In 1996, Bill Gates wrote his revolutionary essay, “Content is King”, that would change the face of marketing. Businesses started to accept that the most effective way to promote their offerings and rise above their competition in the digital age would be through regularly putting out content online. And not just any content – content that is relevant, engaging, interesting, valuable, up-to-date, and somehow stands out above the content that everyone else in your field is publishing. The art of content writing was set to massively explode.
It sounds like a tall order (and it is) but here’s a fact that can help your content really stand out. Many businesses think of content as a means to an end – i.e. by putting out valuable content they hope to gain more customers and sales. While this is usually the overriding goal when writing content, it pays to be aware that content is first and foremost about providing value for your audience.
At Purple Chia, we’ve created strategic, high-value content for countless companies, it’s what we do best. We’ve put together a handy content writing 101 guide by the experts, to help you understand how to produce content that provides real value to your readers.
It is only by providing value – such as by giving answers to their questions, sharing interesting facts and data, offering solutions to real-life challenges – that readers will stick around long enough to eventually (hopefully) become customers.
Content Writing for Beginners
When businesses shift their focus away from asking the reader for something (the sale), and turn their attention towards offering value (educating, inspiring, solving, explaining) they start to reap the true rewards of content marketing.
So, the real secret of winning with content lies in providing more value than anyone else.
Two reasons why content writing is essential:
- Research shows that 80% of all Internet users read blogs
- Small businesses that have blogs are apt to see 126% higher lead growth over those businesses that don’t have a blog
The evidence in favor of populating your blog is so compelling that it becomes clear that content is not optional, content marketing becomes a must.
But it has to be the right kind of content, the kind that offers value rather than the kind that overtly sells. If you’re not in the market for learning a whole new skillset, you can always hire a professional content writer to help you (Hint: here we are!). But if you’re ready to try your hand at doing it yourself, this article offers you some of our best beginners’ content writing tips, and all you need to know on how to get started in content writing. So grab a cup of coffee and get ready to learn the Content Writing 101 basics with us.
What is Creative Content Writing?
Creative content writing involves producing blogs, e-books, case studies, social media posts, etc. that are not overly technical or boring. Rather, the creative content that you put out into the world should capture the attention of your reader, draw them in, and provide them with such valuable information that they can’t help but carry on reading!
Here’s an example of what creative content writing is. Let’s say you are selling a SaaS product – for the sake of the example we will imagine a productivity solution that helps keep track of an employee’s time spent on different products. Consider these two potential content pieces:
- All the technical details of how the product works behind the scenes.
- A case study showing exactly how one of your clients increased their profits by using your solution in their workplace.
Now, both of these could be valuable content. But, you also must consider the audience and the ultimate purpose of your content. If you are trying to get the attention of the decision-maker who will make the decision whether or not to purchase your product, you need to write for a CEO or high-level manager.
This person may or may not have any technical background, but is definitely going to be less interested in how the solution works in the back-end, and much more interested in how it’s going to directly impact the company’s profitability. In this case, you’re much better off writing a case study or a blog post about the importance of productivity solutions in today’s increasingly hybrid work-environment as opposed to a dry, very technically detailed article.
What Are the Basics of Content Writing?
It’s true that not everyone is born a writer. The great thing about writing content for online media, is that no one expects you to be a Dickens or a Stephen King. While it certainly helps if you can craft a compelling sentence, there are many other factors that will help you place your products and services in front of the right people.
If you have no interest in trying your hand at content writing yourself, you can stop reading right now and just set up a call with us, we’ll do it for you! But, if you do want to take a stab at it, here are some content writing 101 basics that will turn you into a pro:
1. Research is your friend
Do not assume that you can just sit down and start writing off the top of your head, and a perfect piece of content will magically appear. Plan for at least a few hours, if not days, of research as you’ll need to have a solid understanding of the following before you start writing:
- Who is your audience?
- What is the purpose of this piece of content?
- What’s the appropriate tone to use?
- What’s the best structure?
- What’s the main message you want to convey?
2. Focus is key
Pick one message or topic to cover. For example, this blog post that you’re currently reading is about Content Writing 101 – as tempting as it can sometimes be to deviate from the main topic, it’s important to only focus on the topic at hand. If any section you find yourself writing doesn’t speak directly to your chosen area of focus, remove it (and save it for another blog).
3. Clarity prevents confusion
Make it easy for your reader to understand the point you’re trying to get across. Use short sentences and easy, conversational language. Don’t overcomplicate things.
