Eight Secrets to Writing Killer Content


Eight Secrets to Writing Killer Content

There’s a lot of pressure to keep pumping out content these days.

It’s good for SEO, helps people to get to know you before they buy, establishes you as an authority… and, well, you already know all the reasons you ‘should’ be doing it. But, the world is awash with articles, videos, blogs and podcasts.

How can you make yours stand out? How can you avoid adding to the ‘sea of sameness’ or the ‘mire of mediocrity’? And how can you create all this amazing content and also have time to run that little thing called your business?

Here are eight secrets that professional writers know, and that you can use to develop your own killer content:

1. Find the time to write (or film, or record).

To establish a regular writing habit, you must schedule uninterrupted time to focus on thinking and writing. As a working mother, I struggle with this. But even with two small children, I managed to write the first draft of my book in a month, rising at 4 am each day (my husband dealt with the kids, who, most unhelpfully, bounce out of bed at 5 am). My point is, you can carve out writing time, whatever your circumstances. It just might not be pretty.

2. Know your audience.

I have two audiences for my content. The first is potential customers. The second, experts in related fields to my own, who see ‘me’ as an expert and recommend me to their customers. These two audiences go to different places, read different content and have different motivations. Knowing who they are and what they need to get done, is the starting point for writing content that’s useful to them.

3. See it as a work in progress.

Not every blog you write will be popular. Sometimes nobody will care. Other times, you’ll rattle something off, and everyone will go nuts for it. Over time, you get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. Keep writing, keep testing your ideas, and have faith that you’ll learn what your audiences love.

4. When everyone else zigs, zag.

There are lots of smart people out there writing smart things – and some of them are writing smart things about your topic. That doesn’t mean you can’t add to the conversation with a different take. Of course, you can’t always be radically different, but a new angle on something topical is infinitely better than regurgitating stuff that can easily be found elsewhere.

5. You can repurpose too much.

I often hear it said that each piece of content can have multiple incarnations across different channels (for example, repurposing your podcast episodes for your blog). This is a handy way to get the biggest bang for your buck, but it’s important not to go overboard. If you’re lucky enough to have followers who avidly read/watch/listen to everything you put out there; make sure you regularly offer them something new.

6. Aim for quality, not quantity.

I am a ruthless unsubscriber. If I get two or three emails in a row that I don’t open, I’ll unsubscribe; no matter how much I like the business. It’s commonly held that you should put your newsletter out every week or every month at the same time. I beg to differ. There’s just one thought leader whose newsletter I read every single time and he sends it out only when he has something truly valuable to say. The day he starts sending me weekly emails filled with whatever he cobbled together, is the day I’ll hit ‘unsubscribe’.

7. Step away from the keyboard. 

I am always tempted to hit ‘publish’ as soon as I’ve finished a piece of content. But, when I sleep on it, I can always improve on something I thought was ‘final’. Your unconscious mind continues to refine your thoughts while you’re doing the laundry or at the gym. The ‘step away’ technique also helps when I’m halfway through an article, and it’s just not flowing. Doing something completely different always means I come back and get it written in a fraction of the time.

8. It’s all in the redraft.

“Writing for me is largely about rewriting”, said Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner. Hundreds of successful writers have expressed the same sentiment. Get your thoughts down on paper (or your screen), then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Whittling away at something is a much easier process than staring at a blank screen and waiting for perfection to pour out.

Further reading on writing.

If you’re looking for help to improve your writing, there are a number of great books out there, but I think these two classic books offer a great place to start: On Writing by Stephen King and The Elements of Style by William Strunk.

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  • Rosemary

    Great piece, Kate. I think you raise a good point about too much repurposing – it can be tiring to read. I have read each of your eight tips and am taking them with me to my next Management Meeting with Self.

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