Improve content writing skills with these 20 guidelines, if you are a content writer. You may have occasionally felt stuck in writing quality content. Or simply felt stuck with what is termed a writer’s block.
If you are looking for ways on how to improve your fundamentals in developing good digital content, then this is an article for you.
Here you will find ways to improve content writing skills. Do read the article till the end and if you wish, leave a comment below.
Julia McCoy says
“Offer free talk, author original thought, connect to similar publication audience, to earn back-links instead of only building them.”
Digital marketing that needs writing, has its own requirement.
The requirement can depend on the company’s budget, marketing platform, and the goal or purpose.
The skill set may vary a little according to the platform, but largely remain the same.
This is because they all cater to a digital audience.
White papers need depth and research.
A lifestyle blog will need conversational style, warmth and problem-solving.
An advertising copywriter requires creativity for innovating catchy lines and jingles.
Similarly, for writers in the following space…
Types of content writing
- Web pages
- Social media
- Ad and sales copy
- Instructional or Educational
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Each type of content writing has its own set of challenges.
Therefore, as a writer, you can feel stuck at multiple levels. Especially, if you are a freelance writer.
A freelance writer has to be versatile while handling different projects.
You need to juggle between a variety of …
- nature of subject matter,
- problem points of user and
- user personas.
This kind of multi-tasking can get exhaustive.
As a freelancer or on-payroll staff, you have to be consciously attentive and intuitive.
A on payroll in-house writer might also face challenges.
If working in an agency then different projects might be underway. The staff could be divided into teams by the marketing manager.
Some small agencies might have a shortage of staff and could be overburdened with different projects meeting deadlines.
Similarly, a product and services company having in-house writers might face a challenge to reinvent the campaign and bring a fresh approach and insight.
This means, a statement of ways to improve writing skills can lead in different directions.
One of those would be a general statement, and others may lead to specifically tailored ways.
In this article, we will look at 20 ways to improve content writing skills that will be generally applicable so that writers from all segments (and aspirants too!!) can pick some tips from the read.
- Empathy for the user persona
- Use the Storytelling technique
- Be attentive to purpose
- Join a Book Club or writer Support, Groups
- Attend Creative Writing Workshops
- Use apps that give Starter Prompts
- Build a Writer’s voice and Confidence
- Use correct grammar
- Write for the online reader
- Be a Voracious Reader
- Plan before you begin
- Edit and Proof Read
- Pay attention to SEO with a checklist
- Write daily
- Do not ignore Introduction and Conclusion
- Adapt to the New Normal
- Practice writing on social media
- Research extensively
- Guest writing as a practice
- Build your web content and portfolio.
Improve content writing skills: Empathy for the user persona
It is understood, individuals are generally short of time. People have to juggle between various goals all the time depending on their priorities at the moment.
Companies vying for the attention of buyers have to genuinely understand the user.
The attention span of audience is short.
A reader could skim your website, blog, article or email.
They can quickly jump to other engaging information.
Companies offering products or services have to provide relevant information and match the needs of the users to survive in the market.
The efficiency of the content writer is in creating awareness. For the effectiveness of any campaign, the content has to be highly relatable and consistently relatable to the user.
Understanding how to keep the tone and attitude is a craft. It is a skill that has to be developed.
Interacting with people from the target audience to know and understand their problems is one way to build empathy. But this is not always possible or required.
Feeling the pain of the target audience can help you develop the author’s voice.
Speaking to management from the client companies, reading on basics and being up to date with industry-relevant information and trends will help you prepare for your blog.
Improve content writing skills: Use the Storytelling technique
Storytelling is key to engaging the user. Focusing on SEO is a technical aspect but for the user, it is the value that they get from the content that stays in memory.
Take care of language, word choices and descriptive words that give away the perspective and opinion of the author. Style, diction, tone and voice are important to make the piece believable and engaging.
You need to analyse the author’s voice. Identify what the text sounds like? The text should evoke emotion or flashback in the audience mind.