4. Tell a story
Try to think of the content you are writing as a story with a beginning, middle and end. Plan out how you are going to take the reader on a journey from start to finish, including transitions from one section to the next.
5. Visuals matter
No one wants to read a solid block of text. Breaking up your content into short sections, separated by headlines, will make it much easier for someone to read. Include bulleted lists whenever relevant, and images are also always a plus.
6. Be very careful about “sales-y” language
While it is no secret to anyone arriving on your website or reading your blog, your goal is obviously to sell your product or service and there is absolutely no shame in that! But, that doesn’t mean every item you write should be aggressively selling. Providing valuable, informative material is key to gaining the trust and loyalty of your potential customers.
How To Find Topics for Content Writing
There are a number of ways to find compelling topics for your content. Let’s explore how to find content writing ideas for beginners below.
- Look for questions – think about questions potential or existing customers tend to ask about your product or industry. In each of those questions – especially ones that come up often – you can find a topic to write about. This can range from very simple, broad topics like “why do I need a productivity solution anyway?” to the more detailed “why should a productivity solution include [insert key feature of your solution here]?”
- Follow the news – if there’s something newsworthy happening in your industry that everyone is talking about, you should probably jump on the bandwagon and discuss it too. Just make sure you choose the most relevant angle to your business.
- Keyword tools – there are tons of free tools out there that will give you insights into what types of things your audience is searching for. Sites like Answer the Public are easy to use and can help you brainstorm ideas based on real people’s interest. There are also more sophisticated tools like Moz Keyword Explorer or Ahrefs Keyword Generator that can also help you come up with topics.
The most important thing to keep in mind when coming up with content writing topic ideas however, is your purpose in writing it. If you are focusing on “top of the funnel” and simply want to raise awareness about your product or industry in general, your topic will be very different than if you are honing in on those at the “bottom of the funnel” who are ready to purchase.
Remember to keep your eye on the goal – if you really want to target those who already have purchasing intent, you need to choose your topics accordingly. For example, you would want to write about “the best productivity solutions” as opposed to “a beginner’s guide to productivity solutions.”
The Art of Content Writing: Crafting Compelling Content
As if it’s not enough to put out content on a regular basis, it also has to be compelling, engaging and interesting to the reader. Otherwise, what’s the point? We’ve written a whole other blog post about writing engaging content that we encourage you to read for more detail, but the key highlights to keep in mind include:
- Use clear, relevant headlines. You can be clever and catchy if you want, but make sure someone skimming your article can easily tell what each section is going to cover.
- Always write first, then come back and edit later. Looking at writing with fresh eyes will give you a new perspective and make it easier to catch mistakes or parts which can be improved.
- Differentiate your article from everyone else’s. With all of the content out there, many people have probably already written about your chosen topic. This is your opportunity to take a different angle, write better, more clearly or more in-depth. Show people why they should come to you for the answers, as opposed to going to your competitors.
- Engage subject matter experts who can help you add depth and details to your piece if you are writing about something out of your element. For example, to provide an added level of authority and interest, you could include quotes from a productivity expert about the importance of particular features that every productivity tool must have.
How to Get Started in Content Writing – Top Tips
At Purple Chia, we pride ourselves on being able to quickly get up to speed on new topics and we love learning new things! One of the biggest lessons we have learned is that it’s very easy to go down the rabbit hole and read tons of information, but nothing replaces actually sitting down and DOING whatever the new task is.
If you want to get started on content writing, you’re going to have to stop reading and start writing. Here’s our best advice for those first steps:
- Just start – it doesn’t matter what you write, just start getting words down on a page (this is, of course, after you’ve done some research and figured out who you are writing for and on what topic!). Your first draft is not necessarily going to be good, but that’s fine. You’ll improve it later, you just need to get in the habit of writing.
- Set a schedule – you likely have a million items on your to-do list and, especially if you find writing a challenge, you might procrastinate a bit. Suddenly every other task feels vastly more important than actually writing. Make an appointment with yourself in your calendar and block out specific time that will be spent writing.
- Ask for feedback – share your first draft with a couple of people whom you trust to be honest and provide constructive criticism. If your feedback can come from someone who falls into your target audience that’s even better as it will help you focus your writing to meet their specific needs and interests.
We’re here if you can’t do it alone
This comprehensive Content Writing 101 Guide for Beginners should help you along with starting your content writing journey. Don’t overthink it – just start writing and see where it takes you. And if you need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Purple Chia, we would love to chat! Experts at crafting effective content no matter the topic, we’d love to discuss your writing requirements and see how we can help.