What is Content Writing? 13 Ways to Write Better Content

What is Content Writing? 13 Ways to Write Better Content

I’ve talked a lot lately about the importance of content marketing. After all, Besides straight-up advertising, this is one of the most effective ways to build leads and increase sales. However, an important part of content marketing is the creation of the content you plan to post. Whether that’s a short TikTok video, an extensive tutorial, or a blog post, everything requires individual attention to perfect.

Content writing is arguably one of the more important aspects of marketing your goods and services on the Internet. There are a few reasons for this, including the fact that your website content is critical for SEO. Therefore, in some sense, the answer to what is content writing is “making your website visible and usable to most people.”

With that in mind, let’s look at some ways to write better content and thereby increase your traffic.

What is content writing?

what is a _____?

Content writing is the process of creating written digital content for a variety of purposes, such as websites, blogs, social media posts, and other digital marketing materials. This stands in contrast to writing books or magazines for print media that will be placed in libraries and booksellers. Even when considering people who borrow print media, anything in print that is not advertising or sponsor-supported is something people pay to read.

That’s not the case with content writing. While many websites have paywalls or subscriptions of some type, the nature of content writing generally is free distribution. One of the few exceptions is when the content itself is a website’s product, like a news organization or a trade publication.

Regardless of industry, content writers create content that is engaging, informative, and tailored to the needs of their target audience. The idea is to keep people reading — or at least, to get them to take the next step. Sometimes that next step is filling out a lead generation form, emailing sales, or even just interacting with the content further. To foster the desired behavior, content writers make sure that their content is worth reading.

Purpose of content writing

With that said, there are important reasons why marketers leverage content to achieve a company’s goals that go far beyond boosting traffic and generating leads. There are other ways to achieve those goals. The purpose of content writing is to create engaging, informative, and targeted content that serves a specific purpose. Content writing can be used for a variety of purposes, such as:

To inform

Content writers create content that educates readers on topics related to their industry or business. This type of content helps build trust with potential customers and establishes the writer as an expert in their field.

Similarly, written content can tell current and potential owners of a product about better ways to use it. You’ll see these tutorials in written form on many websites, and they frequently go beyond just the owner’s manual. Of course, video tutorials are also immensely popular, so you’ll frequently see both. These tutorials are not only helpful to customers, but they can also help persuade someone to buy something since they know how it’s used.

To persuade

Content writers use persuasive language and techniques to convince readers to take action or purchase a product or service. Besides the tutorial technique we just mentioned, there are other types of persuasive content. For example, you will see me talk about the benefits of influencer marketing, which is something that I’m especially good at. Similarly, a company that makes products rather than services will discuss the benefits of a particular product and how that resolves customer pain points.

To entertain

Content writers create entertaining content that engages readers and keeps them coming back for more. This type of content can be used to increase brand awareness and loyalty among customers. Examples include humorous customer stories, human interest content, and even funny accounts of the company party.

Here, the idea is to build a relationship with current and potential customers. It can put a human face on a corporate logo and otherwise make the company stand out from its more impersonal competitors.

To engage

Content writers create content encouraging readers to interact with the brand by leaving comments, sharing posts, or participating in surveys or polls. You’ll see a lot of this type of material on social media, both in its original form and as an encouragement to check out the actual content on the company website or blog.

Remember, the number and percentage of engagements that a social media account receives help to boost its overall profile. There’s also an increase in organic reach because when somebody interacts with content, this fact is often reflected in their connection’s newsfeeds.

To promote

Content writers use promotional tactics such as giveaways, contests, and discounts to drive traffic and sales for their client’s businesses. These pieces are frequently shorter because the idea is to get people to read even more material. On the other hand, sometimes these contest announcements will be put at the bottom of a regular blog post, or a call to engage can go at the end of a longer blog post.

To generate leads

Finally (and sometimes more importantly), content writers create material that is designed to capture the attention of potential customers and encourage them to take action. You’ll frequently see this used with lead magnets like whitepapers, which then require readers to give their contact information. Here, the idea is to provide something valuable. You can count on the higher-value content to be extremely well-written, too.

