I write from the heart. I write with pride. I write with dignity.
I might sound arrogant. I might sound harsh. I might sound raw, uncut. In fact, I’m simply genuine: I tell it like it is. “Fake it till you make it” is not really a phrase that is part of my vocabulary. Authentic writing, yes! It is what I do, what I teach, what I share, with you and with the world.
I do NOT try to attract each and every person to my content. I never attempt to please everyone. I know who my target audience is: I know who I talk to. I know who I communicate with.
How do I do it? What is the secret? In-depth research; I have developed a simple yet powerful and unique formula that I use every time (before) I write something, be it a short email or blog post.
You might find this shocking, but it’s the naked truth: I spend minimum of 3 hours before I jot down the first phrase or idea. I follow this formula…
In-depth COMPREHENSIVE analysis (aka RESEARCH) – this factor is regularly neglected by 97% of aspiring (copy) writing gurus and bloggers. Even the veterans in the game are at fault and fall victim to this error. It seems like they don’t really take the time to look for the value in the opinions of others and think they know it all.
No time to see what your competitors are writing about? No time to see what their visitors think (and comment about)? That’s insane. Suicide! These are relationship-sinking, profit-slashing habits you have to get rid of, at all cost.
If you are satisfied to receive only 10% of the potential return of what you aim to achieve (e.g. visitors, leads, downloads, sales, partners, referrals, and so on) then do NOT conduct in-depth RESEARCH.
However, when you do the kind of RESEARCH I’m about to share with you next, you’re opening the gates to unlimited wealth. Call it: profit potential unlocking. I’m not talking about money, but the potential profit from what you invest (time, effort, energy, resources, skills, and more)
You see, the VAST majority of writers, marketers and bloggers I hear about (and study) – and I encounter hundreds on a weekly basis through my research – make a tremendous amount of excuses on a regular basis that prevent them from spending quality time doing research.
Let me ask you something now: what do you think are your chances of writing a high-quality article if you’re only spending 10 minutes (or less) on researching your chosen topic, target audience needs and competitors’ content? Slim to none!
I learned this through dedicated daily practise:
You cannot connect with your audience without proper, quality research. You cannot get your point across and generate sales unless you know what you’re talking about. It’s imperative that you connect with the needs of your audience by offering them the benefits (and advantages) of your particular solution.
This solution is a complex combination that you need to construct and it requires
R –E – S – E –A – R – C – H
Before we dig into the juicy stuff, let me quickly share two key elements:
#1 – Regardless of how many books you’ve read or how many seminars you’ve attended, your mind is able to expand and receive: new information and new ways of doing things — more effectively and efficiently.
#2 – Regardless of the quality and the quantity of the information you obtained so far, spending even 15 quick minutes on thorough research will replace that and provide you with priceless knowledge.
In 15 minutes I’m able to find the latest trends, the hottest topics my target audience wants to learn more about, and more importantly – the key terms they’re typing into the search engines, as well as the issues already covered by my competitors.
But that’s not enough! NOT ENOUGH. Do you hear me?
Here is the kind of in-depth research I do (and the reason why I take 3 hours before I start writing)
Run Google searches using their free external tool
You are probably already aware of the power of this resource. The key aspect I want you to understand is that there’s no need to pay for something extra if there are free tools available to accomplish your goals, right?
I see marketers (newbies and veterans alike) rave regularly about the latest SEO tricks and software programs. I keep things simple and use the minimum resources to achieve my goals and keep costs down. I know where to spend the most time, effort and money to reap maximum rewards.
I advocate (smart) investment in your online business; you need to know where to spend your money, and WHEN – this is the most valuable lesson you will ever learn. And only practice will teach you the fine art of business balance and marketing optimization.
Extract problem-oriented long-tail keywords from Google’s searching tool
The best articles I write initiates from problem-focused key phrases. For example, if I’m writing about blogging topics, I do not write from the top of my head. I first research the current problems my audience is struggling with.
Whenever you type in a lengthy key term or one word in your research tool, make sure you type in (or consider) any of these problem-exposing words:
All my writing originates from a problem, issue or challenge. Why? Because people (my visitors and your readers) are always going to face obstacles and look for new solutions as a result. Yes, even on the same topics that you see everybody talk about!
