Category Archives: Copywriting and Content Writing Tips

A successful content writer must have a unique voice

“Are you the same person who wrote content for your own website?” recently a client asked when he didn’t like what I had written, and I must admit even I wasn’t very proud of what I had delivered and was already contemplating revising it. “I hired you because I wanted my content in your style,” he continued.

It happens quite often that my clients hire me when they are impressed with what I have written and how I have written on my website. Even when new writers approach me I focus less on their writing prowess and more on their unique style. I believe that every content writer must have a unique voice, a distinct style of writing. Can it be possible, especially when you are writing for different businesses? After all, why would a particular business want YOUR voice rather than its CEO’s? A valid question.

When I say unique voice I don’t mean you get typecast. A professional content writer must be able to write on behalf of the business he or she is writing for and I will never dispute that. Voice means enlivening your writing. It must feel alive. When it is alive it engages your readers and when your readers are engaged they’re more open to doing business with you. Interestingly, your writing feels alive when you write in your own, distinct style. You simply let yourself lose and grow completely comfortable with your art. Of course before that you should be totally comfortable with the tool you are using, in this case, your command over the language. If you want to feel creative and authentic you must know your language inside out. I don’t mean you should be a walking thesaurus but you should be able to articulate yourself compellingly and convincingly. It is like, if you want to walk on a rope first you should be able to walk on the ground.

So how can you develop a unique voice as a content writer?

  • Keep improving. Keep honing your skill — this is most important. Never think that you have learned all. People all over the world write beautifully and you can learn from everybody. You don’t have to be perfect. More than being perfect you have to be fluent and you must be totally at ease with words and sentence formation. Amazingly, 80% of writers who approach me for assignments cannot even write a single paragraph without mistakes. I am not saying you have to be perfect or should have a PhD in language, but it really alarms me when someone says, “I would like to wrote web writing for you.”
  • Write every day. My classical vocal guruji (teacher) used to say that even the maestros begin to fumble when they haven’t practiced for a few days. So practice has to be regular, everyday. Write at the smallest pretext. Write at every opportunity. Even when you’re not getting paid assignments, keep writing. Maintain a blog or an online journal. Participate on online debates over social media and networking websites. Write for news websites. Have illuminating e-mail conversations with your friends and relatives even if they don’t reciprocate. Write as much as you can. The more you write the better you get at it. Of course this needs be combined with learning.
  • Have daily dose of reading. By reading I don’t mean visiting your favorite blogs (although there is nothing wrong in it), read the newspapers, read well-known columnists, read literary giants and whatever quality literature you can come across. You can sound as “cool” in your writing as you want later on but first you must get your fundamentals right. Only then you will be able to feel comfortable in your art.
  • Develop an opinion. Unless you have an opinion you cannot develop a unique voice as a professional content writer. Opinion gives you an attitude. It also gives you a direction. It gives you confidence (although overconfidence can be detrimental to your professional and personal life).
  • Develop an expertise. Merely being a better writer is of no value. You need some knowledge in specific fields. For instance, I am good at Internet marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing strategy and a little bit of web design and PHP programming. You might be good at math, interpersonal skills, Scientology, extraterrestrial life or biology. An expertise may not help you in your day-to-day content writing profession but it will give you a basic idea of what all it takes to properly know something. It gets you used to learning and acquiring knowledge. It also inculcates maturity in your writing and other communications.

I have seen people writing pretty well without having a unique voice but they are mostly copying styles. They seem great until you stumble upon the writing of a person they are trying to imitate.


Multiply your conversion rate immediately with compelling headlines

Your headline is the first thing a visitor sees when he or she lands on your website or blog. A headline is not just the title of your page. It is not something that you need in bold and enlarged typeface just because straightaway starting with a paragraph doesn’t seem good. A headline presents the most compelling reason to go through the following text.

You must be wondering sometimes why there is so much hype around creating headlines when they just seem like the titles of the articles or blog posts proceeding them?

You must have often come across the expression “screaming headlines”. What are they? These are the headlines that often make you pick up a newspaper (I know, I know, not many people these days pick up the newspaper) or a magazine from a news stand. The entire newspaper and tabloid industry survives or thrives (as long as it lasts) on the ability of the headlines to draw people towards them.

