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October 26, 2018

8 Keys to Content Writing Success: A Guide for Both Freelancers & Marketers

Photo Credit: Adikos via flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Content is apparently king. 

But writing content that rules over your competition is not that simple. 

According to Time, the average reader spends only 8 seconds reading a piece of content.

That means creating engaging, valuable content that helps your target audience is vital. 

These days, in order for businesses to increase traffic and revenue, it’s essential to invest in content marketing — and therefore, expert content writing.

In fact, 78% of CMOs believe original content is the future of marketing.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re one of three individuals:

  1. A writer who has heard of content writing as being one of the most profitable forms of writing.
  2. A content writer looking to brush up on your skills to get yourself ahead of the game.
  3. A marketer or business owner who is looking to step up your marketing strategy by hiring a content writer. 

No matter what drew you to this article, you will walk away with a clear understanding of a major factor in online business success: 

Successful content writing.

What Is Content Writing – and Good Content Writing?

Written content comes in a number of mediums: blogs, social media posts, web pages, articles, white papers, video and audio recordings. 

It is information on a specific topic focused on a targeted audience. 

The key here is audience. 

If written content fails to attract its target audience, there’s not much point to the content to begin with. 

A lack of audience engagement in your content results in a low ROI. 

So then, what makes attractive written content?

Think about the best movie you’ve seen recently.

Got it?

Why do you like it? Was it the special effects or music score? Maybe it had a great storyline or focused on a topic of interest. 

Chances are, the best film you can think of was a combination of these aspects in order to make it memorable. 

So what’s my point?

Good content writing is similar in the way that it combines several key aspects in order to engage readers and perform well in search engines. 

Impressionable writing requires creativity, SEO tactics, consistency, and purpose. We’ll soon delve into ways on how to achieve this. 

But first, let’s cut to the chase:

Why Is Good Content Important?

Quality online content drives marketing in almost every respect. 

If your content is also optimized for search engines and draws organic traffic, you’ve hit the jackpot. 

Leading businesses know the value in this and are looking for the talent to create it. The internet is a crowded place and it’s only becoming harder to stand out.

Via: HubSpot

While good content brings in audiences, great content generates higher conversion rates.

This is THE trick in driving revenue. 

Lucky for you, we’re going to reveal that trick.

We’ve laid out easy-to-follow guidelines which focus on:

  • What content writers should strive for
  • What employers should look for

8 Keys to Successful Content Writing

Successful content writers have it all.

Aside from being wordsmiths, they are SEO specialists, social media gurus, and expert marketers. 

They create the online content, which drives traffic, charms Google, and turns skimmers into subscribers. 

Although this description seems loaded, it’s easier to grasp when broken down. 

So, what are we waiting for?

Successful content writing in 2018 is:

Amy Pohler!

Just joking. 

1. Successful Content Is Audience-Focused

Reel in your audience and you’ll reap the rewards. 

This is because Google’s main focus is keeping searchers happy. 

So, if you’re catering to audiences, Google will cater to you.

By creating relevant and helpful content that puts your audience first, you will enjoy more success. It’s a healthy cyber relationship.

To know how to help your audience, you need to understand their pain points. 

Research your competition and take note of what they’re providing. 

A competitive content audit can help you focus on WHO your competition is and HOW they’re positioning themselves in front of your shared audience. 

When you know your audience, you can answer their burning questions in a voice that speaks to them.

Remember: Healthy cyber relationships rely on communication to survive.

2. Successful Content Is Dynamic & Varied

The best online content writers can master a wide range of writing styles. 

Why’s that?

Content writing projects come in all shapes and sizes.

New Media Services sums it up well.

Some examples of online content forms and their individual styles are:

  • News: Short and concise paragraphs, including the summary of the story near the top of the content piece
  • Blogging: Friendly, inviting, and opinionated
  • White papers: Long-form while providing a solution to a problem 
  • Case studies: In-depth information providing valuable knowledge based on research of a certain scenario 
  • Ad copy: Concise and convincing with the goal of increasing conversion rate
  • E-book: A powerful marketing tool, which can be offered free to boost email subscribers or sold as a product

A successful writer is experienced in these fields. 

Through this expertise, they can help businesses achieve specific goals with quality content.

3. Successful Content Is Expertly Written

Know your topic like the back of your hand. 

Once you’ve formulated an idea for your content, be sure to follow through with it. 

How exactly should you follow through?

You’ve guessed it: 

In-depth research. 

Your readers are coming to you for reliable information. If you’re wishy-washy about the subject, your readers will pick up on it and immediately move on. 

The way to exude true confidence is through knowledge.

The way to obtain this knowledge is through deep research.

 If you dig deep into your topic and deliver the details with a knowledgeable and conversational voice, your content will ultimately become more helpful.

This expert help is what Google values.

More importantly, it is what audiences are searching for. 

Successful content writers offer expert problem-solving with every piece they write. 

4. Successful Content Is Readable – Super Readable 

Readability comes in a number of guises.

However, the trick that hooks most readers is flow. 

Let me explain:

Nowadays, readers scan.

As scary as it is, the average attention span of humans is dropping.

