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What is the difference between blog writing and content writing?

Difference between blog writing and content writing

Difference between blog writing and content writing

I’m answering this question because people seem to be asking it on Quora what is the difference between blog writing and content writing, otherwise, there is a very thin line between being a blog writer and a content writer.

Every content writer can be a blog writer but can a writer providing blog writing services also provide content writing?

This is a tricky question.

I don’t mean to undermine any form of writing, but in terms of increasing expertise, I would like to arrange different categories of writing as

  • Blog writing
  • Content writing
  • Copywriting

I will tell you why.

Right now, on an average I am working with 15 content writers.

Some of them are very good at blog writing.

Some do good content writing.

None can do copywriting.

Copywriting services are needed for writing the main website content.

It is different from merely writing content or blog posts.

Not a single writer has been able to satisfy my clients when it comes to writing content for websites.

But for this blog post, I’m solely focusing on blog writing and content writing.

Difference between blog writing and content writing

Blog writing can be a habit.

It can be a passion.

You can write a personal blog sharing your opinions on politics, environment, literature, philosophy, and any other topic that catches your fancy and inspires you to write regularly.

Blog writing is less formal and more conversational.

A blog can be written by a person who is not a trained writer and still make a good impact.

Blog writing is not a profession whereas, content writing is.

It doesn’t mean you can provide content writing services and not blog writing services.

I offer blog writing services to many clients.

Just like content writing, blogging can be professional too.

Almost every business that has a website also has a blog.

Businesses hire content writing services for blog writing on regular basis.

Blogging is good for maintaining buzz around your business.

It improves search engine rankings because Google prefers blogs over conventional websites.

This is because blogs have fresh content, and they are updated regularly.

Most of the content on conventional websites is static.

There is really something fresh to offer to Google from websites.

Whereas when it comes to blogs, since they are constantly being updated, there is always something new to offer.

Therefore, most of the businesses and entrepreneurs try to publish a blog regularly to improve their search engine rankings.

Blogs can be written on different topics.

Every subtopic can have its own unique blog post.

This gives people an opportunity to write and publish lots of content.

Sometimes quality of writing is compromised but still, much benefit can be derived as long as the readers find value in the writing.

To quickly wrap up, a content writer can write a blog post but not every blog writer can write content for websites.

Since I have been writing professional content for the past 17 years, I can quickly wear different hats and provide my services as a blog writer, a content writer, and a copywriter.

Compared to blog writing, content writing is formal.

When you are writing content for the main website, you also need to have copywriting skills because your writing is supposed to generate business for the website owners.

3 tips for hiring a good content writing company for your business

These are not good visuals. Once they have been arrested what does it mean to be done like that

These are not good visuals. Once they have been arrested what does it mean to be done like that

Two things can make or break your content marketing strategy: The quality of your content and the consistency with which you publish it. You have got a good content writing company working for you if it can deliver both.

The problem is not finding the right content writing company. There are plenty. If you search on the Internet “content writing company” Google proudly displays millions of results and also tells you that it found the results in less than a second. Millions of results don’t matter. You will probably go through the top 4-5 results and send them a query.

In a couple of hours or in a couple of days you receive their responses. You set up a Google Meet with them to find out how they can deliver you the content that you need. Things begin to move.

They give you a “competitive” rate. They promise better search engine rankings. They commit to a consistent content supply. They also assure you that they are going to provide you high quality content. A dream come true.

Do such content writing companies exist? Yes, they do. You need to find them. Here are three important tips to find a good content writing company for your business.

Make sure they have a professional website

A professional website is a commitment. It ups your stakes. A professional website is costly. You often need to hire a web designer, or you need to spend time giving professional touches to the website yourself. The website shouldn’t look like a general WordPress template.

The website must have all the components of a business website such as (aside from the homepage) services page, about us page, contact us page, and even a blog section (more about it later). Every page on the website must solve the purpose. I know there are some pages that are essential for search engine optimization but still, every main page of the website must make sense and should be written to communicate the core philosophy and deliverability of the website.

