Content Writing: Full guide to mastering the basics
30th July, 2021Start Reading
Content writing is so much more than just... writing. It's a widely used marketing tool that has the ability to reach and connect with customers, with the ultimate goal of guiding prospects through the many stages of the buyer journey.
The many rewards of content writing include creating positive connections with your audience that result in meeting your business KPIs quicker and more efficiently. Creating good content invites customers to your brand and can result in higher rates of brand awareness, sales and profits.
How do I get started on content writing?
To get started with content writing, first, you must focus on the basics.
Ask yourself these main questions:
- what do I know about my audience?
- what do I need to know about my audience?
- what are my main business goals & KPIs?
- what research do I need to do to reach these goals & KPIs?
- what topic should I write about?
- what content type should I use?
- what writing style and tone should I use?
- what is my marketing plan?
- what can be done to make my content writing piece stand out?
To find the answers to those questions and become a content writing master, continue onto the next section where we include all the information on the process of researching, planning and writing content below.
Mastering The Basics
Before starting on your content writing piece, you must make sure to do the prep work so your piece is relevant and engaging. These are 3 main steps you need to do to master content writing basics:
Undergoing in-depth research in your field will allow you to set appropriate goals and pursue the best ways to communicate with your audience to achieve these goals. The content you create must be relevant, well received and factual.
Business goals: How to plan content to meet them
Having an in-depth understanding of what your overall business goals are and what results you want to see come out of your content writing is an important foundation for setting a plan.
When planning to meet these goals you must keep the following in mind:
- The most appropriate type of content format for your piece
- The style/tone that will be most effective in communicating to your audience
- The individual goals for each piece
We will get to those points throughout the article.
Defining your goals that include measurable results and detailed plans for reaching your target audience is essential for meeting them.
An example of wanting to increase organic visits may mean that the content writer will focus on keyword optimization and use the blog post or article. This will allow your business to perform better on the search engine ranking system and is more likely to capture your audience in a more effective way.
Creating a target audience persona: what do I know, and what do I need to know about my audience?
A target market persona is an abstract depiction of your ideal customer, the person that you want to communicate to. Creating a target market persona is a great way to understand whom you are creating content for and the most appropriate way to communicate with them.
A great way to create a buyer persona is to create a character, what do they look like? where do they live? what motivates them?
Understand the following characteristics of your target audience:
- Professional status
- Pain points and challenges
- Influences and information sources
- Purchasing process
After gathering all the information you can about your target audience you can move on to mastering the next essential basic... choosing the right topic!
Choosing the right topic: What do I write about?
To come up with an attractive topic to write about you must understand what your audience is searching for. You won't be seen by your target audience if you do not write about a topic that they are likely to want to actively search for and read.
This is where search intent, SEO and keyword research is important.
Search intent is the main reason why your target audience is using a search function or engine, here are the 4 main reasons why:
- Transactional: The persona has purchase intent
- Navigational: The persona is looking for a specific site
- Commercial: The persona has purchase intent but looking at multiple options
- Informational: The persona is searching for specific topic information
To further understand the search intent of your audience it's important to look at the specific targeted keywords used in your piece.
SEO and Keyword Research is the most important factor that determines how your content will be ranked on search engines and if it is easily accessible to your target audience.
In order to optimize the accessibility of your content on Google, you need to design topics that use relevant and high traffic keyword searches. Optimizing keyword usage by creating a list of top-performing keywords allows for proper communication with your target audience.
To do this you can use software such as SEMrush's Keyword Magic Tool to look for ideal keywords used by competitors that are relevant to your business, have high volume and traffic, as well as a low difficulty score (ideally below 45).
Once you have your list of keywords, you can move on to the next best part... choosing the ideal content type to communicate to your audience!
Content Types: What content format and channel do I use?
The type of content you use will have its own unique purpose when promoting your brand. It is important that you select the most suitable format and channel so you are able to effectively communicate your message to guide your audience towards meeting your goals.
Here are the top 6 most common formats businesses have been using:
- Product descriptions
- Website content
- Email newsletters
- Press releases
Just because they are the most common formats for content writing, doesn’t mean it is the most effective way to communicate to your audience. Here are several more formats that may benefit you:
- Video scripts
- Email newsletters
- Keynote speeches
- Social media posts
- Podcast titles
- White papers
- Web page copy
- Landing pages
- YouTube video descriptions
So... which content type do I use?