The same happens on your website or when people come across your link on search engine result pages, other websites, and social media and networking websites. It is your headline that draws people to the actual page. If the headline is not compelling enough they are not going to click the link.

So how do we create compelling headlines?

When you are walking through a local market you often come across signboards on top of the doors of the shops. Every shop tries to attract you through the signboard and the words present on it. They may simply mention the service or product they are offering. They may also highlight the most special offer they have got for you. If they are offering a discount or there is a sale going on there is 100% chance they will have a banner proclaiming the irresistible bargain of the day. They even sometimes have moving advertisements or banners and posters at various prominent locations from where they can be easily viewed. But mere words don’t attract you towards them. It is the offer that catches your eye.

The same psychology applies to your website or blog headlines. Whatever you are writing, draw from it the most exciting reason why people should go through your content and formulate the headline from that reason. For instance if you are going through this blog post you want to know how you can increase your conversion rate tremendously by creating compelling headlines. This may not sound like a very exciting headline but there are many people who are quite desperate to improve their conversion rates and they will definitely want to check what I am trying to say here even if they are not very much impressed.

Address the main pain point in your headline

When I look at your headline I should be immediately able to know what you’re trying to offer. Of course you cannot tell me everything in a single sentence but this will definitely want me to read further. Suppose I am suffering from an old backpain. If your headline goes something like — “this revolutionary technique will definitely cure your backpain no matter how old it is” — I am definitely going to read this. Similarly, if you are looking for an effective content writer “content writing service that actually boosts your sales” may catch your attention more compared to “best content writing services on the Internet”.

Include the most important keywords or key phrases in your headline

This works well both in terms of getting targeted search engine traffic and influencing your visitors in a positive manner. All major search engines take headlines very seriously; in fact for them they are so important that they use your headlines as anchor text when they show your link on the search engine result page. It has been established beyond doubt that there is a greater probability of search engine users clicking links that actually contain the search term they have just used. This shows them that your link contains information about the exact phrase you are looking for. So using your primary key words and key phrases within your headlines definitely increases your search engine rankings.

Using keywords within your headline also increases the overall conversion rate of your copy because people immediately want to read the finer text if the headline uses the same language that they have been using in order to arrive at your page.

Create buzz on social media and networking websites with your headlines

The social media and networking scene is similar to a crowded marketplace: everybody is shouting and there is lots of noise and jostling. Everybody you are following or befriending has interesting stuff to post and whatever you post may fast scroll down the timeline. If you create a headline that cannot be bypassed it increases your chances of getting more traffic from websites like Facebook and Twitter.

Considering the importance of headlines I often spend and ample amount of time trying to come up with headlines when I’m working for my clients. OK, I also try to create decent headlines when I’m writing for my own website.


Does your content tell a story?

We all love stories don’t we? They excite us, engage us, attract us, fascinate us, antagonize us and motivate us. Whenever there is a story we have readers and listeners. Why do stories captivate as so much?

We can relate to them. They strum the chords of our emotions, attitudes, sense of wisdom and life experiences. We share the emotions present in the story one way or the other. That is why we all have our own indigenous folk tales, anecdotes and historical stories; they bind us together.

Stories can exist in any form. They don’t always need to adhere to a particular form of narration. Even a journalistic account of some event unfolding can be a very engaging and enlightening story. This is precisely why free press is curbed by authoritarian and repressive regimes — effective storytelling can move people into doing things they otherwise would never do.

The same concept can be applied to content writing and copywriting. Whenever you are writing you are trying to move people, you are trying to make them do something. Create a story around the product or service you are offering or describing so that people can empathize with you and really absorb its importance.

When you tell a story instead of a monosyllabic harangue about how great your offer is you get your readers’ undivided attention because whenever we are reading a story we always want to know what happens next. Remember the last time you read a page turner? How eagerly you wanted to know what lay ahead.

Of course not all of us are storytellers but describing a product or service in an interesting manner can be easily achieved by creative content writers and copywriters. Your story needn’t always have esoteric characters; you just need to have a theme and you can center your writing around that theme.

When I’m looking for a solution, frankly, consciously, I am not interested in reading a story. I want to know how this particular product or service can solve my problem that I am facing in my business or in my personal life. A story can definitely help me visualize. It gives me a three-dimensional picture of exactly how your offer can make my life easier — it has a live example I can relate to.

