Long-Form Content Doesn't Only Mean Writing More Words


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Portent, Inc's Isla McKetta on how to write long AND engaging, excellent content.

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  • Engage visitors from their very first impression to finding ways to keep them onsite
  • Think like a publisher: be organized, plan ahead, and allow for change
  • Creative writer, novelist. “Wrote the book” on writing. What I can teach are fiction techniques to engage your readers.
  • Not going to talk about audience and personas. That’s another discussion.
  • Acting in response. Don’t brainstorm bored. Content is an investment and you’re wasting my time and yours. Worse, you’re abusing my trust.
  • You won’t know where to click…
  • Write into the heat, what you really care about. 17-30 drafts. Create a manifesto, tell be about fishing with your dad. What makes you feel alive?
  • Who read Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn? Can’t remember a word of the books, but I remember the characters. 128 years later. Remember how I said content is an investment?
  • Sometimes the blog is the character. Character breeds voice. Who are you as a writer?
  • In which I pair marketing advice with TMI on my shopping addiction. Vulnerability. Humanity. Moz Top 10 and a high five from Ian
  • If I don’t cry… Two young lovers who sacrifice their greatest treasures for each others’ happiness.
  • What does this mean for the client? B2B. Dig deeper than anyone else. Make your reader feel smarter for having read your piece. I CARE about this. Make something new.
  • Media attention, credibility, sound bites. How to get rebroadcast
  • Even if you are never questioned, you want to be right. No straw dogs.
  • Reframing rather than reiterating. Tell something new and you own the space.
  • Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’sDictee
  • Kenneth Patchen. Form is content.
  • Harper’s “My Life in the Bull Ring with Donald Ogden Stewart”
  • Difference between. Developmental editing
  • 11,000 words, read over three days. Divided into parts. Strangely compelling stories.
  • Will Nicole ever get laid? Memoir.
  • Regular Google is 2.4 million. Not acceptable (except when it is). Lazy. Misses an opportunity.
  • David Sedaris, ElissaWashuta. Expand on what these examples say.
  • Seriously?Low-hanging fruit.
  • Long-Form Content Doesn't Only Mean Writing More Words

    1. 1. Long-form Content Doesn’t Only Mean Writing More Words Or: How to Write Long and Engaging Content Isla McKetta, MFA, Sr. Content Strategist at Portent, Inc. @islaisreading
    2. 2. ABOUT ME Senior Content Strategist, Portent @islaisreading 2
    3. 3. ABOUT ME Managing Editor, Forum @islaisreading 3
    4. 4. ABOUT ME MFA in Creative Writing @islaisreading 4
    5. 5. Step 1: Ideation @islaisreading
    6. 6. IDEATION – WHAT YOU’RE USED TO HEARING Market Research @islaisreading 6
    7. 7. IDEATION – THE DANGERS Thinking INside the box @islaisreading 7
    8. 8. IDEATION – HOW TO WIN Follow Your Obsessions @islaisreading 8
    9. 9. Step 2: Content Generation @islaisreading
    10. 10. CONTENT GENERATION - CHARACTER People engage with other people “Jim said that bees won't sting idiots, but I didn't believe that, because I tried them lots of times myself and they wouldn't sting me.” “Human beings can be awful cruel to one another.” “Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain't that a big enough majority in any town?” @islaisreading 10
    11. 11. CONTENT GENERATION - CHARACTER You are the character! Create an authentic voice. @islaisreading 11
    12. 12. CONTENT GENERATION - CHARACTER I’m a neurotic shopper who likes words and the UK @islaisreading 12
    13. 13. CONTENT GENERATION – STORY Tell a good story @islaisreading 13
    14. 14. CONTENT GENERATION – STORY Research is your friend Government • Census.gov • Usgs.gov • Ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp NGO • Pewtrusts.org Corporate • Zillow.com/local-info @islaisreading 14
    15. 15. CONTENT GENERATION – STORY Get specific: use numbers @islaisreading 15
    16. 16. CONTENT GENERATION – STORY Get specific: use numbers Use numbers well @islaisreading 16
    17. 17. CONTENT GENERATION – STORY Re-frame the argument @islaisreading 17
    18. 18. CONTENT GENERATION - FORM How does your content look on the page? @islaisreading 18
    19. 19. CONTENT GENERATION - FORM Break up your text • Headers • Short paragraphs • Lists and bullets @islaisreading 19
    20. 20. CONTENT GENERATION - FORM Challenge: play with form @islaisreading 20
    21. 21. CONTENT GENERATION - ILLUSTRATION Illustrate @islaisreading 21
    22. 22. CONTENT GENERATION - ILLUSTRATION Animate @islaisreading 22
    23. 23. Step 3: Editing @islaisreading
    24. 24. SUBSTANTIVE EDITING - PACING Don’t be boring • Read it again • Have someone else read it • Read it aloud @islaisreading 24
    25. 25. SUBSTANTIVE EDITING – REVERSE OUTLINE Each paragraph should have a takeaway @islaisreading 25
    26. 26. SUBSTANTIVE EDITING - LANGUAGE Spice up your language Dump clichés @islaisreading 26
    27. 27. SUBSTANTIVE EDITING - LANGUAGE Spice up your language Use metaphor @islaisreading 27
    28. 28. COPY EDITING - LANGUAGE Look for errirs @islaisreading 28
    29. 29. Questions? @islaisreading isla@portent.com