The type of format you use depends on the message you are sending and the goals for each post.
If your goal is to increase SEO and ranking, then a blog post is the most ideal. If you want to spark conversations and interactions, then social media posts are the best way to achieve that. DemandJump has an in-depth description of each content format & it's role that you can read here.
Now that you are clear on your goals, audience and format you can create a plan. To do this, you create a content calendar, also known as, an editorial calendar, that provides you with a clear view of what tasks you need to get done.
This will improve the quality of the content that is produced, improve communication across your departments and with your audience.
To create a content plan, it is recommended you use a spreadsheet software that indicates the following essentials:
- Post goals
- Promotional channels
- Content type/format
- Deadlines/Publication Dates
- Team members who are responsible for the task.
To remain ahead and organised you should create a master calendar for marketing events that will streamline the process of communication between team members.
Creating a calendar will also allow you to input how frequently you are going to post content, and to make sure you won't have publishing dates that may overlap. This will make sure your audience is absorbing your content at an optimized rate.
So now that you’ve mastered the main prep work for content writing, lets focus on the writing side of it.
To write a relevant and engaging piece, you have to make sure the writing style is appropriate, easy to consume, interesting, and efficiently reaches your goals. As you are writing, it's important to keep in mind your goals, and whom you are writing for.
Starting the article with a bang!
Draw them in with the Title
Creating a short, sweet and enticing title is important for drawing in your audience, it must be relevant to your content and reflect why the content will benefit the reader.
First Line... Make it Capturing!
Next, it's important for the first line of your writing piece to capture the readers' interest and essentially hook their attention. To do this, you can start off with some interesting data, a story or even a question.
Choose an Interesting Angle
If you really want content that will guarantee it stands out from the rest, it has to have a compelling and unique angle. There are millions of content pieces similar to yours, so your focus when creating an angle should be based on two things:
- What is your target audience interested in?
- Is it useful?
Do you have any personal stories your target audience can relate to? Is there any news or controversy you can take advantage of?
Most of the time a personal story can help connect with your audience in an authentic and emotive way, establishing a connection with your brand that will leave an impression on the audience.
Using visuals such as videos, images, presentations, charts, info-graphics, and social media stories are a highly effective ways to communicate with your audience and keep them interested and engaged.
Make your Piece Easy to Consume and Shareable.
Keep it short and entertaining, you have to make sure that you are grabbing the attention of your audience before they decide to read something else. How you grab someone’s attention depends on the content type you are working with.
To do this, you must focus on the formatting, making it skimmable. To help with this, you should:
- Keep paragraphs short and sharp.
- Have formatting that is rich with colour, fonts, different shapes, sizes, images and even short videos and gifs.
These are a great way to split your content up, create longer-lasting entertainment, and allow your audience to explore the article with ease.
The worst thing you could do is create an article that requires a lot of focus, attention and time to read. So take advantage of the chance to be creative, incorporate humour and authenticity into your article.
Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation Mistakes are a big NO!
Great grammar ensures your article is easy to read and creates trust with your audience. It is crucial that you avoid having any of these mistakes when creating great content.
Make your content quotable!
It has been proved that some content formats, such as blog posts and articles are very unlikely to get shared on social media. So it is essential to increase those odds by making your content quotable.
Highlight, bold, & underline catchy quotes in your article that you believe your audience will be interested in sharing
“Content with strategy is content that sells”
Be a Storyteller
Storytelling is a great tool to inspire and encourage your target audience to act and interact with the business and your message.
The importance of using Data!
Data is a great way to look credible and be seen as a leader in the industry.
CTAs: Call To Actions
Incorporating a call to action is a great way to get your audience to interact with your content. It is an action-oriented phrase that influences the way your customer may decide to act. Examples can include asking them to sign up to your newsletter or use a discount code.
Now you know exactly what to do to master the content writing basics. You are well on your way to creating quality content writing that is relevant and engaging to your audience. It is important to take your time when tackling each stage of the content writing process, and prioritise the best ways to optimize each piece. The most important tip is to be mindful of your audience when approaching each step so you can communicate your message effectively and reach those business goals!