By Ken Evoy
Many years ago, when Solo Build It! (“SBI!”) was just catching on, I noticed one of the most common problems members (SBIers) were reporting in our forums. It went something like this...
“Help, I can’t write. How do I do this?”
I remember thinking about that one. It was the opposite of problems like “My new page doesn’t rank at the search engine.” This was self doubt, a harder-to-address, more personal issue.
And very important...
There are many things you have to do right to build your own, free targeted traffic up to thousands of visitors per day. But if you can’t write to connect, it really doesn’t matter what else you do.
Writing to connect, to communicate, is different from writing to sell (aka “copywriting”). It’s the more important skill to develop. Ironically, there are tons of books on copywriting, but precious little on connecting with your audience through words.
In SBI!, we call this writing skill “PREselling.” In the “real world,” all successful business people (from bakers to hotel managers) build relationships with you. PREselling is the online version of that. Strong PREselling, more than anything else, gives visitors (potential customers) a sense of appreciation, like and trust.
After all, you can’t sell online until your visitors know and like you. People need to be “warmed up.” Whether you’re selling memberships, e-books, hard goods, promoting affiliate products, or anything else, it’s so much easier to monetize online once your visitors know, like and trust you.
Hence the word “PREsell.”
Back to those worried SBI! members...
I set about writing a response in that forum. This was so important, we not only incorporated that answer into the ever-evolving process in the SBI! Action Guide, I wrote a book about this subject that’s still unique to this day...
“Make Your Content PREsell!”
I include it here for you as Miles’s subscriber. And here’s a summary that’s pretty close to what I said way back when in our forums.
(P.S. We stopped getting that question in the forums. 🙂 )
“How DO You Write to Connect?”
Many people pooh-pooh the idea of creating their own website or blog, one that would generate solid income for them, for a bad reason. They think they don’t know how to write.
Yes, it’s true in one sense. I’m pretty sure you will never write fiction like Ernest Hemingway. You’re not writing fiction, though.
You can write excellent non-fiction, about a niche that you know and love. And you can write it just. like. you! Better still, it will be great.
Doubt that? Think about the countless times you communicate with others during the day. You talk with your spouse about many different topics, play/support/discipline your children, discuss business with your boss, and chat with your friends about whatever!
You do it differently with each “target audience.” And you do it, in your voice, delivering what you know in the form of a conversation every single day. In the process, you establish your credibility, likeability and personality with each target audience. Same person, just offering slightly different versions of yourself to each target audience.
You aren’t even aware you do it most of the time.
When it comes to building an online business through a website that will attract high volumes of targeted visitors, many become hyper-aware of this challenge because it’s done in words. To which I say...
If you can say it in the real world, you can type it in the online one. It’s easier, because you get to edit yourself. No sharp retort that you can’t take back — you have the space to mold the right words into the best content that over delivers on what the visitor wants to know.
In short — it’s not only doable, it’s totally under your control.
Offline, you know each target audience.
Online, you create one target audience, an avatar or persona of a certain age range, sex, personality and what s/he wants from you. That is who you “talk” to, automatically adjusting the same way you do offline.
In Make Your Content PREsell, we cover the mechanics of improving your writing. Once you own those simple tools, you’re set to go. I’ll stay at a higher level here as we get a bit deeper...
“How to Make a Sculpture of an Elephant”
One of my favorite jokes has long (really long!) been an elephant one...
“How do you make a sculpture of an elephant.”
“Just chip away whatever doesn’t look like an elephant.”
It’s cute. It also carries an important message.
It presents another way of achieving a goal. By eliminating what does not look like high-value content, you end up with techniques for reaching that success-generating level.
Let’s review some “don’ts” right now...
Don’t be “me” focused. It’s all about your visitor. And it’s specifically about the avatar you keep in your imagination as you write.
Don’t be anyone but you. You may have to lighten the text somewhat, or dumb it down. Think about how one would write a web page about black holes for children vs a general audience vs teachers vs astrophysicists. Be you, but stretch to reach the avatar— your reader.
Don’t sell. It’s fine to include some brief text that leads to a sales page about a product (assuming it fits with the topic of that page). But don’t sell — it’s called “PREselling” for a reason. You’ll find that the conversion rate of your sales pages improves dramatically when PREsold visitors arrive there.
Don’t rush it. Research each topic. Even if you know a topic well, you don’t know what the best content online looks like. Google it and take notes (for example, create a list of great points that you might have omitted, understand who the target is, etc.). Hone your page until it’s better than the Top 10-20 sites for a specific topic (aka “keyword”).
This last one is a biggie. They all are (and there are more in MYCPS!).
Don’t write what everyone else is writing. If you don’t meet the needs/wants of your target audience better than others, Google’s AI (“RankBrain”) is getting smarter and smarter at recognizing that. Outstanding content that overdelivers on what your audience wants enables you to win today and in the future.
Google simply wants to deliver the content that best meets what the searcher wants. While some basic search engine optimization (SEO) still helps, the 20-year trend has increasingly favored how well you connect while overdelivering terrific information.
Time to wrap this up. Rudyard Kipling wrote that “words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
Go ahead — be powerful. This is something you can do.
P.S. There’s no way to cover this important topic in a single article. Download MYCPS!, an easy 100-page read. It covers concepts like Valuable PREselling Proposition, positioning and extending your PREselling through newsletters and social media, among many others.
Ken Evoy is Founder / CEO of SiteSell.com and creator of Solo Build It! (SBI), the only all-in-one online business building system for solo entrepreneurs. SBI! now offers a sister product - SBI! for WP - for those who prefer to build their online business using WordPress.