How To Build A Following Of Customers From Complete Strangers
It may sound impossible, but building a relationship with your readers in a single post is what the professional freelance content writer does for a living. Our goal, as farfetched as it may sound, is to capture the attention of a complete stranger, and convert that person, turning them into a friend, a curious answer seeker, an admirer, a student, a customer, or any combination of these.
The question many writers who are new to the freelance writing arena want answered is how. What is the secret to writing in such a way that we are able to mold people into something they did not expect in less than 1000 words? The first thing you have to do is catch their attention.
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Welcome to my Parlor
…said the spider to the fly. Capturing a person’s attention and making them stop what they are doing long enough to click on the link that brings them into the spider’s parlor is probably the most difficult part of freelance writing.
This is because you usually only have around 12 words or 70 characters with spaces with which to work. Anything more than that and the Google search engines will ensure the reader does not see it. You cannot capture a reader’s eye if you do not rank well.
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Power Titles and Introductions
The SERPs will only show the first 70 or so characters of your title in a search engine result. Although they will index the entire title, even if it is 1000 characters with spaces, but 70 is all they will work with on the results page. This means that you must convey your message in those first 70 characters regardless of how long your title actually is.
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The closer to the beginning of the title your keyword is, the higher it will rank provided the rest of your submission is SEO-sound. The secret here is to keyword the first word or two.
Once the title ranks high enough for the curious searcher (who is not curious enough to read more than the first 5 or 6 entries on a page) to see it, it must be vivid, direct and interesting enough to make them stick to it. Again, using the keyword, the word(s) they used to search, in the first part of the title helps to draw their attention.
Building a Rapport
Once you have the attention of the reader, it is time to establish a quick rapport with the casual reader. This means that they must feel comfortable with you and the way you express yourself. The majority of the time, the freelancer is writing for someone else yet they must come off as if they are writing for themselves.
Confidence and clear, concise writing is the key and secret to building a rapport with the reader who does not see you as a content writer. As far as they are concerned, you are the person behind the subject matter of the content, knowledgeable and responsible.
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Making it Trendy & Creating Interest
Of course, the content writer rarely gets to choose the topic, however, working for a client with a less-than-interesting product or service is not supposed to be easy. It is the job of the writer to find the trendy side of anything and make it interesting.
Finding ways to approach any topic so that it is interesting to the public can be tricky, but that is one of the traits of a great writer, looking at a topic from all angles and recognizing the reader’s need for it. Once you find the value, you show the reader why it is valuable and how it solves their problem.
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Laying a Foundation of Trust
Writing with confidence is the key to building trust between you and the reader who is looking for someone to help them. Solid research will allow the freelance content writer to build trust by adding value for the person who has come to the website or blog for information.
The secret to building that trust is in the first paragraph. Once you have captured the reader’s attention with a strong title, the first paragraph has to be strong enough and informative enough to keep the reader. This is simply a bold, confident statement of what the entire article or post will give to the reader if they decide to stay. At this point, they are trusting you to deliver on that title and first paragraph.
Erecting Walls of Credibility
In-depth research is the key to building on that foundation of trust by erecting tangible walls of credibility. When you give your readers interesting information that they cannot find in every article or post they read, you give them a reason to trust you. Your credibility as an expert skyrockets because you give the reader something extra that they cannot turn to anyone else for.
Finding those trendy facts that are verifiable and hard to find without the respectable resource links that you provide shows your readers that they not only need the product or service of which you write, they need you.
Bend But Don’t Break
One of the best-kept secrets to writing with authority is the ability to bend the rules of writing without actually breaking them. This is where the writer’s voice comes into play. Anyone can write like an encyclopedia, regurgitating fact after fact about a product or service.
The content writer however, builds an audience by adding flavor to the writing, as if they are speaking to the person. This turns them into an engaging and informative voice of reason – a knowledgeable neighbor or friend and someone the reader can trust. But if you adhere to the strict rules of grammar, you will never achieve this goal.
This is the time to bend the rules without actually breaking them. It is the same principle every writer learns when developing a writing voice of his or her very own.
Flaunting Your Creative License
Many new writers mistakenly believe that creative license means bending the truth or lying altogether. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, taking creative license is more honest than a straightforward presentation of a truth as interpreted by you from concepts others have already presented.
It is achieved without quotes and is your honest version of the tangible. Once the writer has found his or her voice, everything about which they passionately write is creative license, or a presentation of the truth as discovered and revealed by others in a particular way of which only you are capable.
Readers should feel as if you have written the article or post specifically for them and them alone, like a letter to an old friend. They love it when you flaunt your creative license for them.
Wrap Up: The Call to Action
Many writers spend their entire careers perfecting the art of the call to action. It takes some writers’ years of practice to be able to write a solid call to action without breaking stride from their trustworthy voice and authoritative content. In advertorial writing, it is asking for the sale; in content writing, one cannot be as blatant or as straightforward.
A sudden change from authoritative writer to the form of a salesman or a merchant, and you may lose everything you have worked hard for. And yet, the entire writing effort is one big build-up to the call to action. Every need you show how to meet, every word that portrays trendy information, and every fact that you provide all tie into the call to action.
So your call to action should exude the same confidence and honesty upon which the rest of the article is built, word by word, brick by brick.
Are You Up To The Task?
Now that you know the secrets of how the content writer builds a following or readership, will you be confident enough in your abilities as a writer to follow through? It is not as easy as it looks. The trick is to write confidently and as a person of authority who knows and cares about what you are writing (backed up by a lot of research).
If you do these things, the reader will look to you as an expert on every topic that you write and will look for you in every search related to your niche. Now go and confidently build a following of your own.
Author: Scott Kuttner
Scott Kuttner believes that you don’t need to have a college degree to write. He teaches readers how to write, blog, apply SEO and meet new employers online. He is married to the love of his life, JoDee.