Keep reading this blog to learn:
- What content writing is
- Why content writing benefits your business
- How you can start writing content
Content writing is among the most effective ways to attract more business. By providing content to your target audience, you can bring in more potential customers and keep existing ones! But what are the basics of content writing?
Don’t worry. We’re here to help you get started. Our content writing basics will help you make sure you’re writing quality and relevant content. You’ll learn what content writing entails, why it will boost your business and eleven steps to creating unbelievable content!
What Is Content Writing?
Content writing is exactly what it sounds like: writing content. However, it tends to be a bit more complex than that. Specifically, marketers use content writing to hook and provide valuable information to readers. The goal is usually to inform customers about new products or services and increase traffic to your website.
Blogs are the most common medium for content writing. However, you also need content for advertisements, video scripts, infographics, email newsletters, eBooks, website pages, social media posts, presentations and more.
For this reason, content writing can accomplish a lot for your business, including increasing sales and building your brand. Let’s delve deeper into why content writing is important for your business.
Why Is Content Writing Important?
There are so many ways that content writing can help your business. You can form a better connection with current or potential customers and keep them coming back when you give them relevant information.
Content can also help establish your business and increase brand awareness. It’s a great way to get your name out there, either through social media, blogs or your website. If you consistently post quality and relevant content, you’re likely to find more potential customers.
On top of this, it’s also a great way to build relationships with your current customers. You can give them value or resources while allowing them to give feedback or ask questions. As a result, they will feel more involved, which should keep them coming back for business!
Additionally, producing content can set you apart from your competition. When you write blogs, post on social media or create videos, you have the opportunity to tell people why you’re different from your competitors and why they should choose you! After consistently writing content, you’ll find that you have a unique brand voice that others can’t mimic.
Unfortunately, content writing isn’t super easy. It takes skill and practice to write content well. But there are a few content writing basics that you can put into practice to start rolling out your own original content. We’ll look at those next!
What Are Some Content Writing Basics?
If you’re nervous to start content writing, you’re not alone. Content writing can seem daunting, especially when you’ve never done it before. Fortunately, we’ve gathered nine content writing basics to get you started. These basics will help you learn how to write and what you can do to build your skills.
Step 1: Begin with Research
The first step to writing great content is by researching. Researching and gathering information about what you want to write is vital for content. If you don’t, you may find yourself lost while writing.
You’ll want to begin your research with your target audience. When you write, you’re writing for them. Start by asking yourself what your audience wants or needs in connection with your business. Research and think about what information your audience is looking for.
Next, make sure what you’re writing about aligns with your business goals. You’ll want the subject of your content to connect back to who you are as a business and the services you provide. What you write should convey what your business is about to your readers. So, be sure to do research about topics related to your industry and think about how you want to promote your business.
Now that you’ve narrowed down what you’re going to write about, you need to research keywords. Keywords are an essential part of creating content. When you use certain words or phrases, your readers can find you easier when they search using those words. So, if you were writing about caring for houseplants, you might use keywords such as “houseplant care,” “how often to feed houseplants” or “where to place houseplants.” These are key phrases that your audience is searching for, and now you can provide them the answer.
After choosing your keywords, search for them in Google and see what the most popular sites are doing. Find out how they’re using the keywords and what content they’ve written about the keyword. You can get some ideas about what to include and see what they haven’t included that you can!
Step 2: Create an Outline
Creating an outline is an important part of content writing because it helps you visualize what your content will look like and how you can approach it. There is a basic formula you can use to build your outline. It may look similar to outlines you used in school. Let’s take a look at each piece of the outline and why it’s important for the content.
Write a Great Headline
As the first thing potential customers will read, it should draw them into your content. The headline needs to tell them what they can expect and the value they’ll receive when they read the content.
Include an Introduction
This is an overview of what the audience will be reading about. This part should build on your headline, giving them a little bit more of what they’ll get out of reading the content.
