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7 ways to write effective content for clients

I enjoy writing for myself. I have the freedom to be more creative and write as I please on a topic of my choice, and besides, it gives me a sense of fulfilment to see my story online or on my blog. I have no fixed rules, except to write as well as I can. I suspect a lot of writers feel that way.

On the other hand, since I write for a living, I follow a set of rules (my own) when ghostwriting a variety of stories and articles for clients including corporate leadership and management. The rules are necessary so that the content I provide is in line with what the client has in mind in terms of thought, insight and style. For example, a good thought-leadership article raises a client’s brand value and reputation both in the market and among various stakeholders, and especially consumers.

However, writing for others, whether it is an individual or a corporate, can be daunting because I’m never sure if the client will be satisfied with my piece. It takes considerable time and mutual understanding before we’re both on the same page vis-à-vis content. Even then, it’s never a hundred per cent match as no two people think and write the same way.

Here are seven ways I set myself while writing in a professional capacity:

Read on the subject

To begin with, I read on the subject from no less than a dozen online sources and make notes on a text editor. This is especially the case when I don’t have enough domain knowledge. Of course, my research depends on how much time I have to deliver the content. Annoying as they are, deadlines must be respected.

Research facts and figures

While researching the topic, I gather as many facts, figures and insights as I can both from the client and other credible sources including the government and public sector. While I may not use all the data, it’s always good to have additional information at hand. I often incorporate those inputs in subsequent revisions or in a newly refurbished story. If nothing, it gives me a better grasp of the subject.

Jot down key points

Once I have all the material, I jot down the key points relevant to the topic, list them in their order of importance and then proceed to write the piece in a chronological sequence. This exercise sets the flow of writing, and hopefully, ensures greater readability.

Write the headline first

Up until recently, I used to write out the story or article first and then think of a headline. Now I begin most long-form content by listing at least three head-turning headlines and take it from there. A good headline at the outset helps me stay focused while writing and likely grabs the reader by the eyeball. In that sense the headline, to use marketing terminology, is a call to action (CTA) that immediately prompts a reader to click on it and read the story.

Write in your own voice

I usually write in my own voice, and not the client’s. After all, I’m ghostwriting for an individual or entity whose writing style is largely unknown to the audiences. If the client provides me with previously published content that I haven’t written, then I try to write as close to that style as possible. Until then, I do the best I can to capture the thought and essence of what the client wants to say.

Edit, edit, edit

After writing, I read and edit the piece thoroughly – cross-checking facts, numbers and sources, using better synonyms, eliminating grammatical mistakes, cutting out unnecessary words that might have crept in, and rewriting or deleting entire lines. While I find this exercise tedious, editing and revising make a story or an article read better than it did the first time. My point is never hit “Send” or “Publish” without a really good edit.
Keep an open mind

Clients can be demanding when it comes to expecting great content value for their money. In my experience, they’re rarely satisfied with the first draft and usually come back with several changes and fresh inputs. This is their prerogative. I try to keep an open mind, telling myself that clients don’t always approve everything and that their unfavourable opinions are part of the job.

These seven tips add value to my ability as a professional content writer, expand my knowledge of areas I write on and deepen my engagement with clients. More than anything they help me deliver meaningful and well-purposed content for clients.

© Prashant C. Trikannad

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