Content Writing Basics
According to Wordometers, over 5 million blog posts are published on WordPress every day! How do you stand out with so much content coming up daily? Do you even have a chance? With the right kind of content writing skills, you can be sure that you will get your piece out there.
We are going to take you step-by-step into what you need to know about writing converting content. Whether you want to write for your website or blog, we’ve got you covered. If you want to hire a content writer, you will also benefit from this blog post because you will know what to expect.
Before we get into the ins and outs of content creation, we will dissect the basics. Let’s get started.
What is Content Writing?
Content writing refers to the creation of text for use in digital marketing, educational, or script purposes. It includes, but isn’t limited to, articles, blog posts, and web page copy.
Content Writing Vs. Copywriting
Copywriting goes beyond content writing because it is specifically for advertising and marketing purposes. Copywriters use words to get people’s attention, make them remember a certain product or service, and convince them to buy the good/service advertised.
The objective of content writing is to deliver information. Content writers aren’t necessarily selling anything. The intention can be to share ideas and knowledge with the target audience.
Types of Content Services
There are four main types of content writing:
- Website copywriting
- Press release creation and distribution
- Marketing materials including advertisements, infographics, articles
Website copywriting requires a writer to produce content that is engaging and user-friendly. This type of writing offers the most creative opportunities for writers because marketers want you to be informative yet enthralling.
Blogging is the most popular form of content writing. It allows writers to produce original, informative material that will engage readers and enhance their knowledge about a certain subject or niche. The key in blogging is to be personal while also offering valuable information for your audience’s benefit.
Press Release Creation & Distribution
Press releases require the writer to create and distribute information about an event, product launch, or company activity. The goal is to have your readers know what you want them to know without being too pushy.
Marketing Materials Creation and Distribution
Creating marketing materials such as advertisements, infographics, and articles requires the writer to have a certain degree of creativity. The goal is not just to inform your readers, but also to convince them that they need what you are offering.
Content Writing Basics
When writing for any audience, you should let your words have a natural flow. You don’t want your writing to sound too stiff and formal. You should make it conversational, but still relevant and informative for the reader’s benefit. Let’s look at each facet of your text if you want to create compelling content.
When writing content, you should always use the right words. Just because a word is popular does not mean that it’s considered “correct”.
The use of complex words doesn’t always impress. On the contrary, it can show a lack of confidence. The best approach is to use words that are clear and easy for your audience to understand. You can build up their vocabulary over time but only if they feel confident about learning new words.
You can use contractions in your writing to make it sound more casual. But you should only use them if they are grammatically correct.
Don’t try to be modern by using words that aren’t appropriate for your particular audience. You don’t want to risk offending anyone or losing potential customers because of the way you worded something.
Another important aspect of content writing is phrase match. This refers to the choice of words that are used in a paragraph, sentence, or even on their own. You want your readers to understand what you are saying without any confusion.
You can use words to create a rhythm that will keep your audience interested. For example, you can use repetition to add emphasis and create a certain mood or tone in the text.
Your sentence structure should be varied but still relevant for your specific content writing style. You want to make sure that there is a flow between different types of sentences so they don’t sound repetitive.
You should ensure that each sentence has a beginning and an end. It’s important to know when you’re introducing new information in your text and when it would be best to conclude what you were saying.
You should use active voice in your content writing to create a good flow. Passive voice can make you sound as if you are talking down to your audience, so it’s best avoided. A good example of a passive sentence is, “The house was built in 1982 by John Doe”. An active sentence would be, “John Doe built the house in 1982.”
Each paragraph is like its own little world where the writer can express their ideas in detail without too much explanation. You should use should have 3-5 sentences in a paragraph. However, you can have more or less, depending on the purpose of the content.
For example, sports content sentences are usually long and create a paragraph. On the other hand, gaming blogs require short and precise sentences.
In paragraphs, you should introduce the topic and give an explanation about it. Don’t forget that every paragraph needs a beginning and endpoint.
The white spaces between paragraphs are just as important. They give the reader a chance to reflect on what they’ve read. They also make it possible to scheme through the major points in your content.
Content structure is the arrangement of your text in a certain order. It can make or break your content. Understanding the basic structure of a blog post will allow you to produce better, more engaging material for readers.
You should make an impression on your readers right away. You can do this with a captivating headline and meta description, which you will learn more about later.
The first paragraph is where you introduce yourself to the reader and make them interested in what they are reading by using an engaging hook (a statement that gets their attention). Readers should know why they need or want to read your blog post or article.
The introduction of your content is where you give readers a general idea of what they can expect from your blog post or article. You should also let them know the benefits and value that they will get if they continue reading.
The second paragraph is where you give the reader more information about the topic and include supporting details to back up your argument. Do not go overboard with these supporting details, but use them as a way of proving points that will convince readers why they should continue reading. You can also introduce examples (which are a type of supporting detail) to make your argument more convincing.
Different Content Introductions
What are some of the ideas of a good introduction for a blog post?
- A famous quote
- An interesting fact
- Industry statistics
- A story
- One solution to your problem
- Related questions people have asked you recently
- A common fear that people have
- A famous person’s take on your topic
- A challenge you overcame
One of the most successful ways to start a blog post is by quoting someone. You can also use facts or statistics as introductory statements for your content. They give you credibility and make readers more interested in what you’re saying.
