Writing vs. content
What’s the difference, really? And
why should I care?
Writer or “content provider”?
• “Content” is a word that gets thrown around
a lot in this industry.
• It sounds sterile, neutral, functional,
• Would you rather have a cheap
cheeseburger or a nice big steak?*
• (*Vegetarians/vegans can have a nice big
slab of tofu. If they must.)
Blogs and sausages
• An old adage holds that “there are two
things you should not see being made: laws
• I’ve come to think of “content writing” as
• Grind together topic, SEO and lots of
• Season with very basic research
• Pump mechanically into casings (aka
-- Serves everyone, but not very well.
Cheeseburger or filet?
• It’s writing, not cubes of print
• Not a chore -- “content” to be cranked out
• If you’re not engaged, it won’t be engaging
(Why should anyone care if you don’t?)
You can change someone’s life
You have a tremendous opportunity here -- your
words can change someone’s life:
• Jeff Rose is right – I should buy life insurance
now that I have a kid!
• I’d save how much in interest by paying $50 extra
on my mortgage?
• You mean I don’t have to toil in a cubicle for 30
years? Tell me more!
I. Finding time, finding topics
• We’re all telling the same stories
• The difference is HOW we tell them
• “Feeding the beast” -- the need to write
often (Three times a week? Five? Seven?)
• Read: Print, online, posters tacked to phone
• Eavesdrop (seriously!)
• Follow up
• Write what you know (but don’t be cute)
• Write what you don’t know
Two fruitful sources
• PRNewswire (prnewswire.com/news-releases/)
• PRWeb (http://service.prweb.com/how-itworks/news-release-categories/)
Yes, they’re public relations organs. But those new
products/studies/surveys are full of possibilities.
They’re how you’ll end up with headlines like these:
• The shocking cost of the senior prom
• #@!$*%! Cursing may derail your raise
II. Getting started
Day job + family blog = guilt, fatigue
How to get around that?
• Get a writing buddy
• Be haunted by phantom deadlines
• Set a timer
• Carrots and sticks
• Forget perfection
III. Decide to be a writer, not a
Why do you write? To make money, to make a
difference, to keep yourself off the streets and out
of the bars?
It’s OK to want to make money. (I’d like to make
some, too.) But vomiting 750 words onto the
virtual page without care or craft adds to the
pollution of the web.
Don’t do that to readers. Help them instead.
Be the solution, not the
• Translate for us. If you’re an expert, we
need your guidance
• Avoid jargon: Many of us don’t know a
REIT from a wrong
• Give info, but also perspective
• Tell us why your topic matters (to us)
• Be different: Get noticed!
IV. Why believe me?
Because if you’re here you want to improve,
and I’d like to help you improve.
Writing is like dating your readers: After first
attraction, what makes them want to keep
Entertain, sure -- but inform, inspire.
Don’t lose the chance to make a difference.