The ROI of Free Content for A Small Business

For a small business, creating content is more important than ever.

“I should start blogging. I want to create a podcast. I’ve thought about posting some videos on YouTube.” You’ve said this to yourself time and again.  But as a small business owner, the urgent demands of the day distract you. Another day goes by, a month goes by, and you still haven’t written one word, or even thought about what you would say. 

You have a business to run. Time is money.

Is creating content really worth the time? Advertising has worked well for you, and you’re skeptical that blogging would even work for your business. Creating free content seems like more time than it’s worth. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Why? Because it’s free. And in 5 years, you’ll wish you did.

The only cost is your time. With your own sweat equity, you can build something valuable. That’s why it’s so important to use your time efficiently.

In a Sydney 2019 keynote address, digital marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuck said: “We are sitting in the easiest time to become a successful entrepreneur.” 

Gary Vaynerchuk says the rewards will come to those who create content.

He says creating content the SINGLE most important activity a business should be doing today to build a brand. He also says the time is NOW. It’s so important he says that if you have employees with any downtime, they should be creating content for your brand. 

Podcasting Packs a 1-2-3 Punch For Creating Content

“Podcasts are being consumed at a remarkable rate… If you can start a podcast around the thing you do, I highly recommend you get started. Even if you have 1,000 people listening — you don’t have to be a top 100 podcast — you just need the people you’re trying to reach.”

“Podcasting is The New Blogging”

Seth Godin

Gary Vee’s advice is backed by data from Edison Research. Their study, The Podcast Consumer 2019, uncovered that podcasts are now being adopted by the majority of Americans: 

  • 51% reported they have ever listened to a podcast
  • 32% had listened in the past month
  • nearly 1/4 of Americans listen to podcasts weekly
  • 40% of Americans age 54 or younger listen to podcasts monthly
  • 54% of podcast listeners said they were more likely to consider the brands they hear about on podcasts 

Perhaps even more telling is that these numbers are up significantly from one year ago. In 2018, Seth Godin said “Podcasting is the new blogging,”  and it looks like it’s here to stay. In the past year alone, 64% more Americans have discovered podcasts. Once a majority adopts something, it’s popularity ramps up. Podcasting is now becoming mainstream. 

54% of podcast listeners are more likely to consider brands they hear about on a podcast.

So if you weren’t one of the blogging pioneers of 2002-2006, there’s still time to jump on the podcasting bandwagon.

Another benefit of podcasting: You can repurpose it to create two more types of content. You get three pieces of content for the price of one. You can film your podcast to create video content for YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Then you can transcribe your podcast to use as a blog post.

Here’s a quick and easy way to use Google Docs to transcribe your podcast into a blog post:

Open Google docs and create a new document. Turn on the voice recognition microphone. Play your recording, and it will start transcribing your podcast or video. You’ll need to go through the document and clean it up, but you’ll have a written document you can transform into a blog post. 

Why Blogging, White Papers, and Ebooks Are Good For Your Business

Here are some statistics that prove a blog for your small business is a wise move, no matter what industry you’re in.

  • Websites that have a blog tend to have 434% more indexed pages. When your website has a lot of content, search engines will recognize it as a resource. 
  • 61% of consumers have made a purchase based on a blog post.
  • 82% of consumers enjoy reading relevant content from brands
  • 70% of consumers learn about a company through articles rather than ads
  • Blogs influence purchase decisions even more than social media

As a small business owner, you need to decide what you could accomplish with a blog. Business building content comes in many shapes and sizes, depending on your industry. The purpose of one piece of content can be different than another. If you sell a complex product that requires explanation, you need a white paper to explain it in a way that helps your customer make a decision. Maybe you need to help your audience understand an issue in a new way that helps them discover a solution.

Some examples of how to narrow a content topic for your small business

Joe sells an epoxy for factory room floors. This product looks very similar to its competitors, but he has case studies that show his product is more durable than any other epoxy on the market. A white paper or blog post that explains the case studies would help Joe prove the advantages of his product over the competitors. Informative articles on topics around factory room safety would enhance his brand authority. Because his product is unique in his industry, free content would help Joe provide more information to his ideal customer.

