Set Fire to Your Content: How to Write Niche Stuff that People Actually Want to Read
Finding a writer who has an advanced knowledge of a certain non-commercial niche is the same as searching for Bigfoot — the chances are you’ll never gonna find him.
Most businesses spend years looking for someone like this. For example, if your company offers web hosting services, healthcare, energy, financial advice, or something else that most people don’t quite understand, you cannot just hire anyone. You need someone who has some background in your industry or at least a rich understanding of your niche. Apart from that, you need someone who also has some experience in creating content that’s likely to be amplified by your targeted audience.
It doesn’t matter how many candidates you talk to or how much money you’re willing to pay for this kind of service, the odds say that you’re gonna face extreme difficulty in finding this type of person. Why? — Well, because most people you’ll interview for this position will either be bad writers or just short on knowledge about your industry.
Great content writers are a rare breed. Not many of them work as freelancers. They either have their own businesses or they’re already fully employed by companies that value their expertise.
When in need of a great content writer, a lot of business owners turn to reports or people who have some experience with journalism. Although this can sometimes be a good idea, most of the time it backfires.
Although journalists know how to research a certain subject and come up with great data which they can later on use to make a powerful and compelling story for their clients, most of them have no knowledge of marketing. They know how to write great stories, but they don’t know how to write great stories that sell products and services. They don’t know how to anticipate your potential users’ intent and speak to them in a tone or voice that appeals to them.
Some of you reading this who are in need of a good niche writer are probably already panicking. There’s no need for that. Don’t worry, you’re not doomed. Not yet. Same as anything else in this world, niche content writing can be taught. I’ve been in this business of producing content for more than five years now. During that time, I’ve created content for all sorts of different businesses that operate in various different industries. Satire, web hosting, engineering, finance, productivity, WordPress, development, construction — I’ve done it all.
How? — By knowing where to look for information, how to analyze my audience, how to provide value to them and how to find great subjects within the industry that none of my competitors are yet writing about.
In order to help you learn how I managed to create successful content for all these niches, I have decided to share with you what I usually do when I start working in a whole new niche:
Focus On Engagement
As I mentioned on this site before, to be good at writing content as a service, you must understand what the people reading your work really want to read. Your content, especially your blog articles, should be perceived as valuable in the eyes of your targeted audience. They should be rich with content that solves problems for them. Without some level of engagement, content is rarely successful, so it’s of crucial importance that you, as a content writer, figure out your audience’s intent.
This is the tricky part. Most of us professional content writers end up taking on all sorts of different clients who operate in a field that is not quite familiar to us.
In order to provide quality content for my clients who compete in all sorts of different industries for all sorts of different customers, I always have to be one step in front of the competition and to be sure to provide unique value with my posts. Apart from writing, this is probably the most important part of my job.
Basic content is a thing of the past. It doesn’t work anymore. Before you even type a single letter in the CMS you, as a content writer, must first be certain that you can produce something that these potential readers would see as something worth reading. Apart from that, you need a strategy that provides answers to the following questions: What topics to write about? What style to write in? Inform them of who their audience is? Keywords you want them to implement?
So, how do I come up with answers to all these questions? — By focusing on data that’s in front of me.
Be Highly Analytical and Data Driven — Always Do Your Own Research
Although most employers really try their best to give you the necessary resources for producing relevant and engaging work, more often than not, they tend to fail at that task. Most of them are not very analytical and their data tends to be based on unrealistic facts.
So, when coming up to the realization that I’m alone in the ditch here, to catch up and gain the much-needed knowledge for producing quality material that could be of some use to my readers, I spend days, nights and even weeks researching and reading tons and tons of material from that particular niche.
Before I do anything, I create a list of the best blogs from that niche. I get familiar with the best players within the industry and start studying their behavior. I follow them on Twitter as well and ask them almost anything business related that pops into my head. I try not to spam them. I only ask about things I cannot easily find answers to on the web.
Get Familiar With The Top Players In Your Niche and Beat Them at Their Game
How? — The answer is: Google. For example, if I’m writing content for a client who’s in the web hosting industry, I search for “Web Hosting blog”. The sites that appear on the first page are usually the ones with the most authoritative ones, so I do my best to fully analyze their work, see where they share their content, at what time, and who their brand ambassadors are. I also try to figure out how they communicate with their clients. This information is of great value for my strategy.
After I’ve done that, after I got some real insight about my competitors, I visitBuzzSumo, enter their domains and look what their best performing posts are. BuzzSumo is a great tool for checking on your competition and getting a more detailed look on what works for them, what makes them stand out.
Now that I have a list of my competitors best-performing posts, I try to copy them. When I say “copy”, I don’t mean word for word. No. I mean copy their style and structure. Once I have mastered this, I make notes on what to focus on and then I move on. I don’t publish anything yet.
After I figure out which tone, voice and type of content works for this industry, I set up meetings with the tech and sales team within my employer’s company to gain some first hand knowledge about the products and services from them.
Once I finish with these meetings, I ask my employer to grant me access to his Google AdWords and Google Analytics account so I could figure out what keywords are my potential clients searching for. As Neil Patel wrote in one of hisLinkedIn posts, data is everything, it turns a garden-variety article into something that is pointed, motivating, and action-oriented.
Using that in your writing can help people easily back your opinion. They’ll start to see you as someone who’s highly detail oriented and who doesn’t express his opinion if it isn’t backed by hard facts.
Data can play different roles in your content marketing success. For example, searching for long-tail keywords is a great way of coming up with awesome new blog post ideas. There’s a pretty sweet article on McCabe Marketing about finding great long-tail keywords for your business.
Once I have all of this, I start with a handful of Google alerts and end up with something like 40 or 50. Then I start reading what Google keeps sending to my email address.
Final Phase — Content Production
Now that I’m good and ready, now that I understand the niche, my direct competitors and how to produce original content, I go to work. I always start with the headline. Why? — Because the headline is everything in content marketing. It’s the first impression of your work. If it’s not attractive and intriguing enough, people won’t click to read your post. It’s simple as that. As numbers say, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 of them will go on to read the entire post. The better the headlines, the better your chances will be on beating the averages.
Producing great and compelling headlines is critical for your work. Sometimes I spend hours thinking about how I should name my post.
There are a lot of formulas on how to come up with great headlines. A lot of them say the same: Use numbers, interesting adjectives, unique rationale, what, why, how or when.
Personally, I think that there’s a lot more to writing great headlines that just using these cheap tricks. Copyblogger has a great ebook on this subject that I think can help you see what writing compelling and attractive headlines is all about. I’ve read it 3 times, it’s great.
When you finally have your headline, it’s time to write your post. If you have great headlines, style, post formula and all the data already in hand, you will always be able to produce great articles that get ton of clicks.
I know that this seems a lot, but hey, producing quality content requires a lot of work. Although 9 out of 10 times your effort will bring in results, most of my colleagues are not really willing to go through so much trouble to win potential reader’s attention. I hope you have more enthusiasm than them, because I would really like to read some of your work in the near future.
Thank you for reading this post. If you have anything to add, feel free to write your thoughts in the comments sections below.
That’s it for now,
See you soon again,
Goran @AltusHost B.V.
Disclaimer: This post has already been published on AltusHost B.V.