It’s important to grab your readers’ attention with an intriguing opening sentence. This is where you can use a story or anecdote, which are both types of examples that give supporting details on why people should read your content.
Another way to get your readers’ attention is by starting your content with what they’re already familiar with. You can also use questions that people ask you often or fears that they share. This is a good way to make them feel you “get” what they’re going through and that your content will be helpful.
The body of your content is where you include the details and more supporting evidence for why readers should continue reading. You can also add figures to support your arguments, such as statistics or numbers.
A body should have sub-topics that support the primary subject. Just like a book has chapters and sections within the chapters, content should have the same flow.
For example, if you want to write about SEO, you should start with the basics to the complex.
- What iS SEO?
- Why Do You Need SEO?
- Elements of SEO
- Element 1
- Element 2
- Element 3…
Your conclusion is where you summarize everything that you have written in a way that provides closure. It also encourages readers to take action on what they have learned in your blog post or article.
Your content should have a clear message that makes an impression on readers. It should compel your audience to take action about what they have read, whether it is sharing the link with their friends or taking some sort of educational course online. You can also leave readers with food for thought by giving them something to think about after they have finished reading.
Choosing the Right Headline
It is essential to choose a catchy headline for your content. The headline can make or break your blog post or article. If it is not catchy, no one will want to read the content and you won’t get any clicks.
Your headlines should be clear about what readers can expect from your content while also grabbing their attention by using keywords that they would use if searching for information on a certain topic.
For example, if you were writing an article about how to be a better writer, your headline could say “How to Become Better a Writer”.
A good blog post headline should be 60-70 characters in length. This is the length that Google allows, and it truncates texts beyond that. In case your title exceeds this length, it is advisable to put your primary keywords at the beginning e.g. Content Writing: Everything You Should Know.
The title should be in present tense and active voice while including a few keywords for SEO purposes. Try using numbers in your title for easier consumption (e.g., “15 Tips on How to Increase Blog Traffic”).
Types of Blog Titles
There are many different types of blog post titles you can use, such as:
- How-to title (e.g., How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee)
- Listicle Title (e.g., 12 Tips on Surviving a Long Flight)
- Comparison and Contrast Title (e.g., The Difference Between the Democratic and Republic Parties)
- Review Title (e.g., Review on Best Digital Cameras for Beginners)
- News title (e.g., New York City Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags)
The format you use for your headline should resonate with your audience. You can use numbers in your title to make it easier to read, such as “15 Tips on How to Write Quality Content”.
Headlines with brackets at the end to give further details attract more attention. For example, “15 Digital Marketing Ideas to Consider (Updated)”. You can also include the year in your title if the content is period-specific.
The meta description is a short summary of what your blog post or article contains. It is different from your blog post title as it isn’t shown on the search page itself. Instead, meta descriptions are what users see in their results before they click on a link.
Meta descriptions should be between 150 and 160 characters long including spaces because this is how much Google allows (and truncates longer ones). It should summarize and entice users to click on the link and read your blog post.
For example, if you’re writing an article about SEO, a good meta description could be: “Learn how to become better at SEO! Our list of tips will help beginners get started (and experienced marketers too!)”. You can also include popular keywords in your meta description for increased search engine visibility.
One of the most common mistakes content writers make is to copy and paste the meta description from the blog post or article. This means that you will not capture all the essential elements of your content in the short snippet. As a result, you won’t be able to effectively grab users’ attention and it won’t help your search rankings.
Meta descriptions should:
- Describe what the reader can expect from reading your content
- Be compelling yet concise (between 150-160 characters)
- Include keywords (e.g., content writing)
- Be in active voice
Content Writing Tone
There are different tones you can use in your content depending on the message you want to convey. For example, if you’re writing about something serious or technical, it is advisable to keep a professional tone so that users take what they read seriously.
If your blog post isn’t meant for professionals and business purposes but rather entertainment (for instance, it’s a comedy blog), you can choose to come off as casual, humorous, and even self-deprecating.
The tone of your writing should go hand in hand with the title. For example, if you’re writing a blog post for a travel magazine, it should sound professional and informative even when the tone is casual.
How to Get a Content Writer
If you’re not a content writer, here ways to hire a content writer.
Content marketing companies have the capacity to manage all your writing needs from blog posts on different topics to sales copy for email campaigns or product descriptions on e-commerce platforms. They also offer search engine optimization services and social media marketing campaigns.
Content agencies partner with freelance writers and content creators that produce high-quality material for different industries. You can get a writer who specializes in the topic of your choice (e.g., SEO, lifestyle blog posts, travel blogging).
If you need only one blog post, it may be more cost-effective to hire a freelancer on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr. You can look for writers who have experience in content writing and check their previous work.
If you need more than one piece of content, it is worth hiring a writer on a contract basis. You can hire experienced writers through a platform like Listiller. You can pay per blog post or hourly rate. You can also try other freelance platforms like Guru, Freelancer.com, or PeoplePerHour.
Content creation is different from any other type of writing because it requires research into what users are searching for online (keywords). It should also be creative and informative to help users solve their problems (finding the right information).
Content creation should be informational and interesting while using the appropriate tone according to your objectives. Writing is not an easy job! But it can be highly rewarding for both writers, businesses, and readers if it’s done well.