What is Content Writing? 9 Secrets to Mind-Blowing Content Creation
Updated: Nov 18
Content writing is fast outpacing traditional forms of advertising. Be it blogs, articles, web pages, and more, content creation is the beating heart of modern businesses. In fact, it's far more successful than traditional advertising – content costs 62% less than traditional marketing and produces 3x greater leads.
Pretty remarkable, right? Learn how to master the art of content writing.
Here's a secret – content creation isn't optional; it's critical. If you're not producing content, wave goodbye to customers, profits, and brand awareness.
Little wonder companies are churning out blog posts by the day. But not all content is created equal. With so much content produced, the quality of content writing has taken a nosedive. The average piece of content reads like a late 90s TV ad – with a lot less charisma.
We've forgotten the purpose of content writing. To build emotional relationships with our customers: to inform, engage, and energise our target market. We've forgotten that content writing needs to say something.
In this guide, we will spill the beans on the content writing industry's secrets – the hacks guaranteed to create mind-blowing content your customers can't resist. Because if they're not reading it – what's the point? We'll also cover what content writing is – and the basics of developing a content marketing strategy.
What is Content Writing?
Content is everywhere. It's the name for magazine articles, Disney+ shows, and YouTube tutorials – content is the lifeblood of the digital economy.
Content writing, therefore, is the process of planning, writing, and editing written content. For most businesses, that means web content, blog posts, and scripts for YouTube videos and podcasts. Content writing also includes social media posts – like the captions on Instagram – and newsletters you send to clients.
There's a bit of a blurry line between content writing and copywriting. Here's a rule of thumb:
Content writing. Content isn't selling anything directly. It's passive advertising – creating brand awareness and building your authority in your industry.
Copywriting is more like classic advertising. You're aiming to sell – to drive your reader to do something: be it buy, subscribe, book, order, etc.
It's not a hard and fast rule, unfortunately. All too often, people use the terms interchangeably… speaking of which.
Does Content Writing Work?
Content writing works – we've seen the stats. But why? Content writing – particularly SEO content writing – works because customers are active searchers. You're not trying to sell them your product or service; they're seeking it out. You're SEO content writing just needs to rank and inform; the customer does the rest.
The fundamental aim of SEO content writing is to become an authority in your field. You want to be the go-to source for everything relevant to your industry.
Depending on your business, your content marketing strategy will differ. You could be crafting helpful how-to guides, data-driven industry insider reports, or blog posts about your product's ingredients.
All your content writing should relate to your product without stressing your product. But remember – you're only writing content so that customers ultimately buy your products or services.
Here are some stats for creating a content marketing strategy:
Listicles, i.e., "8 Tips to Help…", receive 80% more page views compared to other content marketing types. [Semrush]
Forty-seven percent of buyers read 3 to 5 pieces of content prior to contacting a sales representative. [MailChimp]
Companies using content marketing experience ~30% greater growth rates than companies without. [MailChimp]
Adding one list every 500 words boosts traffic by 70%. [Semrush]
Video, blog posts, and success stories were the top-performing content types in 2021. [Semrush]
Seventy-one percent of business to business (B2B) buyers read blog posts. [Review 42]
Beginner's Guide to Content Writing Jargon
Content writing. SEO. B2B. Sometimes the jargon in content writing is as impenetrable as the writing. It makes navigating the industry a nightmare. To everyone else, check out this short dictionary of terms:
B2B (Business to Business): B2B businesses sell their products or services to other businesses.
B2C (Business to Consumer): B2C businesses sell their products or services directly to consumers.
Body: The main bulk of text in an article or blog post. It's the meat on the bones.
Brief: The outline of a content writing task, describing what needs to be written. It can also include keywords, length, goal, tone, and title.
CTA (Call to Action): CTAs are declarative statements compelling the reader to do something, e.g., "Book Today" or "Sign Up".
Conversion: When a reader performs the desired action. The ratio of readers who do act relative to those who don't is called the conversion ratio. The higher the ratio, the better.
Keywords: A term or phrase people search for, which you include in your content to rank higher in a search engine (like Google). Adding keywords to your content is a fundamental principle of SEO.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation): The art of improving your webpage or blog post ranking in Google. It involves adding keywords, optimising the technical aspects of a page, and creating high-quality content.
Target audience: The subsection of people your content is tailored for and who you want to use your product or service.
9 Secrets for Mind-Blowing Content Writing
1. Know your audience
Who are you writing for? It matters. If you're a B2B business, you can pepper your writing with industry jargon most people won't understand. After all, it's safe to assume your industry colleagues can follow along. That's not true of most B2C businesses.
The goal of content is to build brand awareness and become an authority in your industry. Considering this, you'll need to expect a low level of knowledge for most of your clients. It can help to think about the content funnel – the higher you are in the funnel, the less jargon and detail you can include.
