Write Article Descriptions That Inspire Creative Content

A team of creative writers who are constantly inundated with creative tasks will never be inspired by boring, flat article orders. Content managers must appeal to their audience, to wit the quirky pool of writers who craft ingenious prose. How is a moderately creative content manager supposed to capture the interest of writers who spend their days browsing Pinterest, Reddit and other smorgasbords of trivia?

socialnetworksmpes3.10By staying current with interwebs memes, popular social aggregate sites and faddish web news, content managers are able to craft article descriptions that will inspire even the most dilettante-ish writer. Here are a few tips and strategies to keep over-stimulated writers intrigued by new article assignments.

Know Your Audience

By reading the sites your writers read and getting involved in the comment threads with your team, you’ll begin to understand how they think. When you know how a team thinks, it’s easier to appeal to them using their lingo or a shared history to inspire them.

While Internet memes can inspire a shared chuckle, they can also be used as a leaping point to explain article ideas. Never underestimate the power of a shared (social) vocabulary.

Bad:

14 Elusive Phrases People Use Without Understanding

This article should be like the one on Mashable last week that talked about Obama. Include funny examples that you would find on the front page of Reddit. Explain how the phrases are misused.

Good:

14 Most Misused Esoteric Phrases

List misused phrases, explain their real meanings and origins, and then use examples of the common misuses. Example: The narwhal bacons at midnight.

philosoraptormpes3.10Why:

The bad example is presumptuous and confusing for writers. The good example clearly outlines the task, and then uses a social example that most writers would instantly understand and be amused by, which would inspire the writer to think of other creative, fun ideas.

Limit Purple Adjectives

Your article description should only use as many ‘purple’ fluffy adjectives as the assigned article allows. Never write a description in a style that is forbidden to the writers, because it will mislead and confuse them.

Bad:

Hair Product Hacks: Get Great Style for Less Cash

List luxury, diva products and their bargain-priced counterparts that are just as amazing. This article should be written in a professional voice that attracts super-rich types.

Good:

Get Luxury Hair Care at a Fraction of the Cost

Compare luxury hair products to comparable, inexpensive brands. Example: Cheap versions of Bumble & Bumble.

Why:

The good description describes the audience without actually addressing it. By choosing words the audience would gravitate towards, the content manager sets the writer up to succeed. Also, limiting empty words like ‘amazing’ and ‘diva’ allows the writer think for him or herself.

Add Power Words

Screen shot 2013-03-10 at 5.57.01 PMPower words are those that can describe a complex idea in just a few quick syllables. By choosing meaning-rich words, content managers can evoke feelings, thoughts and creative ideas in writers.

Power words are not easily thought of on the spot, and that’s often a good sign. Any word that comes to the content manager too easily is probably an empty cliché. Clichéd words and phrases used to evoke great sentiment, but have become as lifeless as a Texan’s hair in humidity.

Bad:

12 Most Outrageous Super Bowl Prop Bets of all Time

List funny prop bets that have happened in the recent years. Don’t make the descriptions of the magnitude of the bets, just focus on the bets.

Good:

12 Shocking Super Bowl Prop Bets

Entice readers with esoteric prop bets. Record the odds at game time for each prop bet.

Why:

The good description is shorter and more descriptive.

K.I.S.S.

shutterstock_30556321Keep your descriptions as simple as possible while still getting the point across. If you feel an example is necessary, always place it at the end of the description so that ‘skip ahead’ writers can forego the example and start brooding.

While keeping it simple might mean ‘brief’ or ‘colloquial’ to some content managers, what it means for content is succinct: never use two words where one will do, because your writers are masters of English who will know the difference between “natural talent” and “aptitude.”

Bad:

7 DIY Projects That Sell on eBay for Twice the Material Cost

List seven or eight projects that people could make at home. Add up the material costs and compare it to the selling price on eBay for similar finished goods. Show people how to profit off of DIY projects at home.

Good:

7 DIY Projects to Double Your Investment

Include DIY projects that double the value of materials required. Example: Penny-tiled table.

Why:

Whereas the bad description rambles before eventually getting the point across (after losing its audience), the good description is open-ended for creative thinkers, giving them the reign to rock the assignment in unexpected ways.

Downfalls of Favoritism

Screen shot 2013-03-10 at 6.03.41 PMLike moms, most content managers have a favorite. However, if you constantly give your favorite writer the best, most interesting articles to write, then of course he or she will always shine.

By shaking things up and spreading the good assignments around the team, you might realize that your star only shined because it was polished by you. Let each writer have a crack at the fun pieces so that they’ll stay intrigued by upcoming assignments.

Inspiring your writers shouldn’t be hard work, after all, they are being paid for their services. However, writing a creative and succinct article description will go a long way to keep writers productive and content. The next time a star writer from your team turns in a bland piece of content ask yourself if you gave them any reason to do a better job with your article description.

About the author

Michael Purdy