The Secret To Writing Really Great Content

One of the most common questions I get asked is... How do you get past the blank page and write really great content?

When it comes to writing web content most people assume you need to be super technical, follow specific formatting guidelines, and be a natural born writer. This is simply not the case. Anymore, to be an authority on a topic - or to be "read worthy" - you simply need to be genuine, and make a valid point. Period.

Following are some tips to get you over the hump, and have you whipping out great content in no time at all...

Get In The Groove

When you decide to sit down and write content, you should start by turning off all distractions. Close your email and any other windows/tabs, sign out of instant messenger programs, turn off the ringer on your phone(s), and lock the children in a closet (LOL J/K heh).

It helps to write when you feel most inspired, or most creative. Analyze the times in your day or your week that you do your best creative work, and use this time to write multiple articles or blog posts.

If all else fails, just get started. Once you get over the initial hump, that sense of accomplishment can really get you on a roll ;)

Cheat Sheet

Every time you think of a great topic idea for a new blog post, a new web page or a new article, make note of it! Keep an idea journal on your desk, in your car or in your purse and jot down ideas when you have them. Otherwise, they will be just as easily forgotten - and lost forever!

I use the draft feature in WordPress to make notes throughout my work day. I can easily find topics by title in my draft list, and add to the notes or include links/references to study later. This works out really well for me, as I can go back and flesh those drafts out into a full blog post - or copy and paste it into a web page from there. I currently have 394 posts in draft...

This gives you a nice selection of topics to choose from when you sit down to write your content.

Get Inspired

If you are not sure what to write about, you need a little inspiration. Luckily, there's plenty of that on the web ;) Start by researching keywords on WordTracker (that link takes you to their free, unlimited keyword tool). Dig deep - by clicking on keyword phrases - and look at what people are really searching for in your niche. You'll find an endless source of content ideas there.

For even more inspiration, visit niche forums or online communities and look at the conversations people are having. Find out what people are talking about, what they are asking, and use that to come up with "starters" for your website content.

What's The Point?

You have set aside some time to write, you have your ideas & notes in front of you, and its time to put pen to paper (or more accurately, fingertips to keyboard!).

Start by asking yourself this question: What is the primary objective of this piece of content? What point am I going to make, and what do I need to include to make that point clear to my readers?

You can start with a quick outline that includes: the title, the topic ("I am going to show you how to abc with xyz"), the main points you want to include, and the conclusion. It doesnt have to be perfect - its just a rough draft that gives you a starting point.

Every piece of content must have an objective. Not only should you identify the point you want to get across to your readers, but you should also identify your own personal objective for that piece of content.

Who Are You Writing To?

I find that it helps to get an idea in your mind of the people - or the type of person - that will be reading your content. Who are they? What are their challenges? How do they feel about the topic?

A great exercise: Imagine that you are on the phone with that person, and they ask you "how do you abc with xyz?" - Then write your response.

Let It Fly

Dont edit or format your content as you go. This interrupts your creative thought process, and triggers that "perfectionist" mentality that can easily hinder you. Instead just sit down and write freely, keeping in mind that this is your "rough draft" and you can edit it later.

You will usually end up with a more genuine piece this way, which is exactly what you want. Keep the flavor and the personality you have poured into it, and go back afterwards to edit the grammar or punctuation.

"The End"

You've just written an awesome piece of content. Your ideal visitor comes to your web page and reads every single word on the page. By the time they get to the very end, they have already scrolled past all of your navigation and they are now sitting at the very bottom of the page.

Now what? You answered their question, taught them something, or otherwise engaged their interest through your entire article. Do you end it there, with nothing for them to look at but your page footer?

What do you expect them to do next? For goodness sake, dont leave them hanging! Make sure you tell them what to do next. Give them some kind of option besides closing the window, or clicking the back button!

See the "content pages" section on Using A Call-to-Action.

Final Edits

Now you can go back and read through your content, make sure that all your points are covered, that it flows well and that there arent any major grammatical errors.

You might also want to tweak the formatting a bit. Use bullets for any lists you included, add sub-headings if it is a long article, add relevant images, etc.

