“I do content writing.” That is always my immediate response when anybody asks me about what I do for a living. And almost every time, I get either of these two reactions, “What is content writing?” and “Oh, so you write stuff.”
Although that’s true, that ‘I write stuff,’ content writing is not just about writing some ‘stuff.’ And not that many people understand what it is.
So in this article, we’ll take to a quick walk through about what content writing is and why it is essential in today’s media.
What do you mean by content writing?
Content, in its most basic form, is information. It takes on a variety of types across different media.
Content Writing is the process of planning, researching, writing, and editing written content typically for marketing purposes. Content Writing is more commonly used on digital media like web pages, social media posts, blogs, articles, video and audio recordings, and more.
Remember those articles you read about the “10 Things That Can Make Your Life Happier?” How about those product descriptions you read on Amazon? Or maybe those random online quizzes you took to see who’s We Bare Bears character are you? All these, and probably a lot more you see on the internet, are products of content writing.
Content writing is commonly perceived as just writing articles. However, content writing isn’t just about articles and blogs. It is also essential for many different content formats, including:
- Email newsletters
- Social media posts
- Keynote speeches
- Landing pages
- Web page copies
- Podcast titles
- Video scripts
- YouTube video descriptions
- Product descriptions
Basically, content writing is the foundation for pretty much any content that you publish.
What is a Content Writer?
Content Writers are generally people who specialize in content writing.
Unlike other writers, content writers need to be skilled and are internet-savvy. Part of their job is to produce engaging content to draw more audiences and visitors onto their site.
What Skills Do Content Writers Need?
Content writers need to be well-rounded. Here are some of the essential skills you will need to learn if you want to be a content writer.
- A firm grasp on grammar and writing style
- Ability to write quickly and produce output under tight deadlines
- Excellent researching skills
- Creativeness in generating content ideas
- Knows how to write in a variety of tones, within a range of structures, on a variety of subjects
- Knowledge of the field you want to write about
Although the skills needed to be a content writer may seem intimidating for newbies, these skills can be learned and mastered through practice.
Pure writing ability is essential. Combine it with creativity, knowledge, and writing speed, and you’re set.
Why is content writing important?
In today’s digital age, websites have become more of a necessity than just popularity. Most brands create a website to introduce their products and services through that internet, reaching people from around the world.
High-quality, consistent, and engaging content impacts the audience and draws them in. It helps the website gain more traffic, and give your brand more exposure.
Content writing is important because it allows your website to be informative and interesting and delivers cohesive information from your brand to the audience. It helps you provide a unique identifiable voice, tone, and style across your channels and create a relationship between you and your audience, which, in return, could primarily benefit your brand. It’s also an essential component of transmedia storytelling. You must first write and create content. Then, you can deliver your message through various platforms.
Content as today’s advertising
A lot of consumers are now shifting towards online and digital consumerism, which is why brands are also taking advantage of this instead of just focusing on those traditional advertising methods we see in magazines and TV.
Social media influence more and more people; the shift from traditional media to online media is what brands have to adapt. With content writing, you’re able to cover landing pages, website writing, social media marketing, and, of course, content marketing.
Good content attracts the visitors and converts them to customers, making content writers a good salesperson. Once good content is posted on your website, it could work for you for years and provide profits. Having good content is like making a long term investment that generates revenues.
What are the five types of writing?
Every type of writing has a purpose, and content writing is not an exception. Understanding the intention of your content empowers your writing. It also reflects the writer’s personality, how they present themselves to a specific audience, and their distinctiveness.
Therefore, it is vital to identify each writing category to help you understand which one best resonates with your content. Here are the five types of writing and their purpose in making content.
1. Descriptive Writing
Descriptive writing aims to describe characters, events, objects, and places that help readers visualize a particular scene. Writers who do this type of writing tend to be more artistic, poetic, and detailed when it comes to their subjects.
The writer might use metaphors or other literary devices to describe their impressions. This usually involves the five senses (what they see, hear, smell, taste, or touch). Writers usually do this to describe how things are in the narrative. Not to explain or convince the audience in any way.
2. Narrative Writing
The essence of narrative writing is to tell a story. This type of writing is used in almost every longer writing pieces, whether it may be fiction or nonfiction. When a writer does narrative writing, they are not just putting out information. They are also trying to construct and impart a story, complete with characters, settings, and conflict.
You should also take note that the narrative writing style is much longer than descriptive writing, but, in some instances, incorporates descriptive passages.
