How to Write Engaging Content

Now you’ve learned the basics of how to create your own blog and you should have all the technical knowledge you need to build something that looks good, that’s responsive for different sized displays and that loads quickly and reliably.
But this isn’t what makes a great blog. What makes a great blog is the content – the quality of your writing and whatever else you include in your posts to engage your audience and grab attention. It might be the look of the site that gets people’s attention and it might be the marketing that gets them there in the first place… but it’s the content that will keep them on your page and that will ensure that they keep on coming back.

The good news? This is the fun part. Writing about topics you love is something that can be highly rewarding and especially once you start getting feedback. This is something you can do wherever you are in the world and that allows you to express yourself, to share your ideas and possibly even to help people.

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The only question is: how do you go about writing engaging content that people will really want to read? What if you aren’t the next JK Rowling?

Don’t worry – this is a skill you can learn like any other. Keep reading!

The Basics of Good Content

Let’s start with the basics: what makes good content?

The answer is first and foremost that good content needs to be well written. That means it needs to have good English, it needs to flow and it needs to convey all the necessary information.

If you’ve spent much time on the web, then no doubt you will have come across examples of websites that don’t do this well. Some websites appear to have been written by people who don’t speak English as their first language and others have been ‘generated’ by computers and just sound broken. This content is devised by unscrupulous webmasters hoping to cut their overheads and make a quick buck. In reality though, it drives visitors away and ensures they’ll never gain a following!

Make sure that your content doesn’t fall into this trap by focussing on writing well and really engaging the reader. If you don’t speak English as your first language, then hire someone who does. Always proof read your content for errors and to make sure it flows properly, try reading it back to yourself.

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Of course though, there is some discrepancy as to what people will consider to be ‘good writing’. Writing is an art form and as such it is subjective. With that said, there are definitely some ‘dos’ and ‘donts’ and some basic guidelines to consider.
Essentially, the point of any writing is to convey information. Thus, your key objective is to be understood by your audience. What’s more, your aim is to try and be efficient – which means you want to convey the most possible meaning and value in the shortest number of words.

This might not sound like particularly entertaining writing but it is – it means that your audience will be able to quickly come away with something useful or interesting and they’ll feel rewarded for the effort they’re putting in.
Contrary to popular belief then, good writing does not mean using as many big words as you possibly can and being flamboyant and roundabout in your wording. This might sound ‘clever’ but in fact all you’re doing is confusing the audience unnecessarily and wasting their time by muddling your meaning. The same goes double for jargon.

So then the question becomes: why would you ever use big words? Why not just write in plain English with short staccato sentences?

The answer is precision. You want to be efficient with your writing but you also need to be precise – meaning that you have to try and choose the exact right word for whatever it is you’re trying to say or convey. There is a difference between large, big, gigantic and massive – not only in the meaning but also in the tone. When you write you are saying something explicit (the meaning of your words) but also implicitly communicating things about your personality, your beliefs, your feelings etc.

And this is the other thing that good writing does: it matches the tone of the site and the topic where it is being presented. So in other words, the type of writing you use when talking about car insurance for a website about finance is likely to be very different from the type of writing you use when talking about films on a film review website.
Get all this correct and your writing will flow, it will be entertaining and it will look professional and appropriate for its given context.

Choosing Your Topic

That’s only part of the story though! Next up is choosing your topic. I’m not talking about choosing your niche here, as that is something that will come long before you actually start writing. Rather, I’m talking about the actual title of your posts: what makes them interesting and engaging and what makes people want to read them.

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This is where you need to start thinking more creatively about your writing in terms of how you’re going to make something that stands out and how you’re going to structure and organize a piece of content.

The mistake too many people make when starting out with a blog is simply thinking it’s enough to emulate the kind of content they often see online and the generic content that they think belongs on a blog in their niche.

For example, if you had a blog on fitness, then you might very well be tempted to fill it with generic content such as:

  • How to Get Six Pack Abs
  • 10 Exercises You Can Do From Home
  • The 5 Best Supplements Revealed

This is your standard, every day ‘fitness site content’. And on the face of it, it sounds like a great way to begin a site when you’re trying to become an authority in that niche.

