What Is Content Writing? Plus 12 Tips to Take Your Content to the Next Level

Content writing can mean many things.

Crafting social media copy for a small business, drafting press materials for an insurance brand, and posting an essay on AI Ethics to Medium are all forms of writing that fall under the content writing umbrella.

So, what is the actual definition of content writing?

Content writing is creating and editing written content for the internet. That means blog posts, articles, social media posts, website copy, etc. What unifies all these types of writing is the purpose.

Content is intended to be consumed, and writers create written content that enriches the connection between a brand and its target audience.

Read on for a deep dive into content writing and some tips to bring your content writing to the next level.

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Content creation is a critical component of most businesses’ marketing strategies — as of 2020, 70% of marketers now actively invest in content marketing.

This means the role of a content writer is more in-demand than ever before. However, the role varies depending on both industry and business needs.

For instance, some businesses invest heavily in a social media strategy, while other companies prefer creating content in the format of blog posts or e-books.

Regardless of format, a content writer is critical for creating high-quality content that represents and strengthens a brand’s voice while attracting, engaging, and delighting the right audience.

Simply put, content writers are the storytellers of their brand. They convey meaningful, helpful, and insightful messages to inspire and move an audience to take action — that action being a final sale.

When done right, content writing can convert readers into prospects and prospects into paying customers. So, you must consistently create helpful, engaging content for your business‘s bottom line. But that’s easier said than done.

To help take your content to the next level, let’s dive into some of my favorite content writing tips.

12 Content Writing Tips

1. Write unique and original content, and go above and beyond what you find online.

Whenever I start a new blog post like this one, I start with plenty of online research — but that’s not where it ends.

After Googling relevant topics, including “content writing tips,” I begin creating an outline using some of the information I find online.

However, your piece will never rank if you just copy-and-paste the same information that already exists online — and, even if it does, when your readers catch on (and they will), they’ll lose trust in your brand as an authority within the industry.

Once I finish my rough outline (including about 60% of the information I found through online research), I fill in the remaining 40% with unique, original insights.

Suppose I know about a topic personally (as with “content writing” since I‘m a content writer). In that case, I’ll fill in the outline with original anecdotes, tips, or personal examples.

However, if I know very little about the topic, that doesn‘t mean I simply use what’s already online. Instead, I‘ll contact internal HubSpotters who are experts on the subject or use other original internal company resources.

I’ll also conduct external outreach via my social networks to find a reputable source willing to provide tips, quotes, or original examples to beef up my piece.

Additionally, I‘ll look for content regarding the topic across a wide range of sources — including YouTube, LinkedIn, Reddit, Quora, and podcasts — to ensure that when readers come across my content, it’s comprehensive and unique.

Why should they stay on your page if they can find the same information elsewhere on Google? As a good content writer, it’s your job to take your content to the next level.

2. Write a good hook to grab your reader’s attention.

Sometimes, writing a good hook is easy — particularly if the topic is intriguing or exciting to you as the writer.

But what about more boring, mundane topics, like Rel=nofollow?

Sometimes, writing a good hook requires pulling back and looking at the bigger picture.

For instance, while rel=nofollow isn’t the most fascinating topic (in my opinion), what is interesting to me is SEO and how SEO can directly impact a company’s ability to reach new audiences — plus, how Google has needed to change regulations in recent years due to an increase in illegitimate sites.

This means when I started writing 3 Reasons Why SEOs Are Upset About Google’s Rel=nofollow Announcement, I used that angle to inspire my hook and painted a picture: Myself as a Wikipedia editor, writing about zebras, and getting paid $500 to link to a fake news website.

(Now you‘re interested, aren’t you?)

My creative writing background helps in this case, and I’m willing to bet your passion for writing will also help you create exciting hooks.

The introduction and hook are often your best opportunity to use your writing skills to inspire, move, surprise, and delight your readers. Take advantage of that space by thinking: What would make me and my friends want to keep reading?

3. SEO-optimize your content for search engines.

Your writing can be stunning, but no one will ever read it if it’s not SEO-optimized.

As a content writer, you must become familiar with SEO when it comes to writing.

An SEO-savvy writer can help you ensure your content ranks on whichever platforms you publish, including YouTube, Google, or even social sites like Instagram.

Plus, you can use SEO to ensure you‘re writing about the most popular topics related to your products or services and covering the right sub-topics when you’re writing about a given topic.

