Content Writing 101: A beginner’s guide

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If you’re reading this, you probably have a website. And you want people to visit your website.

No matter what purpose your page may serve—to sell, to promote, or simply, to share your personal experiences–it’s only as effective as the number of people it reaches.

Everyone knows how important websites are in the digital-first economy, but here’s the thing: Your website can’t just sit there and wait for people to come across it. You need to get the word out about your site, and the best way to do that is through content writing. 

What is content writing?

Content writing is the art of creating high-quality, engaging content for your audience. This covers everything from blog posts to e-mail newsletters to advertising copy. It’s what you use to attract and retain customers on your website, social media platforms, and other digital marketing channels.

Although it sounds like a simple task, there’s more to content writing than keywords and flowery copy. It requires ambitious and strategic thinking with an end goal in mind: To publish content that people will read, interact with, and share. 

Defining “good” content

Good content is content that makes people stop whatever they’re doing to read, share, and link to it. It’s the type of content you shout about. And most of all, it’s the sweet spot between content marketing and brand utility. 

Brand utility refers to the value a customer derives from your brand, or how much they feel they get out of doing business with you. Good content writing means understanding your audience—what makes them tick and what makes them stay loyal to your business.

Creating good content also means optimising it for both human readers and machines (a.k.a. Search engines like Google). When you’re able to leave a good impression to your visitors while landing good spots in SERPs, then it means you did some effective content writing.

The recipe for effective content writing

When it comes to writing, there’s a lot of advice out there.

And while we believe that everyone should write their own way, content writing is much like any other marketing strategy. There are best practices, tools, and formulas you can follow to maximise your writing.

  1. A good title

A catchy title can make or break your content. It’s the first thing your readers see and the last thing they remember, so it needs to be both attention-grabbing and descriptive.

It should also be relevant to what your article is about. Use keywords if possible, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to put in so many keywords that it’s hard for people to read through them all. Just make sure there are enough so that people who are searching for something similar will find their way.

  1. Humour or Personality

Don’t be afraid to add a bit of humour. If you can make someone laugh or smile while reading about your business, they’re more likely to remember it later on down the line. 

You also couldn’t go wrong with showing a bit of personality in what you publish. Instead of sticking to rigid rules about writing content, you’ll want to instead make your copies relatable to your potential customers. Most people want to feel connected to the brands they support, so try using anecdotes from your own life to tell stories about your product or service.

  1. The right voice

You may have heard that your writing should have a “voice”, but what does that actually mean? It means giving your writing character—making sure it feels like you’re talking directly to the reader in language they can understand and enjoy. It also means not being afraid to play around with different styles of writing or even different POVs.

Try writing in different voices depending on what type of audience you’re targeting. For example, writing an article for children would sound totally different from creating a whitepaper for a digital agency.

  1. A strong objective 

Every piece of content should have one clear purpose—something that your audience will take away from it after reading it through from beginning to end. If you don’t have this in mind when you start writing, it’ll be hard for readers to find their way through all that information.

The watch-outs

Content is the bread and butter of your website. You may be receiving traffic, but you’ll have a hard time convincing people to stick around without good content.

How do you make sure that you’re putting out the most effective content possible? Here are some of the don’ts to keep in mind.

Don’t just write for the sake of writing. Write to inform, persuade, entertain your audience, or all three depending on what you’re trying to accomplish with your content.

Don’t forget about your audience when you’re writing a copy. What would they want to know? What would they care about? What questions might they have about the topic?

Don’t panic when you don’t have an idea right away. Finding an angle to write about takes research and a lot of observation about what’s trending. If you’re stuck, take a look at current events or newsletters within your industry.

Don’t assume that your readers know what you’re talking about. It’s easy to assume that your readers are familiar with the topic and will be able to follow along. But if you don’t take the time to explain the basics, you run the risk of confusing them and driving them away from your site.

 A good writer pays attention

Before you write, remember that you’re also a consumer yourself. How do you make sure that you’re creating effective content? It’s simple: Pay attention to the results you find when you search online. 

Do you find the answers you’re looking for within seconds? When do you feel frustrated? Is the content for a specific topic difficult to find? Take down notes on the queries you’re searching for, and ask yourself what type of content you would have loved to find.

Then sit down and create exactly what you were looking for. Answer your own queries and publish it. Your goal is to remove what makes the search frustrating so that people will find your content naturally. When you pay attention to your own behaviour online, you place yourself in the shoes of potential customers and are more likely to create good, effective content.

There are many elements that go into making a great piece of content and keeping your audience engaged. You’ve got all the basics you need to write a killer content piece. All there’s left to do is write!

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