“The only way to win at content marketing is for the reader to say: this was written specifically for me.” – Jamie Turner
Need to write great content but find yourself stuck staring at the empty page?
Getting the words down in black and white is daunting, but perfecting the art is crucial for a successful marketing campaign. Our content writing guide, we’ll take you through 10 tried-and-tested steps to a persuasive piece of written content – whether that’s a blog post, white paper, eBook or any other format.
In our Content Writing Guide, you’ll learn more about:
- Guiding the reader to where you want them to be
- Planning and structuring your content
- Getting the tone right
- Bashing out the first draft
- Editing, Tweaking and Perfecting
Okay – let’s get started!
A Beginner’s Content Writing Guide
1. Start with your CTA
Every piece of content you write should have a clear marketing purpose. The text leads ultimately to a specific call-to-action – e.g. navigating to your product page, joining a mailing list, booking an appointment, or so on. Before you start writing, you need to know what you’ll be asking the reader to do when they finish. Remember that the whole piece will be a gentle nudge in that direction.
2. Figure Out What You Want Your Readers to Think, Feel and Do
Once you have that clear goal in mind, think a little deeper about how this piece of content will achieve that. Note down three things: what you want the reader to think, feel and do as a result of reading this article. Stick this to your screen or keep it visible while you’re writing as a reminder if ever you start to meander off track.
3. Consider Your Reader’s Point of View
You should now be clear on why you’re writing the piece. But why should anyone read it?
If you’ve created buyer personas in the past, now is a good time to refer back to them. If not, take a moment to jot down a few details about the kinds of people you expect to read this. Who are they? Why are they likely to be your customers? What problems are they grappling with, or how will they use the information you’ll provide in your content?
It helps to imagine the reader as an actual person. As you plan and write your content, keep asking yourself: would that person care about this? Is this relevant to their situation? Would they just skim through this bit?
4. Plan it Out
Now you know what you’re trying to achieve, map out a rough structure for your content, including what you’ll say in your conclusion. Even if you’re only writing a short article, a bulleted list of points you plan to cover in each paragraph will help you get started with confidence.
5. Picture Your Reader… in the Pub
Even people who are totally charming and engaging in person get tongue-tied when they start writing. Usually, the culprit is a mistaken belief that “good” writing involves squishing as much jargon as possible onto a page, with insanely long sentences joined by formal words like ‘therefore’ and ‘however’. The fact is, no one wants to read that.
Good writing doesn’t oversimplify an issue, but it does mimic the structure and tone of casual conversation. When you picture your reader, imagine you’re explaining what you do or what the article is about in an informal situation, like the pub. That’s the tone you want: friendly and convincing without ever being condescending.
6. Get the First Draft Down On Paper
You’re finally ready to start writing!
Don’t dwell on the first draft too much. Now that you know what you need to say and how to say it, write quickly and fluently, using conversational language. You will tweak this on the next edit, but for now, it’s important that your writing doesn’t sound stuffy or laboured
7. Back Up Your Claims
Read back through your content. Have you included any grand claims or forceful statements to convince your reader? If so, it helps to include supporting stats or link to credible sources to back these up. For example: “According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing generates more than 3 times as many leads as outbound marketing, while costing 62% less”.
Not only does this build trust, but it’s also good for SEO, too.
8. Interlink With Your Existing Content
While we’re on the subject of SEO, make sure your content is working as hard as possible for you by incorporating links to other relevant articles or pages on your site in the body of your content. This helps with your ranking while giving people a reason to keep clicking through your site.
9. Edit for Flow
Every piece of content needs a re-read and a careful edit. Where can you shorten sentences? Break up paragraphs? Make a point a bit clearer?
Try reading the piece aloud. Anywhere you find yourself stumbling over the words, that’s a good sign that the writing lacks clarity and needs a bit of attention to make it easier for the reader.
10. Get Someone Else to Proofread It
And finally, we humans are notoriously bad at spotting mistakes in our own work. While you should certainly proofread your stuff before anyone else sees it, it’s highly advisable to get another pair of eyes on it, too, before you hit “publish”. At the very least, consider using a tool like Grammarly to check your spelling and punctuation.
The tips in our content writing guide are designed to help you tackle the practical challenge of writing great content. Remember, though, that every piece of content should fit in the context of a larger content strategy. Never publish anything you don’t think your audience will love, that isn’t written specifically with them in mind, and that doesn’t add genuine value. The goal is to make them think: “wow, these guys really get me and know what I need!”
That’s how to write great content, but how will you get it to your audience? Nail your email marketing next with a 100% free account.