This is also a great time to optimize your article. Come up with a catchy title or headline, that also includes a relevant keyword phrase.

But forget perfection. There is no such thing. Also - there arent any set rules for how long it should be, how it should be formatted, or any other silly detail. Dont get caught up with "the rules"... because there arent any.

As long as you make your point, and end with a call-to-action, you're good to go.

An Example...

While you are making note of each of these tips, go back and look at this article as a whole. It actually serves as an excellent example of each of those points.

The idea for this blog post came to me at 3am one night. I got up, went to my office (in the next room, thank goodness - short commute!) and started a draft with the title "how to write content" - and then went back to bed.

I came back to this post later and started with an outline of the points I wanted to include. Those points ended up as the bold section headers throughout the content. I simply sat down and wrote the details for each of those points. (And yes, I'm going to conclude this topic with a "Call to Action" here in a minute...)

I promise you - if I can do this, so can you!

I'm Still Stuck, Lynn...

I highly recommend you give this an honest try. Once you get over the hump, you may find that the writing comes much easier than you expected.

But if you are still struggling (after a sincere effort) and you find yourself pulling your hair out trying to write content, there are two other options. You can outsource your content development or use fill-in-the-blank templates. An inexpensive solution is Jiffy Articles. Or you can try using a microphone to "talk" your content, and then transcribe it into text (or you can outsource the transcription, of course).

Another great resource I love is Easy Article Starters. You can see those links for live examples.

Best,

If you like these tips, and would like even more ideas for coming up with an endless source of ideas and inspiration for unique & creative web content, then sign up to be notified about my upcoming guide: Easy Unique Content.

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 15 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. Dan Reinhold says:

    Well, you described the process much better than my personal motivational mantra: "Just WRITE, stupid!!!"

    Relaxation is definitely the key. When I feel I've just gotta write something, I tense up and shut down.

    Chill and it's all downhill!

  2. Great tip about the drafts - I do that too. Makes it so easy to come up with new content just by logging in to WordPress.

    I get ideas from looking at magazines and bestsellers in my niche too. A stroll through Barnes and Noble can be very productive :)

  3. Fantastic--- can't wait to read easy unique content.

  4. Lynn,

    Thank you for your kind Twitter replies!

    I'm a freelancer first and a blogger second, so I have the luxury of breaking blogging commandments. Such as, blog on a regular schedule!

    Don't forget that link on the right: "Passion vs Profit". Well, I need passion to write. I'm not a clinician who prefers the writing process over the passion of writing. Neither am I a journalist. I'm a professional freelancer. I'm passionate about it, and I'm passionate when I write. For me it's "Passion and Profit"!

    Blogging is becoming so "corporate", the techniques becoming so uniform. I want to see passion!

    -Bob

  5. Nice post Lynn. Stumbled.

    2 more tips:

    1. Answer questions first. The easiest way to write superb posts and articles is by converting your answers into posts. You'll automatically find your groove if you have to answer someone. So lurk at a few select forums and start looking for good questions to answer.

    2. Start with the end. Once you know how you want to end the article, writing it down becomes easier. Most people start at the beginning and struggle writing the posts quickly.

  6. Hey Lynn.

    Had fun at the last webinar, I ended up speaking with Roy Montero on the phone for 2 and a half hours afterwards! What a great guy, we really hit it off.

    Again, your posts seem to coincide with my online life at times. Today Veronica (my better half) wrote and posted her first entry on our new blog and I was sort of peering over her as she was on the laptop writing. She was getting so frustrated by paragraph 5 or 6, and I noticed on several occasions she went back to paragraph 1 or 2 and rewrote, and rewrote... I told her "it will never be perfect baby, just groove with it and the end will come". She needs to read this post. :)

    Just to touch on a few points - Letting it fly is something I had such a problem with when I first started out in January. I would constantly edit as I was going and this proved to be very inefficient in the long run.

    Knowing what your point is ahead of time can be very beneficial to your time spent as it reduces the bumps during the actual process. I go to my whiteboard for this one.

    Inspiration is vital. Trying to write when your inspiration well is dry can be difficult. My technique is to always take advantage of the time when I am inspired and try and funnel that moment into being uber-productive.

