How to Find Ideas
Bad ideas can be covered by great writing. The best content writers spend as many hours honing their ideas as they do on the technical aspects of their writing style and writing style. At BEACH, we have a process that helps strengthen and workshop ideas. Writers take the ideas and nurture them. Then they write.
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Gather the Seeds of Good Ideas
Keyword research is a common starting point for writers, but it has its limitations. Many great ideas don’t have a 500-monthly search keyword. Many great ideas have been compromised by the unneeded constraint of keyword targeting. There are many types and types of content. Not all articles need to be SEO-friendly.
You can also find the seeds of great ideas through keywords:
- Customer feedback and sales conversations
- Internal meetings, conversations, Slack channels
- Snippets of unfinished articles
- Books, blogs and newsletters. Research papers.
- Forums, social media and communities
You can nurture them to fruition
Every idea is not great right away. Sometimes they require time to rest in your mind. Sometimes they require more data or a different frame to be their best. This can be encouraged by:
- Find commonalities among ideas. You may find a greater, more valuable insight just beyond your vision’s periphery.
- Test new angles. Try new angles.
- Ask for feedback from your peer. Ask your colleagues for help in identifying your most powerful ideas.
Deep dive How to make people care about your content: Find the right angle
Harvest Ideas when They’re Ripe
It is helpful to determine the characteristics that indicate a blog post idea has potential to be written. You can look at these four things when you are evaluating ideas.
- Implication: How can this blog post impact your company and help you achieve your goals?
- Originality Are you adding something to the discourse?
- Credibility Is it the strongest argument you could make? Are you able to provide the evidence necessary to support your argument?
- Timeliness Is this the right moment to share this story with others?
Deep dive: The Idea Farm: How To Sow, Grow and Harvest Great Ideas for Blog Posts
How to interview someone for an article
A page of search engine results can be opened by anyone. They will then read half a dozen articles and create their own interpretation of the topic. No expertise, experience or research is required.
Even if the articles rank for the target keyword, which is not a sure thing in today’s highly competitive search environment, they won’t be able to convince the reader that these articles were written by real experts.
Interviews with industry professionals (often called subject-matter experts or SMEs) is the fastest way for you to create credible and authoritative content. Interviews with SMEs are a great way to gain new insight into content and simplify blogging. Although the process is straightforward, ask questions to help you write your article. We’ve also learned some tips for making the most of every interview.
- Ask “dumb” questions. Your job as an interviewer is not to be a subject matter expert. Instead, your job is to be a conduit for the questions of your readers. Do not rely on intuition to generate good questions. Instead, ask “Is it something my reader would be interested in?” Is it logical, given their experience?
- Prepared questions should be used as prompts and not as an agenda. Interview questions are a good starting point for discussion. However, don’t be afraid of deviating from the plan and letting your subject matter expert guide to better insights.
- Identify the key themes of your interview. Group related quotations together to form a few big ideas that could serve as the foundation of your article. These ideas could be the core steps of a process or the pros and cons for a particular tactic.
- Any ideas that do not support the main story should be cut. Many interviews will include a few sidebars or anecdotes, which while interesting, don’t support your main argument. To prevent them from becoming bloated and muddying your article’s waters, you can cut them. However, keep them in your Idea Farm so that they are available later for inclusion in future articles.
- Use specific language to pull quotes. You’ll use some parts of your interview for structure. You can use these as direct quotes by using the exact language of the SME as a catchy phrase or illustration.
- Make the article more personal and familiar by incorporating your SME’s quirks into it.
- Tell them what the main idea is. They will often use your call to speak louder than you. The content creator should not go through this exploratory phase and instead present the final argument in clear, structured language. This will make the SME seem smarter.
- To get buy-in, summarize the thesis of the article. You can begin to build the story of your article by combining the comments from your interviewees and sharing them live on the phone. You can explain the direction that you are going to take their quotes in and allow them to express their opinion. This will avoid any surprises for them when they first see the draft.
