20 Hacks On How To Be A Great Content Writer
As content writers, all of us are trying to improve our crafts every day. Since there is never a limit to our craft’s perfection, the responsibility falls on us to figure out how to be a great content writer. If you are a fellow content writer, too, I am sure you are constantly trying to be the best content writer to not only earn more but to also feel content (see what I did there) with what you write.
Therefore, we will share twenty ingredients (mostly about English content writing) that will make you a great writer. Let’s talk all about content writing and how to be the best content writer.
We have a table of contents, so you can easily skip to the section you want to read about the most.
- 20 Ingredients to be the best content writer
- #1 The best content writer gives actionable information
- #2 How to be a great content writer- tell stories
- #3 Kill your darlings- use short words, sentences, and paragraphs
- #4 Do basic keyword research
- #5 The best content writers write within a funnel
- #6 Stay on topic
- #7 Data is sexy (and gives your writing credibility)
- #8 Write as you talk
- #9 Write according to the tone
- #10 Ask Questions
- #11 The best writers use active voice
- #12 Use images and videos
- #13 Proofread (and a trick for the lazy writers)
- #14 Pay extra attention to your introductions
- #15 Setup processes
- #16 Read more
- #17 Learn copywriting
- #18 Understand your voice (to adapt brand’s voice when writing for them)
- #19 Upskill yourself regularly
- #20 Be open to making mistakes
- Ready to unleash your knowledge?
20 Ingredients to be the best content writer
#1 The best content writer gives actionable information
We all know that a content writer has the job of writing valuable content. But in digital and content marketing, value has become a buzzword, so what does it even mean? People come to the web to get answers to their burning questions and are looking for a blog that can answer them precisely.
Furthermore, they want to not only get answers but also understand how to take further action. Thus, as a content writer, it is your job not only to give them well-researched answers but also how to use them in their life. So give them the what, why, when, who, and where about XYZ but also how to do XYZ. Try writing about actions too, and see how that gives you the edge over other writers.
#2 How to be a great content writer- tell stories
Do you know why humans are the ones that dominate the earth? According to Yuval Noah Harari (the author of Sapiens), it is due to our ability to tell stories. Stories are not just entertainment but the way we experience our life. Whenever you meet your friends, try to count how many stories are exchanged. If stories are such an integral part of lives, why not use storytelling in your writing.
Storytelling is the essence of content writing, but many people forget this crucial ingredient. Stories make facts and abstract concepts real and relatable. For example, when writing a finance article about stocks to invest in, don’t just write about the stocks, but also find stories about how investing in stocks has led to riches for people. Tell the story of Warren Buffet to not only inspire but also instil in the reader’s mind how crucial and life-changing it is to invest in stocks. Thus, tell stories to inspire, dispel confusion and leave a profound impact on your readers.
#3 Kill your darlings- use short words, sentences, and paragraphs
Remember, you are not writing a book; you are writing for readers on the internet. People on the internet have tiny attention spans; they want a quick read. Thus, take advantage and use short phrases and paragraphs. Short paragraphs not only give the reader breathing space but also help them understand it better.
Moreover, the shorter words and sentences you use between longer sentences, the better for your readers. It keeps the pieces exciting and breaks the monotony. The easier words you use, the more you will retain your readers till the end.
But, what if you have written a beautiful paragraph but doesn’t fit within your overall piece. Well, you gotta kill your darlings. What I mean by that is, your darlings are beautiful sentences that look perfect. But if the beautifully written sentence doesn’t fit with the overall pieces, take it out. It is painful, but the aim is to not look the part of a great writer but to help the audience. Save your darlings for another project but take them out if they stick out like a sore thumb.
#4 Do basic keyword research
Often you only write content and the client or the company gives you the set of keywords you need to use in your content. However, there are times when you do not have the keywords, and it may be tempting to write content without them; however, you can do basic research on your part and inform them about it. It will make you seem more involved and show your sincerity.
Other times you may get a set of keywords that are too tough to incorporate and affect your content. You can inform the concerned person and present your alternate keywords. Working around with it gives you an edge and helps you produce content that hits the spot.
#5 The best content writers write within a funnel
You must know that your content is used for marketing a brand’s product or service. Most content is top of the funnel that attracts potential clients and pushes them to the middle or bottom of the funnel. If you write newsletters, the email can be part of all the stages of the funnel. Thus, you must understand which part of the funnel you are writing for and accordingly write it. Best content writers work in tandem with the overall marketing strategy.
Ask the marketer involved to better understand where you are in the funnel and how you can craft your content to push maximum people to the next stage. Once you start answering these questions, you will not only be a good writer but also start understanding marketing (which is a skill you need irrespective of your career goals).
