How to Make Sure Your Content is Relevant & Readable [ CASE STUDY ]
For procrastinators like me, reluctant to start working because of the fear that we might disappoint ourselves, writing can be a tough task.
We finish up the groundwork, do all our research and finally after hours, sometimes even days, of battling with our nagging inner voice, finally get to work.
Even for all our groundwork, though, sometimes, it just doesn’t work out. Now some days it can just be good old writer’s block.
But some days we find that the research we did might not be as relevant as we thought it would. We have to start from scratch.
That’s what I had to do recently with one of my articles.
So I figured it was a chance to be a Good Samaritan and share with you my experience so that you can try to avoid it.
For the second half of the article, I will be talking about Hemingway Editor and how you can use it for clear, concise writing.
Let me start with the first part of the article. We will call it ‘Rewriting: Why!!!’
Rewriting: Mistakes And Modifications
The topic was “Digital Marketing in Nepal”. Now pay attention to the subject because I didn’t, and that was my biggest mistake.
Bear with me, I will tell you about the mistakes I made.
But before that, I need to tell you what the first draft of my article constituted.
Like with most other articles, I started off laying the foundation for the subject.
In this case, my first paragraph focused on why digital marketing was important for businesses to market their products and services.
I just highlighted the potential of digital marketing in reaching a large customer base.
My first paragraph built up to my second one where I stated the consequences of not adapting to the changes in the field of marketing.
It said, “Businesses that are failing to adapt to the changing ways in which consumers interact with their business are falling by the wayside.”
Then I went on to ask and answer difficult questions.
Why set digital marketing goals? How to analyze your target market’s digital behavior? What are digital assets and how to use them?
“You have to assess the digital assets that your business already has and can further possess. Your business’s digital assets include your website, blog posts, social media channels, online brochures, interactive tools.”
The whole article was loaded with valuable information. I had done my homework after all.
As a passionate writer myself, I can’t help but incorporate “the importance of engaging content” in every article that I write.
So, I highlighted how you can write SEO-friendly content that your readers would love to.
The next subheading was about tracking the reward of your marketing efforts, and then I went on to discuss possible digital marketing tactics: Video marketing, Influencer marketing, and so on.
“You can measure traffic for your website, the devices people are using to access your website, the amount of time they have spent on your website including other variables.”
Now, keep in mind that the first article still gives you insight into the basics of digital marketing.
But you’ll notice that nowhere does it expand on the topic: “Digital Marketing in Nepal.”
And that was a PROBLEM!!
The questions weren’t ‘Why digital marketing is important for Nepali businesses?’ ‘What are the consequences of not adapting to the marketing changes in Nepal?’ ‘What are the possible digital marketing tactics in Nepal?’
Nowhere in my entire article did I examine digital marketing in the context of Nepal. I didn’t even mention “Nepal” in my entire article.
That’s because I forgot to pay any attention to what the topic was.
So I divided into subheadings that were not relevant to the subject and wrote an article that my readers would probably not find useful.
That explains why I named my article “Digital Marketing 101: What you absolutely need to know.” And that also explains why I had to rewrite the article.
Some mistakes that I made and that you should avoid
- I didn’t think what the topic was about.
- That led me to research topics I thought were relevant but were actually not. That was a lot of effort that went down the drain.
- I divided into subheads that would appeal to no one.
- I wrote an article that wasn’t relevant in the local context.
Modifications I Made
When I was rewriting the article, thankfully, I could keep my introduction with some minor modifications.
For example, I could keep “People, today, evidently spend twice the amount of time online than they did until a decade ago” by adding “and Nepali market isn’t immune to this change.”
That way I could convince Nepali readers that the article would be relevant to their business.
With the data that my superior gave me and with his help dividing the article into subheadings, I rewrote the article with ease.
I decided to write the article on the various digital marketing methods that were used by businesses in Nepal in order of popularity. So my subheadings were social media marketing, Facebook Advertising, Search Engine Optimization, Display Ads, PPC Ads, and SMS/Email Marketing.
Social Media Marketing is the most used digital marketing method in Nepal because Nepali internet users use social media more than other sites.
That is why it was the first point that I expanded on. I backed it up with data about the most used social media in Nepal: YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter respectively.
Then came Facebook Advertising. “According to the 2016 data on internet usage in Nepal, nearly 92 percent of the total internet users in Nepal think internet simply means Facebook.”
I delved into Display Ads, PPC Ads, SMS/Email Marketing similarly. The article dealt with the potential for each digital marketing method in Nepal, citing examples of types of businesses that are using these methods.
“It is primarily Nepali digital marketing companies that use PPC ads. With the increase in search engine use, though, PPC ads have a lot of potential in terms of creating brand awareness.”
“In Nepal, businesses usually make use of email marketing to connect with other businesses and use SMS to reach prospective customers.”
Now you will notice that all the information I gave on digital marketing was relevant to Nepali market and was supported by data regarding internet usage in Nepal.
To conclude the article, I expanded on the scope of digital marketing in Nepal and how most startups are putting to use these highly effective marketing tools.
That is how I rewrote the article to make sure it was purely about “Digital Marketing in Nepal” and to give relevant information to Nepali businesses looking to hop on the digital marketing train.
Hemingway Editor And How To Use It
Now, let me jump into what Hemingway Editor is all about and how you can use it to make your writing crisp and concise.
More and more writers are using Hemingway App for editing their articles. Some writers swear by the usefulness of this app.
The app is based on the Ernest Hemingway’s economy of style, and it aims to help writers write prose that isn’t complex and that readers will find easy to follow.
How Hemingway Editor Works
On the top right-hand side, you’ll see two options: Write and Edit. With the ‘write’ option, you can just write your content on the app itself.
Once you are done writing, you can hit the edit button on the app. Or you can switch back and forth between write and edit and make corrections in the process.
The app will highlight ‘mistakes’ that you can get rid of to increase the readability grade of your prose. The accepted readability score is 9 or higher.
You’ll see in the image above the suggestions the app made for my content. I have listed below the types of recommendations:
Hemingway App suggests that you try to limit the use of adverbs.
Adverbs are words that modify adjectives, verbs or other adverbs. The app highlights the adverbs in blue. You can get rid of the adverbs by using powerful verbs or adjectives.
In the example above, the adverbs I had used were increasingly, unnecessarily and just. The app makes you ask yourself if the words really need to be there. I got rid of the adverbs that I had used and changed the sentences a little.
The sentences still give the same meaning, and the readability grade went up from 7 to 6.
Complex Sentence Structures
If your sentence is too complex, chances are you won’t be able to convey what you mean to your readers.
Hemingway highlights difficult sentences in yellow and the most complex sentences in red. You can break your complex sentence into parts to make it easier to understand.
I followed that suggestion to up my readability from 6 to 5.
Removing passive voice from your writing makes your sentence more powerful. Passive voice can confuse your readers about who performed a certain action.
Write in active voice to avoid that.
Hemingway highlights passive voice in green.
Your readers will enjoy your prose if they don’t have to stop every five minutes to open up a dictionary.
Hemingway App will highlight difficult words in pink and suggest simpler words that you can use instead.
Ask yourself if the word you have used is the only one that conveys the intended meaning. If not, you can always replace those words with simpler alternatives to avoid sounding too verbose.
Now, remember that adverbs, complex sentences or difficult words are not errors. These are suggestions that Hemingway App makes, and it’s up to you if you want to take them.
I find that it’s not possible to make every change that it suggests. But some of these changes do make your sentences less sloppy and more readable.