Based on Data from Microsoft Corp. study

So, to catch their attention, you need to write 

The. 

Way.

People. 

Read.

Audiences want to easily obtain material and walk away having learned something. 

Here’s how you can create more readable content: 

  • Be engaging – This means cut the fluff. Create content that is clear and concise. Audiences want the most amount of information in the easiest and most digestible way possible. 
  • Use the active voice – The active voice is much more powerful and engaging. 
  • Proofread – By taking the time to scan through your writing before posting, you can make sure the content is easy to read. This DIRECTLY impacts your ability to engage audiences and keep them reading.
  • Use clear structure – By formatting your content into short paragraphs while using bullet points, numbered lists, and multiple subtitles, you encourage readers to read the article in full. Studies show the success of using formatting patterns that mimic the way audiences read. 

Not only will your audience prefer easy-to-read content, Google will, too. 

If your content sounds ‘strange,’ when read aloud, it can affect your page ranking with Google now.

Since the Google Hummingbird update, the need for readable content has never been more important.

5. Successful Content is Creative 

One word is key here: ideation. 

According to Cambridge Dictionary, ideation is, “the action of forming ideas in the mind.” 

Content writers must continually formulate ideas for either full stories or angles on a specific topic. 

Sound familiar?

A content writer’s ability to consistently create many different concepts, ideas, and angles that appeal to a specific audience is key to successful online content marketing.

Where most people go wrong is right here, at the ideation stage.

Sujan Patel believes more time spent in the ideation stage will save writers wasting their time in creation.

The link between ideation and creativity starts with your title. 

By finding the right blend of creative writing and keyword use in your titles, you can entice searchers to visit your page. 

This can boost click-through rates (CTR) which in turn helps you increase page ranking. 

6. Successful Content is Consistent 

Being consistent is what keeps successful content writers alive on the web. 

This consistency can be implemented in a number of ways:

  • Voice – Your voice defines you and your brand. Keeping this consistent is crucial for successful content writing.
    After researching your audience and topic, you’ll be able to develop the right voice. Your audience will get to know you through your tone and approach. This is comforting and professional, so stick with it!
  • Posts – By consistently posting quality content, the chances of you attracting a steady readership increases.
    A popular online marketing tool for businesses to build brand awareness is through the use of blogs. Blogs feed consistent content to the web, which helps readers find your site and learn more about you and what you offer. Furthermore, blogs also support your brand and creates authenticity. In fact:

Via: Impact

  • Focus – Whatever you do, don’t waver when it comes to your content’s focus. With so much competition, it is crucial that you keep your content focused. 

Picking a small niche and writing about topics under the same umbrella often leads to greater success. Don’t hop around aimlessly, or you’ll risk losing the loyal audience you’ve created.

For example, let’s say you follow an amazing food blogger whom you get almost all your dinner ideas from. She comes up with healthy and quick meals that fit perfectly with your lifestyle. One day, you visit her site expecting a daily recipe, but instead, find a post on color-coordinating your wardrobe. 

The horror!
Chances are you’d be turned off by it and would quickly search for a substitute food blogger. Audiences expect you to provide what they need — consistently. 

7. Successful Content Is SEO, CSS, and HTML Smart

A successful content writer is a Jack of all trades…and a master of many.

Although they don’t need to be experts at all of these skills, a basic level of knowledge does come in handy.

Being able to quickly adjust a site’s HTML format in times of need will save you the HUGE hassle of postponing everything to track down a web developer. These skills will also help you improve the aesthetics of your content. 

In terms of audience engagement: 

While content writing leads, attractive visuals please.

What is of greater importance, however, is this:

SEO.

Successful content writing isn’t possible without good SEO knowledge. 

Point blank. 

In this day and age, if you’re not comfortable with the SEO basics, you may as well get comfortable with page 3 or 4 of Google. 

Ouch.

8. Successful Content Is Social Media-Friendly

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

When audiences aren’t searching through Google, almost all eyes are on these platforms.

The ability to capture attention on social media is one of the most powerful tools in digital marketing. 

Once quality content is marketed effectively on social media, it has the ability to ‘go viral.’ This significantly boosts SERPs ranking and your ROI.

It can generate a wider readership, which boosts site traffic and can lead to higher conversions. 

In short, a solid social media strategy can pave the way for your content to make huge profits.

Social media platforms are also a magical tool in helping you personally connect with your audience.

This connection can develop a sense of community. As this grows, so does your number of subscribers and ability to answer your audience’s specific questions, directly. 

What Are the Main Takeaways from This Guide?

Competition online is heavy.

The key to win over readers is to know what you’re writing, whom you’re writing for, and how to help them.

Furthermore, you must write in a way that pleases the Google gods. 

As content writing continues to dominate the business of online marketing, the demand for expert copywriters with content marketing skills will increase.

In the end, your overarching goal should be clear:

Create quality content.

By producing high-quality content that provides value for your readers, solves their problems, and gives them new insights, you will work your way to the top.

Now you have the keys, what’s stopping you from opening the doors to success? Look at content service providers and start your journey to higher success online.


avatar

Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.

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