#6 Stay on topic
Imagine this: you are reading an interesting blog about giraffes, and suddenly the writer takes a sharp u-turn and starts talking about lions; after that, they continue talking about giraffes. It will cause a brief confusion, and the flow that the writer was creating was broken with just a tiny mistake, and you might close the tab because attention spans are fragile when people are reading on the internet. Thus, you need to stay on topic and not veer off-topic.
Try to cover the topic from all angles but always stay on topic and write content relevant to the topic on hand.
#7 Data is sexy (and gives your writing credibility)
I get that data can be a bit daunting, and not everybody likes it, but it gives your writing weight. Whenever we read statistics that back up what we were reading, we trust the writing and the brand. Moreover, you can use reputed names and link back to them to solidify your content’s trustworthiness further.
What type of data should you use? Numbers and percentages work well; you may even use quotes from a report. Use charts and graphs if you can find any, and if you can turn the data into infographics and use that, it would help you get backlinks.
#8 Write as you talk
Remember the rules you learnt grammar rules in schools? Yes, you need to break some to become a better writer. I know that it is very counterproductive advice, but it works. See, you are not writing a book, so you don’t need to follow all the grammar rules. However, you still need to be mostly grammatically correct. But, introducing some conversational tones in your writing will help you make your reading sound more natural and relatable.
When talking about serious topics, this technique can make the content more approachable (if approachability is your aim). How does one inject some conversational tone in their writing? Starting your sentences with pronouns and ending them with verbs is one way of doing it. Using words like and, but, however, yet at the start of your sentence can also help you do that.
#9 Write according to the tone
Notice the difference of tone between Zomato’s brand messaging and HDFC bank’s brand messaging. Both have a stark tone difference, which depends on many factors like their audience, product, branding, etc. Thus, when you write for a brand or company, understanding the brand’s tonality is critical.
For example, when you are writing for Zomato, using slang and Bollywood references is acceptable and encouraged since their audience loves when they do that, while on the other hand, Cred’s content is subtle and witty since their audience loves when Cred does that.
One simple way of recognising a brand’s tonality is to picture the brand as a person. A bank may appear as a person dressed in a suit, while a brand like Nykaa would appear as a person dressed elegantly with impeccable style (perhaps in something colourful).
#10 Ask Questions
I understand that writing is a one-way street, where you write, and the other person reads, but you need to pose questions to keep the readers engaged. Questions must be something that the reader might ask themselves when reading your content. Sprinkling questions smartly will push readers to engage since you are encouraging curiosity in them.
A great place to ask questions is at the beginning of your content, and the questions should be about their pain points to reel them in and make them read longer.
#11 The best writers use active voice
One of the primary things we learn in our English classes is active and passive voice. Passive voice sentences are weaker and challenging to comprehend. For example, the blog is being written by me. Instead, I am writing a blog, is simpler and easier to understand. Sometimes, using passive voice makes the sentence interesting, and thus you can use it. But remember to use passive voice sparingly and with caution. Overuse of passive voice can weaken your content and convolute the message.
A free tool called Hemingway is a great way to see all the passive sentences in your content. So use it to detect passive sentences and change as many as possible to active voice.
#12 Use images and videos
49% of marketers rate visual marketing as Very Important to their marketing strategy, 22% consider it Important, and 19% say that their strategy is nothing without visual content.Venngage
The emphasis on visuals like images and videos is for a good reason: it helps the text comprehension tremendously. Whether they are flowcharts, infographics, or simple images (relevant to the text), they help the readers get a deeper understanding. It also erases any confusion they might have, which is excellent for the overall content piece.
Moreover, from an SEO point of view, images and videos help, too, since the algorithms consider the use of visuals when ranking your content. Backlinking becomes easier, too, since you can reach out to people and ask them to share your original graphic and give you a backlink. Since the infographic or the image helps their audience, they are more likely to backlink to you. Thus, images uplift your content; therefore, keep them in mind when writing your next content piece.
#13 Proofread (and a trick for the lazy writers)
Sometimes getting the first draft out seems like a big accomplishment, and we often ignore proofreading. Either we are too lazy or overconfident in our skills as a writer (or both). Either way, you should not overlook proofreading. The best time to proofread is after 24 hours or at least 6 hours. When you return to the piece, you will have more points to add or resolve confusing bits.
However, you may miss errors too with proofreading, and sometimes you wish you had someone else to do proofreading for you. Here’s a hack to proofread without reading: install a text to speech voice reader and use it to listen to what you wrote. You can make the changes accordingly, and voila, you proofread without actually reading it (thank me later for saving you).