Just think about it: you do not spend hours on web sites, forums and blogs of interest just because you like to entertain yourself for the fun of it. You’re looking for (specific) solutions tailored to your wants and needs. Maybe you’re bored at your current job and are seeking distractions (I mean this in a positive way) – you’re looking for alternatives: how to do what you already know for higher profits, or how to develop new skills and get paid what you’re really worth – this is the spark that inspires people to start an online business and give up their JOBS…
And if you think about it, this is what turns unknown people into pro bloggers, superstar affiliate marketers and best-seller authors. They are motivated towards chance by the frustration resulting from their current life events and situations.
That is why you should ALWAYS start your (content) RESEARCH with the problem-solution aspect in mind and your readers will feel like you’re writing from the heart like you’re speaking to them as if you know each other and are long-time friends.
Marketers know that … “people prefer to buy from other people that they like, know and trust over complete strangers” and we both know how true that is! Let me assure you that people will listen to you (before they buy) ONLY if you connect to their needs through your content.
Your content talks to them, or not… and in-depth research is what gives your content the “WOW” factor!
My competitors are not just bloggers who talk (or focus) ON the topic or problem I want to write about. My competitors are:
- BOOK AUTHORS
- SPEAKERS, TRAINERS AND COACHES
- SUPER AFFILIATES AND INTERNET MARKETING GURUS
- INSIDER EXPERTS AND SPECIALISTS
Neglect this step and you’re reducing your research power by 50% and your writing quality (and output) diminishes significantly.
Writing is output. You cannot produce awesome, believable content, unless your input (RESEARCH) is awesome and comes from believable sources, correct?
That is why my formula is different from the rest, and it “only” requires an investment of at least 3 hours of in-depth research from me – before I write a single phrase! Here’s what I do…
I examine industry-related blogs, sites, and forums.
I study competitors on Quantcast.com and Alexa.com. I am not satisfied with only sites such as Google, YouTube and Twiter. I immerse myself in the web, as well as in the offline world. For 3 hours, at least!
You have to understand that writing is not writing in itself; writing emerges from RESEARCH.
What you read about, what you hear and what you see. This is what produces your writing. Not your actual knowledge. That’s why almost anybody can turn into an “expert” on a topic if they take 3 or more hours to study a particular topic extensively. And sacrifice TV, leisure or time wasters.
And get this: the ideas (and problems) that you write about are more important than the actual data-typing or information-organizing. 80% is research, and 20% is actual “writing”.
This is where most bloggers and writers fail. They write about the wrong topic or “problem”. They assume they know what their audience wants and write about it. That’s like walking backwards.
Start with RESEARCH. This entire article is about my formula. And I don’t even have enough time to exhaust this KEY topic (in-depth research).
Sometimes I interview experts (I have created a ton of info-products using this method) not only because I get the opportunity to learn from the best in their fields, but because I can save a ton of time, as well as effort and money, simply by getting expert-insights and asking them the right questions.
You see, it is NOT enough to gather 10 specialists and interview them. Call that an ebook and sell it for $47. You have to know which are the right questions to ask and then ask them in a polite manner (whether by email, skype or phone) – determining the relevant questions TAKES in-depth research.
I’d go so far as to say that NOTHING online should be taken on without proper RESEARCH. You cannot email someone you don’t know and ask them to promote your product or help you for free on a (laborious) project. There’s a specific way of doing these things – that you will you have to learn first.
When you consult with (or have a mentor) someone who has already been through the entire experience, you actually should be HAPPY to pay for their expertise and save yourself headaches, wasted time and errors.
I normally go nuts about research, sometimes investing up to 15 hours a WEEK when having to write an extensive viral blog post, PDF report or other related content that requires facts and credible sources, not just information.
I do not edit my writing like a crazy fly going around circles. I do it once I finish at least 95% of the actual email or blog post.
When I do this, thoughts flow naturally and my mind thinks faster than my fingers can type. Whenever my mind shifts from “writing” to “editing” mode, I lose track, I lose inspiration. And I hit writer’s block. I don’t have any problems to start writing since I have enough quality research material to work with.
My biggest challenge is to avoid editing (while writing I rarely go back to a phrase to correct or add to it!)
An important thing I want to mention: never strive to remove your editing habit. The law of attraction says that you get what you focus on. If you concentrate on editing, you’ll never finish writing.
