Before you begin, you should know what good content writing is all about.
No matter whether you create content, or outsource it, you should know when you are looking at well-written content. Do not believe anything else. If you are a content creator, you should be able to call out the fluff from the real deal.
Let’s look at some of the basics of content writing.
Content Writing Pattern
Writing good content is a process. You will improve upon this process as you gain more experience. You can accelerate the effectiveness of your content, by following a structured pattern to create content.
The pattern is simple enough.
- Learn how to write
We will see these in detail in subsequent chapters. You will use a variation of the same process to create different kinds of content.
We will divide content writing into three parts to provide different treatments – short articles, formal articles like press releases, and eBooks/really long articles.
But first, know this –
1. You have the mike
You speak, and others listen – at least in the beginning.
If you don’t speak (or dont speak well), no one will talk back. Worse, people will stop hearing what you say.
Make sure you make good use of the mike. Though your content will become a multi-way communication later, you and you alone are initiating it. You give your best shot when you have the absolute control.
2. Information structure has to be beautiful
Design what you want to say before you say it. Make sure that the structure of the flow is graceful.
It is one thing to talk face-to-face, and a different thing to hold conversations through your posts and articles. No matter how much you try to keep the written content conversational, it just isn’t real-time. Your content has to present itself in the most logical way.
What you write has to be structured so that the reader understands what you are trying to say, empathises with the opinion, and talks back. Good content engage users.
3. Keep it lively
Don’t drone on. Don’t fill up the page just for the sake of it. People do appreciate short content that can quickly tell them the message rather than a really long article that dilutes the content.
4. Continuously improve
Accept that learning never stops. Follow good writers both online and offline. Be ready to change your ideas on what good content writing is about, and how the people of the day really want to read.
Later on in the course you will get a ready-made list of good content writers and websites to follow.
5. Keep it simple
The fact that you have good command over the language does not mean you have to use complex words. Keep your writing understandable to most of your readers, if not all.
If you make them scramble for a dictionary more than once in a 500 word article, you know that you have to dumb down!
The above points are generic guidelines to write good content. Different types of writing require variations in the style of writing.
Types of Content Writing
Here’s a brief run-down of the most visible variations.
1. Short articles
Anything less than 1500 words falls under this category.
This includes blog posts, product reviews, sales pages, and other smaller content required by most people. Your clients will be bloggers, people with websites, or influencers who want a core idea written down for public article directories. Short articles are likely to form the bulk of your orders.
People absolutely love informal tone in short articles. Readers tend to skim through, rather than read, these type of articles. It is really important to keep the language simple, keep paragraphs 2-4 lines long, and avoid long sentences.
You will later see how to create effective short articles that readers love to read.
Although I am going to keep my focus on writing here, remember that short articles need to be bolstered by other content to cater to short attention spans. Images, videos, infographics and other visual media help do that.
You are less likely to get literary awards through short posts. But you have a really good opportunity here to become popular, have listening readers, and probably take over the world in 42 years. (why 42?)
2. Long articles
Writing long articles is more difficult, but gives better satisfaction for the writer in you.
More importantly (for me, at least), long articles present higher potential for earning money. The problem with long articles – well, it is “long”.
You need to really think through about what you want to write, put all designs on paper before you start, and do some heavy research if you are not familiar with the field. After doing all this you tie the pieces together to form a cohesive whole.
After that you spend a lot of time re-looking at the structure, rewriting in pieces, and making sure that the tone of the article is uniform across. All this takes time, and a lot of times I end up underestimating the time required by long articles.
Long articles can be:
- Home page blog posts that go on and on about a certain product(s), topic, service, way of life, and so on. Bloggers love this kind of article on the home page (especially on affiliate sites). This ranks them higher in Google, and makes the readers think that the blogger is knowledgeable about the topic.
- Press releases
- Even serious kick-ass sales pages
- Articles written for eBooks. eBooks deserve a separate topic here. But do get this – unless you are crazily involved in writing – you are aiming here to sell your articles, article services, and not write a lengthy book.
Nothing wrong with writing a book – if you are creative, and have the talent. It is just that takes longer times to get the money into your hands. But once you do “get it” you might become John Grisham! We are going to focus on eBooks that are not more than 50 pages.
If you are starting up, focus on short articles (or especially short one in the range of 300 words). Venture into other categories only when you are comfortable enough with writing.
Content in Perpetual Demand
Now that you know what good content writing is about, let us have a quick look at types of content that are in demand. And, how you can benefit from those.
The web is about expressing yourself in an unique way. Readers dig you because they can find something that they find interesting, and cannot find anywhere else. Writing unique articles gives you a sense of satisfaction, and earns good money as well.
The content creator has to do a bit of research, and write articles ranging from 500-1000 words. The articles are used either in blogs, or can be submitted to article repositories like ezine article directory.
Product reviews are big. Product reviews also show the expertise of the blogger, since in-depth reviews and comparison of products can review the precise information that readers are searching for.
There are a lot of ‘affiliate’ blogs and websites out there. These blogs focus on a particular selling niche (e..g photography), and have useful articles on them. Product reviews are typically featured alongside other useful tips related to the niche.
Product reviews are always in demand.
The author selects products in the niche, writes articles about how good or bad is the product, and why. People who are specifically looking to buy products go through the articles, and hopefully click on the links to purchase product. The blogger earns commissions and everyone is happy.
The blogger may also take it to the next level by asking you to compare 3 products. You don’t need to put that in the table and format it, but write the comparison in context.
Product reviews are fun to write if you are have an interest in that niche. For example, I delve in photography from time to time, and see a personal value in checking out the latest in DSLR for a tight budget. The research becomes a fun activity while I churn out the article for a client.
Not the fanciest thing to do, but article rewriting earns quick bucks. This is also one of the easier things to do.
It goes something like this – a blogger has articles from some other writer, sees an article articles in another website, or has a core idea of what she wants and an idea on how the article should look like.
The blogger may also want to add her own twist to it – either she wants to counter the point of the original post, support the point and bolster it with additional information, or simply turn it into another ‘filler’ post. All these activities come under content rewriting.
Rewriting content can be a rehash of an earlier post in the same blog, or (ahem) creative interpretation of an article by some other author. Rewriting is not’content spinning’ – it is not just realignment of paragraphs, and replacement of words. You still get to write something original, but less original than the rest. You don’t put a lot of thought into what will go in the article since you have a point of reference.
eBooks include anything and everything that span related content. eBooks can be related blog posts (e.g. Container Gardening Quick Start), or articles that are sewn together to tell a larger story.
The client may supply specific articles that should be part of the eBook, or you may have to start from scratch.
eBooks take a lot of time. You need to be choosy, and careful about committing to eBooks if you are doing everything yourself. Don’t do the mistake of just estimating for 20,000 words if you are writing an eBook that long. It can easily become double that time since it also needs restructuring, rewriting, realignment, and re-everything!
Press Releases are announcements made by the blogger or website owner about a product, service or any other news related to the blog.
Typically content heavy, press releases resemble articles albeit in a more structured way. Typical press release follow standard patterns for the content. These are pretty easy to write once to get to know the pattern.
I don’t prefer press release orders since they don’t offer much to the writer other than writing 🙂
And, we conclude for now..
Whew, that was a long post but (hopefully) introduced everything you need to know about the basics of content writing. We will see much more of the process and on where to get help in subsequent posts.