If you look at the average site for any given affiliate,
you'll likely find a boring, tasteless smorgasbord of
prefab content that was created more for search engines to
read than it was for real people to read.
While that make aid in rankings, is it really going to do
any good once someone sees the site listed and makes a visit?
What every affiliate needs to learn is simple -
** CONTENT IS KING ***
It's content that leads to sales, not a strategically
designed website that search engines temporarily find meets
their ranking criteria.
So, let's talk about that.
There must be a reason why some content is very good and
some content is very bad; why some information is so
enthralling that you can't stop reading while other
information is the cure for a sleepless night; why some
words cause you to frantically take notes and some words
cause you to take a break.
There must be a reason.
And that reason is this -
Quality writers approach content creation as a craft.
To be sure, some writers are just naturally gifted. They
swing words like Tiger Woods swings a 5-iron. They can
spot a good paragraph like Warren Buffet spots good
investments. They write like Tom Hanks acts. Even though
they practice their art form, it comes easy to them.
Then, there are those that swing words like Jimmy D. Brown
swings a 5-iron. Paragraphs are like Black Tuesday. Their
writing is the equivalent of the acting in a kindergarten
cantata ... and they aren't nearly as cute and lovable as
those 5 year olds. Content creation is a struggle.
The good news is this: by focusing on two key components
all writers can create the kind of content that generates
interest and demand.
Whether you're writing ezine articles or paid products
or anything in between, there are two components that
you need to develop in writing your content.
Before I explain how to weave both of these components
into your content, let me first explain the reality of
why these components are necessary in the first place.
People read for two basic reasons -
1. They want to be ENTERTAINED. Many people read because
they enjoy a good story. They settle into their favorite
chair and John Grisham whisks them off to the courtroom
for a legal adventure or Sue Grafton captivates their
mind in a "whodunit" or Nicholas Sparks unlocks the
emotions with a love story. Or, maybe they head to the
bathroom with a copy of National Enquirer to read about
a three-headed alien who's been dating Lindsay Lohan,
whatever, they read to be entertained.
2. They want to be EDUCATED. There are other times when
people read because they want to learn something. That
drain beneath the kitchen sink is leaking again; a dormant
website needs traffic; mom is coming to her house for
Thanksgiving. Whether it's a do-it-yourselfer looking
to improve his home or an internet marketing looking to
drive visitors to her site or a young wife looking to
impress her mom with a mouth-watering turkey, people
read to be educated.
So, those are the two basic reasons why people read.
There will now be a test. Close your books. Put away your
notes. No talking or looking at anyone else's paper.
What are the two reasons why people read? (No peeking!)
If you said "to be entertained" and "to be educated" then
you get to continue. If you said anything else, it's time for
an XBox 360 break or a stiff cup of java or whatever it is you
do to get your mind in gear. :-)
People read to be entertained and/or educated. And when it
comes to the art of sharing information as a part of your
business, including BOTH parts are important.
Listen to me carefully. This is the "ultimate" mastery of
your craft -
To teach readers something desirable to them in a way that
they find enjoyable.
That's the goal. Put a great big bull's eye right there.
And fire away.
So, let's talk about some specific practices for each of
these two components. How can you make your content
entertaining? How can you make it educational?
Content Component #1: Entertain. There are many, many ways
to make your writing a form of entertainment. Briefly, let
me point you towards 6 methods of engaging your reader and
making the consumption of your content an enjoyable
experience for her...
* Analogies. A great way to keep your content flowing is to
use a few analogies. That is, you compare one item to another
item. Sure, I could have said earlier "writing is easier
for some than others". But, with just a few extra words
I instead said, "They swing words like Tiger Woods swings
a 5-iron. They can spot a good paragraph like Warren
Buffet spots good investments. They write like Tom Hanks
acts. Even though they practice their art form, it comes
easy to them." Honestly, which is a better read?
* Humor. A little chuckle goes a long way when it comes to
the enjoyment factor of reading. Most everyone likes to
laugh. (My apologies to those of you who don't enjoy
laughing. You may skip this and go immediately to the
section marked "Don't Have A Sense Of Humor"). Earlier,
I built upon the analogy of Tiger Woods by comedically
adding, "They swing words like Jimmy D. Brown swings a
5-iron." By affording them the opportunity, you naturally
make the reading experience more enjoyable. Does this mean
you should make every attempt to be Jay Leno? Of course not.
It just means when you have a chance to say something in a
funny way do it. Don't use too much humor and stay away
from offensive humor, but by all means insert light-hearted
fun when applicable.
