Content writers are professional writers who produce engaging and actionable content for websites and journals. They’re Internet-savvy individuals who create articles, blog posts, and other forms of written web material.
So, how to be a good content writer? How to start content writing and what English grammar rules to ignore and what to follow? We’re here to help you with that too.
In 2019, all of us technically know how to write, but not everyone has an idea about how to write content that is read and shared online on social media by readers. So, make sure to implement the following tips for beginner content writers in 2020.
Content Writing Tips For Beginners | A Step-by-Step Guide To Basic Rules
- Write for scanners, not readers
- Write a compelling title
- Write key information first
- Prefer writing in the first person
- Avoid writing passive sentences
- Consider writing short paragraphs
- Write for your readers’ sake
- Use words that are in common usage
- Describe your topic enough
- Edit your copy brutally
- Use ‘Grammarly’ or spellcheck
- Update content frequently
- Insert relevant images wherever applicable
- Make readers easily find you
- What’s to takeaway
1. Write for scanners, not readers
Do you expect every visitor on an article to read your whole content? Don’t! To your surprise, readers on the Internet are not readers anymore; they’ve become scanners.
Image Source: Universe of memory
I might just have made many writers cringe. But the truth has been revealed by heat map studies and all they have to tell us is people read web pages in an F pattern. While grammar, syntax, and representation still remain the same, you ought to consider representing content in the style people like to read it in.
The F-shaped pattern says that readers primarily focus on the headline, sub-headings, and only the first sentence of each paragraph. This gives you an idea about where to put the key information in digital content.
2. Write a compelling title
The title of an article is a crucial aspect and you must give a compelling title to your content, which not only describes the topic in a flash but also grabs readers’ attention.
For instance, if you’ve just finished writing an article content, based on some health insurance buying tips. There are multiple titles you can create for this very article, such as
– 5 tips to buy health insurance
– 5 key points to note when buying health insurance
– Your comprehensive guide to buying health insurance
– All you need to know before buying health insurance
However, you will find many articles with a title similar to these on the Internet. Therefore, you need to create something new; something that grabs the eyeballs. How about this?
– 5 Points You Can’t Afford to Miss When Buying Health Insurance
– Buying Health Insurance Online: 5 Points You Shouldn’t Ignore
Titles like these ring a bell in readers’ heads and compel them to click to open your post, as everybody wants to make sure they don’t miss anything.
3. Write your key information first
You must be confused after reading this heading. Well, what you all have been doing in school was wrong? Not all.
To be precise, writing article content for a webpage is completely different from writing an essay in school. An essay simply goes like ‘start with an intro’, ‘discuss what this essay is all about’, ‘introduce the actual topic’, ‘write some literature’ and then ‘conclude – the important stuff’. You’re done!
While writing webpage content, you go exactly the opposite. You always start with the most important information in your digital content.
For example, when writing the ‘Our Services’ webpage, start with the services offered by the company and then explain how these services are the best in the industry.
P.S. You cannot talk about the services in general and start with a story.
4. Prefer writing in the first person
I’ve seen the website content of so many big companies pitching in third-person. Many B2B companies are still using such a tone when communicating with their clients.
Consider asking yourself, who is this third party? Why is a third party there in your communication when you can directly pitch to your clients?
Update your communication style in digital content from ‘ABC Company helps its clients achieve greatness’ to ‘We help you achieve greatness.’ Not only is this simplified but is also more communicative, as ‘We’ and ‘You’ are far more communicative when it comes to building trust in a business relationship.
5. Avoid writing passive sentences
When you write content, try to avoid passive sentences. In other words, make sure to convey the right message in the simple and present tense.
When you write content in the present tense, it automatically becomes quick and easy for your readers to read and understand your message. For example,
Tom painted the entire house.
On the other hand, when you write content in the passive form, not only does it seem awkward to read, but it also takes a bit longer to understand. For example,
The entire house was painted by Tom.
What do you say?
6. Consider writing short paragraphs
You must have seen and read long paragraphs in textbooks. Remember the time when you disliked text-only pages of those books and you had no choice but to read them?
Writing for the web is a lot different, but readers still hate those long paragraphs. Write short paragraphs to help your readers quickly finish them up, as you want them to read the whole content.
Consider including bullet points, images, infographics, and statistics with a citation to make your content engaging and authentic.
7. Write for your readers’ sake
When a reader lands on your website, he or she is looking for some relevant information in your content. So you need to have the most relevant information on that particular landing page.
