7 rules of great content or Wisemont Copywriting and Content Marketing Styleguide
Please read this *great* post about content marketing first – http://yesoptimist.com/content-marketing-seo-case-study-the-trifecta-strategy/ – this is a benchmark for what we want to achieve through content marketing (for ourselves, for our clients, and in general!)
After you have read it, answer the following questions:
- Was this text personal? Do you feel like the author is speaking to you, from his personal experience? Did you feel the author really knew what he was talking about and was enthusiastic about sharing his ‘first-hand experience’?
- Was the author credible? Did you feel they are trustworthy and really know what they are talking about? Would you treat the author as an expert on that field and pay for their consultation?
- Was this text something you would personally bookmark for further reference or share on your social media, or send to someone you know needs it by email / private message on Facebook / LinkedIn, because it was so informative and useful?
- Was the text useful? Was it specific and actionable (as opposed to general and impractical)? Did you see very clear actionable steps which you could take away and implement in your business? (Maybe as bullet-points?)
- Was this text easy to read? Was it an interesting and engaging read? Did you feel excited when reading it and felt like you agreed with the author? Did you feel like getting up and putting the advice from the text into action in your business immediately?
- Was the text entertaining? Was it funny? Did it include some humour / irony/ sarcasm (where appropriate)?
The Ultimate Checklist of Wisemont Content
Love it or hate it, I don’t want you to submit any written content until you have signed off the following declaration:
I declare the text I have written is:
- Written form a ‘first-hand experience perspective’
- Useful, informative, actionable, in-depth
- Shareable / Bookmarkable
- Easy to read, pleasant to read, entertaining
- Written with enthusiasm
If your text fails any of the 7 rules of good content, please re-write it and get back to me when it does.
Also a must-read: Content Quality Standards by Dan Norris, Content Machine, p. 97-102 – you can read the book *here* for free! http://contentmachine.com/
The other thing I’ve found useful is to set some high standards around making my content high quality. They may not be the same for you, so they aren’t concrete rules—just personal observations.
You can use these as a starting point and adjust them to build your own list of high-quality content standards. You can even build them into your content creation guidelines, to ensure you and any guest contributors, remember them when it comes time to create content. A fair amount of this list would likely be applicable to most types of written content, particularly in the B2B small business space that I’m in.
This list is available as a download athttp://contentmachine.com/resources as a Google Doc, so you can use it or customize it to your personal needs.
Would someone actually use this? Write to solve an issue or pain point for a community of people. If you are using these standards to review an existing piece of content, what can you do to make the content more useful?
Easy To Read
Ensure that your audience doesn’t struggle to read your content. Have short intros, simple language, lots of white space, and eliminate fluffy language. Don’t let pop-ups or other objects intrude on the writing. Readers like to skim through and hit all the high points quickly, so use bulleted points and lists; large, high-contrast text; clean images; and a minimalist, simple design to effectively hold their attention and make them want to return for more.
Extra credibility helps. How else can you add credibility to this content? If the author has credibility to start with, that is great.
Having opinions from experts included in the article is another way. Data and links from external sources is another way. Great design and high-quality writing is another.
If you are specifically targeting a community of people, you should have a good handle on who they are, what they feel, what challenges them, etc. Write stories that will appeal to their emotions. What images and words can you use that will grab them?
It’s Not All About You
Some content about you can work well, but generally it should be about the reader. Look for more “you’s” than “I’s”. The exception would be if you are specifically telling a personal story that you hope they can relate to.
Be Specific, Not General
Broad, general content is rarely useful. Be as specific as you can and use active language. A useful tool for finding sections where you use passive voice is the Hemmingway Editor.
Look at your content and make a call on its motives. Are you just trying to get people to pay for something else? Or are you being legitimately generous?
Is it a new idea or rehashed old stuff that has been said thousands of times? Can you add something to the content to turn it into something that hasn’t been done before?
Make It Shareable
Create the type of content people would share and tell others about. The way I think about it is, if 100 people just click “Like” on my content, that’s 100 people who thought it wasn’t good enough to share. It sounds harsh, but it’s a good benchmark for quality.
Remember, if it’s not interesting, it’s not content marketing. Is the headline eye- catching? Does the content have a good hook to get people in? Does the content itself have a unique perspective that will be interesting to your community?
Make sure your content is executed to a high standard design-wise. Does it have high-quality, original supporting images—not cheesy, pixelated stock photos?
Does the content follow a logical structure that draws readers from one section to the next? It should be easy to read from section to section. Include short intros and conclusions to sections or bridges to get people from one section to another.
If you can get a laugh in, that’s a big bonus. Obviously, it’s not always possible or desirable depending on the context. I talk more about humor specifically in chapter four.
I have found that long and detailed content works well. Content posted on social media can (and sometimes must) be short, but if it’s on your site, give the visitor something to sink their teeth into. Would readers bookmark it and come back to it when they need to implement the advice?