* Acronyms. Another idea is to organize your content by
using an "acronym". I've used many in the past: "How To
Keep Affiliates A.C.T.I.V.E. In Your Program", "How To
S.E.T.U.P. A Web Site" and "How To I.M.P.R.O.V.E. Your
Writing" are just a few. In these instances, the words
"Active", "Setup" and "Improve" were used to reveal the
various parts of the content. Not only do people love
them (I've always gotten great feedback), but it also
allows you to have something original that is uniquely yours.
* Storytelling. In a recent paid report I wrote, I opened with
a story about me selling Grit newspaper back in the early
1980's and I tied it into the fact that this was an early
form of the modern affiliate program model. A good story
always engages the reader. Especially when it is relevant
to the point being made. Keep them short (don't launch into
the great American novel - this isn't Hemingway for crying
out loud!) and lively and they'll only enhance your writing.
* Editorials. Opinions are like noses ... everyone has one.
So, why not share yours? To be sure, you may want to steer
clear of any controversies that might damage your reputation
and business, but don't be afraid to get personal when you
write. Many times I've mentioned my faith in Jesus Christ
in my content. I've jumped up on my soapbox and preached
about using integrity in your business dealings. I've gave
my thoughts on a variety of issues that were relevant to
what I was writing. And, you know what, it always gets the
reader more involved in the process of consuming information.
Either they agree or disagree (sometimes strongly) with
what I'm saying, but they continue reading because editorials
are interesting. Share your thoughts.
* Revelations. A simple way to get someone reading deeper
into your content is to make a statement of something you'll
be sharing later int he content. It's so easy to do. If
you read back to something I wrote earlier in this article,
you'd find this statement: "Before I explain how to weave
both of these components into your content, let me first
explain the reality of why these components are necessary
in the first place." Do you see how that works? I set the
table for what I'd be revealing shortly. I whet your
appetite. Consciously or (more likely) subconsciously, you
got the point that something desirable was coming later
in the article. This isn't a new concept. Think about every
newscast you've ever watched: "Coming up later in the hour,
we'll show you how..." and "Up next we'll share..." Building
interest breeds enjoyment -- especially when you deliver
the goods later in the content.
So, those are just a few ways you can "entertain" your readers
and make the consumption of your content an enjoyable experience.
But, what about the other component? How do you "educate" them?
Let's take a look.
Content Component #2: Educate. Certainly writers of all shapes
and sizes know that the essence of "educating" a reader is to
explain the subject matter in a way that can be clearly understood.
That's a given, right?
And certainly there are many ways to do this effectively. There
isn't a standardized formula that all content must adhere to in
order to get it right. However, I do believe that there are
three basic parts that should be included in virtually every
piece of content written as far as those involved in selling
* Action Steps . If someone is intent on learning a process,
they want to know the necessary steps involved in completing
it. For example: If I want to learn how bake a cake, I don't
want a list of ingredients with the instructions "Mix these
together". I want a detailed, chronological list of what to
do, step-by-step. Certainly, not all content is a "tutorial"
(The very lesson you're reading isn't in step-by-step format)
but, when applicable, always explain things in chronological,
reasonable steps. Preferably, in 9 steps or less to avoid the
appearance that the process is too difficult to be accomplished.
* Brainstorming. Two of your favorite words as a writer should
be, "For example". The missing element of most information
products and associated content that I've read is the use
of "examples" and "ideas". Most people present some information
and then leave it to the reader to figure out how to apply
that information for their own use. That's usually not a good
thing. Instead, it's important to provide as many different
examples, case studies, ideas, etc. as possible to give the
reader a good idea of how to accomplish what you're suggesting.
For example (Hmmm, bet ya didn't see that coming, huh?): I
could have simply said, "You need to entertain your readers"
and "You need to educate your readers" and left it at that.
Instead, I've been giving examples and ideas for doing each
of these things. More than just information, readers crave
application. They want to see the content in action; they
want to see how they can use it themselves.
* Tips. Everything you write should have tips included.
Everything. Tips come in many shapes and sizes: keys, tactics,
techniques, ways, methods, options. As many of these as you
can include in your writing, the better. All it takes is
for one good idea that you've shared to satisfy the reader.
If you share 10 ways to do XYZ and number 7 clicks with the
reader, they'll love you. It doesn't matter what else you
write in the content, they are happy because they learned
something useful. Tips are the information publisher's best
friend. A veteran might read your material and already
know 99% of what you've written, but that one tip on
page 47 just floored them and they are esctatic. Share as
many different tips as you can. Your readers will thank
you later. Well, the grateful ones will.
So, there you have it, the two key components of your content.
Don't forget the goal with these:
To teach readers something desirable to them in a way that
they find enjoyable.
When you begin to build THAT kind of content into your websites
and blogs, you'll have a site that will do more than impress
the search engines, it will impress those who arrive at your
site and take a look around.
Never forget this truth: search engines don't buy what you're
selling. People do.