Susan owns a local dog training service. She has a unique approach to training and has had very successful results. Her private service is highly personalized and is more expensive than the group classes offered at local pet stores. Blog posts would allow Susan to engage and connect with local dog owners on a more personal level, educate them on her training methods, and build her credibility. An ebook that highlights success stories from graduates of her program, and offers training advice and tips on handling common behavior problems would help her audience get to know her and what makes her unique.

Do you want more people visiting your site? Calling your office, or walking through your doors? Then, yes, you should start blogging. Yes, you should have a free e-book available for download on your website.

By themselves, free content doesn’t convert visitors into customers, but they provide a lot of value by driving traffic to your website, improving your authority and building your credibility.

Yes, creating free content is worth your time. 

You just need to do it efficiently.

Decide On Your Content Goals

You’ll want to determine both your qualitative and quantitative goals for your content. This will help you track the return on the investment of your time. Are you primarily interested in driving more traffic to your site? Are you looking to grow an online following that’s engaged with you or your brand? Do you want to convert more customers? You can measure:

  • the percentage increase in web traffic
  • the percentage increase in social media followers
  • the number of leads each month
  • the increase in sales each month

Your goals will help you determine what type of content you will create. You should always be asking, “Will it help achieve my business goals?” If the answer is no, you need to re-think the idea. 

But no matter what, you need to create content. 

“If you do not produce words, pictures, and videos for a mobile device, you are fundamentally irrelevant, and you’re declining in your business opportunity on a second by second basis.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

Understand What You’re Best At

How do you communicate best? You may be a good writer, but you might be a better speaker. Are you less comfortable on camera, but you can communicate well on audio? Once you discover the best form of communication for you, do that first and repurpose into the other forms.

Create a Content Calendar

So how do you get started planning content that helps you achieve your business goals? 

It starts with a content calendar. 

A content calendar, or editorial calendar, is a schedule of what content you will publish and when. It’s a plan that keeps you on track so that you can actually follow through.

It’s the key to consistently creating new content, posting to your blog and staying in touch with your ideal customers. It helps you consistently deliver a variety of content to your audience. Without a thoughtful content calendar, you create random content without purpose. 

Your Content Calendar Is Your Brand’s Programming

Think of your content calendar as your brand’s programming. If you think of it as a broadcasting network thinks of their programming, it will force you to plan ahead. It will help you focus on quality, not quantity. It will give you an overview of everything you’re producing, so you can seek stay relevant to the needs of your audience.

Most importantly, it will save you time, keep you organized and is the vehicle that keeps your team on the same page.

You can set up your content calendar in a variety of ways. It can be as simple as a paper calendar, Google Doc or spreadsheet, or you can use tools such as: 

  • Asana
  • Trello
  • Hubspot
  • CoSchedule
  • Basecamp

If you take the time to develop your calendar for 6-12 months in advance, you can plan your podcasts, write articles, create guides or any other content ahead of time, so that you’re maximizing your time. Once it’s published, the cost of your content is zero, and it works for you 24/7. 

How to Innovate Your Message and Find Relevant Content Ideas

The most valuable content fills a vacuum that’s missing in the market. You can cover a topic that nobody else has written about, or you can cover it more thoroughly than anything else that’s already out there. So don’t focus on what your competitors are talking about; focus on what they’re not talking about. Bring your brand to life with its own, unique personality. Build trust by staying in front of your ideal customers. People are willing to support smaller brands as long as they feel they can trust them.  

Step 1: Brainstorm a List of Customer Questions

Think about the questions that your customer may be asking and how you can answer those questions. You may have a great idea in mind, but if nobody wants to know about the topic, it doesn’t make sense to add it to your calendar. What is your audience most interested in? What is their most acute pain point? What are the most frequently asked questions? Make a list of everything you can think of.

Write down these topics and build your content calendar around these ideas. Think about rotating the subjects around different products or services. 

For example, a Med Spa may cover topics such as:

Is Botox safe? Is Coolsculpting painful?

How long do the results of Microneedling last? How much do Hydrafacials cost?

Step 2: Ask for Input From Sales and Customer Service Staff

There may be questions your customers are asking that nobody is answering. Sales and customer service team members are interacting with your clients regularly. They may be coming across repeated problems or answering the same questions all the time. They hear customer concerns and fears. What are the biggest sales obstacles they encounter? What is the most common reason potential clients hesitate on purchasing the product or service? Listening to your customer is one of the most important content generating tools you can use. More importantly, it’s just good business.

