Copy is the term used to describe content written to sell a product or service. Copy can be anything from a banner ad offering 30 percent off to an informative article published on a company’s website. Though the former is certainly an important part of an effective marketing strategy, it is the latter that we will be focusing on today, specifically, how to write engaging content without sounding too “salesy”.
But before we dive into the “how” part of this article, let’s discuss the mentality of the average online reader. The fact is, most people surfing the web don’t want to be sold something at every turn – instead, they want to learn something, or at least be entertained by it. It is therefore up to you to add value to the content you create – the sales pitch can come later.
Determine Your Focus
The most important part of copywriting is understanding the goal of the content. Is it to inform? To entertain? Perhaps to enlighten readers about a problem and to inform them of a solution? Whatever the goal, the document topic should closely align with the reader’s needs and expectations. Don’t create a vague title or produce overly complicated content, just describe the subject in the title and expand on it in the document. (We’ll go over a few methods for choosing a topic in a later article so stay tuned!)
Research Your Topic
The research phase is often the most time-consuming part of the content development process and is, by far, the most valuable, as well. Research helps you gain a better understanding of the subject and will give you an idea of the best information to include in the document. If you want to write engaging content, you must research the topics your readers are interested in.
The best way to start the research process is to copy and paste the document title into a search bar. You’ll likely find a wealth of information on the subject; be sure to read many articles to gather well-rounded information and to avoid simply “spinning” someone else’s content into your own. Don’t forget to read the comment section, as well, as this can provide insight regarding common questions your readers have.
Also, pay attention to common words and phrases as this can help you decide which keyword(s) to optimize your content with. Other ways to find strong keywords include searching sites like Google Trends, Keyword Tool, or simply noting auto-populated terms from search bars.
Develop an Outline
I am a huge fan of outlines. Outlines help organize thoughts and information and give structure to the writing process. A strong outline not only ensures that all information is covered, but saves time – and headaches – once the real writing begins.
To begin, list at least three main points the document should cover. Structure the points as subheaders (including a keyword focus plus variations of the keyword or phrase) then use bullets below the subheads with the details you wish to include.
Next, go through and add details and source links, and rearrange information as needed for better flow. Remember, the more detail you add here, the easier the writing process will be later, especially if you use your own words rather than copy/pasting someone else’s (which would have to be rewritten later anyway).
When adding source links to your outline, try grabbing links from credible sources which you will use in link building to improve the credibility of your content and thereby the credibility of the site on which the content is published. When possible, reference the original source of information instead of an article that simply links to it.
After outlining the points you wish to cover, create a brief introduction and conclusion that summarize those main points. Feel free to reference other articles on the subject to help get the creative juices flowing (and to familiarize yourself with the lingo your readers are most familiar with).
Flesh Out the Content
To write engaging content you have to, well, write the content. This step is largely a matter of filling in the blanks with complete sentences and descriptive terms. As mentioned, the process is much easier if the outline is detailed and includes your own complete, unique sentences. In this case, you may only need to add a few transitional words and sentences, removing the outline format along the way.
When writing your document, pay attention to your use of language and sentence structure. Don’t waste your reader’s time (and client’s money) with redundant phrases like “added bonus”, “close proximity”, or “future plans”, and use bullets when possible to improve scanability.
Use terminology your reader is familiar with and add hyperlinks when necessary to provide additional information. Ensure links are from credible sources or, better yet, from other pages on the company’s website. Link building is an important part of SEO; the importance of valuable hyperlinks cannot be understated. Remember, to write engaging content, you must provide readers with links they find valuable, as well.
Finally, develop an introduction and a conclusion to summarize the topic of the document. Introductions and conclusions needn’t be long but they should give the reader a clear understanding of what they will read or what they just read respectively.
Wrap up with a call-to-action, or CTA, to guide readers on their journey. Don’t leave them hanging; give your readers a clear path to follow. Whether to encourage them to contact the company, leave a message, or follow them on social media, a CTA is a great way to boost content engagement.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Writing a conclusion does not mean you’re done. On the contrary; the editing phase ensures a document is informative, easy to understand, and as concise as possible. Though many writers dread this phase, it is vital to ensuring the client – and the readers – are happy with the content you produce. Don’t be afraid to delete and re-write as necessary, using grammar checkers like Grammarly as needed.
After writing and editing your content, submit it to the client. You’ll do this directly through your dashboard and, upon approval, will receive payment at the end of the month to your PayPal account. Should the client need revisions, kindly oblige within a day or two maximum lest they deny your work and choose another writer. Always be prompt and courteous and remember: happy clients are returning clients; if you appease them, they will likely ask you to write engaging content for them again in the future.
Continue to Write Engaging Content
It takes practice but developing strong content gets easier in time, especially after gaining knowledge about your niche. Strong copywriters are in demand and if you produce excellent content, clients will not only return for more orders, they will recommend you to their network, as well. Remember, your success as a cannabis copywriter depends on the effort you put into both writing engaging content and honing your craft so take your time, do your research, and become the cannabis copywriting rock star you were always meant to be.
Do you have tips on how to write engaging content? Share them with our readers in the comment section below.