Content Writing Tips To Elevate Your Writing Right Away
The article is written in the hopes that you can gain an in-depth understanding of the whole content writing process and offers you will all the genuine, practical, helpful content writing tips which you can use right away.
Content writing is a form of online writing where you research, outline, write, and edit content, usually for digital marketing campaigns. It gives you or your company an online presence, serves you the means to communicate directly with your audience.
There are different types of content writing services like articles, blogs, press releases, web content, SEO content, Report writing, business writing, etc.
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Importance Of Content Writing. Why Does It Matter?
Whether it’s an article, or a blog post, or a business email, or any other form of writing-good writing plays a crucial part in communicating your ideas across people.
A well written, well-researched content helps increase the traffic of a website, turning casual readers into loyal visitors, validates you as a reliable creator.
Think about it. You visit a certain website, whether you are looking for a piece of specific information or casually browsing, and let’s say the content is poorly written, the grammar is all over the place, there is no flow to the writing. Wouldn’t these things put you off? Poorly written content drives people off, which impacts the company’s reputation as well as any possible involvement from the user’s side.
Content Writing tips – Finding Topics And Keywords
If you are freelancing or working for some company, then you’d have the topics given to you. But when writing for your blog or website, you have a variety of subjects to choose from. It can become overwhelming. So decide on your niche first. The subject is close to your heart and expertise. Is it travel? Fashion? Food? Lifestyle?
If you want to explore outside your field, then look up what type of content, keywords, topics are trending. There are many tools like Ahrefs, Google trends, Ubersuggest which you can use for your topic research.
Once you are done with your topic selection, start with a keyword search. While you are looking for related keywords, keep SEO in mind. Keyword research will give you insight into what words are trending, what is relevant for your target readers. Also, you get a basic idea of what your competitors are doing, you are aware of your own strengths and weaknesses.
Keywords help to make your article more search-friendly. But don’t squeeze too many keywords in the hopes of ranking higher on a search engine. Both Google and human readers will find the content to be of low quality. It will take away both the credibility and readability of your content. In the long term, it becomes detrimental to your website growth.
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Content Writing tips – Identifying Your Readers
The individuals who will read your content play a role in how you write your content. The tone of your writing, the subject matter, the format, its complexity depend upon the target readers.
You have to always keep them in mind as you are writing. Like demography-What’s the age range? Gender? Ethnicity? Certain topics will require certain considerations accordingly. Also whether they have any prior knowledge of the subject. For example, if your target audience is finance majors, so when you write about topics related to finance, your content should not be too basic.
Content Writing tips – Research
When it comes to writing, doing thorough research is a must. Even when you know about the subject, you can draw from your memory only so much. Extensive, in-depth research provides not only enough raw material to work on but different perspectives to look at the topic. Of course, there would be times when you’d be strapped for time. So prioritize not wasting time on irrelevant information.
Make sure you are using reliable sources.
- It’s always good to filter out unhelpful blogs and get straight to concrete facts you can use right away. Using advanced search options by typing .gov and .edu in the domain bar will take your search results to reliable websites.
- You can dig up research-backed content by searching it through Google scholarly.
- If you are writing about current topics or news, read different kinds of news articles from different newspapers and deepen your understanding of that subject.
- Also read content from the top google searches to gain insight, to understand what kind of writing is welcomed.
ON CREATING HEADLINES
With so many things competing for your potential reader’s attention, you only have mere seconds to hook them, to make them click on your article. You need to seize on those golden moments by writing a compelling, persuasive headline that catches their eyes, calls to their interests, and kindles their curiosity.
Besides being click-worthy, headlines need to summarize the topic that is to follow. Don’t beat around the bush. If you are going to write about traveling locations in Kerala, then readers should know that in the headline itself.
A strong headline plays with readers’ psychology. Put yourself in their shoes or simply think about your own reading habits. What kind of lines grab your attention instantly? What exactly compels you to click on it?
I took the below screenshot from my Medium page.
Study the headlines. These are some tips you can use to create strong headlines, which you would see applied in the example above.
- Using numbers
- Self-help kind of headlines which promises readers certain benefits
- How-to guides
- Using power words like avoid, help, improve, etc.
Content Writing tips – Outline
The importance of an outline cannot be overstated. The writing is not going to fall out from your fingertips. If you don’t want to be faced with a blank screen, then having a clear roadmap is a good idea. As a content writer, you would always be playing around with the deadline. To make sure you always stay on track, read and do in-depth research only about the content related to your writing, not get carried away with irrelevant info-dumping, then devising a structure for your content piece is a very crucial part of the process.
A detailed, well-structured outline helps you navigate all your ideas, writing material that you collected through the research, clearly and consistently. It also saves a lot of your time.