Step 3: Ask Your Customers

Along those same lines, foster community among your clients. Whether it’s through social media, or on your blog, ask them what they would like to see you write about next. People love to be a part of the process, and involving them along the way ensures they will be interested when you publish it. By connecting with them in a new way, they’ll be more enthusiastic about your blog post and will be more likely to share it. This can help attract new customers and generate interest in working with you.

Step 4: Do a Google Crosscheck

Next, Do a Google search to discover what might already be out there on the topic. How are others currently addressing an issue? How might you answer it differently? How can you cover it in a more complete way?

Step 5: Let Your Competitors Inspire You

A competitor may discuss an idea that could be elaborated on more fully. You could then talk about that same topic in a more in-depth way. Visit your competitors’ YouTube channels and look for videos that had a lot of views or comments. Read the viewers comments. 

Again, what are they not talking about?

Were there any questions you could answer? Were there any other discussion topics that emerged?

Step 6: Cover Many Perspectives of One Topic

Look for topics that have varying perspectives. By addressing several sub-topics in addition to the original topic, you increase your level expertise and improve your credibility. 

Step 7: Find Your Reader First

Research articles from your industry that people share the most. There are several tools to help you do this. You can use:

  • Buzzsumo
  • Ahrefs

Using these tools, you enter a search term and they show you what content was shared the most around this topic. You can see the popularity of a given topic before you ever write one word. Knowing what topics already have an audience makes the time you spend creating content worth your time. There’s no benefit in writing to an audience that doesn’t exist. 

One of my favorite tools is Answer the Public. You type in a keyword and it gives you the questions most people are asking around popular search topics. You can come up with countless articles just by answering these questions. 

Step 8: Do Keyword Research

Keyword research is one of your first activities for SEO. Investing the time to find the best keywords will help make your blog more likely to appear in Google search results which in turn helps generate more traffic to your website. 

You want to identify keywords that have the best opportunity without being too competitive. They are usually specific topics within a larger topic and are known as “longtail” keywords. 

Here is an example of a long-tail keyword for a Nutritionist: If you were to write about “Healthy Eating,” you would be competing with authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control, or Healthline. However, you can aim to rank for long-tail keywords such as, “Healthy Eating for Single Moms” or “Healthy Eating for Single Moms on a Budget.”

Some tools you can use for keyword research are:

  • SEMRush
  • UberSuggest
  • KWFinder

Create Cornerstone Content

By creating various forms of content around related, long-tail keywords, Google will see that your website offers high quality, specialized knowledge on a given subject. Eventually, you can combine all of these specialized pieces of content into one larger piece of content, such as one long blog post. This is called “cornerstone content.” When you consistently focus on a large number of highly specialized topics, it becomes more likely to rank on Google’s page one for the larger, more competitive keyword. So, fill your editorial calendar with content around similar long-tail keywords!

Keyword research tools will help you identify long-tail keywords. You can also use Google Related Searches for clues. If you type in a keyword in the Google search bar, you’ll notice related searches below. Google Trends will also show you if a topic is increasing or decreasing in search volume. 

You’ll want to set up an area on your content calendar that includes your chosen topic and the keywords you’ll be targeting. 

Step 9: Set Your Schedule and Stick To It!

One of the most important pieces of your content calendar is setting a regular schedule for publishing your content. Even if it’s only once a month, publishing needs to be consistent. You can “batch” the work by creating each form of content ahead of time and schedule them to publish on a regular day – it can be every week, twice a month, or once a month. Your content calendar will help keep you on track. Choose what is realistic for you to do consistently. Quality is more important than quantity. 

Step 10: Decide Where You’ll Share Your Content

Once you publish your content, it’s time to share it. Which social media account should you share to? It depends on where your customers are. Here are some examples: 

If you offer a B2B Service, share your articles on LinkedIn. You can syndicate your articles on your LinkedIn profile and gain a subscriber base there. (Key tip: In this video Gary Vaynerchuk talks about how LinkedIn is like Facebook was in 2011 — it’s no longer just for business content. So don’t miss out on the rewards that exist on LinkedIn today.)

Join Facebook groups related to your business or industry and contribute to the group whenever you can. In order for your articles to be well-received, you need to be an active member of the group. That means you answer questions and contribute to discussions in a genuine way. Otherwise, you’ll come across as self-serving and spammy.

