How to Become a Better Writer: A Content Marketing Lesson
Google “content marketing quotes” and you’ll undoubtedly come across a seemingly endless stream of advice, insights, and ideas from the best in the biz: the Rand Fishkins, Neil Patels, and Heidi Cohens of the world. Out of all of these, however, one particular content marketing quote that stands out to us comes from digital marketing guru Ann Handley of MarketingProfs:
“Good content is not storytelling. It’s telling your story well.”
Many aspiring writers and content creators think they need to be born with a lot of creative talent in order to develop inspiring and impactful content — whether it’s for their own business, a client’s, or for their employer’s. In short, that’s just not the case. In fact, you can go from “beginner” to “advanced” writer fairly quickly.
Transform Into a Great Content Marketing Writer
Are you looking to become a better writer in a matter of months (or even weeks)? You’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find five key best practices to abide by in order to enhance your writing ability and transform yourself into an expert content creator.
1. Stay up-to-date on the latest content creation trends and news.
There are certain core tenets of content creation that were defined decades ago such as keeping your audience in mind, incorporating reputable links, et cetera. However, there are always new trends and updates to the world of content writing to keep your material fresh.
One of the best ways to stay up to speed on these new best practices is to constantly read industry publications and check out the websites of the content creators you enjoy yourself.
“Ongoing education is important, and that means not only do you have to create content, you also have to read others’ content,” said Weidert Group Content & Creative Director Meg Hoppe. “The best content creators are curious and look for subjects their audience might care about.”
2. Build up your content writing “muscle”
Malcolm Gladwell once famously noted it takes 10,000 hours for someone to truly master their craft in a particular area. While that assertion may seem much too general, and has, in fact, been apparently debunked by research, it is true that the best of the best in a given field spend considerable more time honing their crafts than others.
With that in mind, if you’re serious about wanting to better your content creation acumen, you’ll want to spend a portion of each and every day writing; whether that’s 15 minutes or five hours to get to the level that you want to be.
According to HubSpot’s Maggie Butler, writing often is a phenomenal way to slowly, but steadily, improve one’s content creation skills.
“Successful content creators understand the importance of constantly flexing their writing muscles,” said Butler. “Doing so helps them work through ideas that might be jumbled in their head and identify nuggets that could turn into fully realized ideas later.”
3. Empathy is essential when crafting content for any audience.
If you produce content for a brand with a distinct audience, you write articles, guides, and other assets with their pain points in mind.
Those pain points can vary — “not enough time,” “need a streamlined process,” “traffic needs improvement” — but your goal remains the same: empathize with the reader.
In a guest piece for Convince and Convert, ThinkWarwick Communications Founder Jacob Warwick, relayed it’s paramount for writers to put themselves in their audience’s shoes to understand their wants and needs before producing content.
“To do this, you must first empathize with your readers’ struggles and offer real solutions to help them,” said Warwick. If you continually give your readers valuable information, they are typically more inclined to do something for you, like sign up for your newsletter.
4. Allocate significant amounts of time and energy to research.
Spending time writing daily is very helpful to improving your craft. Fail to conduct substantial research on the topics for your content, though, and that writing will never resonate as it should (or rank well in search engines, for that matter).
As freelance writer Zara Burke noted in a post for the Digital Marketing Institute, any content you create — blog posts, white papers, sales sheets, etc. — needs to be based on research (and lots of it) in order to persuade your readers.
“Research is how you find those juicy links packed full of vital stats that support your claims, back up your arguments and add further value to your customers’ lives,” said Burke.
5. Dedicate yourself to master your own voice, tone, and style.
It’s hard to be original and unique in the current content marketing landscape. There’s an incredible amount of information (good and bad) on the internet today, and standing above the “noise” becomes more difficult each and every day.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t develop your own voice and an approach to writing that helps you stand out with your niche audience. Remember: You’re not trying to have your content connect with everyone, but rather the prospective and current customers of your client/business.
“Write in your own voice without trying to replicate anyone,” said content marketing expert Jeff Bullas. “Don’t choose a certain writing style because you think it’s going to appeal to the audience. People will instantly know that your text is far from authentic.”
It will most certainly take you some time — maybe a couple of months even — to nail down a definitive style and tone for your writing. However, it’ll ultimately discipline will help make you a far better and more effective writer in the long run.
How long have you been working on your writing craft? What tips and exercises have helped improve your writing over time? Share your thoughts with us!