Writing guidelines make content creation 10x easier.
Every successful site has them. Why?
Because they make it easy to:
- Produce high-quality content
- Outsource to other writers
- Utilize ghost writers
Your writing guidelines are a fail-safe decision-making reference. You use them to benchmark every piece of content before you publish it.
Let’s start making yours.
Figure Out Who You’re Writing For
The 1st step is to figure out who you’re writing for. Ask yourself:
Who is going to read my content?
Understanding this makes writing content easy.
Ideally, you will create a fictional “avatar” of who will read your posts.
For my SEO I blog I write ALL of my content for one person:
John, the newbie SEO.
Understanding who he is has helped me earn $134,171 from 1x product launch.
Here’s how I created his profile…
The 12x Persona-Defining Questions
I use 12x questions to get into my avatar’s heads.
I want to know what they:
This helps me to create content PERFECTLY suited to them every time.
These are the questions I like to answer-
- What’s your avatar’s biggest source of pain?
- What keeps them awake at night? What scares your avatar?
- What is the biggest danger that they don’t even see yet?
- What’re your avatar’s greatest opportunities?
- Do they have opportunities that they don’t even know about yet?
- What are your avatar’s hopes and dreams?
- Who or what do they aspire to be?
- Why do they want/don’t want ________?
- What are the signs they have/don’t have ________?
- Did you just learn something about your avatar?
- How has your website positively impacted their life? How is their life different now because of your website?
- What will it cost your avatar to NOT visit your website?
Click Here To See How I Answered These For Newbie SEO John
Meet John, The Newbie SEO
Let’s start by getting to know that John’s problems are…
What’s your avatar’s biggest source of pain?
He has no idea where to start, what is working right now or what will get him penalized. John is confused.
What keeps them awake at night? What scares your avatar?
If John gets it wrong he won’t be able to generate traffic to his website.
What is the biggest danger that they don’t even see yet?
A Google penalty, either manual or algorithmic that destroys all of his hard work.
What’re your avatar’s greatest opportunities?
John is starting from nothing which gives him a blank canvas to build on.
Do they have opportunities that they don’t even know about yet?
Once John has built a network to rank one site, he can also leverage that network to rank others sites in similar niches.
What are your avatar’s hopes and dreams?
He would like to generate a full-time income with websites he has built and ranked on Google.
Who or what do they aspire to be?
John wants to be free of time, money and location.
Now zoom in on your avatar’s needs…
Why do they want/don’t want ________?
John wants the ability to rank his site highly in Google to increase traffic and income. He isn’t sure how to do that but want to do it in the quickest and easiest way possible. He doesn’t want to waste time or money on outdated strategies and is worried about getting a Google Penalty.
What are the signs they have/don’t have ________?
John has built a site that struggles to get any traction with traffic specifically organic traffic from Google.
Did you just learn something about your avatar?
For these next questions, I need to think of John as my greatest ever case study. How will his life look in the future thanks to my site?
How has your product positively impacted their life? How is their life different now because of your product?
When John started out he had struggled to get traffic to his site and was in a desperate position. He needed to make money with his website to help pay the bills and ranking the site in Google was key to generating the traffic he needed.
Within a year he was generating enough income to be able to quit his job and focus on his website(s) full time. Now he was fully focused he was able to leverage his resources to launch another site in the same niche building a secondary income stream.
Within 5 years he was earning $10,000 a month and now lives with complete financial independence working from his home office. His partner works alongside him part time and they are able to start a family with complete security.
10 years later and John has built a team that enables him to remove himself from the business and enjoy complete freedom. He is free of location, time and money and so is his family. He has the ability to provide safety and security for his family and close friends.
What will it cost your avatar to NOT have use my site?
If John didn’t understand how to rank his site the right way he would have to invest a lot more time and money into learning how to rank sites correctly.
Due to the huge amount of misinformation on the web about SEO, it would be very frustrating to work out exactly what works learning through trial and error which can be very costly in terms of time and money.
John will likely spend years learning SEO the hard way and will have to build a number of sites as his experiments fail. In his first 5 years, he will find small successes along the way but never quite enough to provide the stability and security he needs to quit his job and gain full-time focus on his site(s).
Not knowing the right way to rank his sites would create a huge amount of pain and frustration as he watches site after site gain momentum only to be penalized by Google and slapped straight back to square 1.
After years of wasted time, money and social pressure from his partner/family/friends he finally has to swallow his pride and admit defeat. Now John is focused on his full-time day job providing just enough to make ends meet.
Who will your avatar become as a result of the positive impact of your site?
John will be a self-made man. He has built his business from the ground up in his spare time and learned how to stay ahead of the curve to rank sites effectively.
He will grow to become an expert in his chosen industry building multiple successful businesses.
Answer These Questions For Your Avatar
Go through and answer these questions for your ideal website visitor.
Then print them out and put them somewhere visible.
They will influence every piece of content you create!
How To Create Your Writing Guidelines
You’re going to start with a SIMPLE set of guidelines that speak directly to your avatar. In them you will include:
- Tone: how the writing should sound
- Word choice: the type of words you’ll use
- Paragraph length: how many sentences per paragraph
- Specific rules: formatting, grammar, links, etc.
Each of these points should reflect your site and persona. They need to make sense!
If you’re a lawyer you might say:
- Tone: professional but accessible
- Word choice: no slang; no industry abbreviations
- Paragraph length: maximum 4x sentences
- Specific rules:
- Link to relevant legal resources where possible
- Always use bullet-points for lists
- Each post must end with a CTA for our helpline
If you’re a pet-focused website you might say:
- Tone: playful (we love pet-related puns!)
- Word choice: use the shortest word possible
- Paragraph length: maximum 2x sentences
- Specific rules:
- Create a “Paws for thought” summary after long tutorial sections
- Tell personal stories but always relate it back to the reader
- Use lots of pictures to back up your points
If you review podcast microphones you might say:
- Tone: relaxed business style
- Word choice: nothing someone might need to Google the meaning of
- Paragraph length: maximum 3x sentences
- Specific rules:
- Only write about products you’ve used in person
- Reference industry figures who use the microphone
- Provide buying options for the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia
You can see each of these sets a clear standard.
As you get to know your audience better, you can amend these guidelines.
Okay, over to you…
Use the examples above to create your own set of writing guidelines using this template.
Copy the format and fill in the blanks that are relevant to your site!
With your writing guidelines in place, you’re ready to create a content specification.
These 2x things will transform how you write!
See you there…