Producing content for a website can seem like a cinch for some people. But writing isn’t for everyone, and it takes a certain skill set to be able to write web content that does all the special little things it should do for the brand or business who publishes it on their website.
What special things am I referring to? Oh, you know, incorporating SEO organically while crafting a story that is informative and unique; something that resonates with the target market of the company in a concise and visually appealing manner yet also represents the brand in a relevant way while relating it back to a product or service the company offers, if applicable.
Was that hard to swallow? For an accomplished web content writer like myself, it’s all in a day’s (or really an hour’s) work.
Though content writing itself can be very complex, the reason behind most web content is still simple: it’s meant to sell. Whether it’s meant to sell a brand, product, service or just a name is irrelevant.
Content’s purpose is to motivate buyers to buy. Informative blog articles may not be selling anything explicit, but they’re published by people and brands who want you to remember them, and at the very least, want you to buy into their ideas.
Therefore, if you want to sell or promote anything online, you must have content. And if you don’t want to lose out on sales or alienate your target market (which you don’t), you must have responsible content at that.
Alright, so I need content. But what’s all this talk about a content marketing strategy? Do I need one of those, too?
Content Marketing That Makes Sense
These days, content marketing can seem like a money-burning black hole for many small businesses.
If you don’t have thousands or millions of dollars in your budget to pour into a content marketing strategy, you fear you may lose out and your content may never be up to snuff like the content of the big brands (which is boosted by billions of dollars of advertising money).
Here’s a little secret that will save you a lot in the long run: if you don’t have money to burn on a content marketing strategy, then don’t waste your time with it.
Sound scary? It’s not. You still need content, there’s no way around that. So you still need to invest money into high quality content for your website. But instead of spending time and money up front to come up with some fancy strategy – keep an open mind, brainstorm some good initial topics, and start producing that content.
Once you get some content up on the web, promote it using social media and other marketing strategies and keep track of the data to see what works and what doesn’t. This should help you start to develop your content marketing strategy by default.
Too much planning and development up front can actually hinder forward progress when it comes to website content. Get some content out there and find out what inspires engagement from your customer base the most. That is the kind of content you should be incorporating into your strategy.
You’ve got to get some content out there before you can figure out exactly how your business or brand’s story is going to play out in the most profitable, yet responsible and compelling way.
Web content is your opportunity to tell your brand’s story, and sometimes it takes writing out the story to figure out where it leads.
Avoid Risks, But Take Chances
In many ways, it seems logical to avoid risks at all costs when it comes to content. This is true to some extent, as irresponsible or risqué content can come back to haunt a business in a number of ways. Some bloggers will tell you that controversial content sells, which isn’t necessarily a lie, but it’s not very good advice either.
While controversy may sell, handling it responsibly wins over much more loyalty from a fan base or target market than any other measure.
We all know the big controversial content mills (ahem – Gawker, Huff Post, BuzzFeed, etc.) and yes, they get an unbelievable amount of traffic from their articles. But how loyal do you think their fan base is? If they stopped just for a moment milking the controversy from current events, do you think their readers would continue to tune in, out of some sense of loyalty and respect for their brands? I think that’s doubtful at best.
For most brands and businesses, thriving on controversy doesn’t work. Not to mention – from an ethical standpoint, it’s not a very morale way to do business.
All this is to say – risk-taking is a double edged sword.
What you decide to address in your content is your choice, but if you decide to address a potentially controversial subject, do so with the utmost decency, honesty and integrity. After all, your business’s reputation is at stake.
It will be transparent to your readers and fans if you’re jumping on a bandwagon just to gain some exposure.
But readers will also be able to tell when you’re speaking from the heart, even if a ghostwriter’s doing the writing for you. When you speak from the heart, people are much more likely to reward you with loyalty to your brand’s products or services.
Lesson? Take chances with your content but be responsible when it comes to controversy. If you make a mistake – own up to it and move on.
Readers will remember your brand longer out of respect for your honesty then they will for any other reason.
Image courtesy of Flickr user 10ch.