2. Never forget to SEO
SEO content writing is... about SEO. It could be the ultimate article on a topic, but it won't get read if clients can't find it. The age-old adage 'write it and they will come' isn't true on the internet. Every content marketing strategy needs SEO at its core.
Even this article targets relevant keywords. Remember to stick to at most three keywords and don't overstuff – search engines hate that!
SEO is also more than adding in keywords. It's the speed of your page, the readability of the text, and staying on topic throughout the post. Don't include a long tract about your Sunday mornings if customers expect to read about lawnmower repair.
3. Develop a unique voice
Nothing makes content more engaging than a unique voice. It seems almost effortless. Perhaps the best example is WELAN – a sustainable wool hat producer on the Scottish Isle of Tiree.
When I came on board, I was impressed with how they blend a very intimate writing style while staying informative.
Ask yourself – what's the perfect voice for my brand? Not all companies could get away with WELAN's intimate voice; healthcare businesses, for example, need to stay authoritative and professional. But finding an exciting way to speak to your clients will help lodge your brand in their memory.
4. Find a fresh angle
Search almost any topic, and you'll find an article on it. In fact, more than 3.5 million blog posts are published daily – try reading all of them!
It's a competitive business, and you need to stand out from the crowd. How does your business provide you with a fresh angle on a common topic? Perhaps you've had a personal experience you can use to turn the topic into a story (see below). Maybe you've got a mind for data, and you can rustle up a myriad of stats and numbers to investigate a popular claim.
One tactic that always attracts attention is to do the opposite of everyone else. If they zig, zag. Even if you conclude the common advice is still the best – it makes for a thought-provoking post.
5. Tell a story
Following the format of a story is often an excellent way to write an article. Think about it – your reader starts not knowing anything; you introduce an idea, explain the basics, apply it to a situation, and end with a conclusion (optional).
All too often, content writing is bland and boring – this is why. Even SEO content writing is solely aimed at getting ranked. But, as I often say, what's the point in getting ranked if no one reads the article?
The content story structure – intro, basics, application, conclusion – works like a charm. And once you've got the hang of it, you can adapt and evolve it for different types of content writing.
Sometimes, you can just tell a story – be it a customer testimonial, case study, or personal experience.
6. Keep a schedule
SEO content writing is all about consistency. It's about creating content on time and on budget. That means sitting down to write, even when you'd rather do anything else. (Of course, you can hire a professional – which is where I come in!)
The more content you produce – at a regular schedule – the more customers and sales you'll accrue.
Be realistic, however. Few business owners can produce articles daily. Your content marketing strategy should aim for a minimum of one article a week – though benefits will stack if you produce more. In SEO content writing, more content means more keywords means higher rankings.
7. It's all in the headline
Headlines are often written rapidly, with little thought or effort. It's the worst mistake!!! Headlines are half your article – it's the bit most people read.
Legendary copywriter Gary C. Halbert famously praised the importance of a good headline. There are a couple of solid tips you can follow:
The Question. Questions spark an interest – what's the answer? The headline's goal is to create an unfulfilled desire that can only be filled by reading your article. It's what I did with this one.
The List. "8 Sure-fire Tips to a Wealthier Life" – now who isn't curious to discover what they are. After all, there are only eight of them! Listicles are everywhere these days, and for a good reason. They work.
The Fact Bait. Give a part of a fact, like a worm on a hook. It baits readers into wanting more. For example, "Science Says These Five Foods Help You Live Longer".
The Emotional One. Emotions are potent (and provocative) things. Titling your article "Why the Teapot Industry is Scamming Customers" is likely to raise some eyebrows.
8. Cut the fat
Good writing is concise, and don't let anyone tell you differently. It's especially true for SEO content writing. Hemingway put it best: "Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can."
In short – get to the point.
In fact, there's a helpful Hemingway app that'll give clear and concise advice on how to trim down your writing. Another tool is to check the Readability score – aim for a Flesch Reading Ease score of greater than 60 (depending on your industry).
9. Add fun elements
Spice up your content using the ASMR formula (it'll make it easier to read):
Annotate. Add sidenotes, call-out boxes, and block quotes.
Short sentences and paragraphs make reading easier and keep people engaged.
Multimedia. Use GIFs, images, and videos to emphasise your points.
Read your content writing out. It should flow smoothly.
Develop Your Content Writing with Practice
Content writing doesn't have to be a struggle. It just takes a little practice.
There's no better content writing advice than write, write, write and read, read, read. Just get words down on the page, and edit how you want it to look. Over time, your writing will improve, and you'll find yourself knocking out engaging posts.
Remember – be original, creative, and informative. Stick to those rules, and you'll create awesome content in no time.
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