Do you want to write sentences that make readers want to crawl into their screens just to read more? Do you want to create meaningful content that’s shared rather than left rotting in a dark corner?
Being a content writer isn’t difficult but being a content writer that produces worthwhile content is a true skill. Content is more important than ever and as a skilled writer, you can turn content writing into a lucrative freelance business.
But it’s not just a case of pumping out 1,000 words with a few subheadings. Great content writing grabs attention, makes the reader zero in on your message, and inspires them into action.
Sound good? These five tips will make you a better content writer so let’s begin.
1. Nail Your Headline
‘How I Set Up a Profitable Design Business,’ is a headline that tells the reader very little.
‘How My Design Start-Up Got to Six-Figures in Three Months,’ is a headline that people are going to click.
Why? Because the second headline is far more tangible. It not only promises to describe how a design business became profitable quickly, but it makes the reader feel like if the author could make that kind of money, so can they. If they read the article.
The headline is one of the most important parts of your article and yet many writers spend the least amount of time on it. Headlines can both affect the way readers interpret the article and whether they’ll read it at all.
Never mislead your reader with a dishonest headline but ensure you inspire them to click through.
2. The First Sentence Needs to Hook
Just like the headline gets the reader to the article, the job of the first line is to get them to read it.
A good first line will let the reader know that they should keep reading for the payoff and that the payoff will be worth their time. Short and snappy first lines are usually more effective than long-winded sentences.
The key to developing a killer first line is to condense it. Take out unnecessary words and make it interesting.
The first line of this article could’ve said, ‘Do you want to be a better content writer so that people will actually enjoy your articles?’ And sure, that would’ve made the same point. But it lacks any oomph. It lacks inspiration.
3. Have a Purpose
Businesses the world over know that they need content on their websites. But too many blogs are stuffed with generic content that lacks a purpose other than ticking the ‘we have content’ box for Google ranking.
Engaging and shareable content must have a purpose.
Content should do one or more of these things;
When you begin to plan your piece of content, you need to know which of these fundamental purposes it will fulfill and focus it to satisfy the reader. Without understanding what the purpose is, you’ll get halfway through and realize that your article is unfocused. And your reader? They won’t even get halfway through.
4. Rhythm and Format
The web has changed the way content is formatted. It’s much harder to read blocks of unbroken text on a screen than it is on paper which is why good content tends to have short paragraphs.
With white space.
Lots of white space.
But it’s also difficult to read articles that repeatedly use the same paragraph sizes. For instance, if each paragraph only has one sentence, it will look bizarre. If every single paragraph is two sentences, that will also bore the eyes quickly.
You can play around with paragraph sizes to keep the reader’s eyes engaged and to emphasize your message. In the same way, you can mix up your sentence lengths to build a rhythm that’s enjoyable to read. Use short sentences in between longer ones.
When you use a one-sentence paragraph, you can keep it short to make a strong impression.
Short, single-sentence paragraphs give the eyes and brain a break. This prepares the reader for a longer sentence that might follow and keeps the article easy to read and absorb.
5. Add in Personality
Personality shining through in content is a magnet for readers and hugely beneficial for brands. As a freelance content writer, you’ll probably be writing for a range of different companies and will need to write in many different personalities.
A company selling retirement properties will use a different brand voice and personality than a business selling roller skates for kids. Adding in personality depends on the brand guidelines but can be done in many ways.
From pop culture references and jokes to simply imagining you’re speaking to the company’s ideal customer, adding in personality will come naturally the more you write.
It’s important to retain a consistent personality when writing content for brands. If one article is written using colloquial language and another is written formally, it will jar with the reader and the brand will lose its authority. Brand guidelines are common in big companies but smaller companies may just have an ideal customer in mind.
Become a Content Writer That Writes Words Like Silk
To become a content writer that creates engaging, purpose-driven articles isn’t as complicated as you might’ve thought. But you do need to remember that you’re writing content for a reader, not just to fill up space on a company’s blog.
With the reader in mind, you can craft a must-click headline, an attention-grabbing first line, and a meaningful article to follow. Improving your content writing will always come down to practice, but with these five tips, you’ve learned essentials that some writers never learn.
After you’ve written your brilliant blog post, learn all about editing your content so you send it off as polished as possible!
And if you’ve got article needs that you’d rather outsource, we can take those off your hands and give you outstanding content written by our experts. Get in touch today to see how we can help.