You’ve brainstormed with your team, selected a promising content campaign idea, collected mountains of data, and pulled out the juiciest insights. Now, all that’s left to do is write a killer blog post for your client’s website and start pitching.
Yet, despite the clear vision and hard work required to get to this point, many content marketers are intimidated by the blank page before them. Indeed, that slab of negative space is the mortal enemy of many writers and it can be easy to resort to filling it up with fluff or scurrying through the writing process to get it over with. But resist these tendencies; good writing is important for link-building campaigns on many levels.
Good writing builds credibility, captivates audiences, and increases the likelihood of visitors venturing to other pages on a website. And this credibility extends beyond the target audience. Journalists, writers, and media professionals are also more likely to read and cover a content campaign when it is well written, which can lead to a higher chance for backlinks during the promotional phase of your campaign.
So, with that in mind, here are five tips on writing a great link-building post.
I. Start with an outline: Now that you’ve done your research, how do you weave your most interesting insights into a cohesive and compelling story? A little planning can go a long way.
If you dive headlong into the writing, you will likely end up with a series of disconnected ideas that are difficult to make sense of. Conversely, the more time you spend perfecting the bones of your post at the outset, the easier it will be to go back and fill in the gaps with intriguing details.
Think about what makes your idea interesting enough for writers to cover, find the most compelling insights from your research, and imagine the story you want to tell. Categorize these findings into chunks that will make up the body of your story, then fit them together in a way that takes readers on a logical journey from beginning to end. If needed, print them out and cut them up to rearrange until you’re satisfied with the organization and flow of your piece.
II. Know the client’s audience and tone: Tone is the voice, personality, and approach of a piece of writing. It’s forged by the collective effect of word choice, sentence structure, paragraph structure, and other editorial choices like exaggeration and minimization.
Hitting the right tone can be a fragile dance, but one that can make or break a piece of writing. It’s also integral to the fabric of your piece, making it difficult to retrofit after the chance. But don’t fret, there are several tactics to mastering client tone right out of the gate.
The first is the most obvious: consider your topic and make a logical decision based on that. For example, no one wants to read (or cover) a laugh-out-loud post about the best and worst cities for addiction counseling. The same goes for a dry thesis about the most popular video game in every state.
Another way to determine the tone of a piece is to spend time reading your client’s website or blog. No one knows their audience better than they do, so pay attention to the tone they use in their own content. Beyond that, branch out to other publications. What tone are they using in similar content on similar topics? Matching the tone of content that journalists are producing will net higher chances of those journalists picking up your piece, too.
III. This is a blog, not a ballad: As important as tone is, be careful not to overdo it with elaborate phrasing, complicated sentence structure, and flowery vocabulary. Even if you’re just positive it will impress the inner writer in everyone and make you sound more professional, resist the urge.
The thing is, replacing simple words with complex ones and tackling multiple ideas in a single sentence often leads to convoluted flow and confused readers. And nothing is more important to a journalist than the experience of their audience. You are but one among a sea of publicists pining for said journalist’s attention, so they will have no problem moving on from your content if it doesn’t sound like a piece their readers would follow and enjoy.
Aim for clear, concise, and conversational writing with the client’s audience in mind. If you wouldn’t say it to your friend over coffee, don’t write it in your blog post.
III. Revise, revise, revise: The writers and journalists you want covering your campaign will question everything about your research if you confuse “your” and “you’re” or misspell your client’s name in your post. These are silly but very costly mistakes if they aren’t corrected by the final draft of your piece.
With programs like Grammarly and Hemingway to check your work, there’s simply no excuse for publishing sloppy work and expecting writers to believe the research and other aspects of your campaign were produced with higher attention to detail.
IV. Get someone else to proofread: You can revise your work until your eyes turn inside-out, but you’re still bound to miss at least one errant word, phrase, or capitalization mistake. Once you’re too close to a piece of writing, your brain starts to read what it wants to read, not what’s actually there.
Of course, writers have a bag of tricks to gain a fresh perspective on a piece they’ve pored over for days—read it out loud, walk away for a couple of days, even change the font to Comic Sans and print it out to make it look as foreign as possible.
But the best option is also the quickest and easiest. Get a fresh pair of eyes on it. A first-time reader is more likely to trip over stubborn grammatical mistakes and awkward phrasing, allowing you to flag them and improve the professionalism of your writing.
Follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to crafting a professional post that will captivate journalists and readers alike. Next, take a look at these six formats for stunning visual assets that will make your article pop even more. Or, contact us and put our content marketing team to work for all your link-building needs!