The content writing company must understand your need

This begins when you initiate communication. Do they understand your business? Do they know your requirement, sometimes even beyond your understanding?

I have worked with many content writers and there is a big difference between content writers who run their own business as a company and those who simply provide work as freelancers by listing their names on the various freelancing websites and social media platforms. People who run a business understand your business. You can read that between the lines.

For example, a content writer who doesn’t work in a company will simply focus on the topic without instilling a sense of personality. But a content writer who runs his own business understands how to run a business and he or she brings the same experience to you when writing your content.

The content writing company has a consistent fee structure

Content writing fee is an important issue both for the content provider and the client. There must be a reason for the content writing company to charge what it charges. The fee shouldn’t be random.

When I tell my clients how much I charge they know why I’m charging that much. After that I don’t negotiate because I know that to be able to deliver quality and consistency there is a certain amount of money that I must make. There are many content writing companies who will negotiate to insane lengths and then compromise with quality, originality and deliverability.

Finding whether you are paying the right fee or not can be a tricky question if you don’t understand how important content is for your business. As the famous saying goes, “if you offer peanuts, you get monkeys”.

Hence, look for a content writing company that has a consistent and logically defined fee structure.

As I have written in the beginning, content is a crucial part of your content marketing effort. It is the backbone. You consistently need high quality content. If you are constantly changing your content writing company, it hinders your content writing efforts. Don’t be in a hurry when looking for the right content writing company. Take your time finding one.

5 types of content that I write

5 types of content that I write

5 types of content that I write

Although I have extensively explained on my website that being a writer I can write on a wide choice of topics and realms, many clients often ask me exactly what I do and what sort of writing I provide professionally.

I have spread my net quite wide in the previous years and I think this has been a mistake. There are many writing activities that are time wasting in terms of generating income. For example, email writing. Most of the clients think of email as number of words but sometimes, more effort is needed in writing a business email than writing a blog post. I’m gradually moving towards the payment model that is based on the effort and expertise rather than merely the number of words.

Broadly, I’m writing content for 5 types of requirements these days. I’m explaining below

1. Blog writing

I love writing blogs because it is mostly linear writing without fluff. It is educational. It is informative. It imparts value.

Although blogging requires research, in most of the cases clients these days send their own outline and sometimes even research material because I charge extra for that. As long as they are paying for my time, I don’t even mind extensive researching.

Although many clients hire me to write “SEO blog posts” I focus more on quality and relevance rather than simply stuffing keywords. This is primarily the reason why I charge slightly more than other content writers who don’t mind simply writing for SEO.

2. Web page writing

This involves writing for the homepage and other pages on the website such as the services page, the company profile, the about us page, or the product descriptions.

Web page writing is quite important, and I charge more than I charge for blog writing. This is where conversion happens. This is where you tell your visitors whether they should do business with you.

Web page writing or website writing is a mix of content writing and copywriting. You inform, educate, but more than that, you sell.

3. Email writing

As I have explained above, I’m shifting the focus to quality rather than the number of words. I like writing emails because I love to communicate. I can write convincingly. I can stick to the point. I can communicate what the client wants to communicate to his or her client or customer. The only precondition is, the client must be able to tell me what he or she exactly wants to communicate.

4. Case studies

A case study is a detailed examination of some problem a customer or client had been facing and how that problem was solved by a service or are product. Detailed method is described, including technologies.

A case study is like a story. You tell about a customer or a client and what problems he or she had been going through. Then how those problems were solved through your effort or through your product. It uses engaging storytelling to weave a narrative around what you offer.

5. Landing pages

Landing pages are very focused. Unlike the usual web page or the blog post page of a website, a landing page has a single objective – to prompt the viewer to take a particular action. This action might be buying a product, or a book, or subscribing to a mailing list.

Landing pages are used for PPC and email marketing campaigns. People are driven to landing pages by promoting the link to them. For example, if you want to draw people through Google AdWords campaigns or Facebook campaigns or even email marketing campaigns, you use a landing page.

Landing page is mostly copywriting.