Before you outline, you should have the ‘big picture’ in your head; about the topic, what you want to say. Now you can rearrange all the raw material you have into a logical order: categories, sub-categories, bullet points. So that the writing and reading experience of the reader is smooth and flows well.
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Content Writing tips – Writing
Writing is a pretty peculiar activity. Everyone has different rituals and methods that work best for them. Find what works best for you.
Try to put your ideas as clearly and concisely as possible.
Adverbs and adjectives are like salt in food, the balanced proportion elevates your writing but too much of it ruins it.
The road to hell may be paved with adverbs according to Stephen King, but we can pave it to good writing also. In the book Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark, the writer talks about the usage of adverbs. He advises to avoid redundant use of it, for example, “She smiled happily” but instead when used rightly, it adds punch to the sentence, “She smiled sadly”.
No need to use unnecessarily long, difficult, bureaucratic pretentious words. The writing would suffer instead of sounding intelligent. It also breaks the flow of reading if readers have to open up the dictionary every time a difficult or obscure word pops up.
But that does not mean that you should only use simple words. What you need is the right vocabulary. The ones that would bring both clarity and beauty to your sentences.
Again with the power words. These words amplify your writing and invoke reactions in the readers. Here’s a list of commonly used power words
Challenge Glamorous Inspiring
Undeniable Funniest Zen
Beautiful Ridiculous Alive
On-demand Intense Unpopular
Easy Gripping Embarrassing
Happiness Healthy Miracle
Simple Painless Dazzling
Step-by-step Tricks Satisfy
Unexpected Shocking Strange
Essential Detailed Bonus
Immediately Free Convert
Relentless QuickStart Ignite
Thrilling Transform Bold
When it comes to sentences, the length depends upon the context and the subject matter. Simple ideas require simple sentences.
Complex ideas might require long ones. There is no hard and fast rule.
Different kind of writing requires different paragraph length. For example, in academic writing, paragraphs are generally long.
When your write for websites and blogs, the paragraph length should be small, to make it easier for casual reading.
Connection with readers
Readers tend to overlook, just like, sometimes, while watching a movie we let a few plot holes slide by if we connect with a story, the characters in it. Sometimes readers will let go of some grammar mistakes as long as they are not too many or too glaring.
That’s why you should always keep readers in mind. What kind of reaction you are evoking? Are they inspired? Enlightened? Did they feel understood? Felt divided? Whatever the reaction, keep track of it.
Agatha Christie, a famous crime novelist- when she would finish writing her mystery novels, she would read them aloud to her family members to see which plot point worked and which didn’t.
In the book, “Save the Cat” by Blake Snyder, the author tells the stories of how he would read his scripts to perfect strangers to gauge their reactions. These might be fictional examples but are still relevant to content writing itself.
Content Writing tips – Editing
They say devils in the details. You spent hours curating the resources and hours writing it down into coherent structure, but if it’s all peppered with silly spelling mistakes, bad grammar, random capitalizations then it spoils the reading experience. Proofreading and editing your content matters so much for that reason.
Editing helps to smooth out the rough edges of your first draft. Writing will improve as it goes through more edits.
Get some space. Don’t try to edit something you have only just finished writing up. It’s hard to be objective. When you come back to it after the break with a clearer, decluttered mind, the flaws would be more apparent.
Read it out loud. If certain sentences are awkward, you will hear them. It would sound off like a wrong chord on the guitar. Reading out loud is the fastest way to find mistakes. There are many sites as well extensions like Speakit, if you don’t want to read it yourself, you can put these tools to use.
Kill your darlings. The origin of the phrase is pretty debatable but what it actually means is to cut out the sentences or paragraphs even if you spent hours creating them if it does not bring anything to your content.
Content Writing tips – Formatting
Sometimes readers wouldn’t want to read the whole thing and want to jump to certain points. You should make the navigation easier by dividing your writing into shorter paragraph lengths, bullet points, bolded texts.
Font And Font Size
You can choose what kind of font you want to use depending upon where your writing is going to be published, whether on your blog or some companies website. But whatever font you choose, it’s better to have a consistent style.
It’s good to experiment with different fonts considering we have so many options available, especially when doing blog writing.
But when you are writing professional content, it’s better to stick to the traditional ones. Of course, the company you are working for may have their preference for a particular font.
Fonts generally are divided into two categories: serif and sans serif. In serif you have strokes. This gives them more of a traditional look.
The letters in sans serif fonts don’t have any strokes attached to them, which gives them a clean, modern look. Examples of sans serif include Ariel, Calibri.
The standard size is the one that is easy to read but doesn’t take too much space. Font sizes less than 12-point make for a difficult read.
