Bonus Material: Content Creation Checklist
Today I’m gonna show you the three simple steps that I follow to write engaging content.
These steps will make you and your app an industry thought-leader.
Get my content creation checklist below to learn how to start writing remarkable content step-by-step.
Or give this checklist to your content team so they can level up your content game.
Before you can start writing content, you need to find a topic that people want to read about.
I wrote about 10 ways to find content topics in this guide. But here’s my favorite (it attracts Shopify Plus merchants):
“The Shopify Plus Content Slayer Technique”
Visit Shopify Plus’ Facebook ad library to see all of their current ads.
Read all ad descriptions to find webinars, checklists, etc.
3. Write down the ad’s landing page headline (often it’s a good topic itself).
4. Download the checklist, watch the webinar, etc.
5. Look out for key takeaways and subheadings.
There you have your topic: Discount Strategy For Flash Sales.
If you want 9 more ways to find content ideas, read this. It covers everything you need to know.
Let’s write your content.
Jumping into a topic without knowing the direction can not just be frustrating for you as the writer, but also confuse your readers.
Start by writing five different headlines that highlight the main benefit of your content.
The headline of the article you’re reading is “How My Blog Post Got 8,000+ Shares (Without Begging)”. The benefit for my readers is that they will learn how I write content that gets more than 8K shares.
If you’re just starting to write content, here are two simple formulas you can use to come up with solid headlines:
If you want to talk directly to your target audience, this formula is for you:
[Target Audience]! Are You [Undesirable Outcome]?
Another great way to come up with an engaging headline is to fill in the blank of the so-called “little-known ways headline formula”:
Little-known ways to ______________
Happy with your headlines? Don’t get too excited (yet).
Run them through Moz’s Title Tag Preview Tool.
The last thing you want to happen is a headline that is too long for Google’s headline preview.
Okay, so how do you figure out which headline will work best for you? When you have little-to-no traffic, you can’t just run an A/B (split-) test on your website and have your result in a week or so.
But there’s a place where you can get up to 1,000 REAL people telling you which headline they prefer. For just 20 bucks.
How? Head over to Amazon Mechanical Turk and run a simple A/B test for one week.
^ I tested two headlines for this article; A) was the winner and so I picked that one.
Now that we got the headlines, it’s time to write the outline.
You really, really, really shouldn’t skip this step.
You’re not writing poems. You’re writing for conversions. This needs a bit more work.
At Corefront, we have a lot of full-time writers. No one has less than 3 years of experience. You can say that they know their craft. And still, no one will EVER start working on a project without writing a proper outline first – which then has to be approved by our head of content.
That’s how important an outline is.
1. Create a bullet-point outline with all of your top-level sections (aka. sub-headings).
2. (optional) Come up with sub-sub-headings to dig even deeper.
3. If you can: send your headline(s) and outline to someone who has knowledge about your target audience. Best case: this person is your audience. Ask for their feedback.
Now that you have a good idea of what your content will look like, it’s time to fill the money-making lines of any content.
The first lines have only one purpose: to tell your readers what they can get out of your content.
If it’s not clear, they will leave.
Even celebrity-authors of best-selling fiction books with 500+ pages try everything to grab the reader’s attention as fast as possible.
Like J. R. R. Tolkien in “The Lord of The Rings”:
“Eleventyifirst” is the attention grabber here. People who read this want to know what this is all about.
Or take this one from F. Scott Fitzgerald in “The Great Gatsby”.
The readers want to know: “what the heck is this advice?”
Since you’re writing non-fiction business content, chances are high that you’re making a bold statement. Something like…
“How To Double Your AOV In Just 1 Week”
The stronger your statement is, the more you need to prove that your article can deliver.
Example: In this article I said that my articles get a crazy amount of comments (more than 2,900 on one post). So I added a screenshot of the comment count in the intro.
Want the same checklist I give to my writers? Grab my Content Creation Checklist and follow the simple steps to get more shares for your Shopify app content.
It all comes down to this question:
Does the reader understand what you’re trying to say?
If so, great job!
Unsure? Here are six little things you can do to improve your articles.
How you structure your content depends on the topic. Some topics are great for top ten lists (like this one) while others are great for step-by-step articles (like the one you’re reading right now).
The best way to figure out a good structure for your content is to google your topic.
All you have to do is to look at the results of the first page. Google often “prefers” a certain structure.
^ Take this as an example. It’s obvious that Google prefers Top X list articles for their best rankings.
An article with more than 500 words that doesn’t have any supporting images can be overwhelming.
People who read business content are not necessarily people who like to read. They want information in an easy-to-digest format. Images help.
They break up long texts and add context + additional information.
One thing you don’t want to do is to include random stock images.
Simple images like the one above with the quote from Tolkien are not hard to create, but break up large paragraphs.
Just like images, videos can help to add more context and information.
However, the creation is the tricky part. If you can’t create unique content yourself, you can hire a video editor or you can add video content from others. Embedding a YouTube video in a blog post only takes seconds.
^ This is me being interviewed by Oberlo about an article I wrote for them.
Focus on one topic:
If you want to sell your idea (= your Shopify app), you need to bring their attention to one main idea.
If you want to cover more than one topic, write another article.
There’s no right or wrong here.
If in doubt, aim for a 1,500 – 2,000 words long article.
To check the word count in Google Docs, click on Tools > Word Count:
Everything above 4,000 words is considered a very long article. To keep a reader’s attention that long requires advanced writing skills. Only go for it if you’re confident that they will love your words.
Just like the user experience on your app, you need to make sure your reader has a great experience when reading your articles.
Things to consider:
A good tool to figure out if you’re heading in the right direction with your content UX is The Golden Ratio Typography (GRT) Calculator.
Enter your font, font size and content width to see the best settings for your content.
^ For my Open Sans 16px blog-setup, a content width of 544 is ideal.
Depending on your content goals, you might want to remove sidebars, sticky headers and everything else that can distract your readers.
Your #1 content UX goal is always to make the content as easy to read as possible.
Grab my content creation checklist below and start writing engaging content for your Shopify app.