Do you want to improve your content writing? Then these three easy steps can take you a long way.
Content writing is the process of writing for websites, blogs and other digital pieces of information that businesses may use to nurture leads and keep their visitors engaged.
As a professional content writer, I work on the following content writing assignments:
- Main website content
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- White papers
- Landing pages
- LinkedIn profiles
- Email marketing campaigns
- Social media updates
Do I work on all content writing assignments by myself?
These days I’m closely working with at least 15 content writers.
They write well.
They are hard-working.
Their English is good (most of my content writing involves writing in English).
I regularly mentor them.
You may like to read: 15 Content Writing Best Practices
Just being able to write well doesn’t help you improve your content writing
If you want to improve your content writing in the sense that you want to work on more lucrative assignments and get paid better, you need to understand one thing:
Professional content writing isn’t just about knowing how to write well. This is not how you improve your content writing.
Even English professors can write well. There are grammarians who can give you sleepless nights with the length and breadth of their knowledge.
Content writing isn’t just about writing. It is a combination of various factors – inherent and acquired – that makes you a professional content writer worth paying for.
Sometimes when I tell my clients that I am working with other writers and I’m not writing all the content by myself, they become reluctant.
They come to my website.
They read my content.
The go through my blog posts.
They ask for samples and like them.
They want similar content writing.
For that, they want me to personally write for them.
It is humanly not possible.
After years of writing content, I am more interested in getting content writing assignments – as many as possible – and then making my writers work on them.
Nonetheless, when other writers do content writing for me, I go through every individual page and unless it satisfies benchmarks I have defined, I don’t forward the documents to the clients.
So, how do you improve your content writing?
Frankly, a book can be written on the topic, but here I’m going to list three fundamental steps that you can take to improve your content writing.
Incorporate these steps and you will instantly notice a marked difference in your writing. Here they are.
Define the search intent clearly to improve your content writing
The term search intent comes from SEO, but it can help you become an effective content writer.
You can read more about search intent on this blog post: What are the benefits of writing content for informational search intent?
Understanding search intent helps you understand why would people read your content?
What information are they looking for?
What is the intention of looking for that information?
Are they looking for information just to get educated and have some knowledge?
Are they looking for comparison and reviews?
Do they want to buy your product or service?
Are they still in the process of making up their minds?
These differences may be subtle and even indistinguishable to the untrained eye but for an experienced content writer, the ability to know the differences is invaluable.
Suppose your intention is to attract people who are in the process of deciding whether they need your services or not.
Suppose you provide content writing services.
They have realized that they need a professional content writer but they haven’t yet decided whom to hire.
They are ready to hire.
This is commercial search intent.
They may search for
- Content writing services for educational content
- Content writing services for accounting website
- Content writer for your digital marketing company
Yes, people use longer, specific queries.
For the above-mentioned queries they are not looking for educational or informative content.
There is no need to convince them that they need to hire a professional content writing service for their business.
They already know.
What you have to do is, convince them that yours is the right content writing service for their accounting website or for their digital marketing company.
This is where you may commit a mistake as a content writer.
Instead of explaining to them why your content writing service is the perfect fit for their accounting website, you may end up explaining why a content writing service is beneficial to their accounting business.
They don’t want to be informed.
They don’t want to be educated or explained.
They simply want to know why they should hire you.
Knowing the difference can generally help you become an effective content writer.
Write simple sentences to improve content writing
I have seen this is a problem with content writers who don’t habitually speak English.
Maybe they want to prove how well they write, but they use long, convoluted sentences and expressions when a simple sentence can do the job.
Avoid sentences having multiple independent and dependent clauses – complex and complex compound sentences.
Take for example the sentence:
The late 1950s was a key era for programming languages because IBM introduced Fortran in 1957 and John McCarthy introduced Lisp the following year, which gave programmers both an iterative way of solving problems and a recursive way. (source)
Structurally and grammar-wise there is nothing wrong in the sentence, but it is needlessly long and makes a difficult reading.
It captures multiple ideas in a single breath.
I can easily write this sentence in 4 sentences:
The late 1950s was a key era for programming languages.
IBM introduced Fortran in 1957.
John McCarthy introduced Lisp the following year.
These languages gave the programmers both an iterative way and a recursive way of solving problems.
I’m not saying there is something special in these four sentences, but it makes the narrative easier to read.
The sentences are more engaging.
It is easier to focus on them.
I’m not saying that you should always write smaller sentences.
But make sure that there are fewer conjunctions and commas in a sentence.
Another tendency that I have seen among writers is to use passive voice because they think that officially it sounds good.
It does not.
Instead of saying
This has been brought to our notice
you should say
We have noticed.
Instead of writing
The assignment will be done by our outstation team.
Try to write
Our outstation team will do the assignment.
Sentences in active voice are easier to read and less tiring.
Additionally, when you are writing for the web, write in a conversational manner.
This will improve your content writing: write as if you are talking to someone sitting in front of you.
As a writer this advice may seem strange, but it actually works on the Internet.
You will notice that your writing will certainly improve when you start writing the way you talk (without abuses, of course).
Use headings and subheadings strategically
Frankly, headings and subheadings are the heart and soul of your content writing.
Many clients are aware of the importance of headings and subheadings, and they insist that you format your content using them.
Unless they are looking for something very specific, most of the people, when they read on the Internet, first quickly go through the headings and subheadings.
It doesn’t make sense to use headings in a short document.
Usually there must be 3-4 headings and subheadings in 1000-word long document.
On the Internet you have 15 seconds to capture the attention of your readers.
Your main headline or your main heading is the proverbial foot inside the door.
It must be punchy.
It must ask the right question, or it must provide the right answer.
Take for example this headline
7 silly grammar mistakes that can embarrass you
Nobody likes committing grammar mistakes.
Nobody wants to be embarrassed.
Even those who write well would like to take a look at your blog or article to make sure that he or she is not committing these silly grammar mistakes.
Even if you are a professional content writer, to improve your content writing you may want to go beyond the headline and see what all grammar mistakes are covered.
What about subheadings?
These are sectional headings.
For example, above you can see the subheading
Use headings and subheadings strategically
You use subheadings to sectionally divide your content and make it easier for your readers to skim through it.
Even if you don’t read this blog post in its entirety, by simply going through the subheadings you can make sense of what suggestions I am making.
Therefore, it is important to write subheadings in such a manner that they truly represent the information that is presented below them.
There are innumerable suggestions that I can make to help you improve your content writing, but these 3 steps can give you an instant start.
You can implement these suggestions right now and create an effective web page or blog post.