Content writing can be difficult sometimes, and anyone that works in marketing knows this! However, it’s such a useful tool when it comes to your business. 89% of marketers in 2019 agreed that content marketing ties into their wider business goals overall.
Sometimes the issue isn’t that content writing overall isn’t effective, but more about how someone is writing that content. There is a wealth of content out there, from businesses across a range of industries, that isn’t doing what it should be.
The aim of this article is to help you expand your knowledge and quality of your content writing, as well as increase your overall success when using it. Luckily, content writing is something that can be improved with a little bit of practice. Below, you can find 12 top tips of great content writing that will help you improve yours.
1. Your Headline Is As Important As The Content Itself
You might be thinking we’re crazy right now saying that the headline is more important than the writing, but many professional copywriters would agree with this statement. This is because the first thing that anyone will see is the title, and if that title is boring or somewhat not true to the content, readers will quickly move on.
When it comes to your headline, it’s got a lot of heavy lifting to do to get someone to carry on reading. This is because, on average, 8 out of 10 people will read the headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of the content. A well written headline will provide the reader with the specific information, whilst not giving away too much detail that ends up telling the whole story.
It has been said that titles with “breaking news”, “how to”, “best of” or including a number such as “10 top tips'' are titles that seem to perform better compared to other, more simple titles. When you are creating a title, in the back of your mind you should always be thinking of something that will help your customers solve a problem. That should always get them intrigued in what it might be about.
2. Crafting A Great Opener
So your headline has done its work and driven a reader to click on your content, but now it’s time to make sure you can persuade them to stick around. Unfortunately, that is usually easier said than done. However, the best path you can follow to keep your readers around is by jumping straight onto the topic that is promised by your headline. The more you fluctuate around what you are trying to get across to your reader (which is the reason they are here), they are more likely to jump ship and go somewhere else. Somewhere that they will get told the fact they want to hear.
There has been research to show that most people don’t actually read the whole of the article, from start to finish. It is actually said that their interest can disappear after the first couple of sentences. This is especially an issue if your first few sentences don’t have a particularly strong lead. This is why it is so important to get your readers full attention from those first few lines.
If you still aren’t too sure on how to open up your content writing, here are a few example of what you could do:
Use little known facts
An interesting story
They won’t be able to find this information anywhere else.
3. Thin Out Your Focus
Any piece of content writing, from the headline to the conclusion, should have a single, clear idea of what it is about. By doing this, you are keeping readers intrigued as you aren’t going off topic, your piece of writing will just naturally flow more, and it will also help you keep to the point/argument you are making, providing a clear answer.
Keeping the focus on your content writing as tight as possible will help you provide real value around the specific topic you are talking about. Unfortunately, you can’t offer relevant advice to everyone, so by making your content too broad, it will end up confusing most readers. Unless you are writing a pillar page that is a central point of discussion on a board topic, you’ll want to just keep it simple on what the article is focused on. Here is an example of a title that is too vague, to a title that works better for what it is focused on:
Bad: Improving your marketing
Better: How to improve small business marketing
Best: How to improve social media marketing for a small business startup
It would be very difficult to write a full article on improving your marketing when there is such a wide range of topics you could cover. It’s just too broad. However, you can offer useful and relevant information on improving social media to a particular type of business.
4. Writing For Your Audience
So, as we have already covered, a great opener might be able to help you get your readers’ attention, but it’s not a gold medal to keep them reading the whole thing. This is why you need to be writing with your specific audience in mind. To put it simpler, don’t write for everyone, only write for a small selection of people.
To give you an example of how to do this and not to do this, think about the difference between an article that is about “great content writing” and an article that is about “great writing”. If you are someone looking into great content writing, like you might be with this article, I can presume that you work in marketing or create some marketing related content. However, if you are looking for an article on great writing, you could be a writer with writer's block or a student trying to find the best way to write their dissertation.
This is why, when you know specifically what it is that you are going to write about, you have your specific headline so readers know what to expect, an opener to get them to keep reading, you don’t then want the rest of your content writing to fade off in another direction, talking about topics that don’t really relate to the title of the work. Stick to what it is that you are talking about and write for that specific audience.
5. Be Engaging To Your Audience
However much effort you have put into creating a strong headline, if the rest of your content doesn’t portray that, your readers won’t stick around very long. When it comes down to being engaging, it’s pretty simple to understand. If you are a marketer, I bet you have been told numerous times that simple writing is the best way forward for content writing. This isn’t true in all cases though.
In other words, when engaging with your audience, whatever your content writing may be, you should be using language that is specific to your target audience. This means that either overcomplicating, or even oversimplifying for the sake of nothing, could affect your writing and may cause your readers to leave.
6. Don’t Be Shy To Add A Bit Of Personality To Your Writing
Whatever type of business you are, even a B2B business, you might think, being the professional that you are, you should be choosing a bland and very corporate style of writing. The issue with this is that this approach can become very boring to readers. Even if you are a professional services business or you only deal directly with other companies, it doesn’t mean that your business needs to be boring. You are still trying to convey with individuals.
If you take a second to think about what the higher professionals do, they spice things up by telling stories. Stories that put their business into a narrative that the reader can relate to. By telling these stories whenever you can, you are creating a bond between reader and business, and by adding a bit of personality to the piece of writing also helps draw the reader in.
Another way you can add some personality to your writing that doesn’t involve text is by adding media. This could be videos personalised by the business, any testimonials, images or even a podcast.
7. Use Your Brands Unique Voice In Your Writing
Your brand's voice is a tip that also links up with the point above about adding a bit of personality to your writing. Your voice is what links to your business, how people determine who you are. When you ask yourself why some brands stand out more than others, it’s usually because of their content and their content is defined by their unique voice. After you have figured out what type of audience you are writing for, and what in particular engages them to keep reading, carry on. Consistency is key in this.
