We’re surrounded by mountains of content every day.
In fact, it seems that creating content has replaced acting and football as one of those jobs that so many people think they can do, just because they like the idea of it.
With social media turning everyone into a pundit, and the rise of bloggers/vloggers/influencers, you could be mistaken for thinking that the market is saturated.
How do you differentiate your content, from everyone else’s?
Don’t write crap content (there’s plenty of that already) and what you do write, write with authority.
Now, this doesn’t mean actually being the authority on a topic. In practice, the experts in their field aren’t usually great writers anyway.
In a world where opinion pieces are a dime a dozen, writing with authority is a great way to stand out.
Authoritative writing is essentially removing the ‘I feel’ element and avoiding any wishy-washy content in your writing; relying instead on informative, matter of fact content that helps your reader.
The process of writing with authority can be broken down into three parts: the style in which you write, your word choice, and the content itself.
Get the tone right.
You have two choices here: stay true to your natural tone or adjust it to suit your audience.
Writing with authority doesn’t mean writing as if you’re a professor, complete with elbow patches and corduroys – you can be informal, funny AND know what you’re talking about.
Know your audience though, if you’re writing a political piece on the radicalisation of sophomore students, it’s probably best to leave out the wisecracks.
Ultimately the decision is yours, but whatever you go for, stick with it. Nothing screams ‘copy and paste’ like reading a blog that jumps between casual and formal writing every other paragraph.
It’s all about clarity and substance.
Be clear, concise and to the point. Don’t over-explain or under-explain, because once you start to waffle you’re going to look like a rookie.
Choose your words carefully and assess whether they’re adding to the content or are unnecessary padding.
Avoid: in my opinion, I think, maybe, perhaps, could, try, some, usually.
Channel your inner dictator.
Combine tone and substance by putting power behind your words. Don’t suggest, tell.
Own your statements and get bossy. Imagine you’re the Captain of a Navy submarine in any movie ever, then write like that.
Need an example? Guess which version is the direct one.
a) To create good content, you might want to try to understand your target audience, and take into account their demographics, likes, dislikes and what they might want to learn more about. In my experience, if you focus too much on SEO you might end up sacrificing the quality of your content.
b) Want to create better content? Then stop writing for search engines and start writing for your audience. Don’t know who your audience is? Go and find out!
Know your stuff.
Research, research, research.
You can’t write like an expert unless you know what you’re talking about. Make sure you understand your content inside out, because if you don’t, it shows.
Speaking in theoretical terms loses your reader, particularly on complex subjects. Use details and examples to make your point.
Include statistics, but don’t overdo it.
Using facts and figures (as long as they’re relevant to your subject) are a great way to show that you’ve done your research. Better yet, use an infographic to add a visual element. Everyone loves a picture.
Quote the experts.
It never hurts to include quotes from experts on your subject. It lends credibility and shows that you’re basing your article/blog on more than just your own opinion.
If you’ve followed Tip #4, you’ll have stumbled across some great books or websites, reference them! Showing your sources lets your reader follow up on how you’ve come to your conclusions and is the courteous way to credit another writer’s work.
To be authoritative, you need to be informative without having any obvious ulterior motives.
The minute your content turns into a sales pitch, you’re going to start losing people. It’s a common mistake to try to make every blog that you write tick every one of your boxes.
If you’re creating an authoritative blog, let that be the focus and leave any other objectives for a different post.
For the love of all things sacred, proofread!
The other ten tips don’t mean squat if you’ve overlooked a glaring spelling ‘misteak’ or grammatical error.
See what I did there? It’s distracting and makes you wonder what kind of schmuck published their document without reading it first. Certainly not someone you want to take advice from.
Show your readers the respect of proofreading your work before they do – this is a non-negotiable.