Content writing is one of the most misunderstood terms in marketing.
It’s often viewed as just writing blog posts or worse, mistaken as copywriting.
Content writing is all about researching, planning, scheduling, and publishing different forms of content online. This includes blog posts, white papers, Twitter posts, Facebook posts, landing pages, Youtube scripts, long-form emails, and much more.
It’s different from copywriting because copywriting involves using specific frameworks to sell to your reader. Content writing isn’t necessarily about selling directly through your content. It’s a function of digital marketing and can even be used as a branding exercise.
In this article, I’m going to outline the 11 best content writing tips for beginners. Each tip will also have a “pro” tip where you can take immediate action to help you get ahead.
1. Write, every single day.
If you’re going to write content, whether as a side hustle or a full-time gig – you need to practice your craft. That means writing, without fail, every day.
“Writers write”Jon Acuff, Soundtracks
You’ll find the more you write, the easier it becomes. By setting aside time to build your writing skills, you’ll flex your writing muscles. As a task, writing becomes easier, and topics begin to flow.
A great way to do this initially is with an activity like journaling. Setting aside anything from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, in the morning or evening, helps build your writing habit. Like most things in life, writing gets better with short, consistent practice. Practice makes perfect: write, every day.
Pro tip: If you find this overwhelming, start by signing up for the free Ship30For30 email course. It’ll guide you all the way through!
2. Niche down.
Whether it’s through a hobby, work, or something else we’re exposed to daily – we all have topics we know a lot about. When you’re choosing the kind of clients you’d like to write for, or what you’d like to cover in a personal blog, it’s always better to ‘niche’ down – pick your specialty. By choosing no more than three areas of focus, you can establish yourself as an expert.
Perhaps you love talking about sports and traveling, or you have insights about parenting you can share. Maybe you’re smashing it at the gym or have a passion for cooking and would like to help others learn the same. Take a look at your life, and take note. What subjects come easily to you? You’re guaranteed to have knowledge worth sharing.
3. Keep it conversational.
The most important thing to remember when beginning with content writing is this: keep your writing conversational. Write as if you are speaking to a friend. How would you keep them interested in what you’re saying? What are the most important points? Writing conversationally keeps your writing simple. People are hit with so much information every day – you stand out by breaking topics down into bite-sized, easy-to-understand bits of information.
Address your reader like you would a friend who’s asking your advice! By writing a little every day, and picking subjects you already know a lot about, you’ll find it easier to write conversationally.
Pro tip: Follow large and active Twitter accounts in your niche. Pay close attention to how they communicate. The same goes for email newsletters. Most of the content will be written in a conversational tone to keep you engaged and returning.
4. Your headline matters.
Your headline is crucial. It’s what will drive interest in your article. It should be short, attention-grabbing, and to the point. This is something a lot of beginner copywriters struggle with. The hard part is getting enough attention to generate a click, this is why it's the first part of the AIDA formula.
Look at the reason why you’re writing this article: what do you want people to know? Why is what you’re saying important?
Simplicity is the key when picking your headline. Your headline should address or answer the burning question the reader has!
5. Subheadings are your friend. And short paragraphs.
Subheadings break up your ideas. When you’re first beginning an article, you need to plan it out and break the bigger idea into those chunks that are easy to read, one at a time. It helps to keep your writing consistent and the overall topic on point. Use subheadings to break up each idea into a paragraph of its own, and keep those paragraphs short. Use the active voice to address your reader. You can provide value by putting the most important information in the first few paragraphs.
Pro tip: Find content that’s performing well in your niche and copy the layout. There’s a reason it’s successful!
6. Do your research.
Even if you are an expert, or know a lot about your subject – there’s always more to know. In order to provide value, you’ll need to expand on your points or compare the information that’s out there with what you’re giving. To do this, you need to do your research. If you want to write content, research will take up a big chunk of your writing time. To plan your content writing time accurately, you should follow the 80/20 rule. 80% of your time is spent researching, editing, formatting, and marketing your writing. The remaining 20% of the time is spent on the actual writing itself.
7. Cite sources.
As you’re doing your research, you’ll come across published journal articles with facts and statistics about your subject. You should definitely include these in your article if the information is helpful and relevant to your topic. Never, ever, copy and paste the work of another content writer. This is dishonest, and it could land you in trouble. If you find interesting information you’d like to share, you can do this by citing your sources at the end of your article.
To credit the original source in your article you can add a hyperlink to a point of information. This way the reader can simply click to be re-directed to your source – always make sure it opens in a new window so you don’t lose the user forever!
Pro tip: Make use of tools like PrimoStats to easily add credibility to your content.
8. Learn basic keyword research and SEO.
SEO makes your content easy for readers to find. It’s the difference between writers who don’t get very far and writers who make a generous living online.
With SEO, the goal is to first figure out which keywords are relevant to you. From here you want to start writing content you genuinely have a chance at ranking for. There’s no point in writing content if you’ll never get a position in the top 10 search results. Most SEO tools will be able to easily identify how hard it is to rank for a keyword.
Pro tip: Watch all the Growth Scouter Youtube videos to learn more about growing a blog. The channel has real case studies and guides you through each step.
9. Utilize tools. Especially AI ones.
Don’t be afraid to use tools to help you with your content writing. There are great AI tools available now, that can help make your life easier and cut down on time. Using tools that help you proofread and edit your content means you’ll have more time to do what matters – write! An app like Grammarly helps to edit sentences and paragraphs. WordTune is an AI-based writing tool that helps you correct your spelling and grammar. Websites like Keysearch help you optimize your content for SEO. Don’t be shy – make use of all the tools available to make your writing sharper and speed up your process!
10. Read, every day.
If you want to be a good writer, you need to read every day. Reading other people’s work will help you take note of what you like and don’t like as a reader – if you want to write good content, you need to put yourself in the shoes of a reader and make sure you’re providing them with a great reading experience. By taking note of what works and what doesn’t, you will improve your own writing. You will also build more knowledge in your chosen niche!
11. Be patient – the beginning is slow!
In the beginning, you might feel your writing is slow. It can be frustrating but it’s part of the process. Know that like any other muscle, your writing muscle needs to be trained, strengthened, and conditioned.
Your efforts will compound over time! So stick with it.
Enjoy the process and the new adventure content writing brings – you’re learning an invaluable set of skills.
Pro tip: Ask your favorite writers how long it took them before they “made it”. It’s usually years. Read this Twitter thread to get an accurate indicator of what’s involved.
These content writing tips for beginners should help you make progress much faster. Here are all the tips in summary:
- Write, every single day.
- Niche down.
- Keep it conversational.
- Your headline matters.
- Subheadings are your friend. And short paragraphs.
- Do your research.
- Cite sources.
- Learn basic keyword research.
- Utilize tools. Especially AI ones.
- Read, every single day.
- Be patient – the beginning is slow.
The key is to stick with it and put in the reps required so your efforts compound.
Seven resources content writers need in their toolbox
➡️ Great Landing Page Copy: Landing page examples for inspiration.
➡️ Marketing Examples: Copywriting examples to help generate ideas.
➡️ Swipe File: Copywriting examples to help generate ideas.
➡️ SaaS Headline Formulas: Use this to generate killer headlines.
➡️ SubReddit Stats: Use this for problem identification & user research.
➡️ Anvaka Reddit Tool: Use this for problem identification & user research.
➡️ User Testing: Use this for problem identification, customer interviews & user research.