In her 5 Newsroom Tips for Better Website Content presentation at 2016 WordCamp US last weekend, Andrea Zoellner shared examples from the newsroom to help content creators craft better content for their websites.
Here are my notes from her talk:
5 Newsroom Tips for Better Website Content
Whether you’re writing for your personal blog or your company website, you want to capture your readers’ attention, encourage them to read your blog posts, and increase your audience.
And what captured the audience’s attention at the beginning of Zoellner’s talk?
Her comments about trust. People trust:
- Journalists 18 percent of the time
- Bloggers 6 percent of the time
- Telemarketers 4 percent of the time
Whoa. As bloggers, we have some work to do!
Tip 1: Know your audience
Who is your audience?
- Web designers
- Web developers
- Small business owners
- People who work in higher education
Are you trying to educate or create desire?
It’s important to craft your content for your specific audience.
Tip 2: Don’t bury the lede
The lede is the first part of your story, the lead paragraph, that provides the main topic. It answers the questions of who, what, when, where, how, and why.
Don’t discourage your readers by pushing your lede down to the bottom of your story.
Prioritize your content, or your readers will bounce off your page and not return.
The concept of
below the fold comes from newspapers that were folded in half.
If you can hold visitor for three minutes, they’re twice as likely to return to your site. (Chartbeat: Using Engaged Time to Understand Your Audience)
Tip 3: Observe the style guide
A style guide defines the rules of how content sounds and looks like, it’s your voice and tone.
Your style guide includes information on formatting headers, grammar, and how you will use commas (Oxford comma, anyone?)
Several reasons why a style guide is valuable:
- Useful on-brand resource for people who join your team
A style guide helps brands and can be a foundation for building up your brand voice.
Tip 4: Ask the Copy Editor
Get a second pair of eyes to read what you’ve written, just like a code review.
Ask a friend or colleague to review your content.
Tip 5: Regret the error
Avoid the error, double check your writing.
Read your content out loud. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to spot errors.
Using these five tips from the newsroom will get you crafting better content for your website in no time.
In the Q & A after Zoellner’s presentation, several people (including me!) offered some other helpful sites for grammar, content calendars, and other writing tools.
Here’s a quick list:
- Hemingway: free online site to check readability and grammar of your content. According to their website, it helps make
your writing bold and clear.
- HubSpot Content Calendar: Uses Google calendar as your blog and content calendar
- Vertical Measures Content Calendar: An Excel spreadsheet template with two calendars, a year view and month view
- PostCron: Free Google Doc content calendar
- WordPress Editorial Calendar: Free WordPress plugin gives you an overview of your blog posts and when each post will be published