Just as content comes before design, so too does it precede digital/copywriting.
For the same reason that you set out a copy deck for a website, storyboard ideas, and create sitemaps, you should also prepare for your blog. There’s so much noise out there in the blogosphere. Bad writing is an incessant drone that not only fails to communicate much of anything, but, worse, drowns out the ideas of the good blogs.
To make sure your posts “pop,” attack them like you would a site launch or a campaign. Is everything following through on a single message? Is it consistently well organized throughout the posts? You get the idea…
Before you write, write.
Jot down your idea. That old saying from grade school is true: “writing down helps you to remember.” When you are finished with your article (and it should be approached as an article, but more on that later). You can look back at your original idea on a scrap of paper and ask yourself, “Is everything I wrote related to that idea?”
If you’re writing for a product or service this is equally — if not more — important. You must be creating a stand-alone narrative, or be on track with the existing story of your brand. Remember that above all else. As great design with no idea is just a pretty picture, so words without an idea are useless, which brings me to my next point…
Don’t waste time, especially a reader’s.
Try this little experiment: sit down and begin writing on a topic without any forethought. Give it a go as long as you can and then stop. Edit it if you like. Then, do a basic outline for another post and write that one. I guarantee the latter will be more direct and a much smoother read.
If you’re making your points fast and strong, you’re much more likely to engage the reader. Visual communication is a juggernaut, your words have to be as strong as you can make them. At any given moment, some bit of Flash, a popup, email, Twitter or who knows what else is trying to distract — nay, steal — your reader away from you.
Stay away from words that bore your reader. Conversational filler should be kept to a minimum. No “fast forward to…,” “moving forward,” “Imagine…,” These are copy mummies. Deader than dead and more dry than an episode of Mr. Bean. Anything that doesn’t propel your message is mental quicksand. Avoid at all costs and don’t be afraid to cut the fat.
Write like a ninja.
Your blog must fight and win to be read. This isn’t a leisurely newspaper item. Sell your topic with strong lead-ins and a message demonstrating worth. Put the most important information right up front. If your blog answers a question or makes a point, it should be laid out for the reader in the first paragraph if not the first sentence or, better yet, the headline. Keep up the pace of pertinent information the whole way through. Extra details and bonus facts can be tacked onto the end, if they’re needed at all.
Consider: your post might be truncated in a feed, if your hook is lost three paragraphs down, no one will ever see it.
Bringing it all home.
Just like a well-planned concept follows through to a fantastic execution that communicates and engages the user, a plan and purpose will focus your content and help hold the audience. Constantly ask yourself if what you are writing needs to be read. If you can gloss over it, then, by all means keep…um…moving forward.
Remember Gold Leader: stay on target.