Types of content writing

types of content writing

Now that you understand what is content writing, let’s look at some common applications of the technique. Content writing can be divided into several different types depending on the purpose and goals of the content. Of course, several different content writing styles can potentially achieve the same result.

For some content writing types, the difference lies in the wording. Certain words may be inserted into the writing or used in a particular way. In other cases, the overall formatting of a content piece he finds its type and even purpose.

SEO Content Writing

This type of content focuses on optimizing webpages for search engine algorithms in order to increase organic traffic from search engines like Google or Bing. From a sales perspective, the idea of SEO content writing is to bring people where they will see your marketing messages and become customers.

To accomplish this goal, SEO content writers use keywords strategically throughout their content to ensure it ranks higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). Generally, we say that the first page of Google gets the vast majority of search engine traffic. For this reason, SEO content writing is something of an arms race against competitors. People who do quality SEO writing frequently have significant training and experience so that the insertion of keywords will be natural.

Further Reading: What is SEO Content Writing? 27 Tips to Help You Adapt Your Writing Style to Better Rank

Blogging

Blogging is a popular type of content writing involving regular blog posts about topics related to a particular industry or niche. Generally, a good blog should revolve around one particular topic, though a small cluster of related themes can also work very well.

Blogs can be either personal or business. Blogs are often used by businesses to provide helpful information to their customers and build relationships with them over time. For instance, a business blog will frequently include company announcements such as changes in key personnel or product launches. But you may also see case studies and other in-depth material as well. The idea is that people not only build a relationship with your brand but they learn more about the industry.

Further Reading: 15 Blog Writing Tips for Before, During, and After Writing Your Post

Social Media Posts

Social media posts are short pieces of written content designed specifically for social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. These posts typically include images or videos along with text and are used to engage followers and promote products or services. On Twitter, social media posts frequently contain a link to blog posts or other material on your website, which draws people there.

Perhaps most notably, social media posts are a great opportunity for influencer marketing. You can host influencer collaborations, which can involve almost any format, from guest blogging (advertised on social media) to tutorials and even simple Instagram pictures. The options in this category are almost endless.

Further Reading: Platform Counts! The Differences between Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn Writing

Copywriting

Copywriting is a type of content writing that focuses on creating persuasive and compelling copy to promote products or services. Often, this takes the form of product pages, which describe a product and indicate its features or advantages. Another form of copywriting is the general website content, such as an “about us” page.

Typically, copywriters use words to convince readers to take action, such as buying a product or signing up for a service. This can be more or less subtle depending on the specific page type and several other factors. Generally, the idea is to convince people without being too salesy.

Further Reading: The 13 Copywriting Lens Approach to Create Optimally Powerful Content

Technical Writing

Technical writing involves creating content about complex topics in an easy-to-understand manner. This type of writing is often used to explain how to use a product or service, provide instructions for a process, or explain the features of a technology.

There are a few different forms of technical writing. Perhaps the most famous is an owner’s manual, but these are usually posted on the website for informational purposes only. However, in technical sales you’ll see a lot of this writing type because people need to understand a product better before they’ll buy it.

Ghostwriting

Ghostwriting is when a content writer creates content on behalf of someone else. This type of writing is often used by businesses that want to create content but don’t have the time or resources to do it themselves. Also, many bloggers will use content writing as a way to enhance their capacity.

No matter why somebody uses a ghostwriter, the overall principle is to use a specialist. No matter what topic it is, most quality ghostwriters have performed to that type of work for years and are very expert at taking on someone else’s voice and presenting their ideas in a way that others will find compelling.

Press Releases

Press releases are short pieces of written content used to announce newsworthy events or product releases. These types of content are often distributed to media outlets to gain publicity for a brand or product. Because they are intended for third-party publication, people who write press releases are very careful and meticulous about their content.

 Generally, the purpose of a press release for events is to generate brand awareness, and for product launches, the authors look for both awareness and interest in that new product. These pieces of content writing are uncommon compared to many of the others because the message must be significant for a publication to consider running the press release.

