How to Write a Branded Narrative

How to Write a Branded Narrative

Blogger tips: How to write a branded narrative!

When I first started working with brands they would ask me for a product review. I would get a sheet of copy, or product specs with the objective of writing about it.

Now, four years ago I was probably doing it all wrong, because I was terrible at writing product reviews, or reading spec sheets.  Instead I would handle the item, or explore the brand, and then I would write about it and how it pertained to our life.

There would be no change in the story, or my style to adapt to these brands, and I would just include them in my content. I would write about a dishwashing detergent in the same way I would share a story about my daughter and the tooth fairy.

I was writing a branded narrative, because I didn’t think there was any other way to write.

Now, 4 years in, I am realizing that most people DON’T write branded narratives, they write product reviews.  I know this because I have been asked to speak on the narrative, and offered training to bundles of bloggers on HOW TO do it.

So, How Do Your Write a Branded Narrative?

You just write.  You write about a time when you used the product. You share different ways it could be included in your life. You tell a story that incorporates the product, and suddenly you realize you have a branded narrative, filled with product placement and zero commercial breaks.

Here are a few simple tips to make sure your branded narrative, is in fact a branded narrative!

1.  As with any story, you should have a PURPOSE to your content (other than the product) A conflict, or question can also drive storytelling.

2. Make sure there is a beginning, a middle and an end to your branded narrative.  Don’t skip important bits that build the flavours of the story.

3. Do not detract from YOUR style. Even if you have told this particular story before, it will be made new with a product placement, or a twist on delivery.

4. Use organic and natural pictures. If you have a product picture, incorporate it into your VISUAL NARRATIVE

5. Keep your title organic. If you want to change it for SEO, do it once it is off your homepage.

6. Do organic shares of your content to social. Tell a mini story in your status or in less than 140 characters.

7. Do not loose the brand message. Look beyond the websites, the links and the copy and find the OBJECTIVE of their marketing and how you can write your story to influencer your readers into action.

In the end, if you want to build revenue you need to find a way to incorporate paid content into your website. With a branded narrative you can do this without losing your voice, or story. Much like reading a historical fiction novel that is filled with tastes, flavours and smells of the time, vs a cut and dry history text book.  A story that builds a relationship will have lasting affect on the reader!

Learn more about products you should be selling on your blog, and how to rock a blogging campaign!

How to Guest Write… Right.

Ahhh, the land of guest writing and syndication is a treacherous one these days. What with the explosion of content about The Huffington Post and other sites that don’t pay for content, Bloggers around the globe are questioning whether or not they should guest write for free.

Personally, I still see value in providing content and doing the odd guest write for other sites, without cash compensation. It will broaden your audience and if done right can bring you new fans and readers. It can also add a level of professionalism to your brand by being published on other sites, and potentially lead to a a freelance career. If a site offers social tagging and shares, it can add weight to your social brand as well. As well, for some of us, at various times in our career, exposure IS exactly what we need.

Of course I say that tho, as someone who not only owns a site FILLED with unpaid content, but also regularly submits my content to other sites for “free”. I am obviously “pro guest writing”, but with a few key points.

You need to give your content away in a way that it actually GIVES BACK. We all know cash is king, but our businesses thrive on a variety of other things as well, and as long as we are able to enter in a guest writing relationship with clear goals, it should end up being a win-win for everyone.

So here are some tips for Guest writing the right way.

Insert your links

There is no purpose to submit content to another site that does NOT have at least ONE back link to your website. Not only do back links help to boost the SEO of the article you are submitting, but they also provide nice, quality back links to YOUR site which increases the value of the content you are linking to. Ensure that you are linking and driving traffic to relevant content posts, so not JUST your home page. As well, link to your BIO page, and direct your guest site readers to visit to learn more. If the link makes sense, it will be accepted. If it adds value to the post there is benefit for you and the publishing site.

Revised Syndication

As bloggers we tend to have a few stories that we write again and again (and again) for various sites, but what happens if we take some of our more unique posts and “tweak” them a little bit? By changing apx. 30% of the content of a post it is considered “unique”, and this is a great way to submit fresh content (according to google) and not having it fully syndicated. Re-work your images, and content in a way that it provides quality to you and the publishing site, and can continue to build your brand across multiple channels.

Round ups

You have 10 slow cooker recipes on your site? Why not submit them as a round up guest post? Include a few spots for the publishing sites own content and you have a rich and beneficial post that a variety of users will share. The same can be done with any form of content. If you are a narrative writer and want to link to the top 5 best kids products of the year, or to 5 things to know about chickens… all of these can be pulled from your previously published content and create a new posts with beautiful back links on a guest site!

Calls to action

Don’t ever write without a purpose! If you are writing a post on travel anxiety be sure to redirect your readers to your newsletter filled with tips and suggestions for how to deal with anxiety in other situations, or your blog post on the 5 best resorts for the travel anxious. If it is a republished post, tell the new readers where it was shared first, and encourage them to come and engage on YOUR social share thread and join the conversation on the original post. Give them an ACTION to perform to find out more about you, your content and what it is you are offering BEYOND this single post.

Share as a snippet

Publishing sites love content that gets read, so if you want more eyes on your post, and for the publisher to see the value in what you have written (and then share it more via their channels, thus bringing YOU more visitors to engage with your call to action) share it for them to start the ball rolling. Create a short “shout out” post that links the guest content with a snippet of content and a redirect. Drive YOUR readers to your guest post and share the guest publishing sites social shares. Create the win-win scenario where everyone shares the post and gets the rewards from it. The bigger the win for the guest post, the bigger the win for the publisher AND the writer.

So, as a writer how can you tell if it is WORTH IT to guest write for another website?

  • are you getting referrals from them? Check your analytics and you SHOULD be getting traffic from the sites you guest write for. Of course, you need to write your content in a way that ENCOURAGES the traffic, so try that and then check!
  • Are they tagging you in shares? Do they tag you on twitter or FB when they share your post? Are they engaging with you on social and creating an opportunity for organic growth for your accounts? They should be!
  • Is there ANY other love? Some sites will feature their guest writers content in newsletters, others will share their guest writers own content on their social sites, directing lots of traffic right to your site. Others will over mentorship, support and quality editing. Find out what they may offer beyond and above the basic back link, figure out if you need or want it, and then feed those websites first!

Basically if you are just going to copy/paste an article onto another site and call it a “guest write” you probably won’t get the ROI you want from it, but if you look at it as another marketing tool for your brand and write the content with a purpose to redirect, then it will do what it needs to do.

Remember though, guest writing IS marketing, and it requires both the writer AND the publisher to feed the flames of the content! Build relationships, share great work and ensure that people SEE it and you will get the results you want!