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The Original Content Manifesto, Part VII

The Original Content Manifesto, Part VII

In this, our final look at generating original content, we will revisit some of the points made throughout the series, and focus on the act of writing in general, without stressing any particular area of AOM. Once someone becomes comfortable with creating text, they should be able to come up with whatever is needed for any part of the site.

So there you are, staring at a blank, empty box on your screen. The cursor is blinking, your hands are poised over the keyboard, and you may feel confused, even panicked. What to write? How will you know if it’s any good? The responsibility weighs down your hands. How do you overcome this feeling of writer’s block?

Paradoxically, one of the best ways to get the creative juices flowing is by staying away from the keyboard. Do something else that gets you moving but keeps your mind free to think. Walking, driving, even mundane chores like washing dishes or vacuuming can keep you physically distracted while your mind wanders. Think about what you want to say – what are the important points? Imagine explaining to a friend the concepts you want to convey. Even if you don’t have any trouble sitting down and typing away, chewing over your thoughts first can help you organize them before touching a single key.

Remember that decades of computer development have enabled you to have easy access to tools for formatting, editing and reworking your words. Nothing is engraved in stone. You can always come back and refine your text, so don’t be afraid to jot down rough ideas, knowing you can improve them later. Read and re-read what you’ve written; too many words? What can you remove? Not enough words? Can you add more details? Does the text ‘flow’, or does it appear disorganized, jumbled? The ability to edit your writing is one of the most powerful tools you have. If you’re not happy with it, don’t hold back from being ruthless in cutting and reorganizing.

As has been mentioned in earlier posts, spelling and grammar are of paramount importance. Nothing screams “amateur” like disjointed sentences and sloppy spelling. Trust is the key element in getting people to shop from your site. And nothing destroys that feeling of trust more than reading something such as this, from an actual website:

When someone gets in you home will ofcourse judge your aesthetic sense after checking your home furnishings ? If you did it well then it will be a plus to your personality. Choosing a reliable home furnishings store out of thousands furnishings stores will be an important task. Great history, reliability, cheap price, good quality and in time delivery will be the most important factors which everyone going to be considered to choose home furnishings store. We at [store name removed] are offering the same to let you choose [store name removed] for your home furnishings needs here in USA. Buy home furnishings and Home Furnishings at discount price online.

Would you want to shop at this store? Do you feel you can trust this site? If you’re working in a language that’s not your mother tongue (like the writer above), try to find a native speaker to go over your text and offer suggestions.

In the preceding six parts of this Original Content Manifesto, a laser focus has been applied to the various areas of an Associate-O-Matic website, from the Home Page to the Shopping Cart. All the built-in areas for custom text have been examined, and various types of content have been explored in detail, with examples of what can be done. The text can be broadly broken down into two main types: Informative and Illustrative. Here’s a brief rundown on what each mean.

Informative text, is content that tries to convey information to the reader. This may be useful data regarding a product, cribbed from the synopsis, or even trivia relating to a product or category (think back to the Wikipedia facts regarding “Pudge” Torres, in pt. V). Descriptions or bullet points are types of informative text, in which the focus is to say something important or interesting directly related to where the site visitor is (recall letting the visitor know that clicking on the ‘Checkout’ button will still allow them to review the order before needing payment details). This sort of content tends to be very ‘cut and dry’, with short and direct text that gets to the point, giving the information needed to make an ‘informed’ buying decision.

Illustrative text, on the other hand, is usually rich with imagery, and tries to reach the reader from an emotive perspective. Rather than try to convey information, you want to establish certain feelings, such as a bond between writer and audience, to allow a visitor to relax and enjoy their experience, and ultimately to connect to a feeling of trust in the website. This content is found most often on non-product pages, such as the home page, where you literally roll out the welcome mat and invite the visitor into your store, with assurances that it’s going to be fun shopping on this site.

You can certainly mix and match these two groups of content wherever you think it’s appropriate; part of finding your own unique ‘voice’ is to learn how to blend and balance text from both styles into a coherent whole.

The ultimate goal of creating original content is to cultivate that unique voice; to make that coherent whole into something that makes your store stand out from all the ones with little or no content. To make it the one that people remember, and trust enough to return to or recommend to others. If you write for humans, the search engines will follow, and the SEO benefits will flow almost organically.

There are of course, no guarantees. You might slavishly follow every suggestion in this series to the letter, and your site still fails to ignite that spark required to make consistent sales. It happens. But a site with no content is almost certainly doomed from the start, buried in the strata of the Internet with all the other thousands of content-less sites, like fossilized evolutionary failures. It’s hoped that this series will help you overcome any feelings of reticence on your part to sit down and start typing; your first efforts may be rough around the edges, but if you continue, you will improve. And maybe stuffing your site with original text will provide that slim toehold needed to keep you ahead of the pack. Maybe not. But you will never know until you try. And trying is the first step on the road to creating your own original content.

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