For your business, if you have one single person that handles all of your communication and content writing, then your brand's voice will be the same. However, if you have a team, you must convey to all members to clarify what your brand's voice is in a document that is easily accessible for everyone. If you don’t do this and someone doesn’t know the true voice of the business, if they come to write a piece of content, they could cause conflict by writing in the wrong tone. Like I have said before, consistency is key.
If you are thinking about writing up a document for your brands voice and not sure where to start, these are a minimum of what you should be covering:
The core value of your brand as well as a mission statement
A simple description of your businesses type of audience and the way that they talk
An ideal relationship with your audience
A section on specific words and phrases that you should use
A section on specific words and phrases that you should NOT use
8. Place The Objectives For Your Business On Hold
When it comes to your business, you might think that any content you put out always needs a little pitch about your product or service. Actually, there are so many professional marketers that highly recommend this, saying that you should alway be including some selling technique or a ‘call-to-action’. However, this simply doesn’t work anymore. This day and age, readers want to be entertained whilst also being educated from your content. They aren’t looking for marketing propaganda as that doesn’t physically help them solve their problem.
For example, when it comes to writing an article for your company, don’t look at them as a way to sell a product or service directly. Write it in a way that it is just viewed as another part of the buying process and a good way to catch someone's initial interest.
Professional copywriters are trained in producing content that is loaded with important information, rather than them just trying to sell you a product or service. Given what the marketing landscape is with content writing currently, copywriters know to do this as it is the most effective way to attract a reader or customer to your website.
9. Research Should Be A High Priority When Content Writing
When it comes to content writing, sometimes the biggest challenge can be deciding what new topic to write about that your audience would find interesting. If you google something and the answer comes up straight away, you probably won’t be able to add much more additional value to that topic. However, marketers that are constantly researching topics, whenever they find anything that could be a good idea for content, they get writing and start on the research process, making sure to find out all the correct and more important information on that specific topic.
Researching for a particular topic is so important because when you are writing content, the last thing you want to do is go off topic. Picture this, you googled some tips on content writing, and then come across this specific article. When you start reading the article, it starts talking about video content. Not helpful. Another example is if you were looking for simple but specific tips and you find a 3,000 word article on that specific topic, but you were never actually given any useful tips. You are probably going to end up avoiding that site and look somewhere else aren’t you?
This is why it is so important when it comes to researching keywords and knowing exactly what your specific topic is about and giving the readers what they have come to your page for.
If you are struggling to know what specific topic to write about, there is a tool called Ubersuggest. On this, you can find any question that is regularly asked in your chosen subject. So for example, if I was going to write about social media, but I wasn’t sure on what aspect I wanted to talk about in that subject, I can go on Ubersuggest and it will tell me what people are currently asking about social media. I then would know what to include in the content.
10. Design An Outline
Why do I need to bother creating an outline for my content you might be thinking? The reason is that it helps you write a highly structured piece of writing. When you have done all your research into your specific topic, and then also worked out what you want your audience to gain from your content, that is then when it is time to start creating your outline.
This is one of the simplest steps so you shouldn’t be missing it out. What you do is take all the questions that you get from your keyword search, such as social media, and then start laying them out in a logical order. So for example:
What is Social Media?
Why is Social Media Important?
How do I use Social Media correctly?
Also, if you need to reference different points in one section, then break those points down. You can do this by splitting them into subsections, each with the correct subheading.
11. Actionable Tips Included
When thinking about your content writing goal, it should be to ensure that all your readers have learnt something valuable and that they can use it in the future. If your content is like this, your readers are much more likely to end up sharing it with their friends, if they think it was a good experience and worth other people knowing about. They might even come back to your website in the future.
If you provide specifics in your content writing, that can be one of the simplest ways to teach your readers something new, and adding actionable tips basically spell out exactly what to do. The easiest way to do this is to be an expert in your field, being the reason that researching is so important. You wouldn’t see me talking about any brain surgeries or best ways to train your dog. I think I’ll just be sticking to marketing content!
If you do want to write a piece of content that is useful to readers, talk about what you know. Give them step by step tips, reference useful tips and different processes you may use regularly. Don’t go making things complicated, or others may not be able to follow.
12. Add Some Trust Factors
The last tip that you should be thinking about when creating content writing is to make yourself trustworthy to your readers. With social media and the internet playing such a huge part in everyone's day to day life, there is so much content already out there. Even if you work in a niche industry, there will still be hundreds of articles already made with the correct information for readers to find.
So what makes yours different from everyone else? You’re trustworthy.
If readers know that your work is thoroughly researched and all the information is correct, they are likely to trust you and come back. People from businesses that write content and also have a name for themselves do have an advantage when it comes to this. If people already know who you are and trust you, you will have an advantage over someone else that is less known.
It isn’t always like that though. Even well known writers had to start somewhere. There was a day that they weren’t known to anyone and had to work their way up though other well known people to get where they are now. You just have to take time to prove to people that you are worth it and they can trust you and the work you produce.
A way to do this and prove that people can trust you is by either supporting your points by linking to other authoritative sources such as media, government sites and high-profile brands. This helps people to know that your facts are correct. Another way to do this, if possible, is by having a credible site link to your content and this can also help you and your business to rank better in organic searches.
Content writing shouldn’t seem like a really difficult task. Yes it takes time to get into the flow of how to write different types of content, but once you start to get the rhythm of how your business works and what your audience wants from you, it will get easier. Overall, all I say is take time researching into specific topics, don’t go off on a tangent and just keep to the point. Give yourself a strong headline with a related opener and focus on your brand’s unique voice. Keep your outline simple and make sure you are being yourself, adding different types of personality to your work, whilst also being trustworthy and engaging to your specific audience.