Finding a simple and direct friendly tone in the story needs some practice and feedback. Reading aloud, recording and listening to what you write might help to understand.
Improve content writing skills: Be attentive to purpose
You need to be attentive to the purpose of the piece. Finally, the purpose of content creation is to relate to the life cycle of the audience’s journey.
As an author, you need to…
- inspire, and
- convince the audience.
The audience has to become aware and inspired. There has to be some value addition in their life either in terms of utility, convenience, prestige and such other.
Improve content writing skills: Join a book club or writer support group
Joining a book club wherein members discuss their reads and read-aloud favorite parts of the book, will help you to get an insight into people’s likes and choices.
Else, find a like-minded writers support group on LinkedIn or Facebook. If these have regular meetups, it can lead to finding a few scribe buddies. You can write together and be accountable for productive scripting goals.
Improve content writing skills: Attend Creative Writing Workshops
Joining creative writing workshops and reading books on etching strategies is a good alternative.
A variety of styles are used for creating suspense, humor, adventure, drama and so on. Building familiarity with these techniques will be useful according to the project you are handling.
Reading books of different genres ranging from fiction to non-fiction will help in building vocabulary. Notice how the genre is distinct from other genres because of format, scripting style and nature of the text.
Improve content writing skills: Use apps that give starter prompts
Some apps and web based platform give daily prompts on your smartphone.
Download these web apps to keep a consistent habit and write on a variety of topics.
These will make you think.
Prompts or starter will set your writer’s voice in motion.
Build a Writer’s voice and Confidence
Building a writer’s confidence is vital for developing a voice that is genuine and intuitive of pain points.
It is only with time and experience that you will develop the confidence to put down your opinions and personality in the piece you create.
Therefore, keeping consistency in scripting new piece is a useful daily habit, be it for publishing or keeping private.
Akin to journaling, using a digital tool like Ever note or Notion can be a quick go-to for journaling before bedtime. These tools will also help you organize your scope of work.
Use correct grammar
Correct grammar is non-negotiable for a writer.
No matter how appropriate your tone is and how descriptive your words are, if you make grammatical errors it can be a dampener for the reader.
Just as using simple understandable language helps you to engage readers, using impeccable grammar makes reading free flow.
Grammatical errors are akin to bad taste in the mouth.
With the help of grammar books and grammar improvement websites, one can improve on this score.
Using metaphors, simile, exaggeration and other figures of speech can make your piece entertaining and fun.
Write for the online reader
Online writing is different from penning down essays back in school or college.
There are short paragraphs, bullet points, link to sources, and other differences.
Online text is written for different goals. Readers need to engage in whatever is read on the web.
The exact skills for creating an essay don’t translate onto digital space.
Great grammar is still common among both the style and sloppy work is unacceptable.
Paragraphs should never be heavy. There are ads, notification. Therefore, short and impactful sentences and short paragraphs are essential.
Resources “How to write copy that sells: The Step by Step System for more sales, to more customers, more often” by Ray Edwards gives away step by step guide. The author praises bullet points, among other rules.
“The Elements of Style” by William Strunck is a great resource.
“The Grammar Girl” podcasts and resources are great.
Be a Voracious Reader
Though creating a resource for online readers is different from school and college essay, the technique of building mindset and influencing with your words is the same.
Reading books written by authors that use good language will certainly influence you if you keep reading their books for long.
Imitate scripting styles that you admire and read regularly.
Analyse their sentence structure, use of words, style, grammar and punctuation.
Having knowledge of text features for fiction and non-fiction will help you to re-examine whatever you put down on the proverbial paper.
Reading these manuals will help.
“On Writing” by Stephen King,
“Nicely Said: Writing for the web with style and purpose” by Nicole Stenton and Kate Lee
“On Writing Well: The Classic guide to writing non-fiction” by William Zinsser
“The Elements of Style” by William Strunk and E.B. White
“How to Write it: Complete Guide to Everything You’ll Ever Write” by Sandra E. Lamb
You could use describing words and create visuals in the audience mind.
This may need some practice and feedback.