Serve Your Audience Instead of Yourself

Don’t forget your email list. You can send your blog posts as a newsletter to your email list, send a link to your latest video tutorial. The main point is to serve your audience, rather than focus on serving yourself.

Also, remember some of your content can be short and simple — your thoughts and observations you share on Twitter and replying to comments on your Instagram posts. Interacting on social media enhances and builds your brand.

Creating Content Is All About Efficiency

Time and money. Yes, they are limited resources for small businesses. That’s why you must use every resource at your disposal to stay relevant in today’s rapidly changing economy. As with every other aspect of running a small business, creating content is all about being efficient. That means you should have a plan, delegate where you need to, outsource where you need to, and use the right tools. 

Create Content Now: In 3 Years, Your Future Self Will Thank You 

While you may think of creating content as a non-core business activity, it creates enormous value in building a brand. Content rewards you on a compound basis and is one of the most powerful assets you can create — essentially for free.


“The answer to your biggest upside or ambition is to make content. As much of it as humanly possible. And make it where people actually pay attention so they become aware of what you want them to know.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

I talk more about content writing fundamentals for small businesses here.

12 Studies Reveal The Ideal Blog Writing Length

What is the ideal length for a blog post? That’s the $100,000 question. It turns out, the answer depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and who your audience is. It also helps to turn to the research on the subject.

Infographic: What is the ideal blog post length?

Writing for different audiences and purposes changes how many words belong in your copy. This guide offers insight into how to craft the best content for your goals.

 

Write An E-Book And Make More Money

Write and design your own ebook with a customizable template

Write and design your own ebook with a customizable template

An instructional ebook can be a powerful tool in your content strategy. Your own ebook can position you as an industry authority and help your customers perceive you as a trusted expert in your field. You can write an e-book as a free opt-in to build your email list, or you can use an ebook as a content upgrade to sell as a digital product. Whatever the purpose, a well-written e-book can help you gain the trust of potential clients and build your brand. When they read your ebook, they’re more likely to read your blog or visit your website.  

Maybe you’ve thought about writing an e-book but struggle to find the right words or get your ideas organized. You know that you have something to write about, but the task is somewhat daunting. You just can’t seem to get started. If you don’t have the resources to hire a professional writer, it’s not as hard as you might think to write your own ebook. That’s why I’ve compiled some simple steps to help you get started. 

Identify A Great Ebook Topic 

The trick to selecting your book topic is to really understand your customer. Think about your customers’ most common problem. If your ebook answers their most pressing question or solves their most persistent problem, they’ll want to hear what you have to say. Do some market research to help validate your topic idea. What questions do your current customers ask you the most? Join some Facebook groups in your niche. What discussions are taking place? What are the most frequently asked questions? What struggles are they dealing with?

Write An Outline and Table of Contents

Start by outlining your topic so that you’ll have a framework to follow as you’re writing and organizing your ideas. Planning your book from the start helps save time and allows you to write more efficiently. Use your earlier research to clearly define your audience. The more details you include when describing your ideal audience, the better. Set a goal for the number of words you would like to write. When you have a goal to work towards, it helps you make progress towards finishing your book. After you have your ideal audience and desired length established, create a high-level view of what you’ll be covering in your book. Your outline does not need to be set in stone, it just helps you stay organized and serves as a reference point on your progress Your outline will eventually become your Table of Contents.

Just Start Writing

I recommend setting a daily goal on how many words you would like to write each day. Set aside a specific time each day to accomplish that goal. Start by working on one chapter at a time. It helps to use a simple question and answer system for each chapter. Ask why, what, when, where, and how questions on your topic. Continually refine your writing until you’re sure that you’ve clearly and effectively answered those questions.

We have some resources to help you get the job done in a fraction of the time. It’s as easy as downloading one of our e-book templates, following our Irresistible Writing Formula and dropping in your text. 

Ebook Templates With The Irresistible Writing Formula from Writerrs.com

Our ebook writing and design templates make publishing an ebook fast and easy.

Proofread and Review

Read through your work with a critical eye. Look for typos and misspellings. Replace all uses of the passive voice with the active voice. Instead of, “The dog was brought to the vet by its owner,” you would say “The owner took her dog to the vet.” For more tips on what to watch out for when proofreading, check out my previous article here. Reading your work aloud also helps you catch grammar and usage errors. Don’t forget to install Grammarly, your personal grammar coach to help you along the way. The last thing you want is for your readers to point out grammar and spelling errors!

