The most important features of good automotive feature writing

There has been a recent trend in writing for everything to be a mashup of something previously written. I have seen articles supposedly by important sources that don’t reference where they got the information from. How do I know that the information is correct if I don’t know where it came from?

Feature writing requires the many features including citing of expert sources and fresh comprehensive information which is an art that few writers can do anymore.

Just because something is written and looks nice, doesn’t mean that it is true. Without citing sources news and even feature articles can be fake.

From the thousands of articles I have published in the recent years after the 2011 Google Panda Update, it became clear to me that articles had to be 80% original. Yep, Google figured out that what I call regurgitation or the copy-catting of previous articles on the same subject is not valued by readers. Mashups are good for an overview but readers would rather have the original source than something that has been diluted or reconstituted. Let’s put it this way – would you rather have instant mashed potatoes or fresh mashed potatoes?

Over time, writers get lazy and when writers get lazy, we get bad writing without new sources.

In my many years of writing feature articles, every time I write a feature article, I learn something that no one knew before. It may not be a groundbreaking story but feature articles typically delve into a topic in a way that teaches people about the topic as well as amuses and entertains

To get original material, we can’t just go to the web because everybody else has access to the web and they could read the same Wikipedia article. When I interview experts, you get a fresh article with secrets lured from the best minds on the topic.

So why do you need to hire Lynn Walford to write feature articles?

If you look at my recent writing for GET Creative USA Today and Automotive IT news you will see when I interview fantastic sources I get information that nobody else can deliver. Then I wrap it up in clean inviting text that helps people understand why they need the information in the first place.

New Cars Are Expensive

Short writing is good if you’re trying to find the best deal on a pair of shoes or a 24 pack of toilet paper. However, when someone is making a decision whether to buy a $35,00 car, you can’t just spit out “Gee it’s a great car,” you have to explain the features and how they work.

With average transaction price of a new car at $34,342, for consumers it the second major purchase they will make after owning a home. Car buyers will be making payments for 6-7 years and most cars are on the road for 11.45 years.

When I was writing about new technology when it first came out people spent time research looking to buy a new smartphone because they had a two-year  commitment on that phone and they live with it every day and they would be paying maybe $100 a month for the phone.

When people buy a new car nowadays they are paying around $500 a month for the car not including taxes gas and insurance. It is a major commitment. This is not something we can put in 50 words or less and say just buy it.

Reviewers Are Biased

If you look at car reviewers they are usually biased towards race car driving. To get to the market and the beach, I don’t necessarily need a race car. However, I do want something that is safe and could save my life. Another factor in reading car reviews is that most of the websites that review cars are paid for by advertising from car dealers. A PR rep who contacted me was promoting a way of selling cars that cut out the dealer, she had trouble getting story placement in publications because the car dealers wouldn’t like the content.

Tech writers have entered into the automotive space and reviewing car technology like they did iPads which causes even more confusion. A good automotive writer should understand both connected car technology and the mechanics of vehicles.

The Right Writing Style for Your Readers

Buying car is a unique experience to every person according to their budget their lifestyle and their needs. If you want to help people buy cars, you need to hire a writer who understands the nuances of the car-buying process as well as the nuances of writing in the right style for your audience.

A new client of mine is a non-native English speaker I asked her what style of writing did she wanted.

Her response was, “What there’s more than one style of English?

Yes, there are many styles and English writing. I have a writing style which I call “E2E” which is “engineer to engineer.” There is a style called B2B which is business-to-business so people in the business know each other and it is a specific style. There’s a style that is just consumer-oriented. I also believe that different age audiences understand different styles of writing. Millennial generation readers read in bits like text messages.

When I taught computers to senior citizens at Emeritus College, their style of learning was different from young people. I had to go back to the rule of three say everything three times and explain it three times as well as review what we learned each week.

Boomer Car Buying is Booming

We have car buyers now in their fifties, sixties and seventies who haven’t bought a car in 11 years, many car features names are new. There is now new technology that no one even thought about five years ago.

In fact, the largest car buying segment is 55 to 64 years old, while drivers between 65 and 74 are nearly as likely to buy a new car.

Car Ratings Are Confusing Even for Retired Teachers

A friend of mine, George, a retired teacher in his early seventies was going to buy a very small subcompact car because the seat folded down in the back and he could fit his bicycle in it. The model is very well-reviewed by young reviewers. However, there are very few people in the automotive industry who will talk about subcompact cars and how dangerous they are. We know they are dangerous because of the high death rates.

With a full 50 to 60% of vehicle purchases in the SUV and truck range, in an accident, a subcompact car is not going to fare well against the bigger cars.

George had gone to several dealers and was almost going to buy the subcompact model, until he talked to me. I told him the truth:

“If you were my brother, father or child. I would not recommend you buy that model,” I said.

“But I ‘m old, I’m not going last much longer any way,” he joked back.

“Yes but if you get seriously injured, like many who drive that class of car, you’re going to be a real pain to be around,” I told him.

George is smart, he realizes that older people’s bones break more easily and he also looked out to see what was on the road around him in Los Angeles, trucks and SUVs.

He shopped around and research at other cars and decided on a three-year-old low-mileage Toyota Prius, instead which is a much safer, cheaper to insure and cheaper to operate.

“I’m very happy with my decision,” he told me later. His bicycle fits in the car, he loves the color and he also likes the lower pollution factor.

The information about cars can be overwhelming not just for people who buy cars for themselves but who buy for their children. Parents who buy vehicles for their teenagers and young drivers also need to know about safety and other features as well as aftermarket things they can do to make the car safer for young drivers

All this information is not something that can be spit out in a few words. Car buying is a process. It’s education and it’s finding the right vehicle for the right person.

I have written about my car buying experience before and it was a very important process for me. I am highly concerned about the environment. I work at home. I don’t travel very far most of the time except when I go out of town on business.  When I first heard about the early model electric cars that only got 84 mile range, I thought I could never drive.

However when these cars came back from lease they were discounted 75%. An EV originally priced at $36,000 three years later was selling for less than $9,000.  The amount of money I save on my electric car by far out ranks the $20 or $25 a day I spend when I rent a car to go to Las Vegas or San Diego.

In car buying, there are so many minute details that make a big difference. That’s why you need a someone who takes the time to find out the nuances and then explain them to the people who need it most. I also never miss a deadline even when it is impossible to less experienced writers. I can also get the experts to talk to me even when I write branded content/native advertising.