When it comes to marketing these days, you’ve probably heard that you need to know how to create engaging content.
Whether it’s written content for your email campaigns, your blog, ebooks, or your website, it all needs to engage your reader.
Now you’re probably thinking to yourself “Oh great, I’m never going to be able to do that because I’m a horrible writer.”
Well, I have a confession to make…
Most days I also consider myself a horrible writer.
Now considering I get paid to write and create content for a living, you may want to slap me upside the head for even saying that.
But before you haul off and deck me, here’s my point:
Even a horrible writer can create great, engaging content.
But how can a horrible writer create great content?
In reality, great content is all about answering the questions of your audience. As a subject matter expert in your field, you’re probably already answering these types of questions every day.
It’s only when you’re asked to write out the answers that things go crazy. This is because the focus shifts to writing rather than just answering the question.
How does a horrible writer overcome this problem?
The answer is to have a simple structure in place that allows you to just answer questions.
Then you can write out your answers or record yourself answering the questions, transcribe it (or have someone do it for you) or you can use a dictation tool to turn your voice into text (I used the free Dragon Dictation app on my iPad to write this post.)
Once you have your transcription you’ll need to clean it up a bit but the “writing” part essentially takes care of itself.
Sounds a lot less intimidating doesn’t it?
So what does this simple structure for writing engaging content look like?
If you plan ahead by outlining your content with the following structure you’ll have all the components necessary for an engaging piece of content, such as a blog post or article.
Here are the parts you’ll need:
- The 5 W’s
- Next Step
Headline: This can usually just be the question itself. Or the question reframed as a how-to. The headline is designed to get attention and let the reader know the benefit of reading the content.
Intro: This is the set-up or context for the content. What’s the problem? What’s the solution?
The 5 W’s: Expand on the solution. Outline the sub-questions you need to answer about the solution. Usually the who, what, where, when, and why of your topic.
Example/Objection: Can you offer an example that demonstrates your point? Or can you anticipate how the reader may object to what you’re saying? (If yes, address that point of contention.)
Summary: Give a brief summary of the information you’ve just shared. (This can be in a paragraph or in a bulleted list.)
Next Step: What should the reader do next? How can they put this information to use?
Let’s look at this blog post as an example
Essentially, I created a structured list of questions for myself to answer.
Headline: How to Create Engaging Content (Even if You Think You’re a Horrible Writer)
Intro: What’s the problem? – Everyone needs to be creating engaging content but most people believe they’re horrible writers.
What’s the solution? – Use a simple structure to answer questions about a particular topic in your area of expertise.
The 5 W’s:
So what does this simple structure for writing engaging content look like? List the parts.
How should each section be used?
Example/Objection: Use this blog post as an example.
Next Step: How can you put this simple structure for writing engaging content to use?
Armed with this outline I dictated a draft and then cleaned it up before posting here.
How can you put this simple structure for writing engaging content to use?
Think of one of the questions you get from your audience on a regular basis. Now just take that question and create an outline with the structure.
To make it easier, open up a new Word or text file and then copy and paste the following structure into it. Save it to your desktop as “content-structure-template” then just open up this file to use as your guide when you’re “writing” your next piece of content.
- The 5 W’s
- Next Step
This process may feel a little weird at first. But once you’ve done it a few times you’ll start to get the hang of it. Then you’ll “write” more engaging content—easier and faster. And hopefully you’ll no longer want to slap me.
Still having trouble? Ask your questions in the comments below or share your outline. I’ll help make sure you’re on the right track.