The difference between a good writer and a great writer is that the latter finds ways to get better.
Content writing is a skill that should be allowed to evolve.
There is no such thing as a perfect writer. Everyone, even your favourite content writer, can always improve.
Here are 9 ways that you can use to improve your content writing skills.
- Re-Learn the Fundamentals of Content Writing
The road to becoming proficient in learning a skill starts with the fundamentals.
These are the basic rules; the guidelines that provide the foundation of a skill. They cannot and should not be broken. Whenever you feel like your creativity is out of control, the fundamentals will keep you grounded and disciplined with your writing.
You don’t have to sign up for a Master’s Class in Writing or enroll for a college degree in Creative Writing. There are a good number of resources that you can find on the Internet and in your local bookstore.
Of course, if you wish, feel free to join online writing courses that are within your budget.
Do you have a friend whom you know is a prolific writer or writes for a living? Ask him/her to give you a short orientation on the fundamentals of content writing.
The fundamentals are like the classics. They do not change over time. Regardless of where you get your orientation, the basics should remain the same.
- Develop an Understanding of Keywords
When you write Internet-based content, your focus is to get found.
Yes, you have to write grammatically perfect content with spot-on spelling and punctuation. Your facts have to be valid, current, and well-referenced. However, all that work will be put to waste if it cannot be found online.
For your content to be found, it must be optimized.
Keywords are the cornerstone of an optimization strategy. Keywords are the words or phrases that are used to launch a search query. Search bots or web crawlers track down these keywords and index pages that have them.
If your content is embedded with high-volume keywords and in the correct ratio, it will get indexed more frequently by the search engines. Your content will have a greater chance of appearing on the first page of the Search Engine Results Page or SERP.
How important is it to get to the first page of the SERP?
According to a study by Chitika, the number one position in Google’s SERP gets 33% of total search traffic. The percentage significantly drops off to 17.6% and 11.4% for second and third places respectively. The tenth position gets only 2.4% of online traffic.
- Keep In Mind You Are Writing for a Target Audience
It’s easy to get caught up in the article you are writing especially if it is your passion or specialization. Writing from the heart is good. You can become quite expressive.
However, always keep in mind who you are writing for.
The Internet attracts nearly 4 Billion people every day. These are people who are searching for information; potential solutions to problems or pressing issues. If you have the experience or expertise, they may read your content.
Consequently, if they don’t understand your content, they will look for someone else.
Do not assume that everyone will understand what you will write about.
People will comprehend content differently. Some will have more difficult time processing information than others. If your content comes across as “too technical” or complicated, very few readers will appreciate it.
A general guideline to follow is to write content in a way that even a third grader will understand it. It is not a hard-line rule. However, it should keep you from using complex terminologies and technical jargon.
- Focus on Writing “Great Content”
It may seem obvious that yes, you should focus on writing great content. For the reason that you are writing Internet-based content, the term “great content” takes on a whole new different meaning.
Let’s revisit tip #2. Writing online content is all about getting found. Optimizing content through the strategic use of keywords is one way. Another is to consistently write content that qualifies under Google’s definition of “great content”:
- Fresh – It should be unique, original, and not plagiarized.
- Useful – The reader should find value from the information presented in your content.
- Relevant – Your content must be relevant to the search parameters of the Internet user.
- Informative – The facts and information you present must be accurate, validated, and above all, truthful.
Don’t think you can get away with writing content that does not pass these standards. Google’s algorithm will let the search engine know if your content passes as “great”. If it does not meet the criteria, you may find your website penalized in the search rankings.
Here’s our tip: Keywords are important in helping your content get found on the Internet. However, don’t get too caught up with using keywords.
Sure, have them in place but it should never be at the expense of great content. If you have a list of the best, high-ranking keywords but some do not fit into your content, do not use them.
- Make Writing a Daily Activity
Writing is a skill we all learn almost as soon as we learn to hold a pencil. While there are people who can be called “born writers”, it does not mean you cannot become a better, more effective writer.
Writing, above all, is a skill. Like all skills, you must constantly work at it to become better. The best way to become proficient in a skill is to do it as frequently as possible.
Practice writing all the time. Make writing a daily activity. Include writing in your schedule. Even if you have nothing to write about, write.
Write a review on a movie you just saw on the television. Read the political section of the newspaper. Write an opinion piece on a relevant current event. Focus on your specialization. Write an article which you feel would be appreciated by your audience.
- Always Start Out with an Outline
Writing new content is always a brand new journey. Think of an outline as your roadmap that will help you navigate from its starting point – the introduction, to its finish line. There are very few, if any, brilliant writers who create content without the help of an outline.
Your outline does not have to be complex. All you need to do is come up with a framework that outlines your ideas in the most organized way. You can start out with the basic structure – introduction, body, and conclusion – then slowly break it down into its more detailed components.
When you write with an outline, you will see less of the “blinking cursor”. Your ideas will flow much easier.
- Read the Work of Other Content Writers
Ideas are borne out of inspiration. If there are days when ideas are hard to come by, you can trigger inspiration by reading the work of other content writers. After all, reading regularly is one of the best ways to improve your content writing skills.
You probably have a go-to list of blogs that you follow. Visit these blog sites and re-acquaint yourself with the author’s writing style. Find out what they are writing about. Dissect their writing style. Immerse yourself in the tone of their work. Read the comments section. Be inspired by the favourable impressions the content has left on the readers.
After a few minutes of going through the blogs, you should be ready to attack the keyboard. To be clear, get inspired but don’t plagiarize!
- Appreciate the Value of Research
Even if you are writing about a topic that you are an expert on, you should still go through the research process. Research is a very important part of writing. As previously mentioned, great content is one that is relevant, useful, and informative. Always make sure that the information you share in your content is updated.
You should also reference the websites that you used for your research. This is particularly important when citing figures, facts, and findings. For example, if you present percentages and other numerical data, you should link it to the source website.
Numerical data has no value unless you can substantiate it with the source of information. Otherwise, it may appear to the reader that you are just manufacturing numbers for the benefit of your article.
- Keep Editing Your Work
Have you ever come across a blog or an article that has a misspelled word or poor grammar? You probably cringed. Errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation can leave a bad impression with your readers.
Do not publish content until you are 100% sure it is 100% free of errors. Keep editing your work. Use online spelling and grammar-checking tools. Ask a trusted friend or associate to proofread your article.
It only takes one misspelled word. The consequences can be long-lasting. It shows you are irresponsible with your writing and have little regard for quality. Time is the currency a reader pays when he/she visits your site.
They could have clicked onto another writer’s blog but they chose yours. Reward them with a great reading experience.
Content writing is fast becoming one of the most important and in-demand skills of marketing companies. Great content drives followers; it can help generate leads, enhance reputation, and increase sales conversions.
However, developing great content writing skills does not happen overnight. It takes time. You need to invest precious hours every single day to hone your writing.
Most importantly, you must be a willing and enthusiastic learner. The moment you think there is nothing left to learn about writing is the day you stop improving.