Format Your Ebook

Once you’ve finalized your text, you can begin thinking about laying out your pages and adding some graphics. You don’t need to be a graphic designer to do this. As long as you remember some basic page design principles, you can create a presentable ebook without breaking the bank. When laying out your pages, you want to:

  • Break up text with plenty of white space
  • Add quality images without cluttering the page
  • Use headings and call-out boxes for emphasis

You also don’t need to invest in expensive software. Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Apple Pages or Keynote can work well for basic page layout. Free tools such as Canva can help you create your own designs, while photo sites such as Unsplash offer quick access to beautiful images. Once you’re finished with your design, simply export your document as a PDF, and you’re done! 

Note: If you’re planning on publishing your ebook on Amazon, you’ll need to format your book using their Kindle formatting guidelines.

So if you’ve been thinking of writing an ebook, it’s worth your time to get started right away. An ebook is good for your business. You’ll help build customer trust and boost your authority.

What topic are you thinking of writing about?

Instructional Design: The Secret of Successful Online Courses

How to right a killer course with the right instructional design techniques.

Don’t bore your students. Use the right instructional design techniques to write a killer course.

Online learning is more popular than ever. If you want to learn about something, chances are pretty good you can take a course on it – on your own schedule and at your own pace. Online courses are perfect for training remote employees, teaching customers about your products and gaining new customers. They’re convenient and cost-effective. With the right instructional design techniques, online courses can be transformative. 

First, it’s important to remember that adults learn differently than children. Usually, adults make a voluntary choice to take a course. Even if they’re required to complete a course for their job, they’re willing because they know it benefits.

Second, when taking an online course, the potential distractions are endless. From social media to emails, to online shopping – just about anything could lead them away

For this reason, if your course doesn’t serve their purpose, you’ll lose your students.

That’s why if you’re creating online courses, you must avoid common pitfalls that could steal them away or make them lose interest. 

With this in mind, let’s look at a few proven instructional design techniques that will keep your students actively engaged in your course. If you’re writing your first course or If you already have courses online, check them to make sure they include these elements.

Instructional Design Technique #1 – Understand Your Audience

Who is your ideal student? Who exactly are you teaching? You must thoroughly understand your ideal customer’s struggles and desires. What does this person want most?

It’s important to realize adults have a lot of life experience and past knowledge. When learning something new, they draw upon their backgrounds. This can be both good and bad. As a result, students will bring different perceptions, different expectations, and their own biases to your course. That’s why your course needs to allow for these differences. For example, some people may tend to avoid traditional classroom learning. With this in mind, they may need more time to learn by doing. That’s why defining your audience or ideal student is key. When you completely understand your audience, you can consider differences in educational levels, socioeconomic levels, culture and other important factors. Therefore, you’ll employ the right instructional design techniques with specific needs in mind. As a result, you’ll avoid student frustration and those unwanted negative reviews.

Instructional Design Technique #2 – Involve The Left Side Of The Brain

One of the best instructional design techniques is to involve both sides of the brain. Each side of the brain serves a different purpose:

The left side of the brain is logical. It uses analytical thinking and step by step instructions. Make sure to provide:

  • A logical and sequential organization of your topics
  • Information that is broken down into step by step processes
  • Statistics, facts, and quotes
  • Topics in a lecture format
  • Minimal distractions
  • Orderly content
  • Independent study

Instructional Design Technique #3 – Involve The Right Side Of The Brain

In contrast, the right side of the brain is more visual. It uses creative and conceptual processes. Make sure to include elements that allow students to use this type of thinking. Here are some instructional design techniques that will help:

  • Encourage thinking outside the boundaries of your course.
  • Provide ways for students to apply the concepts to other areas of their lives.
  • Facilitate creative ideas and innovation.
  • Present a variety of perspectives.
  • Include visual images, color, and shapes.
  • Involve the senses. Allow them to read, write, listen and think at the same time.
  • Provide a handout with an area for note taking. 
  • Create opportunities for open discussion and group projects.
  • Include creative problem-solving activities.

In essence, when you engage both sides of the brain, you’re far less likely to have students turn off your course and far more likely to receive rave reviews.

