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“There’s no rule on how to write,” said Ernest Hemingway. “Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; and sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.”
To anyone seeking a content writing tutorial, this quote is probably reassuring and disappointing, an encouragement and a let-down at the same time. You might have hoped there was a different, unique, and easier answer to “what are the basics of content writing?” than “what are the basics of writing?” But ultimately, these two crafts boil down to the same challenges—a blank screen or page, and the question of what to share with the reader who will see it on the other side of publication.
But content writers do have a few advantages at their disposal over fiction writers or other creative writers. For a content writer, the message of the work at hand is already determined, and the story waiting to be told is clear.
Without the demand of putting their heart and soul on the page, what does a content writer do? They are free to share the values and insights of their employer or client with less ego and personal attachment than they might have to a fully creative work.
Some people doing content writing aren’t even concerned with doing personal writing outside their job functions. Instead they just want to use their way with words to pay the bills and help businesses achieve their goals.
So what kinds of content are there to write? How do you get started on a marketing writing project? And what skills of research are needed to help content writing be easier and more successful? Let’s explore all these answers and more as we examine the topic of content writing in-depth.
Understanding the types of content writing depends in part on your understanding of the question, what is content writing? Some marketing teams draw a distinction between the role of copywriter and content writer. In these cases, a copywriter would be responsible for shorter-form content like email marketing and social media posts—content that directly motivates the reader to take an action.
A content writer, by contrast, would be responsible for writing longer-form content like blogs or white papers—content that builds a relationship with the reader over time, and educates them about your company industry or pain points.
However, in modern content creation, this distinction may or may not be super valuable. With audiences taking longer to make buying decisions and do research, a copywriter might find their social posts are doing just as much education or relationship-building as a blog. And by contrast, a white paper or eBook might be the piece of lead gen content that converts a lead to a sale.
Ultimately, a content writer might end up working on any of these types of content writing, depending on the business and marketing strategy at their employer:
These are just some of the examples of content writing a writer might be called on to create. Ultimately, any writer supports their employer through content creation, regardless of formal job title.
Some readers might be wondering, how do I start content writing? This might be because you’re a business owner or marketer who needs to take on content. Or you might be looking to build a career as a content writer. For those readers, breaking into professional content writing can happen as a freelancer, or by getting hired at a marketing agency or business with a marketing department. But to gain all those opportunities, writers need a portfolio of strong content writing to show off their skills in the best light possible.
Whether you want content writing to be your main job, or just need to get stronger at making it part of your daily tasks, there are a few tips to cover for starting out in content writing:
These tips will be useful along the timeline of the writing process at different points, helping you stay focused, gain confidence you’re not making mistakes, and learn what readers think of your voice and perspective.
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So now, let’s talk about the heart of the matter—how to do content writing more easily. From the perspective of Ernest Hemingway, this would mean without feeling so much like you want to break out the dynamite and blow the whole project up in the air.
At the end of the day, some content writing projects will be easier than others. But with these tips in mind, content writers should hopefully be able to find a point of reset and step back to regain focus on any project.
By following these five tips for how to write content marketing, you’ll soon be writing sentences and paragraphs with confidence. But there are two more important elements to consider: content research skills, and SEO in your content writing.
Developing Content Research Skills
Audiences don’t just want entertaining content that is fun to read: they also want content they can trust and share with others. That means without an old friend or ex-coworker dropping in to leave a comment that makes them embarrassed your work wasn’t fact-checked. This potential to alienate your customers with bad content is one reason that well-researched content is essential to marketing.
Another benefit of developing your content research skills is that research actually makes content writing easier. With good research studies and authoritative insights from news or thought leaders on your side, you no longer must construct the entire story on your own. Instead, you can let authorities speak where they say it best and fill in the gaps of your brand storytelling.
For instance, maybe you want to write an article about recent technology shifts in your industry. You could put pressure on yourself to paint the picture all alone and describe to your readers the technology and implications. But not only is that a lot of work, it basically means you need to be an expert already.
By drawing on sources and data about what is happening in your industry, you can find statistics and examples that help you make points. Not only will this make your work clearer and more compelling, it will also build your reputation as a trusted source of information with your potential customers.
This brings us to a third value from writing well-researched content: the opportunity to get backlinks. If your content is full of information alongside your brand’s unique and valuable perspective, it’s possible your blog or web page will become a source for others writing their own content.
They will then link to you as an authority, just like you should always link to the sources you have drawn on for transparency. (If the link belongs to a competitor, try finding another source with the same information...that won’t also poach your business.)
With the case made for developing content research skills, here are some practical tips and strategies for how to get better at content research:
By starting with a Google search, you’ll get the lay of the land as far as content on your topic. Then, your ability to tell good sources from bad will help your content writing be accurate and well-researched.
Verifying information and accepting your findings as they emerge is just part of the process. But, researching off the web through interviews, surveys, and books can help lend more perspective and maybe affirm your direction, even if data says otherwise.
If research reveals a vulnerability in your position or message, sometimes the best thing to do is own the data, then explain to your audiences why you feel the same way anyway.
Search engine optimization writing, or SEO writing, means ensuring target keywords are included in the titles, headlines, metadata, and body copy of your content.
Titles: Use the keyword you want to rank for most in the title—but remember, the title should also be interesting.
Headlines: As you break up written content, a webinar, or a video into different segments, try to use other keywords in the headlines. For video, you can include these in the description so they still come up in written search, too.
Metadata: This is the snippet that shows up underneath your link in search engines, which plays a major role in getting your content to rank.
Body Copy: There are often opportunities to use more of your keywords in sentences throughout the content. However, it’s important not to sacrifice readability. When in doubt, take the keyword out and just say what makes sense.
Doing keyword research and setting the SEO strategy for content may or may not be the job of the content writer. If you are providing a content writer with keywords, or looking for your own, it’s best to start with a larger list than needed and allow that keywords which don’t fit the piece can be saved for another project.
Google uses over 200 factors to choose which pages rank at the top. The organic presence of keywords audiences are searching for is one of the most important ones. Many marketers consider SEO one of the most valuable tools in content marketing.
Here are a few more tips for SEO writing that can help you use keywords well and get closer to the top of the search:
Like research, a list of SEO keywords can actually make the work of writing easier. When keywords help a content writer decide the title and headlines of a piece of content, the framework is therefore somewhat predetermined. Within this structure, the creative professional can shine.
These tips and insights should go a long way toward giving any content writing project better momentum. While not every day of writing is going to be easy, it can be made easier, not just through best practices like the ones we have discussed, but also cutting-edge tools like Demand Jump.
This platform is developed to share real-time keyword recommendations that are changed as fast as consumer behavior makes them evolve. The machine learning algorithm even divides the keywords and questions into different phases of the customer journey.
This means writers can use the exact content writing topics and keyword phrases that audiences are looking for, whether they want to be educated, reassured, or motivated.
Plus, competitor insights are also integrated, so writers can see what content is already ranked for the same keywords. This allows more educated decisions about where to focus their efforts to win away traffic. And a one-click keyword outline helps writers obtain a full list of the search phrases that will make page-one happen.
DemandJump is the dynamite tool that will help your content writing and marketing explode to the top of the search rankings. End the struggle and take some of the effort out of the content writing process by signing up for a free trial today.
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