White papers

White papers are in-depth pieces of content that provide detailed information about a particular topic. They are often used by businesses to educate their customers and prospects on a specific subject. While this isn’t always true, whitepapers are a frequent lead magnet item. This is unsurprising when you consider that people who read whitepapers are fairly interested in the topic.

Another reason that whitepapers are important is that they tend to be very technical. They aren’t usually appropriate for the casual, curious person, which is why they are so valuable as a lead magnet. Usually, the white paper is written by internal staff or a specialist technical writer.

Content Marketing

Content marketing encompasses all types of content writing to strategically promote a brand or product. Frequently, a content marketing campaign will include many verticals, such as social media, blog posts, press releases, and even a whitepaper or case study.

Content marketers create content that is designed to educate, inform, and engage readers in order to build relationships with them and ultimately drive sales. In other words, while it’s possible to create and use a piece of content for marketing by itself, content marketing overall is typically part of a balanced approach.

Content writing is an important part of a digital marketing strategy and can be used to create engaging, informative, and persuasive content. It drives traffic, builds relationships with customers, and promotes products or services. Content writers must have a good understanding of their target audience in order to create content that resonates with them.

Further Reading: These are the 23 Types of Content Marketing Your Business Needs to Know About

13 ways to write better content

Now that we understand what is content writing, let’s look at ways that you can write better content an almost universal rule of thumb is that better quality writing yields superior results. And with Google’s recent insistence on ranking quality content better than its inferior counterparts, great writing has never been more important.

1. Know your audience

know your audience

No matter how well you write, the end product will be less effective if you fail to know your audience. Understanding what will help your audience starts with your buyer persona and ends with advanced analytics. In other words, you want to understand whom you are writing for. Typically, this will be the people who are most likely to buy your products or the ones you want to sell those products to. There can be exceptions, such as outreach to investors or potential employees.

Once you understand your audience, you will write each piece to appeal to them. You may need a different approach for some customer groups, such as if you break a content writing campaign down for different stages of the buyer journey. Ultimately, strategy is critical to the success of any campaign.

2. Research your topic thoroughly

Whether your topic is simple or complicated, it’s important to have your facts straight. Nothing is more unprofessional than putting up to this information or making false assumptions because you failed to do your research. Not only that, but you typically want to look like a subject matter expert.

Even for press releases and similar content where your company is generating most or all of the facts, you should do a quick fact check of anything you are unsure about. Few things are more embarrassing as a writer than having facts you relied upon publicly debunked.

3. Craft an enticing headline

Writers talk a lot about great headlines, and there’s a reason for this. As with personal interactions, the first few seconds are very important. Think about it — when you’re browsing a news site or the local paper, chances are that you read the stories with interesting headlines first. Sometimes, the headline will be interesting because of its general topic, such as if the county wants to raise taxes or upgrade a road intersection close to your house. But in other situations, you might read because of the headline.

With content writing, there’s a good chance that people are already interested in the topic. This is especially true with the hottest electronic gadget or the latest industry innovation. But there’s a high chance that your competitor is writing about the same things. Therefore, you want an enticing headline dead invites people to read your content instead of your competitors.

4. Write a great hook relevant to your audience

After you read the headline of a story, you’ll typically read the first paragraph. Writers refer to that first paragraph as the hook. This is the attention-grabbing text which pulls you in and encourages you to read the rest of the article. Because the amount of time that people spend on your website helps with SEO, you should always try to real people in with a good hook.

Remember, a good hook for content marketing is not necessarily just something that reads well. Instead, the hook needs to be relevant to your audience. It should also be on topic because few things are worse than your audience feeling cheated of the time it took them to read your content.

5. Incorporate storytelling techniques

incorporate storytelling techniques

Everybody loves a good story, and your potential customers are no exception. That’s one reason why so many brands talk about their brand story or what makes them so special. Of course, the story doesn’t always have to be about them. Instead, companies can talk about customer stories, such as how a product or service solved a real customer’s pain points.

