Good content is always appreciated, but great content is irreplaceable. Content writing, and writing in general, is a very compelling and rewarding profession. However, it also requires a lot of effort and willingness to learn from the content specialist’s side. Writing is not as easy as it seems, especially when you have to take into account factors such as target audience, readability and other technicalities.
Nonetheless, becoming a content expert is a great way to improve your writing, research and marketing skills, whilst also giving you essential connections and exposure. Content writing is both profitable and enjoyable, as long as you love what you do, and do it well. This is why writers should always be willing to learn new content marketing tips in order to improve their writing and move up the content marketing ladder, and - as a result - improve a company’s content marketing strategy.
Below, we break down all of the necessary tips, tricks and factors to consider if you aim to become an expert in your craft. Ready to become a master content writer?
As with any journey to success, you must master the basics before you ascend further up the ladder. If you are a professional content writer, we assume that you already utilise all of these tips on a regular basis. Nonetheless, allow the advice below to serve as a brief reminder.
Enjoy the Process
First and foremost, you need to have a fondness for writing. We’re not saying it needs to be a strong passion per se, but you should at least enjoy the writing process enough to look forward to writing new articles. Likewise, it is best to write about topics that truly interest you, since you will definitely be more passionate about researching and reporting on a topic that spikes your curiosity. We understand that, sometimes, your interests and the requirements of your company/clients may not coincide.
Although it may seem tedious to write about a topic you are not really interested in at first, curiosity and willingness to learn often appear during the research process. Take everything with a grain of salt and see if you can work with what you’ve got at the moment - after all, you never know what useful information you may learn along the way.
Think of Cool Ideas
Being able to come up with good ideas is a staple requirement of the content writing profession. Not every idea needs to be groundbreaking, but you should always strive towards writing posts that are both informative and interesting to read. If you feel stuck, or like you are about to get hit with writer’s block, search for trends in your field of expertise. There is bound to be a trend that is both relevant to your content and interesting to write about, even if it takes slightly longer to discover. In this day and age, where we are flooded with information straight at our fingertips, it is nearly impossible to have writer’s block for a long period of time.
Watch Language and Grammar
When it comes to writing, the best content is often produced in one’s native language, or a language they are fluent in. Excellent knowledge of the language you are writing in improves vocabulary, makes the piece flow better and ensures that spelling and grammar are likely to be at a higher level. However, even fluency does not protect you against typos or the odd grammar mistake. Make sure to edit your work thoroughly; proofread meticulously and keep an eye out for anything that doesn’t sound right. Sites like Grammarly can also be a big help in that sense, so don’t shy away from using such resources.
Focus on Headlines and Hooks
One of the most important aspects of engaging posts is an eye-catching headline. It has to explain the essence of the article, whilst also leaving a certain degree of uncertainty so that readers want to know more.
Likewise, an effective hook is no less important than an attention-grabbing headline. You have approximately 5 seconds to engage a reader before they bounce off your page to look for answers elsewhere. The first couple of sentences should pull the reader in, whilst also leaving something to the imagination (i.e. questions that you will answer later on). Moreover, the reader should get the general impression that you will be answering their question in the article - an extravagant hook may sound cool to you, but for the reader it will just seem like useless information.
Produce Quality Content
“What even is quality content?” you may ask. Well, it is made up of a combination of aspects, but the most important ones are summarized below:
- Good language and grammar
- Logical structure and breakdown of ideas
- Appropriate use of subheadings
- Suitable text-to-media ratio (i.e. don’t make your posts too text or image heavy)
- Make sure you are answering the reader’s question
- Write in a way that allows your words to flow and be easy to read
- Don’t overdo with the fancy jargon and buzzwords
- Put your heart into everything you write - give it 101%
The points listed above are the basics when it comes to being a good content writer, but since you clicked on this article you are probably aiming for higher than just “good”. So let’s discuss that, shall we?
