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  1. 1. Writing vs. content What’s the difference, really? And why should I care?
  2. 2. Writer or “content provider”? • “Content” is a word that gets thrown around a lot in this industry. • It sounds sterile, neutral, functional, fungible. • 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.)
  3. 3. Blogs and sausages • An old adage holds that “there are two things you should not see being made: laws and sausages.” • I’ve come to think of “content writing” as “sausage writing.”
  4. 4. Sausage writing • Grind together topic, SEO and lots of filler • Season with very basic research (optional ingredient) • Pump mechanically into casings (aka “blog posts” -- Serves everyone, but not very well.
  5. 5. Cheeseburger or filet? • It’s writing, not cubes of print • Not a chore -- “content” to be cranked out on schedule • If you’re not engaged, it won’t be engaging (Why should anyone care if you don’t?)
  6. 6. 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 $50 extra on my mortgage? • You mean I don’t have to toil in a cubicle for 30 years? Tell me more!
  7. 7. I. Finding time, finding topics • We’re all telling the same stories • The difference is HOW we tell them • “Feeding the beast” -- the need to write often (Three times a week? Five? Seven?)
  8. 8. Idea mines • Read: Print, online, posters tacked to phone poles • Eavesdrop (seriously!) • Follow up • Write what you know (but don’t be cute) • Write what you don’t know
  9. 9. Two fruitful sources • PRNewswire ( • PRWeb ( Yes, they’re public relations organs. But those new products/studies/surveys are full of possibilities. They’re how you’ll end up with headlines like these: • The shocking cost of the senior prom • #@!$*%! Cursing may derail your raise
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. III. Decide to be a writer, not a “provider” 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.
  12. 12. Be the solution, not the pollution • 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!
  13. 13. 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 seeing/reading you? Entertain, sure -- but inform, inspire. Don’t lose the chance to make a difference.