Great content can be described in a sentence as a piece of writing that is clean, unadulterated with unnecessary figures of speech, and conveying a thought across to the reader.
It is creative yet thought-provoking, humorous yet informative. With this you should aim to solve a reader’s problems, their long last dilemma whether to buy something or not and be able to convince them that what you are saying is of substance while keeping them hooked on to the narrative.
As a budding content writer, the English language and its inexhaustible resources are the proverbial oysters to your world, yet not everything you may have to say or write is something that the mass audience would like to read. So how to write great content?
Is there some magic formula that immediately makes your content bestseller-novel worthy? The answer would be no, but regardless, there are a few action points that you can take note of which will help you get started on this journey and eventually become a good content writer.
6 Steps: How to Write Great Content
1. Find the Intent
In content writing, there is no one-size-fits-all. Every pair of eyes requires something else when they look at a piece of written content and consequently want something that can satisfy them. So, as a content writer, it is your job to find the intent with which a reader has logged on to the internet to read your article.
Your content should be as transparent as possible, devoid of any hidden meanings. Remember, no one likes being lied to. Tread the line between giving it straight to your reader and being bland carefully. Secondly, while writing content that involves you expressing your opinion, make sure you have enough facts to back it up with.
As a rule of thumb, try keeping the ratio of facts to opinions as 1:1. The more you can back your opinions with facts, the easier it is for a reader to be convinced of your stance. Finally, keep it unique; use the creative juices in your head to put out content that feels personal and relatable, not like anything anyone has published before you.
2. Make a Content Outline
Nothing can drive a potential reader away quicker than a written article that is haphazardly structured. Apart from following the usual introduction-body-conclusion rule, make it a habit to have all your content pieces laid out in front of your eyes in a systematic way before you start assembling them.
Have a blueprint on how you are going to frame your article before you start writing, arranging all the pieces together before putting together your final draft. This includes having a useful topic to write on, researching gathering information on the said topic, constructing an eye-catching headline, followed by the content being put together in a cogent manner.
Also, make sure that your content has good readability; meaning that it is spaced out sufficiently, separated with headings and subheadings wherever necessary.
Unreliable sources of information are a reader’s nightmare. Apart from being labeled as non-trustworthy, it also leads to lesser people reading your content and approving of it. You should always have the correct research to use in your articles, irrespective of how much research you have been able to do.
Even if your research on a topic is less, it would not matter if the data you have secured is accurate and unquestionable. To attain this, you should learn to use the correct tools to find credible sources of information, and make precise queries on search engines such as Google.
You can also take references from other established writers in your field, see what sources and which individuals are citing their research from. These mainly include accounts that are published on trusted government and media websites.
A fast-paced and rapidly changing world also means that information on a particular event or topic gets outdated very quickly. So, you should stay on your toes regarding the information you are choosing to put in your articles and update it accordingly if something like this happens. Also keep a rough research draft handy with you, with all the links and references noted down in a separate document. This helps in providing clarity about what you have quoted in your articles and also helps in changing information as per the need.
4. Headline of the Article
An average blog reader only stays on a page for 4 seconds before deciding whether it’s worth their time or not. So, in that short time interval, you have the all-important task of grabbing the reader’s attention. This can only be achieved by a crisp title, foretelling of what lies ahead, tone-defining, and quirky at the very least.
Depending on the content in the article, a title can range from anything between a list format (top 10 things, etc.) to power words and phrases that establish a psychological hold over the reader’s mind, such as little-known facts, quick and easy, how to…like a pro, red flags to watch out for if…, among others. Also, try to use SEO-worthy keywords in the articles as this will provide some added boost to your article on the page rankings as well as do the trick to grab your reader’s attention.
5. Make an Interesting Hook
After piquing a reader’s curiosity with a catchy title, now is the time to grab their full attention. While a good title beckons to a reader that you are here, the ‘Lead’ or ‘Hook’ of the title is an invitation that you have something interesting to say and they should come to listen to you. Writing a good lead is hard and may come to you the more you practice it, but it will be the one that ultimately seals the deal between you and your potential audience.
