By Tracy Gold published June 30, 2011

10 Ways to Write Like a Content Marketing Jedi

All content marketers can learn from what Yoda said to a young Anakin Skywalker: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” This very same destructive sequence, which turned Anakin into Darth Vader, all too frequently derails content marketing efforts.

Why? Because, horror of horrors, content marketing involves a large amount of writing, and for many people, writing is terrifying (they may say they hate writing, but thanks to Yoda, we know they’re just scared). Even worse, someone has to gingerly edit that writing without hurting psyches already fragile from the writing struggle. Particularly for content marketing campaigns that involve a lot of blogging, the fear and hatred of writing can cause complete content marketing paralysis.

That way, it does not have to be. To help minimize the fear and suffering in your content marketing—particularly, blogging—efforts, I’ve provided some tips to turn you and your team into writing Jedis:

1. Write first, edit later

Don’t think too hard as you write your first draft, or you’ll be in for a nasty case of writer’s block. Think as if you were in a lightsaber battle. You can’t form your fighting strategy as you slash or you’ll be cut in half. Take the advice in this post into account before you write, and use it to edit your work after you write. Do not let it paralyze you while you write.

2. Focus on a key idea

Your blog posts may not always be intense as a Jedi using the Force, but you must focus on one key idea to catch and hold the attention of your readers. You can make several points as part of one idea, but readers should have a clear idea of what they’re supposed to take away from reading your post.

Now, you may get halfway through writing a post when you realize that your focus is different from the one you intended. That’s fine, and common. When you’re done with your first draft, just go back and make any necessary edits to pivot the whole post toward this new focus.

3. Balance jargon

Just as a Jedi would speak very differently to a fellow Jedi than to Jar-Jar Binx, you need to determine which audience your post is addressing and choose your vocabulary accordingly. There’s no need to oversimplify terms for a highly technical audience. But if your company has to educate prospects who aren’t familiar with your industry, using too much industry speak will work against you.

4. Streamline your writing

Just as Jedi Knights live efficient, graceful lives, you should keep your language as concise and elegant as possible. Strong, clean writing makes your points more effective.

5. You don’t have to be a Jedi

Han Solo wasn’t a Jedi, but he still played a huge role in bringing balance back to the Force. The same goes for writing. While you should always put forth your best effort, you don’t have to be Hemingway or Poe. As long as your ideas are strong and you write clearly, your content will excel. In content marketing, an excellent idea is better than a poetic sentence.

6. Use the same basic structures

Establish order on the planet of your blog by using proven structures for your blog posts. Lists, sections and other structures break up big chunks of text to make your posts easier to write and read. Here are a few to experiment with:

7. Don’t deceive your readers

Jedi can get away with covert persuasion, but you shouldn’t hedge around self promotional content. Your readers will see right through it. In most cases, it’s better to admit that you’re drawing from personal experience to create this valuable content than to talk about “a service” when you really mean your service.

8. Dive in on the first sentence

Anakin may have benefitted from his slow start in the pod race, but when it comes to content marketing, you only have a short time to grab attention. You need to intrigue your readers from the get-go. To do this, avoid starting with phrases such as:

  • At [insert your company name here,] we…
  • I recently had the pleasure of speaking to….
  • In my [insert date here] post, I…

Those would be fine starts to a second or third sentence, or even the second paragraph, but they shouldn’t start your whole post because they don’t immediately provide an incentive to keep reading.

9.  Call to action

When a Jedi wants something he gets it. So figure out what action you want your readers to take—an email subscription, a Facebook like, a comment—and ask for it. Be careful, though, not to ask for something bigger than your audience is ready to give, or you risk losing their trust. For example, direct readers to a white paper they can register to download and follow up with a friendly email instead of asking readers to pick up the phone to contact your sales team.

10. Have fun

Don’t be afraid to involve your passions and your sense of humor into your blogging effort no matter how serious and wise you think your target audience is. Even Yoda laughed sometimes, and he had Darth Vader to reckon with.

What tips and guidelines help dispel your content marketing team’s fear and suffering? Comment with your ideas and additions below, and, of course, may the Force be with you.

* Image source: Flickr

Author: Tracy Gold

Tracy Gold is a Marketing and Content Associate at Right Source Marketing, a content marketing and marketing strategy firm. Please don’t hesitate to drop Tracy a comment on this post, and for more like this, follow me on Twitter @tracycgold or check out the Marketing Trenches blog. For a full take on content marketing best practices from the Right Source Marketing team, check out our webinar on magnetizing your content.

Other posts by Tracy Gold

  • Chris

    Cease and desist letter from Lucasfilm in 3…2…1… :-) 
    Very useful article — great for sharing with business stakeholders. Thanks!

    • http://www.marketingtrenches.com Tracy Gold

      Hahaha, thanks Chris! Yes, it can be hard to give executives and seasoned business people writing advice without bruising egos, but it must be done–glad to help. 

  • Anonymous

    I think another fear related to #5 is the fear of length and over complication. Sometimes it’s perfectly fine to do a short post. It could be  100 words or just a couple of sentences. If that’s the length you need to fully get your point across, no need to add to it to hit some mythical perfect length or word count.

    In keeping with our Jedi theme, how often did Yoda or Obi Wan pontificate for hours on end? Pretty much never, yet we still remember many things they had to say.

    • http://www.marketingtrenches.com Tracy Gold

      Great point! Just look at Seth Godin’s blog for master examples of short but effective posts. Of course, we can’t all be Seth Godin, but it’s something to aspire to. 

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    Content Marketing Jedi (с)
    haha))

  • http://paznokcie-forum.pl/ Paznokcie

    (…) and use wordpress for promote your content. May the Force be with you!

  • Janjan

    Nice read here.
    All things on the list are very important in writing your copy. Very goo idea on making the Jedi theme in writing, it does really fit well. For me I like the idea of write first and edit later, it allows you to concentrate on your writing and it can save time, then you’ll have a special time on editing after you write. Nice list. Thanks for sharing

    • http://www.marketingtrenches.com Tracy Gold

      Thanks! Can’t tell you how much time the “write first, edit later” mantra has saved me! 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597300920 Tarik Mohammed Iqbal

    …and if you are writing for your website, make sure you don’t plagiarize! You’ll end up writing (copying) contents that will not attract traffic. i heard an interesting line somewhere this morning. it say: “don’t write checks that your website cannot cash!”