Writing content, and writing content that works are two different things.
This is the first thing you need to keep in mind if you are looking to make a career in the field of content writing. The Internet is a mysterious place where things change faster than you can imagine. How people consume content has changed drastically over the years and so the algorithms of search engines and social media platforms.
To be honest, there are no blueprints, there can not be. Everyone writes with a different objective, different viewpoints and for a different audience. Yet, there are a set of rules, which, if followed, can make sure that your ‘content’ is indeed the ‘content that works’.
Here’s a step-by-step guide that can bring out the best of your content writing skills.
Step 1: Understanding the type of content
What is it? A blog post, a news article, a tutorial or a web content?
Unless you understand the type and purpose of content that you are going to pen down, you won’t be able to structure it. When a reader lands on your content, he has a certain idea of what he is going to read. A user coming from a search engine or social media already gets to read the title, and that creates a presumption of what’s ahead. That presumption is needed to be honoured in order to deliver a flawless user experience.
For example, If I click on a news piece of certain product launch, I am expecting a short article with three major information – How did the launch happen, features of the product, and some expert’s overview of the product.
Similarly, for an analytical article (e.g. Should you buy the Xyz product?), I expect an introduction, followed by the expert’s analysis of the product and a conclusive paragraph at the end.
If I don’t see what I had expected, I will very quickly click the cross button and leave your website.
Step 2: Structuring the content
Structure of content refers to the sequence in which the information should be provided.
An article should always start with an introduction. It creates a pitch for what’s ahead in the article and why it’s important for the readers to read further.
Once the introduction part is over, you need to provide the relevant information, divided into headings and subheadings in a proper sequence.
For example, if you are writing web content about Malaysia Tourism, Would you start talking about the cuisine just after the introduction? No, right? You would talk about the destinations first, places to visit, activities to do, hotels to stay etc.
Most relevant information should come first. If you are confused about the sequence, put yourself in shoes of the reader and think what sequence would you have expected.
A proper sequence is very much important to maintain the flow of the article and keep the readers engaged.
Step 3: Gathering the information
When you have finalised the structure, it’s time to gather the required information.
If, for example, it’s going to be a news article, you need to know when it happened, what has happened, previous events related to it and how it’s going to make an impact on a certain thing.
For a tutorial article, you first need to know what you are going to teach others. Your article should cover all the aspects of the subject your tutorial is focussed on.
Similarly, if it’s a web-content, say Malaysia Tourism, you need to collect enough information to cover all the aspects, and how your website, or product will help.
Step 4: Putting it all together
So when you have both the structure and information finalised, what’s left? putting them together.
This is where your creativity comes into the picture. How efficiently you can put the pieces together makes all the difference. Again, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
- Crispiness: Avoid writing crap, write only what’s needed. If the information can be communicated in just a few lines, what’s the point of writing long paragraphs on it? It will not add any value but will degrade the user-friendliness of the article, putting the reader off midway.
- Flow: A seamless flow plays an important role in making or breaking the overall reading experience. Subsequently, how you structure sentences also makes a difference. Avoid overusing too short or too long sentences.
- Choice of words: Use simple words and make sure they fit into the context. You might be craving to show off your strong vocabulary, but imagine user reaching out to the dictionary for understanding every sentence, not good, right?
When you have put all the pieces together, don’t jump to publish, or deliver the article. Take a break, come back and read it again. Check it for grammatical errors, check it for plagiarism, make necessary edits, and here you have, an excellent piece of content.