For instance, “content writing tips” is a keyword phrase I found when conducting keyword research on the topic of “content writing” as a whole.

It’s not necessarily a sub-topic I would’ve considered covering in this blog post had I not done the research to recognize HubSpot readers are seeking out that information.

Learning key SEO tactics will help you become a writer more attuned to your readers’ challenges and ensure you create content that more accurately answers those challenges.

4. Consider how you can attract an audience across a wide variety of platforms.

While SEO is critical for ensuring your content ranks on search engines like Google, it’s not the only opportunity for distribution.

To reach a wider audience, learning how to write content that performs well on various platforms such as Instagram, LinkedIn, or email is helpful.

Plus, you might be a content writer whose sole job is to write newsletter content or social media copy, depending on your business needs.

To ensure your content reaches and inspires audiences regardless of their preferred platform, you must consistently consume content via email and social media to pick up writing tips specific to those sources.

5. Incorporate multimedia components to break up the text.

Try incorporating videos, images, graphs, or other multimedia content to break up the text and make it easier for your readers to consume — mainly if it’s long-form content, like pillar pages or whitepapers.

Consider, for instance, the blog post I wrote: “How to Develop a Content Strategy: A Start-to-Finish Guide.”

That blog post is long, with over 3,000 words. To break it up, I embedded videos and other multimedia elements (like blockquotes) to keep the reader engaged throughout.

This is also an excellent opportunity to increase traffic to your company’s marketing materials.

For instance, if you have a new company podcast, try embedding episodes in relevant blog posts to drive listeners to the podcast while providing additional value for your readers — a win-win.

6. Segue into appropriate and relevant calls-to-action.

As a content writer, your job isn’t just to create good content (that‘s what novelists are for). It’s also to ultimately convert those readers, listeners, or viewers into prospects and customers.

As such, you must learn how to appropriately include relevant CTAs throughout your content, particularly if those CTAs can help your readers learn more about the topic at hand.

Consider, for instance, the relevant CTAs embedded in the body text of HubSpot’s YouTube video, “How to Understand Facebook Video Insights (Guide)“:

These in-text CTAs direct YouTube viewers to explore other HubSpot offerings, including HubSpot Academy social media courses.

The CTAs aren’t jarring or off-putting — instead, the content writer did a good job ensuring the CTAs were relevant and truly valuable for the viewer.

When creating your content, you must consistently direct your audience to various business offerings to convert those viewers into prospects and consumers.

7. Edit, edit, edit.

Whenever I finish a first draft of a blog post, I take a few hours off and then return to it at the end of the day. With a fresh perspective, I can edit for minor grammatical errors or fix structural issues.

Good content writing is impossible without good content editing.

We‘re all human and will continue to make mistakes in our writing. That’s okay, as long as you remember to go back and edit for those errors later.

Additionally, minor grammatical errors can ultimately make or break a reader‘s trust in your brand. Suppose they notice you’ve forgotten periods or misspelled words.

In that case, they might judge that your content isn’t as authoritative and clean as other content on the web and look for future information elsewhere.

8. Jam-pack value into every sentence.

When I worked with an editor a few years ago, she consistently told me: “If your sentence isn’t telling the reader anything new, delete it.”

This was a tough pill to swallow. That meant I needed to delete some of my most moving sentences. But it‘s a fair point: In content creation, you must move quickly onto your next point, or you’ll lose your reader entirely.

Most of your readers are busy people with plenty of distractions, including other businesses’ social posts, blog articles, or YouTube videos. Make it easy for them by making your point — and then moving on.

9. Play around with interesting angles.

Good content writers consistently test out new, surprising angles to keep readers engaged and coming back for more.

Consider, for instance, how often “consumer product” has been written about. If you‘ve ever researched the topic, I’m willing to bet that you’ve already seen various angles as different content writers try to make an old topic feel new again.

But, have you ever seen consumer products compared to water before?

Articles like “Be Like Water — A Guiding Principle for Consumer Product” do an excellent job of finding new angles to pull readers’ in, even if those readers have seen plenty of consumer product-related content before.

The more unique and surprising your angles are, the more likely you are to capture new audiences.

10. Incorporate original quotes from thought leaders or colleagues to paint a well-rounded argument.

No matter how good my writing is, my readers still don’t necessarily want to hear my advice on protecting your mental health while working from home.

That’s why I didn’t try to tackle the topic myself — instead, I found a psychologist to provide well-researched, helpful tips to take my piece to the next level.