But now ask yourself this: if you saw that content come up on your Facebook home feed… would you click it? The vast majority of us would say no and the reason for this is simply that it is incredibly similar to the kind of content we have read already. You can practically already guess what it is going to say and that makes it dull. There’s no personality, no intrigue, no big new development…

And thus no one is likely to read it.

Now think about the kinds of things that do get clicked on Facebook. They tend to be things that are classed as clickbait, which in turn means content with titles devised specifically to try and get people to click. Very often these posts will have titles that are controversial, shocking or mysterious and this then gets an emotional reaction that is enough to make us want to click.

For example:

  • This One Crazy Trick is Upsetting Sports Nutritionists Around the World
  • Single Dad Finds INCREDIBLE New Way to Build Muscle… But Should it be Banned?
  • This Guy Walks Into a Gym and What he Does Next Will Shock You

These titles work because they’re interesting.

There’s just one problem with them: very often they don’t deliver on the promise. These clickbait titles tend to link us to short, boring videos or posts that are simply just selling some kind of (snake oil) supplement.

So what we need is a middle ground. We need titles that are engaging, challenging and emotional but that then can deliver on that promise by offering some real value and really making us think. Craft beautiful articles that you can really sit down and enjoy over a cup of tea.

What might this look like? Here are some examples:

  • Cardio Acceleration – The New Weight Loss Method Backed by Some Intriguing Research
  • The Psychology of Lifting Weights: How Does Lifting Weights Change Who You Are?
  • What Weightlifting Can do For Your Sex Life
  • How to Train for an Obstacle Course – Grip Strength, Cardio and Endurance

These are now articles that someone might actually be interested to read and that offer something different from all the rest. They have a personal, emotional angle and they also tackle new and exciting sounding science.

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And this is something that Google is pushing heavily at the moment. If you want your site to be shown in searches, then you need to ensure that it is providing lots of real value. This means lots of words and lots of links to useful external resources and more. This also makes your article ‘clickbait’, meaning that people will be likely to link their friends to it and people in forums. Because it provides value they will want to share it.

How to Present Your Articles

But it’s not just about the content – it’s also about the presentation.

If you really want people to enjoy your writing, then it’s important to make sure that it is well presented. That means:

  • Large font
  • Varied fonts for titles
  • Big, HD images
  • Spacing
  • Headers
  • A unique style
  • Pull quotes

Things like this not only make your articles more enjoyable to read but also help to reinforce trust and authority while also enforcing your branding and making sure that people know what you do and who you are. This is especially important if your article is going to be very long (which is a good thing) because a dense wall of text in a small, samey font and without images is going to be off putting for readers.

Overall, it makes the whole thing a much nicer package that someone might actually want to sit down and read. It doesn’t have to be a work of art but just try to put some thought into it and to view your posts as fully fledged products in and of themselves – not just something you use to ‘lure in’ customers.

This is a great example of a review by a website called ‘Kotaku’ for a game Watch Dogs. It’s nothing stunning and the post is quite generic but notice how it just goes a little more in depth and utilizes spacing, fonts and big images to really look attractive:

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Finally, think about your images. That means where you’re going to get them from, what the style will be and how they complement what you are saying.

There are actually several different ways you can get images and these range from taking your own photos, to getting photos from stock image sites (where they have no intellectual property protection) or even commissioning people to make them yourself. If you want to, then you can come up with a consistent style and make your images in a particular way. A great example is the website Nerd Fitness which uses photos of Lego figures to illustrate all of its articles.

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While you can get all of the images you need from sites like FreeImages.com, it’s preferable to learn how to take photos yourself as well and to invest in a solid camera. This way, you can populate your site with unique images that will more accurately reflect the nature of your blog and that you can use to promote your site and each post on social media. Use only stock images and it will be evident to people who read a lot of content on the web and know a thing or two about blogging.

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Make sure that you always have an audience in mind for each blog post. Think about people from your own life who you know that would enjoy the content you’ve created. Then write each post specifically for that person/group of people (known as a ‘persona’ in the biz) and provide as much quality and value as possible as you do. If you do this right and then find a way to reach that audience, you’ll find that it becomes very easy to build up a massive readership for each new post.