Ultimately, the right instructional design techniques help your course become a transforming experience that leads to true change for your students. 

Online Courses As Part of a Content Marketing Strategy

Online courses can be a perfect addition to your content marketing mix. If you’re a subject matter authority, or if you have experience in a subject area, chances are you’re further along on that journey than many other people. Think about the expertise you offer or a skill that others may want to learn. An online course can help you get your message out to the market and establish you as an authority in your industry. If you have a special talent or skill, you can share it with the world. If you have mastery or knowledge of a subject, you can teach it.

Once your course is complete, you’ll need to decide how students will access your course. There are a number of choices available today. You could choose to launch your course on a learning marketplace platform such as Udemy, or you could choose to market it on your own website. In either case, an online course can go a long way toward helping you establish your brand’s online reputation.

If you’re looking to take your content to the next level, an online course may be just the right choice. If you’d like to learn more about how to use the right instructional design techniques, get the step-by-step guide in Sandra’s book, The Step by Step Guide To Copywriting: Online Learning and Course Design.

Need help writing an online course? Let us help you get your course out into the world. We have professional copywriters who specialize in instructional design. Shop our online course writing service here.

Fix Your Content With The Flesch Reading Ease Formula

How to improve your Flesch Reading Ease Formula score

How to write content people will read.

Understanding the Flesch Reading Ease formula can help you learn if inefficient writing is costing you. Why? Because complex writing can kill your sales.  It can cost you potential customers. It can hurt your website’s traffic.

The truth is, most people like to read plain English – they don’t want to read cliches or technical jargon unless absolutely necessary.

Google understands this too. Even if you sell complex products or services, you need to especially careful of mind-numbing, complicated writing.

Here are the signs:

  • Using ten words to say something that could be said in three
  • Using perplexing language for common ideas
  • Becoming redundant in an effort to be precise
  • Becoming verbose when trying to be accurate
  • Sounding pretentious in an attempt to be interesting

The result:

your readers’ eyes glaze over,

or worse –

they leave your page,

delete your email

They never read your message.

Not one word.

When writing web content, blog posts or emails, plain English is a necessity. It must be easy to read, understand and use.

How To Write Content People Will Actually Read

Reading ease is important no matter the subject – even when writing technical information. If you’re explaining a technical subject, use simple sentences and keep plenty of white space on the page. When possible, replace complicated words with simplified words and avoid unnecessary jargon or acronyms.

That doesn’t mean you should use simple words at the expense of being accurate. It also doesn’t mean you should delete important information just for the sake of making it easier to read. Don’t sacrifice what’s necessary for your audience.

It’s about writing for your readers. Not too complex, yet not so simplistic that it fails to answer their questions.

That’s why your content should be direct and straightforward, yet streamlined. Is there an everyday word to replace that fancy word? Can you eliminate unnecessary clauses in your sentences?

That’s where the Flesch Reading Ease and the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Tests come in. They give you an objective assessment of your content. They are the most commonly used formulas and generally considered to be the most accurate tests available.

First developed in 1948 by Rudolph Flesch, the Flesch Reading Ease test estimates the reading difficulty of any written material. In 1975, the U.S. Department of Defense wanted to evaluate the difficulty level of its technical manuals, and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Test was created to make it more useful for the military.

Fletch-Kincaid Readability Tests eventually became standardly used in the United States Military. In most of the United States, it is now commonly required that reading material such as insurance policies and other legal documents use plain English (8th or 9th-grade level).

Here’s how the tests calculate readability:

Flesch Reading Ease Formula

206.835 – (1.015 x Total Words / Total Sentences) – (84.6 x Total Syllables / Total Words)

Here’s how the results are interpreted:

0 to 30 – College graduate level. Very difficult.

30 to 50 – College student level. Difficult.

50 to 60 – 10th grade to 12th-grade level. Relatively difficult.

60 to 70 – 8th grade to 9th-grade level. Plain English.

70 to 80 – 7th-grade level. Relatively easy.

80 to 90 – 6th-grade level. Easy. Conversational.

90 to 100 – 5th-grade level. Very easy.

The lower the score, the more complex the writing. The higher the score, the easier it is to read. Word length and sentence length determine complexity. For example, Dr. Suess books would have a score of at least 100. Their short sentences and one syllable words create some of the easiest reading.

