What Is Content Writing?
Content writing is the process of planning, writing and editing web content, typically for digital marketing purposes. It can include writing blog posts and articles, scripts for videos and podcasts, as well as content for specific platforms, such as tweetstorms on Twitter or text posts on Reddit.
Why Is Proper Content Writing Important?
When most people hear “content writing”, they think “writing articles”.
However, writing content isn’t just important for blog posts.
In fact, content writing is important for all types of different content formats, including:
- Video scripts
- Email newsletters
- Keynote speeches
- Social media posts
- Podcast titles
- White papers
- Web page copy
- Landing pages
- YouTube video descriptions
Or put another way:
Writing is the foundation for pretty much any content that you publish.
Create an Outline
Creating an outline is a GREAT first step in the content writing process.
Outlines help your content come out better for two main reasons:
First, outlines force you to put all your thoughts down in an organized way (rather than writing everything off the top of your head). Which really speeds up the writing process.
Second, outlines usually lead to a much better structure for your content. That’s because an outline lets you see your content from a “high level” that’s impossible to see as you’re writing.
Plus, because you have an outline, your final content will hit all of the major points that you set out to before you started writing.
So: how do you actually go about creating an effective outline?
Here are three main strategies that work well:
- Use a previous piece of content that did well: For example, we tend to publish quite a few definitive guides here at Backlinko.
So when we start working on a new guide, we use a lot of the structure from our existing guides as a base.
- Use a template: Most professional content writers work off of proven templates. Here are 5 content templates you can use to create outlines.
- Use top-performing content: Check out BuzzSumo to find popular content that you can use as the basis for your outline.
For example, let’s say you’re about to write a guest post about the keto diet.
Well, you’d want to type “keto diet” into BuzzSumo to see what’s already done well.
Then, read some of the best posts to see exactly what you should cover in your article.
Make It Easy to Consume and Share
Content that’s super easy to read and share is of the keys to great content.
You can have a post written by the world’s top copywriter. But if that post is hard for people to consume, no one will read it.
Here are a few tips to help make your content easier to consume, skim and share.
Keep it Snappy, Rich and Entertaining
Whether you’re writing about content creation or cars, your writing needs to grab (and keep) people’s attention.
Otherwise, they’ll click over to something else.
How you grab someone’s attention depends on the format you’re working with.
When I create videos, I use “Family Guy moments” throughout the video. These are little asides that add some humor to and spice to my video content.
And when I write videos, I focus a lot on formatting and layout.
Specifically, I try to keep my paragraphs short:
I also sprinkle in visuals and screenshots to mix things up.
And if you’re about to sit down and record some audio, you want your lines to be short and snappy. You also want to avoid parenthetical statements. Content in parenthesis is easy to follow when you’re reading it. But you can easily “lose the thread” if you’re listening to your audio as a podcast.
In short: your final content needs to be super engaging to work. And no matter what format you’re working with, that starts with the content writing process.
Quotable On Social Media
According to a study that we conducted, very few blog posts get shared or linked to.
And to increase the odds that your content ranks in search engines and gets shared on social media, add shareable quotes.
For text-based content, this can be a statement that you highlight in your post.
And if you’re making a YouTube video, you can pull out a short snippet from that video to share on LinkedIn.
The important thing here is to have these quotes ready before you publish the post. Then, highlight them in your content.
Choose Interesting Angles
With 2.3 million blog posts going live every day, you can’t just publish something generic and expect a wave of visitors.
Instead, to get traffic to your content, it needs a compelling angle.
An angle is simply the hook that makes your content stand out from all the others on that topic.
Your angle can be a personal story. A bit of controversy. Or something that simply looks better than what’s out there.
The angle you go with depends on your target audience.
For example, when we published our guide to becoming an SEO expert, our 8-bit design helped it stand out.
Make It Actionable
For most niches, your content can’t just be entertaining.
And it’s not even enough for it to simply be informative.
For your content marketing to work, your content needs to be super useful.
- Include a step-by-step process: Most content out there is just a list of things you compiled from other people’s lists of things. When you organize a set of tips or techniques into steps, your content instantly becomes much easier to take action on.
Our SEO audit post is a great example of this.
It’s not a collection of random tips. This content is a step-by-step action plan that anyone can follow.
- Use examples: Examples make your content easier to put into practice. Which is why we pack our content with real life examples.
- Keep it up-to-date: A single outdated step or example can derail an otherwise great piece. I recommend going back and updating your old content at least once a year.
Make it Trustworthy
For people to share and link to your content, they need to trust it first.
And while design factors in to how much people trust your content, your writing plays a big role too.
Here are a few tips to make your content more trustworthy.
- Use proper grammar: If you want to improve your writing skills, a tool like Hemingway Editor or Grammarly can be a huge help.
- Do your homework: Research and references show that you know what you’re talking about.
For example, whenever we write a guide, we add lots of stats and references.
- First-hand experience: Report on things you have personal experience with. Why? Content written by subject matter experts is super rare. Unfortunately, most people hire random freelance writers on Upwork. And it shows. But when you write content that shows off your actual experience, your content is much easier for a random visitor to trust.
Here’s an example from our blog.
Give it a Magnetic Headline and Introduction
Most visitors only spend 15 seconds reading an article before leaving.
With such a short window of time, your headline and introduction are incredibly important.
Here’s how to create headlines and intros that work:
- Headlines between 14-17 words do best in terms of getting shares, as discovered in a study of 900 million articles.
- Add some emotions to your titles. This free tool gives you an “Emotional Marketing Value” score that you can use to benchmark the emotional impact of your copy.
- Use short introductions (approximately 4-8 total sentences). In other words: don’t be like recipe sites that ramble on and on before getting to the actual recipe.
- Preview your content. For some of my intros, I just list out bullet points of what they’re about to learn.
Note how these bullet points aren’t topics. They’re benefits that someone will get out of reading and implementing what’s in the guide.
The Definitive Guide to Writing Blog Posts: I recommend sending this to any content writer that you work with.
The Complete Guide to SEO Content: How to write quality content that’s specifically engineered to rank in Google.
Evergreen Content: How to plan and write content that continues to bring in traffic for years after you publish it.
The Definitive Guide to Copywriting: Learn how to write SUPER compelling copy for blog posts, sales letters, videos and more based on tips from the world’s top copywriters.