Writing compelling content has been the focus of digital marketing and, more specifically, content marketing for a long time now. Yet, many digital marketers, business owners, and entrepreneurs seem to be unable to achieve the same results consistently as they put out more and more content.
Indeed, it’s difficult to understand why one piece works and another one doesn’t and, instead, underperforms compared to the first one. Luckily, there are some actionable tips and techniques you can use to improve your content writing skills and change the situation. Hence, here’s the complete guide for writing content that performs well.
#1 Don’t Underestimate the Power of Proper Research
First and foremost, you should never underestimate the power of proper research. If you don’t do your research right, you won’t be able to write an article, a social media post, or whatever other piece of content you are working on. In other words, proper research is essential to good content writing and your findings are meant to be the foundation of your work. Here are some things you absolutely need to research (well and beforehand):
- Target Audience: Who is your target audience? What is their age, gender, nationality, education, income, etc.? What are their interests, likes, dislikes, buying habits, etc.? Which channels for communication do they prefer? Which types of content do they favor?
- Target Market: What are your buyer personas like? Are they significantly different from your target audience? Do you already have a client base or are you looking for absolutely new customers?
- Competition: Who are your competitors? How are they different from you? What are their content marketing tactics? What other digital marketing strategies do they use?
- Content-Related: Which industry does your business belong to? Which topics would be relevant to your business? Which topics is your audience interested in? Which topics would you be able to cover? Which types of content would you be able to create?
#2 Use an Outline to Plan Out Your Piece
Once you have completed your research, you will need to create a comprehensive outline that you can use to plan out your piece and then follow while writing the text. It doesn’t matter if you are currently copywriting for landing pages or you are writing social media posts or you are creating a completely different piece of content in text form – you will need an outline that will help you create this content as fast as possible. Moreover, an outline lets you organize everything before you actually start working on the piece.
To create a good outline, you will need to use either inductive or deductive reasoning (or a combination of both). You could go from smaller subtopics or themes and then work out your general topic for the piece (inductive) or you could choose a broad topic within your industry and get down to its details to decide what you want to focus on (deductive). Either way, it’s a good idea to make a list of topics you have already researched earlier and then choose what you will be writing about based on them.
Once you have chosen your topic, you may already have an idea of the things you want to touch upon. This is when you can write a list of the points you should cover in your text and then order them in a way that is most suitable (thematically, chronologically, etc.) After ordering them, you can add some more details to your outline to help you stay on track as you start writing. Remember that you shouldn’t stick to the outline strictly, but it should still be the backbone of your future piece of content.
#3 Only Write for Your Chosen Target Audience
As mentioned earlier, researching your target audience is one of the most important things you will need to do as this information will be the foundation of your future piece of content. Without properly researching your target audience, you can’t possibly create a piece of content that will serve its purpose. In other words, if you write without having a target audience in mind or with the wrong target audience in mind, your content will likely underperform as it simply won’t find its readers.
Another mistake you could be making as a content creator is writing for a different target audience consciously despite knowing who your actual target audience is. If you know that your target audience isn’t interested in a particular topic, then you shouldn’t waste your time covering the said topic. If you know that your target audience doesn’t use a social media platform like LinkedIn, then you shouldn’t waste your time writing content to post on LinkedIn. It’s as simple as that.
#4 Narrow Down the Focus of Your Content
Speaking of the topic you choose to write on, it’s a good idea to narrow the focus of your content. As mentioned earlier, when choosing your topic, you could be using either inductive or deductive reasoning (or both). In the case of inductive reasoning, there is a chance that you could end up with too broad of a topic which is why it is so important to keep this tip in mind and always narrow down the focus of your content.
As Katie Wales from the custom writing reviews site Online Writers Rating puts it, “Narrowing down the focus of your content will let you get more control over the topic you are writing about and will help you focus more on what is actually important. Some writers tend to stray away from the topic they are writing about and end up having a piece that is very disorganized and unfocused. With a narrower focus, you don’t have as many chances of going overboard or forgetting the central idea of your piece.”
#5 Always Make Your Headlines Stand Out
Headlines are perhaps the most important part of any piece of content you create which is why you should always make them stand out of the crowd. In the day and age when Internet is ever-present, millions of pieces of content are created every day and published online, from videos on YouTube to tweets on Twitter. This is why so many brands choose to focus on producing as much content as possible. However, this doesn’t mean that the said content will be noticed by its target audience (or by anyone at all).