Establish Intermediate Headings
These headings tell your readers what the next section is about and allow them to skim through the content. This is helpful when they’re looking for specific information and need to get to it quickly. This also helps break apart your content and makes it look appealing.
Fill Headings with Discussion Items
In your outline, you don’t need to write all of your body content. However, it can be helpful to write down your main points under each heading so that you’ll know what to write when you get there.
Wrap Up with a Conclusion
This section will sum up everything that you wrote in the content. Additionally, you’ll want to include a call-to-action (CTA) that tells your readers what they can do next after reading your content. That can look like asking them to give you a call, check out their new product or sign up for your email newsletter.
Putting it all together, this is what your outline should look like:
- Body Content
Now that you’ve put together your outline, let’s get started writing!
Step 3: Headline First, Introduction Last
To get started creating your content, you’ll want to write your headline first. This is a good rule to live by because the headline is the main point of your article and is right up top. Your audience is going to see your headline before anything else!
You’ll want to spend a good amount of time crafting your headline, making sure it’s impactful and clickable to your audience. According to CoSchedule, about 8 out of 10 people will read a headline, but only 2 out of 10 people will click through to read the content. So, your headline could make or break how many readers you get, regardless of if the content is amazing or not.
Additionally, writing your headline first will help guide you through your content. You’ll find that you can go back and see if the content you’ve written aligns with your headline.
Now, in your content, the introduction comes right after the headline. But in the writing process, you’ll actually want to write the introduction last! This is because you’ve written all your content and now know what your content is about. You’ll want to include information that draws readers deeper into your content. You can do this by teasing the content you’ve written and telling them to read more to learn about it.
Step 4: Write the Content
The best advice we can give you is to just start writing. Get your words out either on paper or on your computer and keep going. Your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s why it’s the first draft! You can come back later and edit.
However, make sure you try to focus on a single subject and keep your content simple. This way your writing won’t go off track, and you won’t have to spend a lot of time rewriting.
When you’re writing, think about ways you can make your content “visual.” This means including data that helps show what you’re talking about or stories and examples that the reader will remember.
Step 5. Make it Skimmable and Easy to Read
While you’re writing, it will be helpful to make your content skimmable and easy to read. Most of the time, your readers won’t read all of your content. They’re looking to answer their specific question or problem within your content. Additionally, they’re more likely to stay on the page when it’s easier to read. Fortunately, there’s a lot of ways you can make your content skimmable.
The best way you can do this is by incorporating headings and subheadings. We recommend using a single H1 heading (which is the main heading), with H2 and H3 readings spread throughout. For example, each of our steps in this section of the blog is an H3 heading, and the “Why is Content Important?” heading from the previous section is an H2 heading.
These headings make it easier to skim the content and search for specific information. A good rule of thumb is if a section is more than 300 words, then it probably needs to be broken down into smaller subheadings.
Another great strategy is to use bolding and bullet-point lists to highlight important information. Also, you’ll want to vary the length of your sentences and paragraphs. This way it doesn’t look repetitive and keeps the eyes engaged.
Also, it’s important to keep your language simple. Avoid using industry jargon and keep it somewhat conversational, as if you were talking to someone about the content you’re writing. Equally important is including transition words like “however” and “therefore.” This helps your readers connect your ideas and flow through your reading.
Step 6: Edit and Proofread
Now that you’ve written your content, it’s time to edit! But before you do, you need to know that editing and proofreading are two different things. Editing involves revising the content as a whole. Here you’ll make sure everything is in the right order, make sure it makes sense and is accurate. Proofreading is checking for grammar and spelling errors. When proofreading, you look closely at each sentence and the words you’ve used. It’s important to keep editing and proofreading separate.
You’ll want to start with editing first. When you’re editing, make sure your content flows and makes sense. You want your reader to be able to go from each section without feeling stopped or slowed down. A great tip for editing is to print it out and read it out loud. This gets you away from your screen and gives you a new perspective on your content.