Mastering the Art of Content Writing
In order to go from simply “good” to “great”, it is necessary to go the extra mile and work smart during all stages of the writing process. You may be wondering why we said “work smart” instead of “hard”, but that’s exactly the point. All the hard work usually goes into the basics, when you are just starting out. In order to achieve a level of mastery when it comes to content writing, the following points should gradually turn into habits.
Read on a Regular Basis
The first step is pretty straight-forward; if you want to write well, you have to read well first. And no, this does not mean literary classics or huge novels on a weekly basis. If you are not a fan of books, search for blogs that interest you and go from there. Spend a small percentage of your daily time reading blog posts that truly capture your attention and allow you to learn something new. That way, you are essentially killing two birds with one stone, both extending your vocabulary and stimulating your mind at the same time.
Become a Research God
Research isn’t simply doing a short Google search, clicking on the top link and gathering all of your info from there. After you have decided on a topic, it is absolutely crucial to spend a substantial amount of time researching all aspects of it. Change your search query several times and really dive deep into the topic when it comes to research.
Can’t find anything on Google? Try YouTube. If it’s a tutorial piece, contact people who have more information in the field than you. For example, if you are writing an article about web design, it might be best to ask the web designer at your office first to get a general idea of what needs to be discussed.
Let us break the fourth wall for a second. I am a professional content writer myself, and would like to share a couple of research hacks when it comes to organising the material you have gathered:
Skim through search results and pick the information relevant to your topic. Open a separate Google/Word document and paste the key points from the articles there. After that, read through the research you have gathered and decide on the structure of your post. Once you have done that, organise your material using the appropriate headings (H2, H3, H4 etc.) and you are good to go.
It is important to note that you must only use trustworthy sources, especially if you are relying on statistics, since spreading misinformation can damage your reputation as a writer. To avoid plagiarism, make sure to skilfully paraphrase and always cite the source if you are using specific ideas or direct quotes; internet etiquette is very important if you want people to respect your craft.
A lot of the time, we as content writers like to be spontaneous and begin writing instantly. However, that is not always the optimal plan of action, especially if the post is long. This is why you should always create an outline. For me, the best outlining process is the one I mentioned above: create a file with all of your research material organised under subheadings and go from there.
However, others may find creating a plan prior to the research process more effective, and building on that outline later. Whatever the case, it is best to have an outline prepared prior to writing your piece; it helps you stay on track and prevents you from feeling overwhelmed when writing long-read pieces.
Write First, Edit Later
As much as it may be tempting to do a full proofread and edit of every new paragraph you write, it may actually harm your writing process and disrupt the flow. Whilst writing the first draft of your piece, it’s best to just let the words and ideas flow. Not only will you produce the content faster, but you will also not be as distracted and focused on perfection rather than content. Give yourself plenty of time to edit after the first draft is ready, but avoid trying to make your text perfect before you’ve even finished it.
Don’t Be Annoying (No, Really)
This may seem like a point we just threw in for fun, but it’s actually a legitimate piece of advice. What do we mean by “don’t be annoying”? Well, first of all, avoid repeating words over and over again, especially in the same sentence. As a content writer, synonyms should be your best friend, alongside proofreading and reading out loud. If you notice too many repetitions in your text, time to do some good old editing!
Likewise, do not stuff your text with too many keywords. It’s basically a writing sin at this point! Keyword stuffing is one of the worst things you can do for text readability, since these keywords can appear out of context and disrupt the whole flow of the piece. It cannot be denied that SEO is a crucial aspect of content writing, but it should be done in a more modest and clever way. No need to scream at your readers “LOOK! I know SEO content writing!”.