Your competitors will be writing articles on topics very similar to yours which is why making your headlines different is the key to capturing the attention of your readers and directing them to your content instead of your competitors’. Here are some tips to help you improve your headlines:
- Keep them simple, but not too simple. Only include the most important information from your article. Don’t use very complicated language and make sure they are not too long.
- Ask questions that your readers can’t answer. They don’t even need to be written as questions – a bold or controversial statement can be just as good.
- Don’t resort to clickbait. While it can help you get kickstarted, your brand’s reputation will be ruined as soon as everyone catches on to what you are actually doing. Nobody likes being disappointed after clicking an article with an interesting title that leads to nowhere as interesting.
- Use emotionally charged words to convey feelings or give your headlines deeper meanings. It’s not just “red” – it’s bloody, crimson, scarlet… It’s not just “funny” – it’s hilarious, humorous, laughable…
#6 Keep Readers Hooked with An Intriguing Introduction
After your potential reader has clicked the headline, curious about what’s awaiting them, they will need to be greeted with an equally well-written introduction that will hook the reader by intriguing them about what’s to come. The introduction of your piece needs to expand on information you mentioned in the headline and then briefly cover what the piece itself will be about. You don’t need to give away absolutely everything you will be talking about, but you should definitely throw in some things that will hook your reader and make them read on.
It’s a good idea to place some of your internal and external links within your introduction, though you should remember that you still shouldn’t overcrowd it. Place your links throughout your text in a natural way that will help your readers get more relevant and useful information on the topic. For tracking links and managing branded links, you can use a service like JotURL which is the perfect choice for link marketing. It will help you create a strong link profile and ensure that the links you are using are valuable both content-wise and in terms of search engine optimization.
#7 Provide Valuable and Useful Knowledge
Speaking of providing relevant and useful information, you need deliver it not only in the introduction to your piece or with the links you include – but also throughout the piece itself. Though many digital marketers and entrepreneurs will likely be looking for the secret ingredient that will make their content work, the simple truth is that your content should be good and should provide value to your target audience. The key terms here are “value” and “target audience”, so focus on them.
As you choose the topic you will be writing about and then plan out your outline, you will need to think about what you want to throw out and what you want to keep in. If you choose to throw out essential concepts and points from your piece, you can end up with content that won’t be useful to your audience. On the other hand, you might decide to keep in too many things that are unnecessary which will make your content full of “fluff” and also not-so-useful to your audience. Find a balance between the two possible situations, and you will be able to create the best kind of content that delivers enough value to your audience.
#8 Write Using Your Unique Brand Voice
The next tip you should definitely stick to as you write your content is using your unique brand voice. Just like your headlines, your brand voice is meant to help your content stand out of the crowd and be easily recognized among all the other pieces of content from your competitors. However, your brand voice is also meant to help you content with your target audience. What your text “sounds” like to your target audience as they read the content will determine how well they can connect with it, relate to it, and follow you as a brand.
As Mark Pine from the writing service reviews site Best Writers Online says, “In a way, your target audience will largely define your brand voice, but you can still shape it the way you want it. If your audience is younger and your products or services are meant to entertain, you will likely choose a brand voice that reflects it (friendly and playful). If your audience is older and you offer, for instance, B2B products to enterprises, you will likely have a brand voice that is serious and professional.”
By using different storytelling techniques in combination with your unique brand voice, you can achieve even more success with your content. Instead of trying on anything and everything when it comes to storytelling, think about what your target audience could be more sensitive to and what your brand voice will be more appropriate for. For instance, personal stories will be better for friendly, conversational brand voices while professional success stories will be more appropriate for business-like brand voices.
To sum up, writing compelling content that consistently performs well and shows the same results as your previous pieces is definitely possible with a lot of time and practice (and a fair degree of analytical observation and analysis to identify what works best).
However, you still need to get to the point when you are confident in your writing. This is why, use these tips to help you start writing content that consistently performs well and brings you the results you desire to see.
Frank Hamilton has been working as an editor at essay review service Writing Judge. He is a professional writing expert in such topics as blogging, digital marketing and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German and English.