Permit yourself to edit. Sometimes you might find better ideas or angles to say the same thing with less or better words. Just keep the editing at a minimum, and leave it for when you have completed your writing
NOTE: Since I’m not English native, I work with 2+ professional editors and proofread experts. Here’s a sample of why editing and proofreading is key:
video goes here:
Arrange your content in a logical (guide-style) format
I won’t spend too much time on this. The majority of people prefer step-by-step information about the confusing and disorganized content on the web. If you arrange your content in an easy to read format, you will win the heart of your reader and provide him/her with a gratifying reading experience.
You have to understand that information is not the only thing people are looking for. They also want it in an easy-to-read, easy-to-digest format, like a blueprint. That’s why we can easily sell free information for $10, $50 and even $149 because people appreciate the time you took to organize the content they want to read and are willing to pay for it.
Why? Because they won’t have to do it themselves, either because of time constraints or lack of expertise, or both.
Reach to your competitors’ readers
Your competitors have already have the target audience you want to reach and talk to. You want to get them talking about you and your product. You want them spreading the word about your brand, your service, your content, and everything you have to say, whether it is online or offline. They are your advocates, your raving fans, your 2.0 tribes.
Neglect your competitors’ content and whatever they have to say (on their blogs, sites, forums, books, videos, audios, white papers, etc.) and you neglect your target audience and potential customer base.
My research phase includes reading comments on blogs, on forums and on consumer reviews sites such as Amazon , plus other industry-related outlets.
Sometimes I get problem-oriented long-tail keywords (pure gems) just by listening to the crowd. This information combined with Google’s search terms is a powerful tool for your content writing and marketing.
I’ll tell you upfront: content writing is marketing and marketing is writing. If you want exposure (the more that people see your name/content/link out there, the better!) you cannot afford to limit your time, effort and budget when writing.
You can advertise occasionally and expect limited results. But when you write, your content is exposed on the web, and sometimes in print (if you know how to do it). Printed content doesn’t last. Online, information it is archived for many months, even years, you know it!
I like to think that advertising is only 20% of marketing, and produces limited, short-term results (clicks or sales). Content writing is 80% of marketing and produces the highest and best results for your investment (time and money).
If I had $10,000 in my Paypal account to spend on marketing, at least 80% would go towards content writing (emails, how-to reports, blog posts, PDFs, Videos, Audios, you name it.)
FACT: I now devote 100% of my time to writing, and connecting with the audience I want to reach, educate and inform using my content. I spend ZERO on advertising because writing is what generates repeat, long-term customers, not hit-and-miss promotions.
Connecting is KEY
During my research I make sure to jot down all the links and contact details (e.g. email, Twitter profile link, LinkedIn, etc.) of people whom I consider potential friends, “ideal” to give feedback on the content I write.
Often times, they’re competitors. I use Google sheets to SAVE this priceless data, which in turn saves me time later when connecting with influencers to help spread the word about my content.
Someone who has already been exposed to your content is 10x times more inclined to say YES to promote you and your product. I know I have a “bad” habit: to email links only to someone that I know, or that I’ve spoken to previously.
Hesitate to publish
I NEVER (should I repeat?) NEVER… push the send button once I finish writing the content. I allow it to sit there for at least 10 or 20 minutes, while I go do something else. I permit my subconscious mind to produce new thoughts and ideas and when it does, I go back and edit the text: to add, rewrite or remove some words or phrases.
The biggest mistake I see bloggers, writers and pretty much everybody who creates content make: RUSH.
The way I started writing content or publish blog posts years ago, was idiot-style. I knew that was not the way to go about it!
You see, I would get a “brilliant” idea from the top of my head, thinking that’s what others would want to read about, and I was so wrong. I didn’t really spend time to research for keywords or run competitive analysis at all…
I was writing for 10 or 15 minutes, and called it good content. The majority of wannabe writers (and skilled bloggers) know what I’m talking about. Then I’d push the SEND button and wait for email replies and raving comments.
Do you put a seed in the ground today and expect to see a fully grown tree the next morning? Unheard of!
This is why I make sure to spend 3 hours (at least!) on research before I write a short e-mail or blog post. Whether it is for my projects, or for my clients’ projects, I follow the same formula without fail.
Before you hire your next content marketing specialist, make sure you refer them to this article first. They might learn something new that will help improve their research and writing.
Go out there and share this message with the people you know and trust.
* Skilled writers are not born, they’re made. In-depth research, practice and perseverance are the 3 key ingredients anybody who wants to cook up “wow” content has to mix before they achieve “instant” results.