In recent times, modern industries have discovered the role of content in marketing strategy, leading to an increased demand for content writers. On the flip side, the art of writing has been perceived by some as an innate ability possessed by a lucky few.
Regardless of popular unverified opinions, writing is a craft, and I love to see it like a tailor would see fashion design. Content writing is a craft that can be mastered and is distinct from academic writing. Examples of content include blog posts, landing pages, video scripts, white papers, web copies, social media content, email marketing content, etc.
Content writing is a crucial aspect of content marketing; 97% of marketers attest to writing, contributing critically to their marketing strategy. According to a study by Semrush, 69% of businesses plan to increase their content marketing budget in 2023.
Content writing is one of the high-demand lucrative skills today, and despite your academic background, you can become a content writer with the right mindset. As a newbie to content writing, consider this article a crash course in content writing. Follow every step to take your writing up a notch.
How to start content writing as a newbie
The habit of reading exposes you to the intricacies of writing. You learn creative ways to mix words and diverse writing styles by reading. A good writer can read for fun but with a keen interest in details.
After reading a great piece, ask investigative questions. What made me hooked on this writing? What’s the tone and style? Ask the same questions with writings that bored you. That way, you will identify what works and doesn’t.
Pick a niche
Most “renowned” writers often debate choosing a niche as a beginner. Some believe you should try all forms of writing and choose as you progress. Others believe you should choose a niche early and go all in. I say you choose a niche early and avoid a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none situation.
If you become an avid reader, you will quickly recognize the niche that resonates with you. A little introspection comes with choosing a niche; Identify your kind of content: blogs, social media, or web copies. Just identify and choose your target audience.
It might sound ridiculous to ask you to start writing while still learning. Yes, I get it. Yet, the effective way to learn writing is to write. What’s the point of taking in all the theories without practice?
Choose an area of interest, and write. Before the end of this article, you will have learned the general rules of writing and how to write the best content. However, if you practice, the time I dedicated to writing this for you would be well-spent.
Like a detective, a good writer must learn to research extensively. You must understand the topic. Before writing on any subject, read what others have written about it. There are tons of written content on one subject matter; with proper research, you will discover an angle yet to be covered. That’s how you bring your point home.
Research relevant statistics and data; include them in your writing to show authority. This equally gives your writing more credibility. However, there is much unverified information on the internet, ensure you get your facts well-checked.
Practice basic SEO
As a beginner, search Engine Optimization(SEO) may sound new to you, but learn the basics, especially if you want to write blog posts or articles. Understanding keyword research is an excellent place to start.
Keyword research is the process of identifying words, phrases that users are searching for on search engines. You can use free tools for your research, such as Keyword Everywhere, Ahref, Semrush, Moz, Google Trends, etc.
Even if you have a standby human editor, you still need to do some editing. Resist the urge to edit while writing to keep your creative juice flowing. Write and edit later with “new eyes.”
Eliminate fluff and dangling words. Instead of writing: “Peter was really very hungry when he walked in.” Write: Peter walked in famished.
Cut out rough edges from your content like a tailor with a piece of cloth. Edit and edit again.
Hallmarks of a good writing
It’s not difficult to identify fine writing from an ocean. There is no way your content will achieve its aim if your reader can barely keep it up for 10 seconds.
Here are some characteristics of good writing and how you can apply them to your writing.
Concise and clear
Your goal is never to bamboozle your audience with high-sounding words or displays of eloquence. I could have used “confuse,” but I chose “bamboozle” to nail this point.
Get straight to the point; keep it simple. Remember, this is content writing and not academic writing. For instance, if you write email marketing content to get your target audience to take action, don’t make them consult their dictionaries to understand your message. You would lose them that way.
Avoid ambiguity. Don’t try to show off your new lexicon.
Good writing is original. Although plagiarism is a serious and punishable offense by the law, it is also demeaning to your person.
If you aim to thrive in this career, then steer clear of plagiarism. Be creative, not copycat. Avoid the urge to sound like Adichie; your target audience wants your voice as well.
Call to Action(CTA)
Subscribe to our newsletter, sign up on our email list, send a message to this number, call this number, leave a comment below, etc. All these are examples of CTA.
Have you ever read compelling content but needed help with the following action? For instance, if you write to explain the need to invest in your Dollar App, no matter how compelling the words are, the readers will only take action if you tell them what to do. Include a CTA in your writing to get your readers to perform the necessary action.
How to write engaging content
Use catchy headlines
Readers judge the quality of your content from the headline. People are scrolling fast and only pause when your headline tickles their curiosity.
Take your time writing your headline. Feel free to rewrite it as many times as possible. Let your headlines include Power words like simple, free, effective, etc.
Add statistics or numbers if applicable, for example, 5 simple ways to make money online. Such a headline will certainly cause heads to turn.
Moreso, headlines that show “how,” an example is the one used above: “How to write engaging content.” Remember, no matter the value infused in your content, your target audience will only click if the headline sparks their curiosity.
Tell relatable stories
Stories sell; use them if you can. A good story should speak to the emotion of your audience. However, keep the story concise, authentic, and straight to the point. Stories come off as a nice hook. Again, tell it concisely; you don’t have all day.
Use appropriate tools
In content writing, you need the right tools to improve your work efficiency and create high-quality content. Here are some tools that you can add to your toolbox.
Quetext to check for plagiarism — Grammarly or Hemingway Editor to improve your grammar and sentence structure. Hubspot blog topic Generator to generate topic ideas. Google Docs for easy writing, editing, and sharing. Canva for basic design when creating an infographic or a carousel post. Many other ones are out there, but I recommend you start here.
Invest in resources
As a beginner, you are on a good path but pay due diligence. Consume relevant resources. Attend free and paid webinars or boot camps on content writing. Take courses on Udemy, Hubspot, LinkedIn Learning, etc.
Read books on writing. Here are my two top recommendations: On writing well: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King and On Writing Well by William Zinsser.
Content writing is a craft you can master. As a budding content writer, network with other writers. Don’t allow impostor syndrome to keep you at bay. There is WordPress, medium, Linkedin, and many other platforms to share your writings. Choose your best platform and share.
All great writers once started like you. Nobody wrote intuitively without dedicating themself to the craft.
You are on a great path, and I’m rooting for you!
I hope you enjoyed this mini crash course. Kindly share with us in the comment.
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Love and content funds,
Chisom from Upfolio.