If you’ve ever slogged your way through reading a piece of marketing and only finished reading because you had to, then you’ve experienced bad content marketing. When I speak to companies about content marketing I tell them that content is good if they genuinely want to read it. Content is great if they’re willing to pay to read it. If you want to see great examples of content, just look at what you’ve paid to read, watch, or listen to lately. If you watched The Lego Movie this year, you saw one of the greatest examples of content marketing to date. Oh, you thought they made that movie in order to sell movie tickets? Think again. That was a 100 minute toy commercial, and rather than using a DVR to skip it you paid good money to watch it. Is it any coincidence that Lego recently leapfrogged Mattel, the creators of Barbie, to become the largest toy company in the world? You may not have the budget to make a feature film to promote your company, but you can still give potential customers valuable information.
No, you shouldn't. Your copy should change depending on the medium where you're using it. For example, if you're writing copy for an outdoor billboard that consumers are likely to have only seconds to view while driving 65 miles per hour on a busy highway during rush hour, your message must be short and to the point with no room for confusion. However, if you're writing copy for a direct-mail piece that will be sent to customers who have requested to receive information about your business, your copy should be far more detailed with messages that explain, answer questions, and create a sense of urgency to boost response rates.
The easiest way to get started is to apply to write content for a content writing service or freelance job board. Content writing services create business relationships with companies that need content and provide writers to write that content. Freelance job boards are sites that allow writers to make individual profiles and vie for jobs posted directly by the client.
Marketing copywriters prepare creative and persuasive copy to urge consumers to purchase a client's goods or services. Copy is used in several media vehicles, including television, print and radio. Prospective marketing copywriters should seek a bachelor's degree in communications, English, journalism, advertising or marketing. In addition, examples of previous writing or completion of an internship program can be beneficial. Marketing copywriters should also be knowledgeable about their employer's industry, services and/or product line.
Low pay. Most content writing positions do not pay well, especially entry level writing positions. Small newspapers or publications are often good places to start in terms of gaining experience and contacts. But often, the compensation will be $10-$12 an hour. The average salary for content writers in the United States is $40,000 a year. Higher paying positions in the content writing field include project managers, online researchers, and proposal writers. However, you will need higher levels of experience to qualify for these positions.
Don’t think for a second that a boring or technical topic gets you off the hook either — IKEA assembly instructions have nothing to do with gay dating (usually) but we used a visual to help the reader make the connection. Push yourself to add a little creative fiction to your website content writing and see how much more fun it is to read (and write!)
Great article. I love how you always give simple examples. I have learned from another institution that teaches what you teach, but in a different way. What you are repeatedly telling people is to avoid proclamation, and instead give information. You cant beat people over the head with your marketing message. The goal is to present information in a way that they form the conclusion you want to convey in their minds. That way it is their assumption, not your assertion. The difference between the two approaches is everything.
While today Sunkist is a mega-brand, there was a period of time where they were growing more oranges than their customers were eating. They actually had to start cutting orange trees down. They ended up hiring an advertising genius named Albert Lasker who introduced American's to the idea of "orange juice". He patented an orange juice extractor, sold it for .10 cents a piece and American's started buying oranges in droves. The campaign name? Drink and Orange. It's a concept that is anything but new to us today, but back then it made for killer copywriting.
You can choose to apply for assignments on various content writing platforms to receive work. This isn’t the most profitable way to become a freelance content writer, but it can be less stressful and give you more time to focus on writing instead of sales. When you find your own companies for which to write content, you’ll be responsible for finding the client, organizing the contract and payment terms, and doing all the customer service tasks, including delivering the assignment and follow up. Content writing platforms take care of this for you and pay you a portion of what they charge their clients to write the work.
It can help, but other degrees also have content writing value. For instance, the ability to synthesize and relate complex information is key to content writing, but can also be acquired from studies in education or philosophy. Companies that offer content writing positions tend to find it easier to train someone in a complex topic than to train someone to write, however. For example, as a healthcare professional with mediocre writing skills, you're less likely to be hired as a healthcare content writer than a strong writer with no healthcare background (but who can be trained in healthcare topics).
There are a host of metrics to look at when you have a robust analytics solution, but having too many goals to live up to tends to result in prioritization difficulties. I recommend content marketing teams have 2-3 metrics they measure, and perhaps some secondary metrics each sub-team can measure to help understand when there are different levers to pull. Here are my recommendations:
I loved the tips you shared in this article, Gregory. A lot of them I probably knew and I do utilize them in my everyday work, but I do it perhaps … a bit randomly. This article paints a clear, concise picture of what’s really important if you want to convice someone to do something via a compelling copy. I also realize that most of the stuff listed here works well when combined. For example, a story is a way to invoke memories, but crafting a good story probably requires verbs rather than adjectives, etc…
No matter which company you choose to write content for, there are some best practices to keep in mind. It’s important to keep in touch with your clients while you are working on an assignment. This means letting them know you accepted an assignment, providing status updates for longer projects, and advising them about delays you anticipate. Ideally, you’ll meet each deadline without any delay.
Add value. That’s the secret. It’s not really a secret at all. We've already talked about it throughout this piece. Although when you look at some of the marketing companies engage in you wonder if they’re purposely avoiding the obvious. We skip advertising when it provides little to no value. If you want to learn about advertising that doesn’t get skipped, find a skateboarder and ask him if you can watch him look through a skateboard magazine. You’ll see that he spends as much time looking at the ads as he does looking at the articles and photos. Or check out The Berrics website. Much of the content is advertisements, but skaters don’t skip these videos, they watch them just like they watch the other videos, because they’re getting the value they want--good skating. As a skater I’d like to say skateboard companies pioneered content marketing decades ago, but I know they were only doing what came naturally, and selling more product was secondary to the fun of creating videos and magazines. If you want to hire someone onto your marketing team who understands content marketing intuitively, hiring a skateboarder might not be a bad step.
Part of transitioning to a media publishing mindset requires a change in structure and process to create content at the speed of culture. The old model you see on shows like Mad Men is too slow and cumbersome. By the time an idea becomes an ad, it is out of date. Marketers are increasingly co-locating insights, creative, production, legal approval, and placement to increase interaction and speed in producing and distributing content. Marketing content production is transforming from an advertising agency model to a newsroom model.
While successful content writers seem to have an enviable life -- they work from home, make their own schedules and work as much or as little as they please -- the vast majority have a hard time making a living of it. They lack the skills necessary to succeed. Because no matter how talented they are, writing skill is simply not enough. So, if you want to become successful as a content writer, you need a full toolkit of marketable skills.
Take a content writing class online. Some professional content writers argue that academic programs may be too basic or general for individuals who already have some writing experience or an existing English degree. If you feel you are already a skillful writer, you will likely need technical writing skills that you can gain through a content writing class online.
Notice how the second sentence is somehow less exciting (even though it contains a killer lion?) That;s because the active voice emphasizes the action with “the lion attacked.” In the passive voice, the village is the subject. The agent (the lion that performed the action) is only mentioned afterwards using the prepositional phrase “by the lion.” It’s almost an afterthought.