If your article is dead/does not respond, the reader will just scan your article and hit the back button on the browser.
To ensure that your readers actually read your articles, do proper research and collect enough relevant information for your content.
Do not try and add fluff to your articles just because you need to make it a 1000-word article. Simply include as much relevant information in your content as possible at that moment but don’t stop looking for more information.
Once you find some more relevant information, do not hesitate to update your copy.
8. Use words that are in common usage
While writing digital content for the web, always keep your target audience in mind and use simple and commonly used words in your copy.
You may find many synonyms for a word but you must use the most familiar one – a word that is highly common.
For example, consider this keyword search on Google AdWords Keywords Planner (opens in a new tab/window). While looking for budget hotels online, how do you go?
Just look at the Keywords and their corresponding Average Monthly Searches. You must have got the idea as to why use common words in your web copy.
9. Describe your topic enough
I’m a professional writer, and I do my homework well before coming down to creating a masterpiece of content. In the ever-growing space of the Internet, everyone is playing with the readers’ attention.
While reading B2B content, I often come across similar sentences, e.g.
We are your trusted partner.
We streamline your business.
We provide white-glove services.
Sentences like these are overused all over the Internet. Not to forget, when similar sentences are used time and again, the message that you want to convey loses its impact.
If you’re writing content professionally, you ought to focus on what white-glove services your clients offer and how they are beneficial for their customers.
Mention that your clients provide 24×7 customer support if they do. As a high customer retention rate can invite more customers to your clients, let their readers know about this rate.
It’s your responsibility; be as much descriptive in your content as you can.
10. Edit your copy brutally
Everyone is short on time these days; so are you. When you start writing, you tend to finish the article as quickly as possible. However, you ought to take breaks and try not to finish the content in a hurry.
If possible, take as many breaks as you can – ranging from a few minutes to hours or even a day. When you come back, you will have a fresh perspective or new thoughts to incorporate into your content.
You may edit or add more information or humor into one or more existing paragraphs.
Leave it to your best time when new ideas come. Frankly speaking, I get new ideas when I’m in my bed, trying to sleep.
I would rather say that my brain works faster when I hit the pillow. I choose to make voice notes while I’m in bed and convert them into the text the next morning.
11. Use ‘Grammarly’ or spellcheck
Another key point that you need to keep in mind is that your content must be free of any grammatical errors, such as the use of articles (a, an, the) with nouns, and prepositions (of, for, on, in, etc.).
Grammatical errors make your sentences an awkward read for your readers. Besides, this also affects your Google ranking of SERPs (search engine result pages).
I recommend using Grammarly for this purpose, as it highlights almost all such errors within your content. If you use Microsoft Word, use the Grammarly add-on for Word or enable the Spellcheck feature in MS Word.
Alternatively, you can use the Grammarly Chrome Extension (opens in a new tab/window) if you write online (in WordPress editor or on Google Docs) to write error-free content.
12. Update content frequently
No matter how many points or tips you ended up writing in the first place, you will always have more to add to your write-ups.
Note down the points you have to add to your article(s), create content for those points, and then update the existing live article.
Based on your interest and how much information you can gather, you may want to update an article multiple times.
13. Insert relevant images wherever applicable
Images play an important role in putting your content to life.
In other words, nobody likes to read a whole article full of text only. You add some visual appeal to your content by simply adding some relevant images.
Images not only increase the length of your article published online but also bound your readers to spend some extra time on your article.
According to Hubspot, articles with multiple relevant images get 94% more views than articles with no or fewer relevant images.
14. Make readers easily find you
Readers are looking for relevant information online. And, the best way to be found is not to hide. Yes, that’s what you do when they are unable to find you even when you are openly available.
Make sure your article title is simple, catchy and actionable.
Also, optimize your content for SEO. For example,
The following are tips to optimize an article for SEO:
Include your target keyword in:
- Article title
- SEO title
- First 100 words
- H2 (1 to 2 times)
- Meta description
And, last but not least, do not stuff keywords in your content. Let the LSI keywords come naturally.
15. What’s to takeaway
Remember the time when you last read an article online and what if the following happened?
- You read multiple similar sentences in the article.
- You finished multiple paragraphs and still had no idea what the author wanted to convey.
- You read on till the end but didn’t find the article informative, entertaining or even worth reading even once.
There are articles that make you feel energized and entertained and have something to take away from. The sad part is such articles no longer exist in abundance on the Internet.
You find content entertaining but it may not have something to learn from.
Likewise, a well-drafted, informative article content may sound boring and most readers quit in between.