Deep diveHow To Interview Someone For An Article
How to Outline
Our writing process is anchored by our outline. They are like roadmaps. A written plan that guides the reader to their destination and addresses each point along the way.
Our outlining process is based on three stages:
- The thesis: Every article argues a point. It could be that companies should cultivate an ownership mindset, or that call tracking can be a vital marketing analytics tool. Your thesis is a concise summary of the argument. It helps you focus your energy on your main topic and communicate your thesis to your boss, editors, or teammates.
- The 10% A 10% outline is a list of key points that support your argument. It is named this because your article is only roughly–10% complete at this stage. Your 10% could be a list listing the steps involved in a specific process, a selection compelling reasons why your thesis holds true, or a chronology of events that tells a complete story.
- The 30%: Your 10% is the core of your argument. The 30% is where you add supporting evidence. To add clarity and persuasiveness, we aim to include two to four supporting points. These can be supporting examples, real or hypothetical, convincing statistics, expert quotations, or answers to expected objections.
We use McKinsey’s framework to help us determine when an outline is finished. It is called mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive (or MECE) for short. Great articles are able to cover the subject matter in sufficient detail to avoid missing ideas ( collectively exhausting), while managing to avoid repetition and straying into unrelated areas.
How to write an introduction hook
The introduction is the most important part of any article. The introduction must compete for attention among a multitude of distractions, and grab the reader’s attention. It must clearly and concisely present the topic and convince the reader that it solves their problem. It must offer enough value for the reader to keep them coming back, and all within just a few paragraphs.
These constraints are often faced by great writers who stick to a few familiar principles.
- To grab attention, use a hook. A great introduction surprises their readers with something unexpected, whether it’s a metaphor or a hypothetical question, a quote, or a data point. Instead of falling into the same old tropes like every other blog post, “Did You Know that most sales teams use the unexpected to make the reader pay attention?
- A clear thesis should be the focus of your article. The hook is interesting, but the thesis (a summary of your argument in one or two sentences) sets clear expectations about the value that your article will deliver.
- Emphasize the tangible benefits of reading. By sharing new strategies and methods, great articles make readers feel richer. These benefits are clearly highlighted at the beginning of every article. This gives readers a reason to keep reading.
- Your introduction should be connected to the rest. The best introductions create a hook that grabs the attention of the reader and links to the rest. A hook, such as a shark fishing story, is a structural component of the article that makes it easier to grasp the topic.
Professional writers often assume that the introduction is a good way to “tease” readers. To make their money, they try to convince the reader to read the entire article. However, if there are dozens of articles competing for the reader’s attention then the most likely outcome is a quick tapofthe back button.
Deep dive: Hook, Line, Sinker: How do you write an Introduction?
How to write persuasively
Any article’s core purpose is to persuade. It is the writer’s responsibility to convince the reader that their idea, whether it be a product, process or story, is credible. Ideally, they should take steps to implement it. Few articles are written with persuasive intent. Instead, they simply dump their thoughts onto the page and hope the reader will see the connections.
We use an ancient philosophical framework, antithesis, synthesis, to solve this problem and produce consistently persuasive content.
- Thesis Present the status-quo, the view that is widely accepted and held today: “Great writing should prove persuasive.”
- Antithesis Describe the problems with the thesis, sometimes called “the negative”: “But most writing depends on the reader connecting them themselves.”
- Synthesis A new perspective (a modified thesis), that solves the problem: “Make writing consistent persuasive using the thesis.
Deep dive:Persuasive writing in three steps: Thesis (Antithesis), Synthesis
Synthesis can be described as a type or persuasive argument known as “best objection”. You are trying to express the strongest objection possible and then systematically discredit it. There are many types of persuasive arguments, and the best writing includes multiple “strands of evidence” in combination.
- Best objection is A strong argument can, contrary to intuition, incite doubt because it’s strong. Readers will believe you’re tricking them. The best way to make readers feel like they are reaching an objective conclusion is to tackle the objection head-on.