And last but not least, don’t be pretentious. Good vocabulary is priceless, but using fancy words all the time is just going to annoy your readers and make them click off. This can be for a number of reasons:
- The reader is forced to Google every second word because you’ve used the most elaborate vocabulary out there
- The reader cannot see the message behind your text because they are too distracted by the grandiose language
- The reader catches on to what you are trying to accomplish and decides that they would rather read a more straightforward article than an English Literature essay
Keep a balance when it comes to your choice of vocabulary. Of course you can throw in the odd elaborate word here and there, but don’t over-complicate your text. The average reader doesn’t want to read a novel, they are here to learn.
Edit Like a Pro
You have written your first draft, everything is great. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, spring has come early...but the first draft is only the beginning. The time for editing has arrived.
First and foremost, it is crucial to do the first global proofread and edit your piece. Go through grammar and spelling, check for typos, shorten any sentences that are too long and so on. As mentioned above, look out for word and sentence repetitions, and use synonyms and alternative sentence structures to diversify the content.
Next, you must analyse the structure and see if the flow is logical. Switch around some paragraphs if the order doesn’t make perfect sense and make sure that the overall structure flows smoothly. If there is anything that you feel like is missing, add that. Likewise, if any part of your content seems extra - delete!
The final stage includes reading your piece out loud. When people read aloud, they are much more likely to catch onto any errors (both grammatical and contextual), notice wrong punctuation and even structural inconsistencies.
The Importance of SEO Driven Content
Content writing is not only creative - it is also quite mathematical. If you want to truly master the art of writing good web content, being a great writer is not enough in this day and age. After all, you must take into account the most prominent members of your audience - search engines (particularly Google).
SEO Content Marketing
If you are a content writer, there is no escaping search engine optimisation. Not that it’s a bad thing - SEO is a skill that every marketer should know to some degree, and is not only limited to content experts. Make sure to do keyword research prior to starting the writing process, and optimise every post with the right meta-titles and meta-descriptions. However, this post isn’t dedicated to teaching you about SEO content strategy, so we will link some of our best blog posts on the topic to get you started.
Learn SEO With Ucraft:
SEO: Make search engines love your website
What are keywords? SEO. Ads. Luck?
Common SEO mistakes killing your online visibility
Battle of the Decade: Quality Content vs Spammy SEO
Also, make sure to check out our marketing guide, which gives you all the beginner SEO knowledge you need to start your optimisation expedition: Ucraft Marketing Guide: Learn SEO.
Increase Your Organic CTR
Click-through rate refers to the number of times people click on a link to your page when it appears in an organic search result. In order to increase this number, it is necessary to understand what your users are truly searching for and then edit your meta-data to match the search intent.
Reduce Bounce Rate
The Bounce Rate represents the percentage of visitors who click on a link to your page, and then leave the website without visiting any other page. There are a number of reasons why your bounce rate might be high, but the main ones include:
- Content that is too text-heavy
- The opposite; content that is too brief
- Lack of links to other pages on your site
- Absence of a good CTA (call to action)
Since we have already discussed text-to-media ratio, let’s speak about linking. Whether you are writing content for a company blog, or other web texts, it is always a good idea to find internal links that are related to your content. For example, even previous blog posts can be very relevant to your current topic, so you can link them in the new piece. Likewise, a strong call-to-action not only increases the sales of whatever product/service you are selling, but also decreases bounce rate because it takes the viewer to another page (e.g. a landing page of your new offer).
Increase Dwell Time
Dwell time is the amount of time people spend on a page of your website. In order to encourage people to spend longer on your website, you need to provide users with the information they need. As mentioned above, an extravagant introduction may flow well, but it can be detrimental to dwell time. Keep your piece introductions clear and on-topic.
So there you have it - a complete introductory guide on how to become the content writer you have always dreamed of becoming. If you want to turn your content writing skills into a lucrative business, create a blog, populate it with top-notch written content and images! Don't forget to tweak your SEO strategies to grow a loyal audience! Save this article in your favorites, and skim it from time to time to remind yourself of all the steps you need to take.
We hope this was helpful, and we wish you luck on your quest to earn the title of Master Content Writer!