Visualization, feeling, identification and involvement is the key for creating engaging content.
Plan before you begin
Make an outline of your write-up even before you begin. It gives you an inspiration and prompts you to elaborate further on the framework you have set.
You may later change and update the framework and headings as you develop the article.
Creating headings and subheadings is a great way to get headway into an article.
Improve, edit and proof read
Another tactic is to edit and proofread your write-up.
Editing and proofreading are essential though most writers are in a rush to complete and publish or submit within deadlines.
Being particular and checking for correct spellings is just as important as the idea you are trying to convey.
First drafts are almost always terrible. Edit several times before you hit publish.
Go through what you write, at least 3 times.
Ditch bloated or fluffy words. Make your reader the hero of your story and speak directly to your reader.
Pay attention to content SEO with a checklist
Remember to use trigger words in your article to bring traffic to the landing page.
Search engine optimization of your content is as important as using correct grammar. Brush up on SEO techniques if you need to. Have a ready checklist for SEO techniques before you publish. This will help you to consistently create SEO friendly content. Use tech tools to help you plan and write.
Make sure you become perfect in “on-page and off-page SEO techniques”. Keep updated on new trends and expert opinions. Follow authority websites and thought leaders in digital r marketing as well as in your niche subject matter.
Collaborate and get feedback from other departments for leads and sales figures to measure the success of your content in a campaign.
Readability factor for SEO
Readability factor is another factor for retaining readers. Using the simple language of grade 5 reading level makes the information accessible to more readers.
Adding attractive words in the headlines or title like “Best, Simple, Fastest, Quickest, Amazing, Brilliant, Easy, Latest”, and such others. Adding numbers to the title makes the title an attractive bait.
But of course, the person who it is meant for should get some value from it. Before you begin, make sure you know who will be your audience. Question yourself “What will audience benefit from the resources I create?”
Provide subheadings as navigation tools for the readers. So that reader knows what’s coming next and where to look for what information.
Subheadings could have your keywords so they are good for SEO too.
Keyword analysis and Headlines
Use keyword finders and see what keywords your niche audience is looking for. Develop focus keywords depending on your keyword finding search results.
Pull in synonymous keywords for using as subheading and phrases throughout your article. You could do this from “Google searches related to”.
Use headline analyzer and check how headlines make readers feel. You could include long-tail keywords in your title and headings.
Comprehensive teaching articles in PDF that have a free give away are a hit for years.
All this because more than 80 per cent of people google search for their problems.
6 billion people search Google every day. Optimizing your content is of primary importance. It can take months for content to rank but it will stay there for years.
A SEO checklist before you hit publish will ensure your material is found.
This makes it one of the 20 Ways to improve writing skills.
Ways to write daily
Have a daily word count goal for what you write. If you make it a daily habit, you gradually learn to put down your thoughts and say what you mean.
You could read, listen to podcasts, read newsletters of authority institutes and educators.
Commit to reading every week and journal daily in your niche.
Take notes, list of authors, books and marketing experts.
Maintain a website where you could write blog pieces on topics other than your niche. This will keep you versatile and build confidence as a writer as you broaden your script horizon.
Improve Introduction and Conclusion
To improve your blog articles, pay attention to the introduction, main body of text and conclusion. An introduction sets the tone for the entire piece. Often readers could skim the main body of text to read the conclusion. Then decide if the blog is worth reading.
Present a problem in the introduction of the piece. In the body of the text explain how they can solve this problem. In the conclusion, give your opinion about what is in the body of the text so readers who skim will be interested to go back to read the full article.
After conclusion, you may want the reader to contemplate on what they read. They could think about what a good piece they read. So, be intentional and attentive to what you want the reader to feel.
One trick is to begin the blog with storytelling. A compelling story can keep the reader hooked and they could read from sentence to sentence to know what happens next.
If you are preparing topics for a web page, pay attention to the landing page. The goal of a landing page is conversion. So, pay attention to a call to action.
Adapt to the New Normal
The consumer in the “new normal” is coping with life by multi-tasking at home.