    Great post.

  7. Alan (new baby help guide almost ready) says:

    Hey Lynn,

    Another great post!

    I would also recommend How to write an article in 7 minutes by Jason Fladlien. It was on offer at the Warrior Forum just recently.

    It is one of the best things I've ever read on writing articles. Best of all, he showed how you can easily turn one article into seven with little effort and little time.

    Well worth the small investment.

    Ta ra
    Alan

  8. Lynn, Excellent post! I have already referred some folks to read this, and will be sending more. I especially like your advise to JUST START!

    Because in my experience starting is the hardest part.

  9. Annie Binns says:

    Great suggestions, Lynn! One of the keys for me since I started blogging has been to write down those miscellaneous thoughts that I have all day long. These aren't even long enough to throw into a WP Draft ... but I have a notebook full of weird things to turn to for inspiration.

  10. @Jared - Thank you! You were actually on my mind earlier today, so its great to see you stop by. I was realizing I hadnt heard from you in awhile :)

    @Annie - Some of my drafts are nothing more than a topic idea in the title, and a 2-3 word note or even a reference link in the body. For some reason I like the organization of drafts much better than my scribblings on paper - which I tend to bury and lose (lol).

    @Alan - Sounds interesting - do you have a link??

    Thanks to everyone for the Stumbles and for the additional tips & ideas, too. Its great to hear what's working for you, and various techniques for getting past "the block"!

  11. Lynn,

    You and I do something similar it sounds like. When I find a blog post that references "story ideas" or "writer's block," and could be used at my blog, I immediately open a new post, paste in the URL into the body, and hit save. I don't worry about title at this point. This process saves it as a draft and when it comes time for me to actually write, all I have to do is go to my drafts folder.

    I like to write at least a week's worth at once. I don't always create all the content since I'm using excerpts from other blogs (keeping in mind "fair use" copyright practices), but I will write an introduction, sometimes some insight, and occasionally my opinion. Rarely I've included a rant. Those are actually fun, believe it or not -- not to mention cathartic. LOL

    When it comes to creating whole articles, I save as I go along, every so many sentences or paragraphs. I know there's an autosave feature, but I've been burnt in Word and with WP when the power suddenly goes down.

    One good thing about using Firefox when this happens is the Session manager feature, which not only restores all tabs and windows that were open, but if you were filling in a form, like a blog post, it takes you back to where you left off, which has saved my bacon a number of times.

    But still I SAVE OFTEN.

    Often the process of creating brings up more ideas. I open another instance of my blog in a new tab and "jot" some notes in the body of a new blog post.

    And I'm with you on losing the notes if they're on paper, too. I've got whole notebooks I've misplaced. Sheesh! Put the baby down and forget where you put her! That's why women over "a certain age" shouldn't have children! LOL

    Now, what was I doing before I started writing this comment...?

    Deb Gallardo

  12. Your writing is always so refreshing - somehow you manage to give all the details and keep it flowing in a way that's interesting and informative.

    I was glad to read about your 'drafts' system for blogging. I had started to do this and found it worked well as I am one for starting things and then it takes me a while to finish them off.

    This system started from laziness - or so I thought - some days I just don't feel like writing on a particular topic and rather than write nothing at all...I'd start a new post....but now I can see that it is a workable system that has value....& hey, if it works for you then I am willing to keep on trying : )

    Thanks for your tips, they will be put to good use.

    Shaye Richardson

  13. Thank you Shaye and welcome to ClickNewz :) I do find that it works well for me as "a system". I am very easily distracted, and dont often write a blog post in just one sitting... so it keeps things very well organized, and easy to access.

    Deb - I save often too! It doesnt take many losses to make you a save freak, lol ;)

  14. Alan (new baby help guide almost ready) says:

    Hello Lynn,

    The WSO for the report seems to have ended, but the main sales page is at
    http://instantcontentcreation.com/

    It costs $37, but is WELL worth the money.

    I've sent you a PM with the author's e-mail address, so maybe you can work out a special deal for Clicknewz readers.

