without making your article too long.

4. Number the List Items

You don’t have to use lists to create a listicle, but it creates a better user experience. As readers go through the article, moving down the numbered list creates a sense of progress. There’s also a feeling of accomplishment, which motivates readers to keep reading. It also makes sense to number the items if you use a number in the post title.

For lengthy list posts, numbers can make it easier for readers to keep track of their progress. They can even stop reading and easily pick up later where they left off.

Numbering is also helpful when someone wants to share or reference specific points. It’s easier to refer to a particular number rather than describing a section in the article.

How many points should you use though? A round number like 10 is easy to remember, but odd numbers are more eye-catching and tend to pique the reader’s interest.

The reality is, there’s no right or wrong number to include in your listicle; it depends on the topic and your competition.

If all the other posts are 10 points long, it might be good to have even more, like 25 or even 30. On the other hand, if most other listicles in your niche are really long, a short, snappy post might do well.

Whatever route you go, aim to grab readers’ attention by standing out.

5. Add Interesting Images

It’s challenging to sustain readers’ attention with just a wall of text, numbered or not. Images make your content more visually stimulating, making them an essential ingredient in successful listicles. They improve the posts’ readability and help to increase traffic. 

Images or gifs capture readers’ attention in a way plain text can’t. For example, people follow instructions that include images 323% better than written words alone. Articles with relevant images get 94% more views than those without images.

Buzzfeed makes excellent use of this tactic. Most of their posts include numerous images. You just can’t help but scroll on to view one after the other.

Ensure the images you select are relevant to the post. Filling your posts with unnecessary images adds no value and may result in a higher bounce rate.

When choosing images to add to your listicle, custom photos are ideal. For example, if your article involves reviewing products, you can include pictures of those products. This Digital Trends article about the best desktop computers includes custom images of the computers, which establishes trust in the content because it shows they’ve actually tried the computers.  

add pictures to listicles

If custom photos aren’t possible, you can find free images online on Pixabay, Unsplash, and Flickr, among others.

6. Avoid Listicle Content Clickbait Titles That Don’t Deliver

I know this may seem contradictory since I wrote another post about creating clickbait headlines. Before you pounce on my controversial statement, let’s make this clear: clickbait isn’t inherently bad.

Crappy titles that promise but don’t deliver will drive users away. Intriguing titles that pique curiosity and drive clicks are powerful.

Does your listicle’s title promise something you don’t deliver in the body of the article? Are the claims in the headline unrealistic or untrue?

If the honest answer to either of these questions is “yes,” your title is most likely the decried clickbait headline, and you may want to avoid it. Listicles have a bad reputation for being clickbait.

Sensational titles may mislead readers, spoil your blog’s reputation, and hurt your content marketing in the long run. Great headlines that deliver what they promise can effectively attract readers.

On average, eight out of ten people will read your title, but only two will read the rest of your copy. This statistic proves the importance of headlines in converting page browsers to readers.

Conclusion

New content marketing strategies crop up every day. The only constant is high-quality content. Smart digital marketers understand the importance of high-quality content that’s optimized for search engines and valuable to readers. 

No matter the format, great content can help generate search traffic and leads. List posts can offer the best of both worlds: easy-to-write structure and quality content that turns browsers into readers.

Have you written any listicles recently? Do you take any other steps to produce list posts?

The post The 6 Step Guide to Writing Listicle Content appeared first on Neil Patel.