Other than these five categories, I have also been writing e-books for some clients, but mostly it is blogging, website writing and landing pages.

How to write content for voice-activated devices

The image shows a couple of voice-activated devices with the caption content writing for voice-activated devices

Content writing for voice-activated devices

Here is how to write content for voice-activated devices or voice search:

  1. Write your content in the form of questions and answers.
  2. Write your content according to the trigger words like why, when, who, where, and so on.
  3. Optimize your writing for Google’s featured snippets.
  4. Use simple words and smaller sentences.
  5. Format your text to look its best on mobile layout.

Content writing is fast becoming “Voice-First”. Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, Google Home, and Amazon Echo are all examples of technologies that use voice as a primary source of information exchange.

Voice-activated or voice-controlled devices are everywhere these days. You can use even your phone with voice these days (Google Assistant, for example). If you’re using Google Voice, you are using a voice-activated device.

But there are some dedicated voice-controlled and voice-activated devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. These are smart devices. These are also a big part of “Internet of Things”. They exchange data between each other. They fetch you information from the Internet.

Just in America, 53 million people have some sort of smart speaker. According to comScore, 50% of the searches will be voice searches by 2020. 30% searches will be without screen by 2020, according to Gartner, which means, you will speak into your device and the device will speak back to you.

In terms of content writing, if you want to write content for voice-activated devices, it means writing content in such a manner that when someone speaks a query into a smart speaker like Google Home, it can quickly retrieve the information from your website and then convey the information, through voice, to the person searching for the information.

If it is simply going to read the information from your website, what’s the big deal about specifically writing content for voice-activated devices? What’s the difference?

Well, first of all, when we are speaking, we don’t speak very long, complicated sentences.

We use short phrases. The language is conversational. It is to the point. We don’t beat around the bush otherwise the listener gets confused. The question is asked, and the answer is given with as little fuss as possible.

When you interact with a voice-activated device, it takes your audio input, turns it into text and then uses that text to fetch information from the Internet, turns the textual information into voice and then plays the voice to you.

This happens within a second, so you don’t realize all this transformation happening in the background.

Should content writing for voice-activated devices be different from regular content writing?

It depends on what you call regular content writing.

Even when you are writing without taking voice-activated and voice-controlled devices into account, you should stick with simple writing, shorter sentences, and paragraphs that express just a single thought.

This has two benefits:

  1. Your text is easier for people to read.
  2. Search engine ranking algorithms find it easier to process your text and hence, you enjoy better search engine rankings.

By nature, and by passion I am a writer. I prefer to let myself lose without bothering about how my text is going to sound, as long as it sounds fine to me. I don’t mind using complicated sentences and complicated words. Ideally, I couldn’t care less how search engines interpret my text as long as it is loved by my readers.

But we don’t live in an ideal world. When I’m writing for my content writing clients, I pay close attention to writing in simple language.

Simple language doesn’t mean dumbifying the content. It means avoiding using 10 words when 5 would suffice.

Remember when people were having two simultaneous versions of their websites, one for mobile phones and one for desktops and laptops?

These days most of the websites have liquid layouts: the same website readjusts information according to the screen size. This saves us from having multiple websites for multiple screen sizes.

The same should be applicable in content writing. When you are writing content for your website or your blog, you shouldn’t have to write different copies for human readers and for voice-activated devices.

Take for example this blog post. You can read it easily. Even the voice-activated devices shouldn’t have any problem reading and voicing the text on this blog post.

Whether you are writing for voice-activated devices or for human readers, write as simply as possible.

Listed below are a few things you can keep in mind while writing content so that it is easier to read by voice-activated and voice-controlled devices.

People use conversational queries when using voice search on voice-activated devices

People use “find me someone who can fix my sink” instead of “plumbing services”. Or “plumbing services near me”.

It has been observed that when people type their queries, they use smaller search terms but when they are talking into their devices, they use longer sentences.

Now that I’m writing this, I’m thinking that above I have written that when optimizing content for voice-activated devices you should focus on smaller sentences.

