Content Writing: What It Is & Why It’s Smart Business (+10 Tips)
Everybody talks about content, but what is it anyway? And why should it be part of your marketing strategy? Read on to find out, plus 10 useful tips to get you started.
Content writing. Everyone’s talking about writing content, publishing content, getting ranked for your content.
What exactly is content, anyway? What do I write about? How do I do it? And more importantly, why should I bother?
If these thoughts have been crossing your mind, relax. We’re here to demystify content writing for you. In this short read, we’ll–
- Define content writing and discuss how and where it’s used.
- Make the case for content writing and why it’s a key component in your marketing strategy.
- Share 10 basic tips to get you started writing your own content.
Ready to become the content writer you never thought you’d be? Let’s go.
What is Content Writing?
Content writing is the process of writing, editing, and publishing content in a digital format. It’s any form of writing–SEO content, emails, social media–that’s used promote and create awareness of your business.
According to Brian Dean of Backlinko.com, a content writer can be involved in any of a number of digital marketing campaigns, including–
- Web content
- Landing pages
- YouTube video descriptions
- Video scripts
- Email newsletters
- Case Studies, White Papers and many more
In this article, though, we’ll be talking about you as a content creator who writes blog posts. A blog post, as you may already know, is written content relevant to your business or organization, designed to generate search engine results and drive organic traffic to your site.
For example, an arborist might write an article about that pesky cedar blight that shows up on crabapple trees. A non-profit would write about a woman and her three children who benefited from reader donations.
When done successfully, content writing is not only a key component of a digital marketing strategy, it can also be more effective (and less expensive) than pay-per-click and social media.
Let’s look at a few reasons why content creation should be part of your marketing plans.
Why Publish Content on Your Website?
Inform Your Reader & Prospective Customer
Believe it or not, this is the most vital (and search engine-friendly) reason to consider content writing. As a blogger, the goal of any written content is to create the smartest and most information-equipped readers on your topic(s).
If there is a constant to content creation, it’s this–
You cannot give away more than you’ll get back when you do SEO content right.
The good will you engender will do wonders for your business, and it’ll make your chances of ranking that much better.
Position Yourself As A Subject Matter Expert
I had a problem with my new dogwood shrubs last spring, and I was surprised at how hard it was to find helpful, engaging content on the web.
Truth is, in many niches (maybe even yours), there’s a lack of quality, in-depth information available to people who are looking for solutions to their problems.
Good content is your chance to stand out above the rest. Your knowledge, shared willingly, will create a following of grateful readers who return to your site and reward you with their business.
Reveal Yourself, Reveal Your Enterprise
Your Personality, Your Opportunity
Personality has built many online businesses.
In my field, Brian Clark of Copyblogger, Jon Morrow of Smartblogger and Alex Cattoni of CopyPosse have each built digital marketing empires around their unique personality.
Matt Karsten, Matt D’Avella and Mark Manson are building digital nomad, minimalist living and ‘alternative philosophy’ followings on the strength of their distinctive voices.
If you see opportunity in your niche– for your personality to bloom, where your knowledge can really spread its wings– content creation might be your ticket.
Put a Human Voice Behind Your Business
Successful businesses the world over know that content writing is the doorway to conversion.
That’s because your business isn’t a logo, nor is it a tagline. Your business is YOU, and the voice that comes through your content creates a human connection between your business and future customers.
Your Unique Business Perspective
You already know that your USP is what sets you apart in your business niche. And what better way to share it than by written content?
The blog page is where you and your reader meet for coffee. No pitching, no selling, it’s where you’ll find your prospective customer most receptive to hearing what makes you different.
Your Ever-Evolving Story
Your story– how your business got to where it is from just an idea, can be blended so many ways into your content without even trying. Anecdotal recollections of this customer or that one, a problem-turned-solution you excitedly share, these are all parts of a story that make for genuinely good content.
Your story is evolving, and the blog is the perfect way to tell it.
Generate Organic Traffic To Your Site
Yes, this is the bottom-line reason you’ll get into the content creation arena. Whether you act as your own content marketer or have an agency map and execute a content strategy for you, the objective will be to grow your website’s authority so that your posts effortlessly rank in searches for the topics you write on.
And there’s no more effective (and cheaper) way to build domain authority than through content.
Move Traffic Towards Your Conversion Objective
And once your readers begin flowing to your website, your content will seamlessly guide them to the product or landing pages relevant to your posts. There, your engaged readers will become loyal and satisfied customers.
How that’s done is a bit more than we can tackle here, but like building domain authority (and a few other things kicked around in this post), we’ll get into that in future articles.
So, now that you know the power of written content, what’s next?
The real joy of content writing is sharing yourself with your readers. In that spirit, here’s a few tips to get you started–
10 Content-Writing Tips To Get You Going
1. Keep It Informational
Unlike any other media form, the web is oriented to active and engaged problem-solving. So, as you decide what you want people to know about your business, think about the problems your products and services will solve for them.
Your content, likewise, will follow suit in the form of how-to articles, customers surveys of products you sell, the five least expensive-to-maintain vaccums, etc.
As a content creator, your job is to satisfy searches. And the best way of doing that is by informing your readers selflessly. Keep that in mind, and you’ll be way ahead of other DIY content writers.
2. Start With An Outline
A great outline will write your content for you. So, how do you put one together?
Start with your topic, and decide on the angle of your article. Are you choosing a hammer drill? Diagnosing symptoms of lawn disease? Discussing vanity counter-tops?
Next, brainstorm everything you know about the topic, and organize it logically.