If you are unsure about font sizes, a 12 point font is the one commonly used in the business world. Another thing to consider-the chances of your content being read on mobile phones are more. Keep that in mind as well when you decide the size of your font.
When it comes to formatting, simple is the best. Too much experimentation, too much of a decorative font become distracting and come across as unprofessional. If it’s your blog, you can apply trial and error till you find the style that suits you best.
You are working with the very limited attention span of your readers. Many site visitors prefer scanning and skimming through the content to get a general idea. The format of your content should be easy to read for that reason, and easy to jump from one point to another.
Effective Call To Action (CTAs)
Again with the goal of your writing. Why are readers reading your article or blog post? What’s your Call To Action? You need to ask these questions while you write your content and keep answering them. For example, the purpose of this particular writing is to provide readers with tips that they can use right away to create content and also help me build my portfolio. Your Call To Action may be completely different.
Some examples of CTA’s which you can add to your writing.
- Subscribe to the newsletter
- Share the content on other social media sites
- Make a purchase, like offering a code
- Get a demo
- Download resources, like free guides and stuff
Other Quick Content Writing Tips to Use
- Always give credit very it’s due. Hyperlink to your sources. If you are referencing a certain website, make sure you provide a link to said website. Always cite your sources. It’s not just good internet etiquette but also helps you get a backlink-the site in question might take notice and give you a reciprocal link.
- Keep up to date with language trends. Use Internet-friendly language to appeal to modern users. But avoid using slang and jargon.
- Use tools like Grammarly, Hemingway app to polish your content. Especially lifesaving when you don’t have time to proofread when hitting close deadlines.
- When it comes to content length-don’t overwhelm your readers but don’t leave them with too little. Find a balance. Besides, your company or employers will have specific demands which you will have to meet.
- From an SEO point, longer content is generally preferred. Extended content helps generate high rankings for targeted keywords phrases and similar words.
Identify potential keywords using Google’s keyword planner and Soovle.
- Begin with a hook. The first sentence plays a crucial part in whether the reader will continue to read your content or not. You have some golden seconds to keep them reading. The first sentence should grab that attention and take them smoothly to the next point.
- Determine and create your unique voice depending on the context, for whom, and where you are writing. Match the tone depending on a target audience, business goals, and brand voice.
- Remember when you create well-researched, high-quality content, in adherence to SEO guidelines- you will be rewarded for it in the long term as search engines crawl website content and rank them higher in the search results.
- Compartmentalize. Don’t overwhelm yourself by doing everything at once: researching, outlining, formatting, etc. Pace yourself. Writing is a recursive process. From drafting to researching to editing, back to researching, and then again back to drafting. Focus on one thing.
- As writers you are going to work with close deadlines, so saving and managing time is necessary. You should have realistic expectations about how much you can accomplish, how much time you can give, how much time it can take. And find a balance. To boost your productivity, use techniques like Pomodoro, extensions like StayFocused.
- As a beginner, you have to show evidence of your work by creating a portfolio. You need relevant pieces of your writing that you can readily show to potential employers. There are many ways you can start building your portfolio, by guest blogging, creating your blog, creating content of your niche, etc.
- Reach out to other writers to create a network. A good community of writers would help you grow as a writer by providing you with constructive feedback.
- Writing is an ongoing process where you’d always be learning. Read about writing. Read the works of the writers that inspire you. Study how they manage to invoke those reactions. Read as widely as possible. Read outside of your comfort zone.
- Study and gain a solid understanding of SEO or Search Engine Optimization to effectively rank your content higher on search results. Learn more about Keyword density, meta descriptions, Inbound links, etc. to write SEO-friendly articles.
- Stay up to date with current trends to avoid writing on obsolete topics no one would read. Keep updating your articles with new information to stay relevant. Work on your online profiles, utilize different social media platforms to improve your online presence.
- There will be times when some of your content would not work and you would feel like you wasted hours writing those stuff. But really, no writing is ever wasted. All the time spent has helped you grow as a writer. So, keep writing. Keep creating good content. One day you will find your voice and get heard.
- Most importantly-have fun writing! Hope these content writing tips help you to create content that engages your target reader.
Q. What are the tips for the beginners in content writing?
Reading is very important. reading will not only improve your general knowledge but also improves your language skills. Do lot of research before you start writing on a particular topic.
Q. Can I earn money as a content writer working from home?
Yes, there are many ways to earn as content writer without taking up a corporate job or a typical 9 to 6 jobs. For example, you can choose to be a freelance writer, ebook writer, affiliate marketing, social media marketing etc….
Q. Is English mandatory for content writing?
Even if English is internationally preferred and used language it is not mandatory that one needs to have a degree in English. Having said that, if you have a degree in English, it will be an additional advantage. Very few hiring companies would ask if the applicant had a degree in English or literature.