If you’ve ever looked something up online and read an article to find the answer, you’ve seen content writing in action.
Every online business needs “content” on its site to bring people in, so they need content writers. As you can imagine, that means the content writing industry is booming, and it needs people like you to help it grow.
But breaking into the field without any background can be a challenge. You have the skills to become a content writer. You just need the technical know-how to do content writing well. Follow these tips and learn to break into the business like a pro.
- Hook Your Reader (AKA: It’s All About the Hook)
Remember in high school when your teachers taught you about the importance of your thesis statement? That idea is similar to the hook approach in content writing.
You need to “hook” the hiring manager when you apply for a writing job, and you must “hook” the reader when they see your article or blog online.
There are various ways to do this and plenty of resources to help you learn the art of writing the perfect hook. It’s not as hard as it sounds, though.
As you get comfortable with content writing, you’ll learn that a good intro or headline has similar elements, such as:
- Using facts and statistics
- Bringing in related quotes from sources
- Asking a question or telling a story
- Using figurative language (metaphors, similes, etc.)
These known attention-grabbers will hook your reader (almost) every time — as long as they’re well-written and relate to the topic.
- Learn the Dos and Don’ts of Researching
Every topic you write will require at least some research, even if you’re confident you know your stuff. In content writing, you’re frequently including backlinks and outside links to validate statements, so it’s important to learn the dos and don’ts of what makes a good expert resource to link to.
One way to start this is to learn the site extensions and their meaning. For instance, “com” or “net” refers to primarily commerce-based sites. “Edu” is an educational resource and usually a safe bet to link to statistics and facts. “Gov” is at the end of a government resource, another solid reference source. Use sites with “org” at your discretion; they can refer to educational organizations or commerce-based businesses.
If the site is potentially dangerous, skip it and find your information elsewhere. You’ll find your go-to references as you get familiar with the best resources on your topic.
- Write to Inform, Not to Entertain
Here’s the tricky part many writers get stuck on. Content writing is primarily meant to answer a question, yet, we have to hook the reader to get them interested in our articles.
But your job is to inform, not entertain. You need to be engaging, of course. No one wants to read an article that sounds like a dissertation unless that’s what they’re looking for.
So, you need to find the voice that matches your audience. That usually means combining an informative approach with casual yet professional writing.
However, this depends on your client. If you’re writing for yourself, you can choose the voice you use. But if someone hires you to write content for their site, be sure to adjust your style to match their brand.
As an example, a law office’s audience will be different from a surfboard business’s, and the style and content you’d write should be directed to the appropriate readers.
No matter who you’re writing for, don’t forget to use a proofreading service to edit your work and watch for mistakes!
- Understand Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial component of content writing. In general, SEO refers to the process of designing a web page so that it brings in organic traffic.
This simplified definition gets extremely complex, though. Each search engine, from Bing to Google and beyond, uses its own algorithm to determine a site’s ranking after a user queries keywords.
The search engine looks for sites that meet the criteria necessary to be an authority on the topic. These factors are technical and non-technical and are always changing.
Getting to the Front of the Search Pages
The goal of every business is to be on the first page of the search results, as those are the sites that show users the “trusted” authorities. You’re more likely to get someone to click on your link and check out your business if you show up on that first page.
Most of the first results are paid search ads. A business can pay to get displayed as an expert for certain keywords. But the other listings are organic, and getting there requires a site to use SEO better than its competitors.
If you’re writing for a business, they’ll tell you what kind of SEO they need, like the keywords to use, headings to focus on, and word count to include. If you’re content writing for your own business, you’ll need to learn SEO from the inside out.
Content writing is an in-demand field, and every business with an online presence needs someone to help them manage this part of their site. With these tried-and-true tips, that someone could be you!