You need to re-evaluate your content. Reaching out, updating buyer personas and helping them with their new normal will keep you relevant and ease the buyer’s decision making.
Process and reset to the new normal.
Practice writing on Social Media
Write even on social media posts, captions and description. Hone your skills with time.
Pay attention to social media captions on other posts.
Keep them short, creative, and lighthearted especially on Instagram.
Insert relevant hashtags with a large following. Check spellings and grammatical errors.
Understand how to compose for different social media channels. Follow experts and study how they write. Analyse and imitate their style.
Gradually develop your own style depending on what suits you and what works.
Information is evolving most of the time. Reading in your niche topic is a great way to keep your information updated.
Read on basic concepts, applications, analysis of various sub-topics in your niche.
Researching on creative ideas, and a variety of thoughts and theories across the globe in your niche will give you a complete perspective of your subject matter.
Reading books and expert blogs as a habit will help to improve your knowledge.
Observing how good authors express the feelings of characters and situations in their books, will help you in etching your characters and situations.
Research how non-fiction information is presented.
Industry-related magazines can be a great source of inspiration.
Finding opinions of other bloggers on topics of your interests might add to your knowledge and research.
Researching and picking up data and specific insightful information for your piece is an exciting addition to distinguish it.
- Purpose of research is to make your blog more useful, genuine, share-worthy and credible.
- An article or blog post that adds value stays in the memory.
- Adding info-graphics, customized images, videos, interviews, survey and results, futuristic opinions, listicles, questionnaires, downloadable e-books are some attractive additions to engage and retain audience in your resources.
Research on these and add in your text. These also make your content distinct from the other regurgitated pieces.
- Follow ethical reuse practices.
- Plagiarism is a complete no-no.
- Research on copyrights and licences.
- Create your own resources using educational technology tools.
- Give credit for images and other resources if reused under attribution.
- Give citation and external links to authority websites from wherever you research information.
- It’s never too late to learn how to paraphrase and summarize.
Prompt your audience or readers to comment below your blog or article is a great idea to get feedback and ideas for creating new blogs.
Adding a call to action button such as “Subscribe to our Newsletter for exciting and useful blog posts” is a good way to make target audience keep coming back to your content.
Building your resources based on good research is definitely one of the 20 Ways to improve writing skills.
Guest writing as a practice
Make it a practice to write as a guest blogger as least a few times a year.
But why should you write as a guest blogger at other high ranking blogging sites?
- Because this way you will give a new and wider audience.
- Moreover, this way you will try to do a better job as a guest blogger.
- As a guest writer on many platforms and newsletters, your author bio will get references and back-links to your website.
- This will build your brand.
My inspiration, Julia McCoy says “Offer free talk, author original content, connect to similar publication audience, to earn back-links instead of only building them.”
Build your web content and portfolio
Your website is like your home.
The About page, the home page, services you offer are critical for your website visitor to know more.
This web copy should be about the customer and not just about the product and services.
Blog pieces are the structure of your website. They nurture the audience to connect to the brand. Blogging is essential to showcase your work.
Include your blog format with customized visuals, info-graphics and videos. Social media presence is important to connect directly to your audience. Be regular on posting on social media to create a brand presence. Be original and fun.
Write an expert copy on technical subjects. Often subject experts are too busy to write for blogs and articles. Interview experts and research on the subject to create genuine articles that will add value to the reader.
Create a strong brand. Have a consistent copy of who you are and what you do.
Read extensively on your craft and follow thought leaders. Invest in your personal growth. Being original will get organic back-links.
Create new concepts that will clear old concepts and add to the thought process in your industry. Coin your own terminology and concepts.
Writing can truly be satisfying and meditative. All you need to do is be consistent, keep editing, and keep learning.
Do not give up. Maintain a good work-life balance.
Creating content can take away a lot of your time in researching, actually putting it down on your digital notepad, editing and proofreading, and checking SEO is in place, and more. Yes, there is a lot more about improving your skills.
Because adapting to change is on your fingertips.
Having read it all, you know better! Keep at it and make a difference.