Picture this: You’ve just been asked to write a 450-word minimum article on a company you know very little about, and the finished product can make or break the online reputation of your contractor. Needless to say, each and every word you write carries with it a heavy burden. What would you do?
As someone who undertakes this responsibility on a regular basis, my job isn’t about merely filling a page with impressive language and internet factoids. Rather, I approach every task I am given as though I were a researcher. My first step is always to educate myself on the company or product at hand. What exactly does the service in question provide? Who is its target audience? What advantages does it possess over its competitors?
After I feel comfortable answering the above questions based on my research of the service itself, I take my detective skills to the streets—or, rather, the online equivalent of the streets. Review websites, personal blogs, news reports, and scientific studies enable me to anticipate consumer questions and understand consumer needs before I even begin the writing process, as well as providing me with both real-world testimonies and research data relevant to the subject at hand.
Armed with both an intimate understanding of the service or product I have been assigned and a variety of sources illustrating its utility for consumers, I begin writing. Just as I have done here, I frequently introduce my assigned topic by presenting a scenario designed to identify the reader as a potential consumer. Sometimes this is the easiest part. Who hasn’t, say, spilled an Über-Gulp-sized soda during hour ten of a family road trip, and found him- or herself in need of a powerful automotive upholstery cleaner? At other times, the service about which I’m writing is catered to a very specific demographic to which I do not belong—for instance, people who wear braces—and in these instances I endeavor to write about scenarios that, through my research, I’ve discovered are common to major portions of the target audience.
From there, I strive to paint a clear, concise picture of the service or product in question. This typically involves the integration of three core components into my article or blog post: 1. the company’s own description of the product or service; 2. the multitude of perspectives I have encountered in client reviews and journalistic reports; and 3. research data gleaned from news reports and/or peer-reviewed studies.
After completing an initial draft, I revise my article or blog post to correct grammatical and spelling errors, as well as to cater its tone to the target audience. A bit of humor, for instance, can go a long way when describing the benefits of a household cleaner in a three-dog household. An article conveying information about solutions to medical issues, on the other hand, is likely to have a more powerful impact if the data is allowed to speak for itself.
Creating effective web content is a multi-step process that involves establishing substantial links between a product or service and consumer needs. The web content or blog author serves as a medium, utilizing research materials and stylistic techniques to connect businesses with prospective clients, both of whom will soon know—when a phone rings or a new client walks in the door—whether the writer has done his or her job.
by Raechel D.