We talk a lot about content development as a component of email marketing—subject lines, previews, headlines and calls to action all require creativity and strong writing skills. But what about when you need to provide a longer form of content? Whether you’re developing a blog post, an informational sheet or re-designing your website, you need a plan to develop solid long form content.
Start With An Outline:
It may sound like something your 5th-grade teacher would say, but in my 20+ years of professional writing, I’ve found the key to great long form content starts with your outline. Here are five steps to creating an outline that will lend itself to filling with great content:
Write down your goals for the content.
For example, if you are creating a website page about your pie baking shop, your goals might include: explaining the types of pie you bake, increasing customer interest in a specific type of pie (Apple, of course!), letting customers know how to contact you, providing helpful insight to new and existing pie aficionados. These goals will form the main components for your outline (and for a website, this is essentially your site map).
Fill in the details under each stated goal.
What are the components, descriptions, and information needed under each section? In our pie baking website example, under “Types of Pie,” you would add a list of the pies offered and provide a brief description of each. Under “Apple Pie,” you might provide a brief history of how apple pie became an American classic. Under “Helpful Insight,” you might provide recipes so that followers can bake a favorite pie at home.
Now you start to write!
It may seem daunting but writing long form content is just expanding on the mini descriptors you already have written in your outline. Once you’ve gotten down all the information you want to include, shape the content into readable paragraphs. At this point, you may decide you want to move things around or combine pieces.
Add headlines and subheads.
These should form naturally from your goal descriptors (outline headers) for the content, although it may take a little creative messaging. For example, you might change the outline header, “Types of Pie,” into the subhead, “A Pie for Every Taste” and you might change your outline header, “Apple Pie,” to the subhead, “A Piece of Pie History.”
Refine your draft.
Now that you have a workable first draft, with headlines, subheads and some content that addresses each of your content goals, go back and re-read your draft. Edit the content for readability and to better fit your purpose. Ask for input from another colleague—they may be able to point out where your intentions are unclear. Refine and revise until the content clearly meets your original goals.
Writing long form content is a bit like working a jigsaw puzzle—you’ll know when the pieces fit best and you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction at bringing it all together to form a clear picture. Need more help? We have years of experience in content marketing and are always ready to help outline, draft or edit your content. Simply contact us and we will be in touch shortly.