At the end of Part 1 on guide copywriting, I mentioned that you need to choose a topic before you start writing, and I gave a few example topics.
What you choose to write about is most important part of the copywriting process. So, I’d like to expand on that and discuss choosing a topic in more detail.
Choose your guide topic before copywriting
I have found that for most people choosing the topic to write about is more difficult than the actual writing process. All kinds of self-doubt, opinion and downright “writer’s block” can get in the way of identifying what your customers would truly find valuable.
Your topics should be of value to your prospective customer; something that genuinely helps them, yet generic enough that they leave your prospect wanting more (and contact you).
Choose topics that can expand on your SEO strategy and provide more keyword-rich copywriting to attract visitors to your website.
Here are a few techniques for uncovering great guide topics that will help you win over new customers:
- Ask some trusted customers – This has the added value of flattering your customer. Ask them what guide topic they would find helpful, or what they think would help others.
- Brainstorm ideas with a couple of colleagues – Keep it to a few of you. Too many people dulls the power of a brainstorm. The idea here is get all the ‘first page’ ideas out of your head until you get to the really valuable ones.
- Look at your website stats – What are the most popular search terms that visitors are using to arrive at your website? Are there any topics around those terms that you can write about? For example, if you install boilers, a guide on how to save money with a combi-boiler would be a valuable topic to your prospective customer. It gives you a lot of opportunity to use your keywords ‘install’ and ‘boiler’, as well as sell in the advantage (saving money) of using this kind of system.
- Convert an FAQ or pillar page – Your pillar content (main topics of your site) are a good place to look for guide topics. For example, if one of your main pages is about your will writing services, you could create a guide about wills. FAQs are another great source of ideas for guides. Take one of the most ‘popular’ questions and expand on the answer into guide format.
Anatomy of a guide
The delivery – PDF, web page, leaflet – of your copywriting for a guide will determine (somewhat) your layout, but the way to go about writing the guide is pretty standard. You need to follow the age-old model for any good piece of writing:
- Introduction – a couple of paragraphs are all that’s usually needed to introduce your topic and set up your main points.
- Body – make 4 or 5 points in your guide that support your topic and focus for the guide. If you have a lot of information, make a series of shorter guides, rather than one long guide. Use headings and subheadings to keep things readable and aim for around 500-600 words in this section.
- Conclusion – another couple of paragraphs to summarise your topic and conclude the piece.
Write several guides on a range of topics to give your business maximum coverage, and to give your customers more selection. With one guide under your belt, you’ll find the next one is much easier to put together.
Coming next in the series – Beyond copywriting web pages Part 3 – Pillar content pages