Another great benefit of creating a story is that it has a beginning and then an end. The beginning can be the initiation and the end can be a business transaction that takes place between your visitor and your organization. By storytelling you can change the event of buying a product or service into an experience. It is difficult to remember events and it is difficult to forget experiences.


Why your website content should pre-sell

Pre-selling assumes that your customers are usually on your website to find answers to their questions or problems, and not to buy. The difference between selling and pre-selling is how you present these answers.

Pre-selling is just the opposite of selling, which is perceived as something that pressurizes you to buy. Pre-selling recommends subtly through one or two links in the informative content, building rapport with the reader and positioning you as the expert. Wouldn’t you be ready to listen if your trusted consultant recommended something to you? And that’s what pre-selling does. Pre-selling works because when people think you’re selling, their defenses go up; but in pre-selling, people are ready to listen.

Just about anyone is capable of doing the hard-sell on a product or service on the Internet. What makes the difference between a consistently successful online business and the ones that are looking for a quick buck boils down to the website’s ‘tone’. Every website speaks to its visitors and when the visitor reads the content, it should create the impression that the website knows what it is talking about.

Depending on how this content is expressed, it can establish you, the website owner as an expert. Rather than publish yards of running text that most visitors on the move are unlikely to read, the content must be presented as informative bite-sized pieces. Obviously no visitor wants to buy without knowing more about the product or service. To reach that fine balance between no information and the overdose, “pre-selling” is the answer.

Around 400-800 words is acceptable for pre-sell content to position you as the expert even as you gently pre-sell your visitors on your product or service. Here are some benefits of pre-selling:

  • Ever wondered why NASCAR, Wimbledon, the Olympics, etc. always start on time? It is because they are pre-sold. When you pre-sell, you set a deadline. On that date, you’ll have your product or service out with no excuses
  • When you pre-sell, your project is already funded. Which means – you don’t have to get all stressed out. What you need to do now is create compelling content and attractive packaging!
  • You get a good look into your customers’ behavior for your product or service. Based on this information, you can tweak and tone before you launch your product/service.

Your next thought is probably about what you can pre-sell – here are some ideas:

  • Books – can be pre-sold long before you write them.
  • Products – obviously
  • Seminars and workshops – you probably know this already. Some marketers pre-sell a series of these ahead.
  • Consulting sessions – where your customer pays you before the event
  • Membership sites – can be pre-sold even before they exist.

Just imagine how motivated you will feel to deliver when your first customer pays you!


How to make your content more informative

There can be various purposes for publishing content on your website or blog but when you want to generate business from your content, you need to impart the right information as clearly as possible. What’s right information depends on how your customers and clients perceive your content, not you, unless there is a parity.

Whenever you are writing content (or working with a content writing service) for your business you should step into your customers’ shoes. This means not only presenting the greatest benefits of your product or service, but also addressing their concerns before they raise them themselves. This means highlighting even the negative aspects of your product or service. But this doesn’t mean you’re conveying something negative about your business: you are simply informing your visitor so that he or she can make the right decision. Here are a few things you can consider to make your content writing process informative:

  • List all the benefits: What do your customers gain when they purchase your product or service? Don’t go on a boasting binge. For instance, if you want to avail my content writing services it doesn’t matter much to you if I’ve done my higher studies in linguistics or if I read abstract literary classics in my spare time. You are interested in knowing whether I can consistently provide you quality content or not, and if yes, what system I have in place to ensure it. Additionally, what benefit you get by working with me and not by working with another content provider?
  • Who might benefit the most: Don’t try to sell your product to everybody under the sun (although this seems very desirable). When you are selling, you’re not selling a product or a service, you’re selling a benefit, a usage, a value. So whereas selling combs to bald men may seem quite smart, you are simply cheating people and when they realize it they’re going to have a really bad feeling about your conduct. Help people make a better purchase decision.
  • Clearly mention if there are any drawbacks: You may think, what am I talking about? Am I trying to help you increase your sales or lose your prospects. The truth is, if you think there are too many drawbacks then may be you should reconsider your offer, and if you think their are more benefits then drawbacks then your customers are going to thank you for informing them. Don’t let your customers find out what your product doesn’t do — tell them on your own and also tell them when a particular feature will be available in case it is currently missing.