Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day 13 - Your Luck has it: Writing a Web Page

Writing Internet Conent is simple, you just have to do a lot of it to get any good at it.
Here is one subject that has been made incredibly complex.

Yes, there are a lot of parts to it, but you can hardly do this wrong. However, if you take care to do each bit exactly right, then you'll wind up with some better-than-average results for your effort.

We bring this up here as now you are ready to put some things together. And like a song, there are notes, melody, lyrics, and timing to produce something better sounding than a tortured alley cat in heat. ;)

Writing to Your Heart's Content


For all the boobytraps people have laid down about writing (producing content) - it's not all that hard. However, you do have to listen to your heart and act on what you find.

Writing is simple: "Write like you talk."

Imagine someone in front of you who is just dying to hear what you think about something. All ears and expectant. And then you simply write to hold their interest.

Now there are some details like spelling, but that is what spell-checkers are for. Get something like the free OpenOffice (LibreOffice) or MS Word (if it came with your computer) and it will do a fair job of keeping your words spelled right. (And then note how they are spelled and learn - this will actually save you time in the long haul - not having to stop and correct.)

Once you learn that the inspired "voice in your head" (or however it appears to you) is an unending torrent of content, then it's simply the work of getting it all down on the page.

Of course you can study books like Strunk and White's "Elements of Style" to shortcut improving your writing quality by leaps and bounds. Most English books are tedious and filled with non-sensical rules that are dead-ended in government-supported Academia. People don't write that way and haven't for years. Read a lot and write like the people you like to read. Especially if you want to make your prose more entertaining and interesting.

Research

Of course, you have to do your research about a topic. And that is simply asking yourself, "Can I answer anyone's questions about what I'm going to tell them?" If you hold to this idea that you are working to keep your audience's interest, then it will be easy to simply stop and look it up. Once you have all the data, it will make sense to you and then you can resume telling your story.

Some people talk it out, and then ship it off to a service to transcribe their spoken words into text. That takes a fee, though. And you do get better with typing as you practice.

The main point is to be certain about what you are talking about.

One person's content is another person's spam.

There are 3 types of content on the Internet, with untold variations.
  1. Pure information
  2. Softsell
  3. Hardsell
People put pure information out there to scratch an itch of telling someone what they just found out. And you also have this where people are simply using the Web to download their lives onto it. A personal outlet.

And that is all fine and useful. In these cases, like Wikipedia, it has it's own value and is the purest form of content. An example of open-handed giving.

In softsell, which is useful everywhere else,  people are writing "link bait" which is interesting and entertaining and gets a person to click on a link in that page in order to go to a sales page - or another page which is linking to somewhere they can buy the product.

Affiliate marketing will ship them off the the product or service's sales site to buy. (And as Michel Campbell points out, if they have a lousy sales page, you might need to write your own and then link right to their payment backend.)

Sales pages and landing pages are Hard Sell. We haven't talked much about these. Mainly because they are "disliked" by people who run social services and so on. This goes back to the point that 97% or more of everyone out there is only existing to be entertained. Hardsell pieces aren't entertainment. It's like eating a double-chocolate 5 layer cake and washing it all down with a super-sweet energy drink. You don't want to do this as a steady diet.

But they have their places. A handful want to buy and are looking for just these type of pages to help them make their decision. Your usual place for this is to follow up someone who clicks on a classified ad or auction entry. Or as above, linked into a softsell page.

3-2-1


Wordpress.com and others have made selling on the Internet an interesting place. It's now several layers deep. WP.com is protecting their own (domain-and add-on-selling) profits by telling spammers that they need to take their efforts somewhere else. Unfortunately, they have specious ideas of what spamming is. If your softsell content is linking to sales pages, that's "spamming" and your site and probably login as well will disappear with no notice. (And other free blog sites follow this as well.) Accidentally posting the same content several times to different blogs on their site will also get you banned.

So to get the lookie-loo's turned into possible buyers, you have these pages nested about 3 deep.
  • A general information piece links to 
  • A softsell page with links to 
  • Hardsell pages. 
And that makes the whole subject more difficult, as each of these pages is a drop-off point where a person can go somewhere else or do one of these "look - a butterfly!" moments.

So some people simply concentrate on hardsell pages and writing good classified ads. Which is fine, as the conversions are better in this area.

And there is a mix when you are writing email newsletters. Because you can weed out people who are only their for freebies or to be entertained. Everyone else expects that you are going to give them something and expect something in return. Like visiting your blog in order to start the sales cycle again.

Writing a web page


You start with your purpose, of course, and exactly how you want to help that unseen viewer today.

You have a set of keywords in mind which you want to rank well on the search engines. The main keyword will wind up in the title and 1st paragraph, plus the titles and alt-tags of your images. Everything else are related words which Google uses to know what you are talking about. (Tiger Woods vs. Bengal Tiger).

Then you simply spill out your content about whatever product you want to tell a story about. And, depending on where this is going to end up, you either link to a sales page  or to another "review" page.

Once you have your story all written out and the links embedded, then you come back and write or tweak your headline. Keywords should be closer to the front in your headlines.

Now some say that Google doesn't value headlines like it used to. And this makes sense, as people use headlines to attract readers and "excite interest" (get the person to actually read the page).

And a page will be crafted to help a person get through it.

Most of us have developed the technique of scanning a page. And so a good page is crafted with images, sub-headings, bulleted text, indented text, italics, bold - all sorts of ways to mix it up and keep it from simply being a long set of boring text.

As you write, simply keep Google's guidelines in place.

If you get books by Jacob Neilsen or visit Copyblogger, then you'll see people who study people's usage and will tell you what works and what doesn't.

Again, the key point is entertainment.

Sequence is the key

You write your main site page first, which links to affiliate or other sales pages directly.

Then you post content around the web which links to your main pages.

Of course, your own site is built like this as well. You can have sales pages on your site, which are linked to by review pages, which are linked to by informational pages. And then put up social posts and so on which link to these various site pages directly.

We will go into this subject of a mini-net later (that "Special Sauce" I keep referring to) and as well how and where to post elsewhere on the web.

But generally, you work this backward as you build. And after creating a few dozen pages, a pattern will start showing up. Then you simply evaluate that pattern for it's success or "opportunities for improvement" and learn from your experience. The go and write a few dozen more. Rinse and repeat.

We'll go into analytics later which will help you with all this. Your own gut reaction to your own writing will tell you most, however.

It's not "build it and they will come", it's more - "Build it Right and They will Click Through" to your sales pages and buy.

The object of the web pages you write is not having popular pages with lots of traffic - it's having pages which get a lot of people who want to buy whatever you are talking about, and do so.

The web isn't a popularity contest. It's a shooting gallery. The most attractive targets get shot at - and the winner gets the prize. (Meanwhile, you are the one selling the tickets and making the profits from the shooters.)

Okay?

- - - -

Today's freebie is several. These are classics which people have been referring others to for years.

Hopkins - Scientific Advertising
Scott - The Psychology of Advertising
Prevette - The Power of Creative Selling

Don't be thrown off by the terms "advertising" and "selling" - it's all just words which describe getting people to act.

And you can also refer to "Get Your Self Scam Free" in order to study Maslow and Cialdini for understanding of how and why we are programmed to buy stuff.

Assignment:

Review what you've been writing recently and see how you could possibly improve it to make it more interesting.

Then pick up some popular novels (even classics like O. Henry, Louis LaMour, Jack London) and see how they keep a reader riveted.

Now write some more content with these in mind.