- Repetition The best arguments are not contained in articles, they are found across them. To convince readers, they need to see multiple arguments and at different times. You will need to convince them more often the bigger your idea.
- Narrative storytelling.Narrative arguments argue that readers should accept a conclusion that follows from a coherent and logical narrative. Many writers will tell a personal story, or take down an example from another company to show a conclusion that they want the reader accept.
- Data analysis:Data argument marshals previously unanalyzed or unused information to support a claim. Writers use data in order to prove that their claims are supported by objective evidence. Readers should also follow the data’s implications.
- Social Proof:Social evidence is an appeal for collective authority. It means that if a group of people (ideally experts in their field) believes something, then so should readers. To leverage the natural tendency of readers to follow the crowd, writers will use surveys, interviews or community feedback.
These methods are essential for creating content that is successful. A great writer will combine multiple threads of evidence into a compelling argument.
Deep dive Persuade like a Lawyer: How To Write to Convince A Jury Of Readers
How to write with authority
You have probably read articles that are within a hair of credibility, but fall short of your expectations. It is technically correct. It might prove useful in parts. Although it is convincing and authoritative, it doesn’t pass the final sniff test. It’s almost marketing.
These articles are often near-misses because they lack the subtle marks of experience that lend credibility to their authors. These hallmarks of experience are called shibboleths. They are the little quirks and turns in the phrase that show that the author is knowledgeable about their subject matter.
These shibboleths are not easily understood by reading top-ranking blog posts. They can only be understood by walking a mile with your target audience. There are several ways you can do this.
- Meet people where they are. Follow the same publications, read the same newsletters and blogs, and participate in the exact same forums. Developer content might include Hacker News, Dev.to or r/devops. You might find content on marketing strategy and content strategy by following prominent marketers on Twitter or joining Slack communities.
- Your ideal reader will review your content. You should find someone in your target audience who is willing to review and comment on your writing. Ask them to comment on more than the technical accuracy of your piece. They should also give feedback about the use of language and how the examples are credible.
- Don’t overpolish.
Deep dive Why Readers Can Smell FAKES a Mile Away
How to write a conclusion
The peak-end rule is a psychological concept. This psychological concept suggests that the peak, which is the most intense part of an experience, is significantly influenced by our perception of it. For writers this means that the conclusion is a large part of a reader’s experience of an article.
While many blogging guides recommend using the conclusion to summarize an article’s key points in a blog post, it is not recommended. It’s not necessary to give a summary of the article that has just read. Boring conclusions can make an article seem boring.
The conclusion should be a place to add value, leave a lasting impression and, most importantly, to inspire the reader. You have many options to accomplish this:
- Inspiration for growth:Your article taught the reader a valuable skill. So what can they do? You’ve shown the reader how to improve their checkout on their ecommerce store. This will increase their excitement about the larger, better entrepreneurshipopportunities that they just discovered: less cart abandonment, increased revenue, and more chances to scale their business. You’ve made it clear why Google isn’t the best search engine. Now get the reader excited about practical ways they can use that knowledge.
- Reframing Information is processed in many different ways. The conclusion can be an opportunity to reiterate a key point using a slightly different metaphor or focusing in on a different area of the process. This example uses a new metaphor, an arms race, to provide another access point to the same key point. Digital marketing becomes more competitive with time.
- An extra serving: It’s not always possible to include a compelling anecdote, or even a data point in your final draft. These “extras” are useful for adding to the conclusion. They can add interest and spark interest at the end. This is especially useful for interview-driven content like this article. You can use catchy quotes that don’t necessarily fit the flow of your article.
How to make your article skim-able
Your blog posts can be written beautifully, but readers are unlikely to read them from beginning to end. We found that the average time spent on a page was 3 minutes and 15 seconds. This is about as long as it takes for an average reader to read 400 words.
If you accept the need to make your articles “skimmable,” you can ensure that your readers get a lot of value, regardless of how many words they read. This is the basic toolkit that we use to make web-content as “skimmable as possible”.
