Anyone with a grasp of the language can write, but only a select few have what it takes to create web-worthy, click-worthy content – are you one of them?
Content writing isn’t just picking words to form sentences and thoughts. It’s an art, a skill that takes intent and practice to perfect. Content should serve a purpose. It should be based on a strategy. It takes an understanding of how content should work, then crafting words based on those goals to ensure it connects with its intended readers.
It sounds like a lot, and truthfully, it’s harder than it seems. Good writing technique just isn’t enough to make a living as a content writer, no matter how many journalism stories or creative pieces you’ve published. The key to becoming a highly successful content writer lies in having marketable skills.
Luckily, those skills can be developed when you put these eight habits into play:
1. They Research
Successful content writers don’t just pull topics out of their brains and start scrawling. There’s always a method to the madness, and it starts with knowing what people are interested in reading about.
Content writers will use trusted sources and tools like BuzzSumo to see what’s trending in an industry. They’ll also mine forums and social media to see what people want to know about, then craft pieces that answer questions and address problems. In short, good writers are good readers.
2. They Start at the End
Before the first word is written, content writers already know how the piece will end. They start with the conclusion in mind, then work towards crafting a route to take readers there. They know what they want to say, which helps them stay on target throughout the piece to minimize distractions and maximize clarity.
3. They Don’t Settle for Mediocrity
Once you’ve typed your final word, you’re far from finished. Successful content writers will revise their work with a fine-tooth comb, ensuring proper grammar, syntax, and spelling, along with double checking sources for accuracy.
To help you develop this habit, tools like Grammarly will be your best friend in catching minor mistakes. Also, consider finishing your work and returning a day later with refreshed eyes to ensure your content looks good and makes sense.
4. They Tell Stories
Content writers aren’t informers, they’re storytellers. They know how to make even the most boring data sound exciting and fresh, even if it’s been written about hundreds of times. Pulling the reader into the story enables them to connect the dots and get more out of what they’re reading. Otherwise, your content isn’t much different than the billions of other blog posts littering the web space.
5. They Prioritize Originality
Sure, you could find a hundred articles on how to write content, but good content writers know the importance of originality to differentiate themselves from me-too writers. Anyone can scrape content off an article, change a few words, and call it their own, but true content writers find their own voice and relay it in both topic and content.
Originality is also mandatory for SEO purposes. Without it, the content you write could get penalized by search engines, which gives you a bad rep as a writer and may make clients think twice about hiring you.
6. They Grok* Marketing Principles
As mentioned earlier, content writing is an art that takes time to master. However, it’s also a science of sorts when considering the process in which content writing is used in marketing. Content writers would do well to understand how their writing affects marketing, including SEO, SEM, and social media impacts.
By knowing how the content will be used and who might be seeing it, successful content writers can adapt their writing style, tone, and topic to match those purposes.
7. They Adapt
Stephen King writes horror novels. J.K Rowling spins tales about wizards and Quidditch. Neil Patel focuses on content and marketing. Though they’re all quite gifted writers, would any of these three be as successful if they were to switch roles with each other?
Perhaps, perhaps not. But one thing’s certain: content writers must be flexible enough to adapt to their client’s persona. Content writers must often tackle a variety of subjects and styles, and the more well-rounded you can be, the better chance you have of landing higher-paying writing jobs.
8. They Rely on the Experts
Content writers are experts in writing, and perhaps little else. Therefore, they need to recruit the insight of experts in other fields to breathe life into their content. No one knows it all, which is why successful content writers learn how to research early on in their career. However, it’s always best to give credit where credit is due.
This helps to avoid any plagiarism potential, plus it adds credibility to your writing when people can see your statements came from trusted sources. In addition, it’s just common decency in the industry if you’re using someone else’s data and research. Just make sure you attribute it properly and don’t copy it word for word.
It might take a little practice (or a lot, depending on your current writing abilities), but content writing can provide lucrative opportunities, both as a career or in leveraging content in your business. Keep practicing, talk to the experts, and never stop learning – there’s nowhere to go but up.
*grok: to understand something intuitively