    Ta ra
    Alan

  15. Excellent - thank you, Alan :D

  16. Lynn...great article. I like the way you created a simple process for this.

    I especially agree with the "forget perfection" concept. We see so many marketers tweek and tweek and never get anything up on the website.

    Also, you may want to check out our site, http://www.junta42.com. It's all about how businesses can create valuable and relevant content. We also provide a vendor matching service for those who need outside help and expertise.

    Thanks again!
    Joe

  17. Yes, great article Lynn, well done.

    I'd guess most of us here were born with a natural inclination towards writing. Words form sensible sequences in our mind somehow, we don't know how, it just happens.

    But...

    A lot of people's brains just aren't wired this way. They're smart, they have other talents, they're just not natural writers, and no amount of effort will make it so.

    These folks can still generate tons of great content, by giving themselves a promotion from writer, to publisher.

    That is, they can become experts at creating and managing community type sites, where others do the writing.

    Redefining oneself as a publisher could be an excellent opportunity for those who really want to be part of the net content world, but they find their own words just don't come easily.

  18. Phil,

    What a great way of expressing this! (Wish I'd said it first, LOL)

    The reason that HOW you said it matters, is that our mindset, and therefore our perceptions, are what matter the most when we embark on any project or DON'T embark, as the case may be. I hope your well-chosen words inspire many who need to hear this.

    "If writing doesn't come easily for you, become a publisher!"

    Well done.

    Deb Gallardo

  19. Deb, thanks for the kind words.

    Yes, mindset! You are so very right.

    Sometimes I think if we were really serious, we'd spend 90% of our time studying our minds, and 10% of our time studying net biz techniques, instead of the reverse.

    But, I don't want to get too far from the topic of Lynn's article.

    So here, published for the first time online, is my *Secret Writing System*, which will blow your socks off and all the usual hype like that. :-)

    What I do is...

    Type as many words as possible everywhere I go, and then automagically, by the laws of random chance, sooner or later I type something sensible. :-)

    Seriously, sometimes I think we worry too much about our public image, and wind up with a dull public image as our reward. A dull public image can be a death sentence in such a crowded environment, eh?

    Shoot first, clean the egg off our face later, that's my vote.

    It's show biz folks, go out on a limb, put on a show, or kiss our audience goodbye.

    This is the smallest text box I think I've ever typed in. Somebody tipped off Lynn that I was gonna stop by. :-)

  20. Phil,

    (We've got to stop meeting like this. People will talk and Lynn may ask us to take our little rendezvous elsewhere. LOL)

    Love your secret strategy!

    And what you said here:

    "Sometimes I think if we were really serious, we’d spend 90% of our time studying our minds, and 10% of our time studying net biz techniques, instead of the reverse."

    I've known this almost from the start of my serious IM study. It's ME that's the problem, ALWAYS. I'm not talking about being down on myself (and believe me I can do THAT and whup anyone else at it, with one hand tied behind my back).

    I'm talking about realizing that the problem is not with the products, not with the strategies or the techniques. It's never the "what," it's the "who." And the "who" is me (and you and all of us).

    When we get our minds in the proper frame, AND when we get our minds wrapped around the IM concepts and precepts, THEN we'll start to see things happening.

    I think the best way to get that mindset is right here on Lynn's blog and at her forum, particularly in the Elite section where she gives soooo much one-on-one help. And let's not forget the weekly webinars!

    So, bottom line, if anyone comes into internet marketing with self doubt or any other "issue" that can be a deterrent to success, those issues will not just disappear because we've suddenly started trying to market online. In fact, the stress and uncertainty in the marketplace will exacerbate any mental, emotional or other issues (which we ALL have, trust me).

    It's no wonder so many people fail. They were doomed to begin with, because of other issues that need to be dealt with first.

    Now, am I saying we all need to go into therapy before we begin marketing on the internet?

    No.

    But there's a caveat to that. Know yourself. Deep down we all know what (most of) our issues are. At least when you get to be 59 you do. LOL

    As I said, I knew back in 2005 that *I* was what was standing in my way of moving forward.