Then, do a Google search. Jot down the subheadings of each post you find (first page of search results). Take the common ideas that show up in the posts, plus a few others that catch your eye, and add them to your list of ideas.
A helpful note here-it’s totally okay to use the ideas you find in these search engine results. For reasons we won’t get into here, it’s what Google actually wants, which is why you’ll often see the same idea repeated in many posts. So… the ideas that show up most often are those you should be sure to include in yours.
Now that you have a list of ideas relevant to your topic, cull things down to a list of 5 to 7 main ideas–those will be your subheaded sections.
You’re now ready to build your outline. I suggest the following format–
- Intro (no subheading)
- Subhead 1: Define the topic
- Subhead 2: Tell the reader why it matters/is relevant
- Subhead 3—7 (or 8, 9) Get into the topic—one section at a time, a subheading for each section
- Subhead 10: Last Thoughts, helpful resources, FAQs
- Subhead 11: Outro—a quick recap, some actionable steps, wish them luck
3. Use Templates To Make It Easier
Whether it’s building your own website or writing your own content, there’s free (or dirt-cheap) content writing tools and templates to make things easier. Never hesitate to use them.
Regardless of how you assemble your content, your goal is to systematize things, because you’ll be doing this over and over again.
4. Google Your Topic, Find Good Stuff, Link To It
Google does NOT reward creativity, but it does reward good content that’s relevant to what readers are searching for.
So, the best way to accomplish that is to see what others are writing about on your topic. Some of it will be good, some of it won’t. When you find a particularly good article and borrow some ideas, be sure to copy the URL (site address at the top of the page) and link back to it from your post.
It’s not just crediting your source, it’s also creating good will between you and the site you borrowed the idea from. That’ll come in handy (more on this in future posts) down the road.
5. Make It Easy To Read
Readability isn’t just important to your site visitors; it matters to Google as well.
Most people scan articles to see if it’s worth staying for. Following the guidelines below will help you keep your readers to the end–
Use an attention-grabbing headline and always use subheads
Your headline needs to capture attention, create curiosity, or generate anticipation of a solution to a problem. And no longer than 580 pixels. Again, more on this in future posts, but for now, here’s a cool tool to make sure your headlines don’t get cut off in Google search results.
Keep your sentences and paragraphs short
Your goal now is to leave behind that scholar who aced term papers and begin writing to a third-to-fifth grade audience.
And you can use readability scoring to move you in that direction, but it’s not necessary. Just keep in mind that in content creation, shorter means easier– easier to write, easier to read, and easier to keep the reader with you.
Keep your sentences short, your paragraphs no longer than three sentences (four lines long), and alternate longer paragraphs with short ones.
And when in doubt about anything, use a grammar-checker.
Write conversationally, in your voice
You’re writing to inform, not to impress. So, relax. Write as though you’re reader is in the room with you, a client in your office, a person you’re kicking things around with over a phone call.
Images lend a visual mindset to an article section’s content. And it breaks up space to improve readability. It also curries the favor of Google.
So use images. And videos. Unsplash and pixabay, and other sites are great for downloading free images to insert into your article.
6. Narrow Your Topic Focus
Ideally, you’ll keep your topics small enough to be read in 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes, though, your outline will monster up on you. So, when your post is pushing word counts of longer than, say, 3000 words, you have two choices–
- Keep going and make the article a comprehensive Ultimate Guide, or…
- Choose what you like from your existing outline to create two (or more) smaller posts.
Word count doesn’t matter to Google, but it does to your reader. So, articles of 2000 words or less work best.
7. Illustrate With Examples, Stories & Video
In ordinary conversation, we use examples to illustrate what we’re talking about. Speakers use stories to set up a point. Do the same as you write your content. Show people what you mean, instead of just telling them.
You’ll lend credibility to what you’re saying, and your reader will appreciate it.
8. Train Yourself Up On The Finer Details Of Content Writing
Much of what I know about SEO content writing and content marketing came from three different resources, mainly Smart Blogger.
But… you can learn a lot by simply reading articles like this.
In future posts, we’ll be getting into more of the nit and grit of writing content, and a few thoughts on which (among the many) is the best content writing course.
Until then, Googling blog writing is a good start.
9. Have An Agency Do It For You
There’s no shame in hiring your content writing out to professionals. You’re busy, and there is a learning curve involved with doing it yourself.
A content writing services agency like Clear Copy Online can discuss your content marketing objectives with you, find the smartest choice of keywords you can compete with, and give you the best chance of seeing your articles rank on Google searches.
Browse our service page to find out more.
One Last Content Creation Tip
Notepad, laptop, whatever works for you, just start writing.
Your goal is to make writing a natural form of expression, so start with daily journaling, about anything. Nothing flows more readily from the pen than what we write when there’s nothing at stake.
Start by kicking ideas around in your journal page. You’ll be amazed at how clear your thinking gets through the process of writing. Before you know it, one idea will emerge as stronger than the others.
That’s your first blog post.
And when you sit down to write content, focus on getting it out, letting it flow, and don’t look back. You can come back for editing and tightening things later.
Content Writing Makes a Difference
So, there you have it. Content writing. What it is, why it matters, and hopefully, a better idea of how to do it yourself.
Shoot over to our portfolio page for inspiration on your own projects. Or, if you want an agency to do it for you, read about our content writing services here.
Write your own stuff, or have someone do it for you, content writing will make a difference. People will love getting to know you and your insights, and the knowledge you willingly share will make a difference in their buying decisions.
For you and your readers.
Good luck, and whether our paths cross once more or not, Be Well.