3. Persuasive Writing
Persuasive writing aims to persuade or convince the reader to agree with the writer’s opinions. This type of writing features reassuring arguments and justifications. Most of the time, the author presents their thoughts aiming for the reader’s approval. The reader is asked at the end of the narrative to act in a given situation.
The persuasive style of writing is often used on advertisements, landing pages, commercials, editorial pieces, and recommendations. It is also applicable to reviews for books, music, videos, series, and more.
4. Expository Writing
Expository writing is the most subject-oriented, and it is the most common style of writing. In this type, authors don’t necessarily express their opinions since this style is mostly based on facts, including statistics or other evidence, and relies very little on stories.
The purpose of the expository writing style is to explain and examine a person, place, thing, or idea and provide the reader with a more thorough understanding of the topic.
5. Creative Writing
Unlike more formal forms of writing, like academic essays and such, creative writing is often entertaining, thought-provoking, and wholly engaging the more you read. This type of writing may invoke a certain kind of emotion, inspire creativity, or are meant to express thoughts.
Writers who follow this style have more freedom and flow. They are also not necessarily obligated to develop a structure or format. Creative writing applies to both fictional and non-fictional stories. Biographies and playwriting also fall under this category.
How do I start content writing?
Different writers have different methods of making their content. But if you’re a beginner, you might wonder how to start with content writing.
To help you with starting, here are some steps you can follow to help you organize your work for making enhanced content writing output. For this example, we’ll focus on content that you can publish on a website or anywhere online.
1. Do your research
Research is something you have to do regularly when putting out great content. It doesn’t have to be about a specific topic right away. Part of researching is reading about various topics or subjects and selecting one that you think would be an excellent topic for your current project or theme.
As soon as you find the perfect topic to write about, you can then dig deeper into it and learn more about all the twists and turns of your subject.
2. Stick to your point
Just like what I mentioned in the first one, you must select a topic and study the bits and pieces about it to create interesting content. Once you choose that topic, you should stick to it and not venture to other topics.
For example, if you’re writing about how to start making content for your website, you could mention sharing it on social media to attract more audience. But you don’t have to go to the specifics on how to do that. You can save it for another article blog post.
Stick to your topic and give as much information about it so your audience could focus on your point.
3. Be creative
Creativity – this is also essential when you do content writing. If you’re making content about something that already exists on the internet, you need some creativity to spice things up and give the audience something different.
Every content has three major factors involved: Topic, Idea, and View. While the topic and idea may already be there, your view about the subject still matters. Here’s where you can add a bit of creativity and try to paint a different picture for your audience.
Providing a unique angle is essential to gain a loyal audience.
4. Find your writing style
Every writer can be unique. You don’t have to imitate or stand in someone else’s shoes to become a great content writer. Sure, you can get inspiration from other writers you may know, but finding your style in writing and showing your character through the content you make will make it so much better.
Your writing style will be your identity. So its equally important to develop your style and not just your skills.
5. Keep it simple
This point is one of the most critical aspects when you do content writing: never exaggerate.
Sure, you may have a wide range of vocabulary and may know how to construct complex sentences, but remember: the content you make is not for you, but the audience.
Not everyone may understand or know those deep vocabularies or complex sentences. There’s a higher chance of people not reading your content when you make them too complicated.
Simplicity is key.
Another thing is, if you’re delivering news on a topic, don’t overstretch the facts and give it a new definition. Let the facts remain that way. Changing and exaggerating it can make you look unreliable.
It is better to write plainly, meaning keep your words readable, sentences neat, and paragraphs short.
6. Make your content scannable
Seeing a giant wall of text could turn off your reader right away. Seeing content that is nothing but a bunch of long paragraphs and words is tiring enough to see. It’s best if you avoid doing this in content writing.
Make sure that your content is scannable. Make it easy to look at and read. Limit each paragraph to five sentences or lower. Making your content scannable will ensure that your reader can easily pick up the key points in each section.
You can also make your content scannable by including the following:
- Short paragraphs
- Bulleted lists
- Bold texts
- Words in color
- Add images, tables, charts, etc.
7. Keep in mind who you’re writing for
Different content is targeted towards different groups of people. It’s essential to consider your targeted audience before writing anything.
Is it for the general public? Is it for children? Is it for people in a specific profession? For beginners?
If you are writing something for beginners, start your content by explaining the basics, just like how you would explain to a layman. But if it’s for people who already know about the topic, keep it more informational and technical if needed.
8. Pay attention to your headline
Another factor that is overlooked most of the time is the headline or the title of your content. Choosing a killer title is essential in attracting more audience to click on your content.