Generally, a score of 60-70 is considered to be the standard level for most web content.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level Test

Widely used in education, this test expresses results in terms of grade level. This helps when trying to estimate the best educational materials for certain groups of people, such as students.

0.39 (Total Words / Total Sentences) + 11.8 (Total Syllables / Total Words) – 15.59

The results are converted into an American school grade level – a score of 9 would be understandable by readers who have a reached a 9th grade level of education.

How Flesch Readability Impacts SEO

While we don’t know exactly how Google evaluates readability, the Flesch Reading Ease Score can help you clearly know if your text is too difficult or too easy. Reading ease impacts your SEO either directly or indirectly. Bottom line – if people leave your page because they’re bored or find it to be a waste of time, it will lower your ranking.

Tools That Measure Your Content’s Readability

The good news is you don’t need to worry about doing the math to measure your content’s readability. There are several tools that will do the job quickly and easily.

Microsoft Word

If you use Microsoft Word, you can enable readability statistics to see a snapshot of your content’s statistics. Click the File tab. Then click on Options. Select Proofing. In the area that says, When correcting spelling and grammar in Word, select the box that says, Check grammar with spelling. Finally, select Show Readability Statistics.

Once you’ve enabled this feature, Word will display your readability statistics after each spell check.

Use the built in features of Microsoft word to improve your content's readability

How to use Microsoft Word’s readability statistics

Yoast SEO Plugin

If you’re using WordPress, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin to measure your content’s readability.

Online Tools

There are also free online readability checkers, such as this one from webpagefx. You simply enter your site’s URL, and you’ll receive a readability report for your website.

How To Improve Your Flesch Reading Ease Score

To ensure your content is readable and understandable, always keep your target audience in mind. Each audience has its own needs. What problem are you solving? What information do they need to know? This will help you evaluate what to include and how you will write it.

It’s important to stay organized and keep your paragraphs concise. Your writing should flow easily from one topic to the next. Use familiar, appropriate vocabulary. Strike a balance between overly complicated and overly simplified language. Avoid using acronyms or industry jargon.

Thoughtful page design is also important. Avoid large blocks of heavy text. Keep plenty of white space and use headings to break up each topic. Use easy to read fonts in a large enough size. Avoid using all capital letters.

Keep in mind the Flesch Reading Ease Tests have their limitations. No readability measure takes into account the subject you’re writing about. It can’t tell you if you’ve done a good job conveying the information clearly. Only a human being can tell you that. If you’ve successfully explained a technical or complicated subject, your Flesch Reading Ease score won’t necessarily reflect that you took a complex subject and made sense out of it.

Readability tools should be used as guidelines rather than rules. You also need to use some judgment.

Use the checklist below to improve the readability score of your blog posts, emails, manuals and other content. 

A professional copywriter can add the human judgment that’s necessary to improve the readability of your blog posts. Let us take care of it for you. Check out our flat-rate blog post membership plans.

 

Press Release Samples, Tips & Templates From The Pros

We’ve assembled some press release samples and some of the best expert advice on how to get media attention with a well-written press release. Think the press release is a thing of the past? Think again. Press releases are still the standard way to communicate with media outlets about an event, a person or topic of interest. Their purpose: to make a story go viral. Don’t overlook this valuable tool. 

A press release will help you get the word out and boost your content marketing efforts. But you need to write them well – so they do their job.

Here’s what the experts have to say:

1.  Press Release Samples: Learn The Do’s and Don’ts

A 2016 Forbes article tells us the process of writing a press release is “simple but not easy.” There’s a difference between press releases that do the job and those that don’t. What makes the difference is the intent when writing the press release.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “What’s in it for me?” This holds true with press releases. You must offer a reason for a journalist to publish your story.

On average, reporters can receive as many as 500 to 1,000 emails a day. That’s why your headline must state exactly what the press release is about. In fact, one journalist states he deletes emails after about .5 seconds when reading the subject line.

A previous Forbes article offers some do’s and don’ts from journalists:

Don’t:

  • Attach the press release in a Word or pdf document.
  • Include the press release as a hyperlink to a press release posted online.
  • Use all caps – it looks like your shouting.
  • Use dense and tedious language.
  • Confuse with acronyms.
  • Oversell with words like “groundbreaking,” unless it truly is that.
  • Send the same press release many times to the same journalist.
  • “Speak to everybody and appeal to nobody.”

