Content writing is one of the most important activities a brand can adopt. It’s an effective way of creating conversations around your brand, connecting with your target audience and, best of all, content creators add value to your online presence.
But content writing is far from being simple. Being a good content writer requires a lot of time, effort and experience. Of all the habits professional content writers have, by far the most important one is having a strategy.
Having one in place makes it easier to define your goals, which, in turn, places you in a position where learning is faster and more natural. This will end up having a profound effect on your productivity.
Always do your research
No matter how tempting it might be to go in head first, always research whatever topic you’re working on before you start writing a new article. Nobody can have all the information they want at hand.
Research is important because it helps to fill the gap between what you know and any new information that may be in the public domain. This goes for both content that you are familiar with and when exploring new territories.
While the research is ongoing, find a place to record all the new information you’ve found out. Otherwise, have at hand a piece of paper or notepad where all the information you would have missed or forgotten goes. By recording the most interesting bits of data, you can cut out all the unnecessary fluff that most articles online have and have it serve as a source of inspiration.
Provide value to the audience
For an article that you write, one of the goals outlined should be the kind of value it adds. It’s not enough to write for the sake of writing. Every article should have a point, and in doing so, it should add value not only to the reader but to your brand.
Provide actionable advice, give access to data and research, and if you can’t help them solve their problems, point them in the right direction. Maybe you have some idea where they can get some help.
Proofreading and editing
Every writer in the world needs to proofread and edit their work. No matter how flawless a writer you think you are, it’s always worth the time to go over your work one last time to look for errors that may be hiding in plain sight.
Proofreading and editing your work is important for several reasons.
- Find and correct errors: The most obvious advantage of going over your work is to correct any grammatical errors you may have made in the article. This may include changing how words like ‘less’ and ‘fewer’ are used, or interchanging the use of ‘farther’ and ‘further.’
- It helps you find your article voice: the ‘article voice’ is created by choice of words and how you build your sentences. It’s not always easy to establish the first time you write an article, which is why it’s important to proofread.
- It creates attention: Good writing attracts attention, and a fundamental aspect of good writing is proofreading. If your writing has no mistakes, the worst it can do is not drive away attention. Spelling mistakes are a major turn-off for most people.
Keep SEO principles in mind
For your articles to reach the target audience, a few measures have to be taken along the way. For one, ensure that all your articles are written with the various SO principles in mind. For instance, always use keywords, mind your word count and format your posts correctly.
No matter how much effort goes into creating content, all of that doesn’t matter if the site you’re posting it to does not receive any hits. That content is going to be lost in the troves of other similar content on the internet.
Write readable content
Most people don’t give a piece of content their attention immediately after they discover it. Instead, they will scan the article to find out if it has any meaningful information, then either read the part they are interested in or go back to the beginning.
It doesn’t help much that the concentration span of the average human being has been on the decline for the past decade or so, either.
To cater to short attention spans, cater to the specific way your readers skim through content. Or, more correctly, format your article properly.
This includes using headings, sub-headings, and sub-sub-headings to help them find the specific information they are looking for. Not only does this help you keep your readers engaged, but it also puts you in good favor with Google’s algorithm.
Consistency is a value that most budding writers lack, and yet it’s one of the fundamental aspects that sets apart average content writers from good ones. Consistency is a multi-layered concept that consists of two primary factors:
The first is having a consistent writing style. Every writer can be identified by their style or voice, and every article they write must be unique in its way. The voice you choose depends on factors like its formality, length and audience and is determined by choice of words and vocabulary.
For instance, an article using ‘the place where stocks are bought and sold’ is a lot less engaging than simply stating ‘the stock market’ for complex articles. If, on the other hand, you’re writing a piece catering to people that have no idea the stock market exists, the former writing style is more appropriate.
The second is posting regularly. For the most part, this is important because it puts you in the good graces of Google’s ranking algorithm.
Use the right tools
When working on content by yourself is no longer enough, there are plenty of tools to save the day. These come in the form of grammar checkers like Grammarly, headline analyzers, meta description scanners, keyword planners, keyword density checkers and so on.
These tools help you find gaps in your content that you probably won’t have noticed otherwise, and can mean all the difference in the end.
Make your content social media friendly
If your readers don’t discover you through a search engine like Google, chances are high that they will discover you through social media instead. Social media platforms are a new ball game altogether and require far different approaches than the ones used for Google.
Create a social media strategy for every platform you intend to establish yourself on, then carefully select images, videos and text that suit it best.
As important as it is to discover your writing style, it’s perhaps more important to have many of them under your belt. If you’re like most content writers, then you don’t simply focus on a single type of content.
A news article will need you to take on a new writing style and voice than an email copy or a white paper. Pick your specializations and find the right vocabulary and writing processes that work best for each of them.
Use data to inform your content strategy
Don’t ever forget the importance of improving your skills. The more you write, the better you become at writing, but different audiences require different approaches to conquer.
The best way to improve a content strategy is by collecting data. Carry out simple A/B tests to find out if your audience responds better to content below a certain length threshold, certain formats, or even the presence of images in the content. Afterwards, use this data to tailor future content.
To reiterate an idea that has been repeated throughout the article, it’s not enough to know how to write. Good content writers are set apart from the rest by a set of habits they choose to adopt and stay true to in every piece that they write. And in every piece that you write, it’s important to do your research beforehand. Proofread it afterwards and do everything in-between depending on what the article requires. Only then can you generate the traffic and attention that your articles deserve.