Read or listen — your choice.
Last week I wrote about the importance of having articles on your website. Many professional services providers understand the value of articles, but they’re stuck on the problem of what to write about and how to write their articles.
One of the easiest ways to tackle any writing project is to use a formula. When I tell people that they often push back, because they don’t want their writing to be formulaic. But that should never stop you using a formula, because if you write it well nobody will even notice it is a formula!
If you stop to think about it, even popular fiction is written to formula: the detective novel opens with a chapter that sets the scene and introduces the main characters; the murder is discovered; the detective comes on the scene and starts detecting; we start to have our own ideas as to “whodunnit”; two-thirds of the way through the book there’s a second murder (this is mandatory!) and eventually all is revealed in the last chapter.
When you read one of these books, do you even notice the formula? No, because you’re too busy getting involved in the story. So set aside your worries about the formula approach to articles and let’s look at three article formulas you can use.
1. The List Article
People love lists. Maybe it’s because they can see right away how long the list is and how much time it will take them to read the article. The beauty of the list article is that you can put it together in any order, because the items don’t need to be in any particular order. So you might write about…
• 10 tips for designing a “green” home
• 7 ways to get the best price when you sell your business
• 3 sure signs your business is ready to go public
Depending on your profession and your clientele, decide what you want them to know and break it into a numbered list. Then just write each point in a short, pithy paragraph and voila — your article is done.
2. The How To Article
“How to” is one of the most searched phrases on the Internet. When people want to know how to do something today, they go online to look for articles, videos, webinars and anything else that will give them the instructions they want.
Again, the topic depends on your desired audience.
• How to write your will so that your wealth goes where you want it to go when you die
• How to list and sell your own home without an agent
• How to pay less tax on your business income
Imagine you are sitting in a coffee shop with one of your clients, and he or she asks you a question. How would you answer it in that informal setting? Put that in writing and there’s your article.
3. The Mistakes Article
This is a variation on the list, but it focuses on the mistakes your clients might make and how to avoid them.
• 5 common mistakes accountants make on their websites and how to avoid them (I actually have a speech I give to accounting groups on this very topic — drop me a line if you’d like me to deliver it to your group.)
• The one mistake you must not make if you want to win your insurance claim
• Common mistakes that will cause you to pay twice as much tax as you need to
This one is a little more tricky because you are focusing on the negative, but it can be very effective when done well because people often recognize their own mistakes!
So if you’ve been wanting to write articles to attract visitors to your website but were suffering writer’s block, try using one of these formulas. Just pour your content in like jelly in a mould, and you’ll be surprised how easy it is. Happy writing!