Do:

  • Get straight to the point in your subject line and in your first paragraph.
  • Address the reporter personally.
  • Spell their name correctly.
  • Speak directly. Say what it is. Say why it’s timely and important.
  • Share other resources, such as links to websites with more information.
  • Make the key takeaway clear.
  • Send relevant information. A journalist who covers science and technology does not want a press release about real estate.
  • Provide context to the story so the reader understands what it really means.
  • Show that you understand the publication and the type of stories they cover.
  • Provide detailed information on who to contact and make sure you will be able to reply immediately.

2. Follow PR Web’s Editorial Best Practices & Press Release Samples

To demonstrate, the Editorial Guidelines for News Releases over at PRWeb give us best practices, complete with press release samples. When writing your press release, follow these guidelines to make sure you do it right:

Newsworthy

Just because something is happening does not mean it’s news. Make sure your announcement is timely and relevant. State the key point clearly in the headline.

Objective 

Avoid using personal pronouns such as “you,” “I,” or “we” as this implies the content is an advertisement rather than a news release. In the same way, refrain from making exaggerated product/service claims, or using adjectives such as “amazing.” Any forms of hype diminish the credibility of your announcement. 

Legally Accurate 

If you’re writing about legal matters such as court cases or criminal matters, you’ll need to reference case numbers, complaint numbers, etc.

Contact Information

Make sure to include a valid phone number and email address of the company issuing the press release. Don’t use an email address that you don’t check often. If a journalist contacts you about your news release, you’ll want to respond right away.

Written Authorization

You must have permission from a company executive. For example, if you are an independent representative of a network marketing company, you’ll need to obtain written consent from a company executive before distributing a press release.

Standard Length

Your press release must be between 300 and 800 words. Stay within the standard length for a press release. Anything that is too short or too long might not be indexed well in search engines. In the same way, limit the length of your Summary Paragraph to one or two sentences.

Error Free

It must be free of spelling and grammar errors. Proofread everything.

English Language

It must be written entirely in English. Make sure to define any industry jargon or acronyms so the reader can understand what you’re talking about.

Business Name

Include your business name as the news source in the headline. This is you or your company, not a marketing firm or other agency acting on your behalf.  You must state clearly how you or your business relates to the announcement.

3. Use The Correct Press Release Format

The correct style and formatting for your press release are important so that journalists view it as credible. We again turn to the experts at PR Web on how to format a press release. Here’s what’s included in a properly written press release:

Headline

Your headline needs to clearly state what your announcement is about so it captures attention within .5 seconds. Keep the length to 170 characters or less so that is clear and concise.

Summary Paragraph

This paragraph should be italicized. Briefly explain what the release is about. It should be no more than one or two sentences. This is where you answer, “What is the main point?” and “Why is this newsworthy?”

Location and Date Line

You’ll open the press release with a new paragraph below the summary. It always begins with the city and state of your business and the date of the announcement – in the month, day, year format.

Body

Following the location and date, on the same line, add a dash with a space on each side. Then begin writing your announcement. It will be about 2-3 paragraphs, single-spaced, with one line between each paragraph. Each paragraph should be just a few sentences and cover one topic.

Company Information

Here you’ll provide a basic overview of the facts about your company.

Contact Details

Include the contact information of who is issuing the press release. Specify the name of the person, phone number, email address, links to social media and company website URL.

4. Use Press Release Samples and Templates As Your Guide

To simplify the process, here are some press release samples and templates you can use when writing your own press releases:

Fit Small Business provides a free downloadable Word/Google Doc template for press releases with easy to follow instructions.

Microsoft offers a free professional press release template.

From general news releases to evergreen news releases, to press releases for content marketing, PR Newswire shares press release examples for a variety of types of news releases.

Press release samples make it easy. Here’s an easy to follow basic sample press release template.

Press release samples for your content marketing

How to write a press release

All things considered, press releases can be highly effective for instant exposure – when you write them effectively. If you want to get the message out to the world about your business, new book, new product, upcoming event, don’t overlook the all-important press release. 

Since we do not provide press release distribution services, I recommend PR Web’ Press Release Distribution Service where they help you reach 30,000 journalists, bloggers, and influencers. We do make a small referral fee for recommending their services.

Let us take care of your press release writing. Order yours today.

This post contains affiliate links, which means we make a small fee for your purchase through the link.

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