That still holds. Smaller sentences and simpler words are not just easy to listen to, they’re also good for your search engine rankings.

Optimize for featured snippets

Some time back I wrote a blog post on how to optimize your content for featured snippets, though, there is no exact way of doing it.

Here is the blog post: Google’s Featured Snippets: How to rank at #1 with strategic content writing.

Google often uses search results with the featured snippet box for a quick answer to your query.

As more and more people use voice search featured snippets will get more prominent.

This is because the featured snippet text is already available to Google and it can straightaway read to you the information from it instead of first having to visit the website, fetch the information and then read it to you.

Provide answers to questions

Most of the search queries for voice search use trigger words such as how, where, what, when, why, who, the and can. Given below is a small visual taken from seoClarity that lists the percentage of trigger words used for voice search.

Percentage of search engine queries for voice searches

For example, people would search for “how do I reach Sabarimala from Cochin?” or “how do I find a professional content writer for my business website?” or “best content writing service for my website”, or “where can I find a restaurant that is open at 11 PM?” or “who is the best travel agent in Timbuktu?”

Also, prepare a comprehensive FAQs section because this is a section where you can optimize your writing in the question-answer format.

Concluding remarks on writing content for voice-activated devices

The advice that I give for search engine optimization, I also give for voice search optimization or for writing content for voice-activated devices: don’t overly worry about optimization, just focus on providing good content in easy-to-read language.

Easy-to-read language keep people focused. Search engine algorithms find it easy to interpret and then rank.

Develop a habit of writing in the form of questions and answers. This is because, what does a query mean? It means asking a question. Provide the answer, the best possible answer.

How I generate content writing ideas for different clients

Getting content writing ideas for clients

Getting content writing ideas for clients

It is difficult to come up with content writing ideas, especially on an ongoing basis. This is why when sometimes clients ask me to come up with my own content writing ideas, I charge them extra. Often, writing is easier, but coming up with writing ideas is very difficult and time-consuming.

I normally help my clients with writing topics when I’m working on their content marketing strategy rather than simply providing content.

A successful content marketing strategy cannot be implemented without a comprehensive list of content writing ideas surrounding a particular niche. Before you start writing content you need to know

  • Why you are writing that content?
  • Whom are you targeting (your customer or client persona)?
  • What reaction do you want to elicit from your target audience?
  • What is your long-term content marketing goal?

It is very important to know these points because otherwise, though content marketing is very promising, you will be simply wasting money and effort if you randomly publish web pages, blog posts, articles and email updates.

What is your purpose of writing content?

Different reasons for writing content

Different reasons for writing content

Different content marketing needs may have different reasons for writing/publishing content, and these may include:

  • Attract more people to your website or blog
    • You aim at making your content go viral
    • You aim for increasing brand awareness on other websites, blogs and social media platforms
  • Educate people
    • You want to establish yourself as an authority and an expert in your field or industry
    • You want to help your customers and clients by providing them information they can use to improve the way they work
    • You want to educate your prospective customers and clients so that they are in a better position to use your product or service
  • Encourage call-to-action
    • You want people to click on advertisements published on your website
    • You want to build your mailing list and hence want to encourage people to subscribe
    • You want people to buy your product or use your service
  • Increase your general visibility
    • You want more people to link to you
    • You want people to share your content on their social media profiles
    • You want to attract large number of people to your own website or blog
    • You want to increase your search engine rankings

Every business can use a strategic mix of all these reasons to publish and write content. If you have a clear idea of these reasons, you can easily come up with lots of topics that can see you through over many weeks and months.

Aside from these, you can also decide whether your content should fulfil a need, should cater to a desire or a want, or simply provide enjoyment.

What keywords do you want to target?

Importance of keywords in SEO content writing

Importance of keywords in SEO content writing

Your keywords – both your primary keywords and related keywords – have a significant bearing on your content writing ideas.

If you have a list of your keywords, then you naturally want to cover them through your content. Only when you write on these keywords search engines like Google will be able to make out what core topic you are trying to cover.