1. Split your text
Large walls of text that aren’t broken up cause many readers to lose their eyes. To break down text into manageable pieces visually, you can use any one (or more) the following devices:
- Use H2s and H3s to highlight key points and create a hierarchy for your information (“this key point, this supporting point”), etc.
- Long run-on sentences can be transformed into numbered, bullet point, or checklists wherever possible.
- Highlight key text with bold or italicized letters, such as punchy statistics and important quotes.
- Pull quotes are used to inject expertise visually.
2. BLUF it
Facilitate readers’ access to the exact information they require:
- Create a table with contents at the top of your article. It connects to the corresponding sections via anchor points so that readers can quickly find the information they need.
- Each section should be opened with a one- to two-sentence summary of your main takeaway .
BEACH uses a principle called “Binary Line Up Front” to immediately add value to every piece of writing: Bottom Line Up front. The introductions and paragraphs should contain the most important information first: the main takeaways, important data, the story’s punchline. The reader gains value and continues reading for more context, not because of a cheap bait-and switch.
Deep dive:BLUF – The Military Standard that Can Make Your Writing Powerful
3. Add images and visual storytelling components
Images can be used to break up text. In some cases, images are better than text. Google Images is responsible for 22.6 percent of all SEO traffic. This means that creating eye-catching, original graphics can significantly increase your organic traffic.
- screenshots and GIFs are used when you refer to website content or describe how to do it online.
- You can create simple diagrams to illustrate the core concepts of your article. They don’t need to be fancy, just as this example.
- Visual templates can be used to match the intent of your keywords (for example, “article brief “) or simple calculators (“how do I calculate stock turnover”).
How to choose a great title
Even great titles can ruin a great article. Article titles, just like the cover of a book is what determines whether it gets a “click.”
Sometimes, great titles can emerge from content creation right away. They are often refined over time through dozens of iterations. We ask content writers to come up with as many titles for blog posts as possible. This usually results in five to six very similar and somewhat random titles that all vary on the same theme.
To help writers break out of a rut, it can be useful to use a few different guiding principles:
- Help your reader get promoted. Everyone wants to do better at work, get more recognition and get more done. Every article should help the reader improve a certain area of their lives. So, identify what desired result your piece of content will help readers achieve and create a title that emphasizes that benefit.
- You can reverse everyday expectations. There is a lot of content that challenges convention. Powerful titles are possible by finding the “truism”, which your article discredits, and then turning it on its head (“You’re not a writer, but a content marketer”).
- Share your work. Some articles are simple to title: All you have to do is own the value and not be too proud to show it. This functional title “10 Tips for a Better Post Welcoming Email” can be used as a headline, but if you have put in the effort to analyze your data, it is a great undersell. “Lessons from an Epic Analysis Of 50 Welcome Emails” is a better description of the effort you put into your writing.
- Find the universal truths in the specific. You could call a Facebook post “8 Psychological Tips to Make Your Facebook Ads More Powerful” but it’s only a functional title. However, there are many interesting details hidden within your writing. For example, data that shows blue ads get clicked less often. This suggests that you should title your Facebook ads “Why Your Facebook Ads Don’t Need to Be Blue.”
- Don’t get in the way of the story. Names and numbers provide concrete proof. However, they can also be a source of curiosity about how certain people have achieved remarkable feats or what remarkable people do.
5 Ways to Write Better Titles for Your Blog
Writing that gets read
There are billions upon billions of pages on the internet. Each page was designed to be read. The hard truth is that the majority of these pages will never be seen by human eyes. The few that do, however, will not leave a trace. Most articles, despite their intended purpose to inspire, teach or educate, are ignored, forgotten, and glossed over.
What makes great articles different? Great writing is the answer.
They are built on innovative ideas. They are based on expert perspectives. They are brimming with hooks and witty introductions that pique attention. They are comprehensive, logically organized, persuasive, authoritative. Even for the most casual skim reader, they provide value. They encourage the reader to use their newly acquired knowledge and lead with clear benefits, right in the title.