    People like Mark Joyner, who created Simpleology, the simple science of getting what you want (simpleology.com -- sign up for free for Simpleology 101), know this. Mark is one of the most successful online business person on the planet. He created this technique of clearing the mind of all the stuff cluttering a person's thoughts that get in the way of accomplishing anything much each day. He created a whole system to deal with this one issue.

    I'm not saying his system will solve all our problems. It didn't help me. I didn't like the lock-step nature of going through all the steps every day. Too regimented for this creative, free spirit that I am.

    But for methodical people, it could be a life-saver, as well as for anyone who loves structure and having a proscribed series of steps to take.

    For the rest of us, well, that therapy is sounding better and better. *grin*

    But to get back on topic before Lynn bans me from her blog, the way I've found to create really great content is to write from my heart. I've produced some of my best writing by pouring out my heart on a subject that struck a chord, touched my emotions, resonated with me, or otherwise stirred up strong feelings.

    When we pour our hearts into what we write, we are at our most persuasive and most genuine. That's a powerful combination. We all need more of that.

    Deb Gallardo

  21. Deb, if you're gonna keep writing like this, we're gonna keep meeting like this.

    Stress and uncertainty in the online marketplace??? Where do you get all these crazy ideas Deb?? :-)

    I'm just a youngster at 56, and already I've discovered that I have "issues" too. No, really, it's true, I wouldn't lie to you!

    Everybody has issues. There is no kind of person one can be and not have issues of one flavor or another.

    So, like you said, know yourself, and then accept yourself. And then readers will accept us too.

    Not ALL readers of course. But in a market as large as the Net, we surely don't need to connect with everybody. And besides, there's nothing we can do to connect with everybody anyway.

    To me, that's one writing "secret". If we can accept ourselves as we are, we can write as honestly as possible.

    And then we'll attract the kind of readers who enjoy who we really are, not readers who are drawn to some fake manufactured image we are struggling to create.

    Another "secret" perhaps is to publicly own up to one's "issues".

    I don't mean blurt out every personal secret.

    Rather, when one's issues infect one's writings with less than glamorous side effects, try to be the first to shine a light on that.

    It's simply amazing what folks will let you get away with, IF you own up to it.

    My name is Phil, I have issues, and I approved this message.

  22. Mark Nolan says:

    Your advice to "get in the groove" is so true. When I'm writing I like to get lost in the work and really live and breathe it for a while without interruption.

    Wow Lynn you currently have 394 posts in draft format? Now that's awesome. :-)

    Keep smiling,

    Mark Nolan

  23. Actually, over 400 now. The kids have plans tonight so it will be quiet here... I was just thinking I might dig in and write for awhile ;)

  24. Ian Dunford says:

    Hi Lynn

    This Post is fantastic I am going to try and find all post that you have written about any form of writing Would there be a easy way to look on here.

    I Printed this out to take to bed with me I cant believe how much I have been learning from you in 6 short days, I think you may be unleashing a writing Demon I have started to really love writing.
    A Lot!

    Its Never has been my strong point I think mainly because I didn't Like it but suddenly I am finding it so much fun.
    What Have you Done!!!!

    I Really really really want to get good at writing something strange happened last night I had a title pop into my mind that I could write about How strange!!

    I have even done a few forum post at SSWT Never done that really anywhere maybe a couple of posts now and then.

    Thank you for your Kindness.
    Your Amazing.
    Warmest Regards

    Ian UK

  25. I saw how one guy (don't remember his name, unfortunately) does a great out-of-the-box article writing.

    He ... uses a voice-to-words translating tool. He simply narrates the text and the thing writes it.

    I was not testing it myself, but I know that many people have problems with WRITING the text. At the same time they can talk hours about their niche/passion/interesting topic.

    Switch on the voice-to-words translator and create tons of content.

    Really smart :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] If you still need a bit of help getting past that blank page, see my tips for How to Write Really Great Content. [...]

  2. [...] research. Create a website or blog, and target every single keyword phrase that is relevant. Create quality content, and optimize each page or [...]

  3. [...] off, I was reading a blog post the other day by Lynn Terry on the secret to writing really great content. She was saying how she uses the “DRAFT” feature in WordPress to document her ideas for [...]

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