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Create Better Content -- Keep It Short

by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.

I've written a number of articles and posts about content development and intend to publish more. But I need to stop sometimes and take some of my own advice. One of the practices I recommend again and again is to have other people take a look at your content and give you ideas and feedback. I did that recently because I've started using Facebook pages and learned a lot -- including about my website.

I asked some friends to take a look at the Facebook page I'm developing and they said:

On Facebook, you're writing too much at one time. Like Twitter, writing your status updates is called micro-blogging. Micro. Get it? Write a few short sentences. Maybe give a reference link. Then shut up.

And by the way, on your website, your blog posts and articles are too long. Content may be King, but brevity is Queen. Rule of thumb is that blog posts generally should be about 200-300 words. Articles should be about 400-500 words. Unless you're posting a list of websites or software resources.

If you want to write in-depth solutions, make a report or short e-book. Then write a summary article with a link to the free report. So people can scan your articles easily and take away more content if they need it. Most people don't need the long explanation, just pointers.

If you think something you're writing about is complex, that's the time to get simple. Just write enough to get the reader oriented and on track to discover more. Cover your subject in a series of posts or articles.

You also need to get more charts and images mixed in. You can save a lot of words with pictures. Remember the stuff you were trying to write about charticles and infographics? You needed to make it into a charticle or infographic.

Not only that, but have you been forgetting to use a text readability checker? Watch the words you use. You're not writing for an academic audience.

Oh, yeah, and while you're at it, take a look at your website design. You haven't updated that design in years. It's o.k. but just o.k. You can do better. A good deal better. People do judge books by their covers and websites by their designs. They'll bounce if you don't make it easy for them to see what benefits are waiting inside. And show some enthusiasm for it.

Now, it's not that I'm not familiar with the ideas they gave me. I even wrote some articles saying some of the same things. I've just been ignoring them in my own practices in favor of old habits. Most my readers have been forgiving. But my friends are right. I need to keep coming back to these basics.

How many of those recommended practices do you follow?


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