Write a Hook that is no more than 2-3 sentences, in active voice, and include elements of your article that express the presence of a solution to the reader’s problems. This way, the reader is compelled is to read on to find what is next. Avoid grammatical and spelling errors at all costs, as this will hurt your chances of convincing the reader of your article.
Once written, try getting it reviewed by one of your peers or family members for an unbiased opinion on whether it looks like something they would want to read or not.
6. Following the Content Outline and Drafting
The beauty of content writing is that in the process of convincing the reader of your literary prowess, it is natural and easy to get swayed by your content and begin writing in an all-positive, non-critical manner.
While this is very enjoyable to work on as an individual, as a professional content writer it is necessary to stay true to your plan of action and stick to the outline drawn by you of presenting your content in a formal, structured way. Always remember the objective for which you are writing the article, and what goals you aim to achieve with it.
Use statistical and graphical figures to support your stance and provide sufficient evidence and references not just to follow the habit of crediting other people’s work that you have quoted but also to provide the reader with an insight as to how other authors are thinking and writing about the same matter.
Make your content as interactive as possible, adding images and videos if necessary, allowing the reader to do some self-analysis on the subject and thus improving their engagement with your content.
Editing and Proofreading
The quality and creativity of your content matters will not matter if your grammar and spelling skills are not present to back it up. The biggest thing that can put off a reader is incorrect spellings and parts of speech, along with messy indentations and paragraphing.
Once you are done writing an article, take the time out to proofread and edit your article at least twice before publishing it. Use this time to read through the article and make sure that the sentences make sense to you as a third person. Establish a flow between consecutive sentences and paragraphs with correct prepositions and conjunctions connecting the texts. Also, under no circumstances should you resort to copying text from a website or plagiarise content from any source. If you have to quote an article or a news piece, provide the source as a reference in your article without fail.
Optimize for Search Engines
Great content needs to hit the mark not just in terms of quality, but also in terms of the number of people it reaches. Your article published on a website or your blog may not be able to attract viewers if it does not satisfy the algorithm of the search engine, thus ranking it lower than other articles of similar themes.
Perform a search engine optimization test on the content you want to write, starting with researching about the kind of content people want to read, whether it is an article to improve their health or a blog describing how the economy functions.
Use appropriate tools to find out keywords that, when added to the article, increase the visibility of the article on the search engine, mainly comprising of important words or phrases that people are commonly searching for. Links to articles written by other credible authors in the same field can also be added as references, notifying the algorithm of your presence.
These activities can help in pushing your content higher in the rankings, leading to more people clicking on it to read.
Despite your best intentions, some content with ambiguous interpretations may get posted in your article that may cause your readers to get confused. This generally happens when you pick a topic that is not well versed with the common public.
In that case, if you anticipate your readers having some doubts and questions, add a list of frequently asked questions at the end of your article that covers an array of such common misconceptions.
This not only enhances the brevity of your article but also goes to show the readers that you are well invested in convincing and explaining your thought process to them. With these, you can even take it a step further by adding your contact details as an option so that if the readers have any further doubts, they can personally ask you about them.
Final Check and Publishing
Now that you are ready to show your content to the world, add a couple of final touches to your masterpiece by doing one last proofread and edit of your article, making sure that the content is easy to read and understand.
When that is done, send the article in for submission at either a public forum or your blog if you have one. Then, the next and final step would be to advertise the article, sharing it extensively among your peers and on all the possible social media platforms.
Make sure you invest as much time as you can in this step, as you want your content to reach the greatest number of eyes. With that done, be regular in keeping track of the progress of your article on the internet, how many people it has reached, what is the general public opinion on it, as well as feedback from your colleagues on what you can do to improve upon your shortcomings.
With all these steps, in time, your content will prove its worth and be of immense help to the community.