Naturally, with any story, you want to make it compelling. You can accomplish this through skillful content writing and a quality recount of the events. Overall, the goal is to make sure that the story you tell ultimately demonstrates authenticity.

6. Use a variety of content formats and styles

If all you do is crank out the same types of content for days and weeks on end, there’s a good chance your audience will lose interest. Not only that, but some types of content do not work well in a particular context. For example, you wouldn’t want to put a long blog post on Facebook, though you might post a link to the blog post on your website.

Let’s look at this another way. Certain concepts and approaches work better with some people than they do with others. You might not want to make references to obscure 70s rock bands when you’re trying to reach Generation Z. Similarly, you will be much more conservative with the older generation than the younger ones.

7. Keep it precise and actionable: Eliminate fluff and make every sentence matter

Everyone’s time is valuable, especially with the modern work culture. Even in B2C industries, your customers struggle with multiple priorities. They don’t have time to waste on fluff that doesn’t provide them with any value. So while you don’t want to make your writing boring, it’s also important to avoid belaboring the point or the receiving readers by making them think your article is valuable when it isn’t.

Wasting people’s time backfires.

8. Make sure your content is unique and original

Nobody likes a copycat. This is true in business and in life, but also when it comes to SEO. In fact, Google penalizes copycat material on the SERPs. I’m not saying don’t reuse your own content, in fact, evergreen content is a good thing. But your content writing needs to be something that is new and fresh. Otherwise, your content will fade into the background and usually lose out on the traffic that should be yours. At the end of the day, if you can’t write something that’s unique and original, you’re probably wasting your time.

9. Focus on quality over quantity

Do you like spam? Probably not. Does anyone else like spam? Very few, I would imagine. The problem is that if somebody answers what is content writing with “throw as many words that people as possible,” then you may end up with content that is spammy. This is the last thing that you want to happen if your goal is to have people continue reading your content.

To make matters worse, if people start reading your spammy content and leave, it will hurt your overall SEO. That’s because Google emphasizes high-quality content for their search engine results. Therefore, be sure to plan and write your content carefully. This will keep the quality of your material high.

10. Use visuals to enhance your content

Use visuals to enhance your content

Plain blocks of text with nothing to break it up is so last century. It was one thing back in the days of dial-up Internet when data was precious and load times were slow. Nowadays, everyone wants to see visuals in written content. The degree to which you should include visual elements in your content varies based on the type of content. But you should always include some when possible.

11. Optimize for SEO

This almost goes without saying, but you should always optimize your content writing for SEO. Simply put, if you don’t optimize for SEO then the chances are that your content will be buried on the second page of Google, and that’s if you’re lucky. SEO is way too competitive these days for your content to perform well automatically. About the only exception would be with extremely rare keywords, and even then, you’re taking a chance.

12. Utilize the power of video

Content writing is, first and foremost, a literary endeavor, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage other forms of media. For instance, you can repurpose your written content into a tutorial, or you can use video to enhance the overall posting. One way to do this would be a video demonstration that you go on to explain further in words. A little bit of creativity goes a long way.

13. Monitor performance and analyze results

Even the best content writer in the world sometimes requires adjustments. That’s why you need to monitor the performance of your content marketing efforts. One of the best ways to do this is with detailed analytics. All social networks have some level of analytics available for commercial accounts, and you should always take advantage of them. You also get Google Analytics with your website. And finally, I have some extensive lists of marketing tools that provide enhanced analytic information.

Once you have the numbers, it’s important to analyze them. From there, you can do a SWOT analysis and hone in on any missed opportunities. Make changes to your content calendar as necessary, and adjust any other factors where you are lacking. Then, you can maximize the results of your content writing efforts.

Conclusion

Answering the question “what is content writing” isn’t as easy as you might’ve imagined at first. One reason for this is the sheer variety of writing that can be marketing related. Fortunately, armed with this definition of content writing and best practices, almost anyone can create successful campaigns. At the end of the day, this valuable tool is something that no brand should pass up.

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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