There are tons of headline formats you can see today, and people are trying to make it more eye-catching every time. You can study different headlines and see which one applies best to your content.
Remember, your title is an essential deciding factor in whether your audience wants to read your full content.
9. Edit, read, edit
Editing is crucial in any form of writing. This step is where you make adjustments, changes, corrections, and more. Trust me; no one would want to read content that is full of errors.
If you aren’t sure how to do this (primarily when you’ve written a very long narrative), here are some simple points to follow.
- Read your entire content.
- Remove any sentences or paragraphs that aren’t aligned with or doesn’t match the flow of the material.
- Read it once again
- This second round of editing should be focused on removing or correcting spelling errors, grammatical errors, and punctuations.
- Then give it one final read to ensure everything seems okay.
10. Expand your knowledge about SEO, HTML, CSS, and WordPress.
Hold up. You don’t have to be intimidated by these terms. Well, it’s not highly necessary to dig deep into these things, but knowing the basics of how they work will give you a significant advantage as a content writer.
For those who are working with WordPress, WordPress themes have different levels of automatic functions. Sometimes, the only way to make the text appear the way you want it to is to tweak that text/HTML tab and input some code to create a title tag or fix some spacing issue. They’re not as complicated as the codes you see on TV. Learning the basics of HTML and CSS will be worth your time.
Updating your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knowledge constantly is also a must. That’s because the algorithms of search engines also change constantly. If you’re a content writer, you’d always have to keep up.
But there’s one thing that remains the same and continuously in-demand – high quality. If you have the ability to create content that’s in-depth and has a unique perspective, that will be your biggest advantage.
Content writing tips for beginners
We’ve talked about the starters. But if you want to improve on being a content writer, here are some more content writing tips that could help you improve your skills and produce better output.
Practice, practice practice
Just like how the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Content writing can also be honed like any other skill – the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Try to search for techniques like creating outlines, listing ideas and facts, etc. that could improve your writing skills.
Be kind to yourself
Being a content writer also means that you need to deal with a lot more things than just writing. If you’re aspiring to be a content writer (or is already one), these are a few of the things you need to deal with:
- Learning how to meet deadlines
- Making sure that the tone and voice of your content match the target audience of your client.
- Write valuable and unique content. This task can be challenging when you’re still starting. And when you’re unfamiliar with the topics, you need to write. But with enough research and help from handy writing software tools, I’m sure you can do it!
- Meeting standards. Both from your client and yourself.
- Impressing your clients too!
Getting too much pressure, shackles your creativity and productivity. You start overthinking and over-analyzing. You could end up doubting yourself, hence, reducing your effectiveness as a writer.
So, be kind to yourself. Content writing is more of a creative task and not mechanical. So, instead of doubting yourself because of pressure, be kind and understanding, and work your way out of it.
Use online writing tools
Online writing software tools are beneficial when it comes to content writing. There are tons of writing tools available online. They come with different functions that can improve your English writing and your content’s quality in various ways.
Here are some of my recommendations:
The Hemingway App is an online text editor. It lets you breakdown long and complex sentences into shorter, more straightforward sentences. It also shows a readability grade and valuable suggestions of what you need to change in your paragraphs.
Using this editor is FREE and is readily accessible online.
Grammarly is an excellent editing tool that helps you detect common errors. It keeps track of misspelled words and incorrect grammar.
You can use this editor for free when you sign up. But you can also get the premium version with more great features such as plagiarism checking and goal setting. It can also check the clarity, engagement, correctness, and delivery of your written content.
If you want to make sure that you have unique content, Copyscape is another tool you can use. It has a free plagiarism checker that compares your content from other existing content on the web. You can also use the free comparison tool to check the percentage of similarity between your content and your source.
You can use Copyscape for free online. But you can also sign up and buy the premium version that gives you the full range of tools.
The more you read, the more you become exposed to high-quality writing, that’s why reading is essential. Try reading various content forms like blogs, articles, landing pages, product descriptions, etc. You’ll soon come to understand and internalize the elements of the text, and you’ll slowly find yourself implementing them in your writing.
More importantly, this can help you learn and understand various angles in which you can approach a topic, frame your story, maintain your flow, develop new ideas, and so much more.
Get help from the professionals
If you’re serious in escalating your game in content writing, you can ask for help from professional content writers as well. They can teach you about techniques and other tips to help you improve your skills and output.
There are many online and offline groups for content writers where you can get informed feedback on your work. You can also use online networks like Reddit, Twitter, and LinkedIn to interact with experienced content writers. Make sure you establish a rapport before you seek help.