“How do you write content?” It’s a simple question we hear a lot and it has a sort of complex answer. These days, most clients we get are aware of the concept of content marketing. Maybe they know that it’s important or useful, but don’t totally understand what that entails or how it helps. They need help getting started with the very basics of writing content to promote their business.
As always, we at C3D are here to help. If you know you need to write content for your business but don’t know how, or maybe have heard that content writing can help but aren’t sure where to start, this is the guide for you.
Why should you write content for your business?
You might think to yourself: “I’m not a writer! I shouldn’t waste time/money on writing about my business!” While we understand this hesitation, this thinking is simply wrong. It’s the same line of thought as “I don’t need marketing, my business sells itself!”
The value of quality content as a marketing tool in today’s web cannot be understated.
Having a regular stream of useful content attached to your business provides you with the following benefits:
- It proves to customers and search engines that your business is active and engaged.
- It creates opportunities for social media engagement.
- It positions your company as knowledgeable experts in your field.
- It creates opportunities for customers to find your business via searching for specific topics.
We actually wrote an in-depth look at the benefits of creating a regular content stream for your business. So if you’d like to learn more about the WHY of content creation before the HOW, check that out!
Blogs are content. Not all content is blogs.
In particular, this post is about writing blog content. Keep in mind, that’s far from the only type of content you could produce for your business. Podcasts are content. Instagram stories are content. Videos are content. There are many, many types of content you could choose to produce. And every type of content has its own positives and negatives.
We’re focusing on blog content because it’s one of the easier forms of content streams you can create for your business. As a result, it’s a great place to start for business owners who need to go from zero content experience to regularly producing content. If you run a business, you probably have written a page or two in your life, for something. You probably have a rough idea, even as a reader, of what a helpful article is.
What makes a good blog article?
In two words, a good blog post should be
helpful and informative.
A good blog post might help your audience understand a common issue better. Or it could explain part of your field and clear up misconceptions. Your audience should hopefully leave your blog post feeling more informed and better equipped than when they started reading it.
Great blog posts can also be entertaining and/or engaging! But if you’re just learning to write content for your business, don’t worry about jokes or gripping passages just yet. That’s all icing on the cake. Unless your business is writing funny blog posts, your entertaining posts will ALSO still need to be helpful and informative.
There is some value in adding ‘filler’ content to your blog just to keep the pilot light on and make sure your audience knows you’re active and available. (We will confess to having a bit of that in our blog.) But the majority of your content should be informational.
Decide who your audience is before you try to write content for them.
This needs to be one the first steps you take before even writing a sentence. Who do you want to read your article? Who are you trying to help and inform?
Picking a specific audience will help you clarify your writing. It’s ok to imagine the sort of person who might need to read your article and write for them.
Let’s use this blog post as an example: We’re writing this post with business owners or managers who are just learning about content marketing in mind.
Certainly other people outside of your imaginary audience may read your article and still find it useful. But you can’t write every article to meet the needs of every audience, so narrowing it down helps.
In order to properly identify your audience, it’s helpful to break blog posts down into two categories:
Posts targeted at your existing audience.
These posts are written for people that have already found you. Readers will find these posts on your website, your social media, or through email marketing you send out. These posts are to inform readers who are already familiar with your business. It’s probably not essential to tightly optimize these posts for SEO, since doing so can sometimes erode the quality of your writing.
Posts targeted at gaining new audiences.
These are posts specifically aimed at bringing new viewers to your site. Either from viewers organically searching for help and your article appearing, or possibly by you advertising your article on social media. Assume that readers of these posts have never heard of your business, and may not know exactly what you do. Optimization to match for search terms you’ve identified will be a priority on these posts.
Ok, but how do you write content, actually?
While content writing can be a full-time job, and it is definitely a skill, it is also something that everyone reading this article is capable of doing. And the simple answer as to how you do it is mostly… Well, you just have to sit down and write. Decide on an idea and try and communicate that idea plainly into words.
The primary obstacle most people are going to run into when trying to sit down and write content for their business is not a lack of anything special, but rather a series of mental roadblocks that need to be dismantled.
As cliche as it may sound, the absolute first step to writing anything is believing that you are capable of writing it.
The temptation will be to approach your first attempts at content writing with an eye for perfection. This is a recipe for failure. This creates a procrastination loop where you put off writing and editing your content because you are worried that your efforts will not meet your own standards. Allow your writing to be imperfect. Many passable, useful content articles will always outweigh one perfect article. And also, like anything, content writing is a skill that needs to be learned over time. The more you do it, the better you get at it. But in order to progress, you have to accept that you’re not an expert at it right away, and that’s ok!
Take time to optimize your posts.
SEO optimization is probably what most people think of when they think of writing for the web over other forms of writing. However, we’re only covering it now for a reason: it should not be your primary concern ahead of actually writing informative content.
The reason why is that search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to find better ways to float quality to the top. Using tricks to get your content to score better via some metrics in the hopes that it does better in rankings can help, but it’s important to not compromise the usefulness of your article when doing so. If someone finds your content but it is clearly written for algorithms to read and not humans, it will actually erode your credibility in their eyes.
Because we’re using WordPress, we use the Yoast SEO plugin to help us optimize our content. It has quite a few handy writing analysis tools to help you get the most out of your writing. However, we don’t try to optimize every post to the max, for the reasons we’ve described above.
If you can’t or don’t want to use Yoast, here’s some basic steps you can take to optimize your content.
Add links to your articles.
Your writing almost certainly relates to other tools or writing out there. Add links for context and to help your reader find further information. Your article should ideally have links that both point to external sites and to more of your own content. These links will help your audience but also help search engines understand what topics your article is related to.
Write for readability.
Content writing is not novel writing. You don’t write content for your business the same way you write fiction or essays. Your article needs to be easily digestible and understandable or else your audience will just not finish it and find other content to help them. Write in relatively short sentences and use active phrasing. Break up long paragraphs into smaller, more focused ones.
Use a Headline Analyzer.
We all know what ‘clickbait headlines’ are. And even if we all can roll our eyes at them, to a certain extent, they work. Your headline is always going to be your audience’s introduction to your article. It needs to grab and intrigue them. That doesn’t mean every headline should be “10 ways this disaster could’ve been avoided: find out what happened next!” …But it does mean you probably want to get some help to make sure your headline will catch someone’s eye.
Take your draft headline, and run it through a headline analyzer like the one at CoSchedule. See what it scores and re-work it a few times until you find one you like that scores well.
Writing content is important work that you should value.
If you take one thing away from this article, it should be that content writing is something you are capable of, even if you’re brand new to the idea.
If you take two things away, it should be that content writing doesn’t magically happen. It requires work.
Content creation and writing is a vital part of modern web marketing, perhaps the most important part nowadays. You need to budget and plan for it, whether that means time to learn and do it yourself, or money to hire someone else to do it. It’s not a mystical art and it doesn’t do itself. Understanding content writing and incorporating it into your marketing strategy will be the key to turning content into a source of strength for your business.
Good content can drive people to your site. It can assure potential customers of your qualifications and keep your current customers engaged and interested in your services.
And if you’re looking for content help, C3D is here! Contact us to find out how we can help you improve your content strategy to boost your business. And check out more of our articles on content creation below!