#14 Pay extra attention to your introductions
When readers land on your page, they read the introduction and decide to stay or bounce out of there. Thus, your introductions will dictate whether the user stays or leaves. But you don’t need to worry; with some extra care and consideration, you can make your introductions better and punchy. How? Use the tried-and-tested copywriting formulas like AIDA and PAS.
You already know that you need to start with a question (#10 tip), so ask a question that catches your attention. Keep writing to generate more interest within the reader and the desire to read the entire blog.
Similarly, use PAS to hook your customer in and leave the reader wanting more from you. It takes time and practice to write the first paragraphs that hook your readers, but keep practising because the results are worth it.
#15 Setup processes
You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.- James Clear
If you’ve not read Atomic Habits, you should because the 15th tip will make more sense and be easier to implement if you read the book. You need to build processes and systems to get ahead in every aspect of your life. Motivation comes after action, not before it; thus, you will find it challenging if you wait for motivation to write or improve your writing skills. Will power is no good either because it is a finite resource, and you cannot sustain your writing skill on just willpower. Thus, establishing systems and habits is key to being a writer and improving as a writer.
On days when your willpower is low, and motivation is not in sight, the processes you set in place will get you through and help you stay consistent. And consistency is a superpower that you cannot afford to leave behind in your journey as a content writer.
#16 Read more
How do you plan to produce fresh, creative, and extraordinary pieces of content without ever replenishing your creativity? Reading is perhaps the number one way of doing it, and it is an underrated one. You can be an excellent writer without reading, but you would find it hard to write for long periods. We would advise you to read books, but not everybody has the access or the attention to read books.
So start with blogs that interest you. They do not have to be of your niche and preferably be of various niches (do not just read what the Kardashians are up to and Marvel theories). Read blogs from entertainment, science, technology, medical, motivational, marketing, etc. but develop a habit to read.
Once you are comfortable reading for long periods, you can expand to audiobooks (a great way of consuming books on a busy schedule) and physical or ebooks. They will expose you to new words, sentence formation, storytelling, cool facts (which you can include in your next piece), etc. The benefits of reading are immense not only for your writing but overall personality.
#17 Learn copywriting
We introduced a bit of copywriting in point 14, but the next skill to learn is copywriting as you become a better content writer. And no, content writing and copywriting is different; here’s our blog about the differences between them. It doesn’t matter if you want to pursue copywriting professionally or not; you need to learn copywriting to write better headlines, meta descriptions and call to action.
One way of learning to Copywrite is by buying an online course. But if you don’t want to spend money initially, you can use online resources and observe ads to figure out how they are trying to persuade you. Observation is a powerful form of learning too.
#18 Understand your voice (to adapt brand’s voice when writing for them)
Tip number nine was about writing according to the brand’s tone, but how would you know the difference? How would you know that it is the brand’s tone or yours? You need to explore your tone and voice, too, to understand the difference. One great example of personal voices is that of Mark Manson and Neil Patel.
The stark difference between the two helps their audiences recognise them and attracts the right set of audience. Once you develop and establish your voice, your brand will help your audiences and clients recognise, which you can leverage to get better deals and clients.
#19 Upskill yourself regularly
Industries change all the time, and the internet has made that process faster. Thus, you cannot miss upskilling and reskilling yourself, whether acquiring skill sets that compliment your current skill set or learning new skill sets that will help you create a new niche.
For example, a content writer’s complementary skill is copywriting. Still, if a content writer learns how to code, they can offer a comprehensive service of making a website and writing content for it. Thus, any client who wants to employ one person can go to them and get their work done.
People in their 20s should especially date many skills and fields to explore what they genuinely like and settle down with the one skill they find most fulfilling mentally and financially.
#20 Be open to making mistakes
Here’s the harsh truth: you will make life-altering, potentially career-killing, and dumb mistakes. But, the good thing is that everybody is making them, and nobody has any idea of how to deal with them. It is better to make new mistakes and learn from them. More often, the fear of making mistakes, especially mistakes that people can see, holds us from doing things we want to do.
You may want to quit your job and start an agency, but you are afraid that people will see you fail and possibly hunt for a job in the future. So you discard the idea and continue to work. We do not suggest opening an agency without planning but do not let the fear of what people will think to hold you back.
Change your mindset, make mistakes, and avoid attaching your self worth as a person to your mistakes. Learn from them and move on to new pastures.
Ready to unleash your knowledge?
To sum up, we talked about 20 content writing tips and techniques on how to be a great content writer and the different content writer qualities you must have to improve your content. We talked all about content writing from mindset to the minute details to attract and engage your future readers. We also discussed how to work as a content writer when we talked about the importance of processes to become the best content writer.
Our efforts were to include detailed tips for people trying to learn to be a content writer, especially English content writing. We hope we were successful, and it helped you advance as a writer.