Taking my own example, for my business I have two primary keywords: content writing services and content marketing services.

One way or the other, all my content – web pages, blog posts, graphics, videos – hover around these two primary keywords.

What sort of content can be published on a business website or blog?

On a typical website you can publish

  • Educational and informative blog posts and articles
  • Web pages describing your products and services and encouraging people to buy your products and services
  • Case studies and white papers
  • Email marketing content
  • Curated content – useful, helpful, and relevant content gathered from other websites
  • Testimonials from your customers and clients
  • Straightforward promotional content
  • Landing pages
  • Industry News updates
  • Your internal corporate updates (hired a new CEO, installed a new enterprise solution, started a new department, released an updated version of your software)

Using the information gathered to generate content writing ideas for a long time

Frankly, you cannot ensure an ever-lasting supply of content writing ideas.

Publishing content for content marketing is a journey and many unpredictable events can happen during your journey, and these events will generate further writing ideas.

But the information presented above can easily give you 40-50 writing ideas for your website.

When I start on a new content writing or content marketing project I try to get as much information as possible from the new client.

The basic purpose is, understanding what the client wants to achieve.

He or she must have a clear idea because if he or she doesn’t have an idea, it will be very difficult for him or her to make it clear to me what sort of content I should write and what sort of audience I should target.

Initially I begin with trying to understand what sort of questions and apprehensions people may have regarding my client.

What would stop them from doing business with my client and what information should be provided to them to allay their fears.

Together with the client, I prepare a long list of topics (preferably using the exact language used by the client’s target customers and clients) that should be of interest to my client’s prospective customers and clients.

If the client already has some existing content I go through it and make a list of strengths and weaknesses of that existing content. Sometimes new content writing ideas can come from existing content.

Also, existing content can be repurposed, and new content can be generated out of it.

Sometimes, same content can be regenerated using different formats, for example, an old blog post can be easily turned into a slide or an animated GIF, or even a YouTube video.

You may also like to read 15 ways you never run out of blogging ideas.

For an ongoing content marketing assignment, I also use Google alerts to get alerts on the latest content being written on my client’s profession. I also use content curation tools like Flipboard, Twitter feeds and Feedly.

Google search too is a great way of finding new content topics. When you search on Google, it gives you some suggestions that people have used to find similar information. When I searched for “content writing tips”, in addition to bringing up the results for my search string, it also gave me the following suggestions:

  • How to write content writing samples
  • Content writing samples PDF
  • Content writing tips for beginners
  • Content writing tips examples
  • How to write content for project

There are more examples. Even when you click one of these suggestions Google gives you more suggestions.

You don’t need to generate topics out of every Google search suggestion, but they give you a very good idea of what people are looking for.

Checking Google trends is also a good way of knowing whether a particular content writing idea is worth trying for or not.

Google Trends for content marketing and content writing

Google Trends for content marketing and content writing

Closely observing Google Trends will also let you know that the topics that you want to cover are used mostly in which region. For example, if you compare “content marketing” with “content writing” in Google Trends, you will notice that not many people are looking for content writing outside of India. Very few people are looking for content marketing in India.

For every client I have an “Ideas” file where I keep collecting all the good ideas I come across on my own and from different sources. The list in this ideas file is not definite; it keeps changing. I keep modifying existing ideas and adding new ideas as long as they conform to

  • The keywords that need to be used
  • The messaging that needs to be conveyed
  • The end result

I also arrange content writing ideas in an Excel sheet in different columns: Long blog posts, short blog posts, long web pages, short web pages and social media updates.

Sometimes my clients help too. For example, if they have multiple employees some of their employees come up with great content writing ideas because they directly dealing with their customers and clients, constantly.

Is it easier to come up with content writing ideas for one’s clients?

Compared to those who don’t write content regularly, and professionally?

Obviously. When your write content for a living you get into the habit of finding content writing opportunities everywhere.

If you hire me and I know you are going to pay me $35 for every piece of content I give you, my brain is constantly on an alert, even when I’m not aware of it.