After you feel your content is solid, you’ll want to go in and proofread. Look at the grammar of your sentences for any mistakes. You can use free proofreading tools like Hemingway or Grammarly to help find errors.
Step 7: Add Visuals
Adding visuals to your content will help complement what you’ve written about. This can include photos, videos, illustrations or infographics. It’s important to choose visuals that complement the information in the blog.
If you decide to use photos, it’s always better to use your own photos. But if you’re unable to take your own, the next best option is to use stock images. However, try to avoid using stock photos that seem cheesy and staged. A best practice is to avoid using stock photos that feature people’s faces.
If you want to use video, it might be a good idea to create a short video that summarizes your content. You can embed this in your blog for your readers to watch and see if they want to continue reading your content.
Additionally, infographics and custom graphics are great ways to visualize your content. In most cases, you’ll need a graphic designer to create graphics that are specific to what you’ve written. Fortunately, there are a few different ways to get graphic design to make custom graphics.
Step 8: Develop Your Tone and Voice
When you develop your tone and voice, consistency is key. Continually using the same writing, words and writing structure will help you find your business’s voice. Think about word choice and which words you’d like to use to describe your business.
You can look to other businesses for inspiration, but don’t copy their voice. You need to build a unique voice that readers will understand is your business. Additionally, don’t copy content from other sources. Instead, make sure to write the information you find in your own voice. Otherwise, Google will dock your ranking.
Step 9: Practice Often
If you walk away from this blog with one piece of advice, it’s to always keep writing! Writing frequently will help build your skill, just like learning to ride a bike or practicing an instrument.
Additionally, it’s helpful to continuously read. You can see styles that others have used and try to incorporate that into your writing. Luckily, there is a plethora of information online that can help you.
Step 10: Keep Content Up-to-Date
Knowing how often to write a blog post and updating existing content as necessary are essential to maintaining your business’s online visibility. Marketing teams call the most extreme updates, “uplifts.” In fact, you’re reading an uplift, right now!
We “uplift” blogs and pages not because they’re bad in the first place, but because their information has become out of date in some way. Maybe they’re simply incomplete, in which case a little love can provide them with some extra content in the form of a few H2s or H3s.
Uplifts aside, aim to complete 2-4 blogs per week. If that sounds like too much for you, don’t fret. Blogging consistently is more important than churning out as much content as possible. You can write one blog per month so long as you remember to do so every month.
To keep content up-to-date is to keep it high-quality. Each blog on your site must continue to add value to potential customers’ lives. Without consistent updates, your content will eventually stop doing its job.
Step 11: Note What Sets Website Writing Apart
Web content’s singular purpose is to place the most vital information in front of as many users as possible. Accordingly, you must keep language so concise and simple as to avoid dishonest showmanship.
Website writing across about, home and contact pages can have sentence-long paragraphs. Keeping your work skimmable almost always means including many headings that either contain information or mirror users’ questions, emboldening a section’s pithiest sentence, and breaking the longest sections with lists of bullet points.
Also, inverted pyramids aren’t just for introductions. Every section should present the most general information first, and details should come second. Funnel the section into a final sentence that separates your work from the rest!
As for blog writing, discerning how to write content for a blog begins with a fundamental understanding that you have more lenience. In contrast against content across your entire site, a blog can enjoy slightly longer paragraphs and slightly more expressive language.
However, note that expressive language isn’t necessarily complex. Expressing your business’s voice and values is infinitely more important than expressing the depth of your lexicon. Never forget that you’re writing for potential customers who’d prefer to read about what you have to offer.
Need Help with Content Writing?
Writing is no easy task, but we hope that these content writing basics will help you start creating your own content.
If this doesn’t seem like your thing, Frontier Marketing is here to help! We have content writers who do this kind of thing every day and want to help you succeed in content marketing. If you’re interested in blogs, social media or email marketing for your business in Northern Illinois, contact us today to learn more about your options.
Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in December 2021 and updated in March 2023.