Even if you‘re an expert, consider how you might provide alternative opinions to create a more well-rounded argument.

If you’re writing a blog post like “Video vs. Podcast: Which Is Better For Your Business?” — see if you can get quotes from podcasters and video producers (or your internal colleagues who feel passionate about the subject).

Expert quotes or original insights will impress readers and show them that what they’re finding on your website they won’t find elsewhere on the web. And that’s powerful.

11. Tell the reader why what you’re writing about matters to them and their daily lives.

Let’s say you’re creating an ebook: “A Comprehensive Guide to Excel.”

Not exactly what excited you most when you majored in English, was it?

Imagine how your readers feel: Sure, they might download your ebook if they need the information to excel (ha, ha) in their jobs, but they won’t necessarily be excited about it.

Consider, however, how critical Excel is for specific functions.

Excel can help a company’s financial department analyze year-over-year performance to determine how much budgeting a marketing team will receive in the upcoming year.

That budget contributes to critical growth and the business’s ability to reach and convert new customers. Without it, the marketing team won’t be able to increase brand awareness as effectively as they’d like — and the business will suffer.

When you recognize that Excel can be tied to a person‘s job security, it suddenly becomes much more fascinating, doesn’t it?

Content writing is about more than just creating pretty sentences.

It’s also about telling readers why a topic should matter and how your content can help them improve in certain areas of their lives — work, family, health, or travel. Now, that’s purposeful.

12. Ground your advice with examples.

As I‘ve covered these content writing tips, I’ve tried to include a few relevant examples (i.e., my Rel=nofollow blog post).

Examples can help ground your advice and drive a message home — and they can also help demonstrate how readers can apply your advice to their lives.

When writing about loftier, less tangible topics, you must show your readers what you mean rather than just telling them.

But what better way to demonstrate the importance of examples than to…show you some examples? (Great segue, huh?)

Let’s dive into some examples of powerful content writing next.

Examples of Content Writing

1. “Wikipedia’s Value In The Age Of Generative AI” – Selena Deckelmann

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Why It Works

Staying on top of current trends is essential for content writers looking to capture readers’ attention.

From a fresh and exciting perspective, Deckelmann, Chief Product and Technology Officer at the Wikimedia Foundation, touches on one of today’s hottest topics, generative AI.

Can people use AI to generate new Wikipedia articles? Would they be any good?

Deckelmann uses these issues as a springboard to deliver her perspective on AI ethics and Wikipedia’s value in a changing digital landscape.

2. “The Player Series Players: Haim Discusses Their Fender Love” – Fender

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What We Like

Fender’s blog post entertains and fosters an emotional connection with the audience. The content serves a marketing purpose while offering entertainment value to the reader.

Fender’s profile on the band is a fun read for fans of the band and the brand alike. It also features an embedded video that supports the content (and offers an SEO bump, too).

3.The 5 Best Morning Routine Ideas Of Highly-Productive People” – Trello

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Why It Works

Everyone seems to love ice baths and optimized morning routines these days. Trello’s article is an entertaining and topical piece of content that aligns with the brand’s story.

It offers valuable content for readers and features actionable examples with social proof.

Trello’s article never discusses or promotes its product. Yet, it still strengthens the marketing muscle. Helpful content like this helps to drive SEO and reinforces brand loyalty.

4. “Retailers, No Need to Spend a Fortune on Voice AI to See Results” – SoundHound

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What We Like

SoundHound’s blog post focuses on a particular segment of their customers: retailers. Great content writers craft each piece with a purpose and audience in mind. This post exemplifies that.

They also make use of statistics and specific examples to drive home the value that their product delivers:

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Use statistics and examples in your content writing that demonstrate the value of your product whenever possible.

5. Holy Basil: Our Antioxidant Friend” – Parallel Health

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Why It Works

Parallel Health is a startup that creates custom skincare solutions based on your personal skin microbiome. The above blog post focuses on the benefits of an antioxidant-rich natural ingredient in their products.

This post speaks to skincare connoisseurs with a penchant for science, which accurately describes their target audience.

The post makes readers feel good about using their product, which is always how you want to make your customers think.

Generative AI in Content Writing

Generative AI is here, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Using tools like ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, and our free AI Content Assistant, content writers can generate blog posts, titles, captions, and other content ideas just by asking.

However, this doesn’t mean generative AI does the content writing for you. Generative AI is best used as a tool to help you along in the writing process. You’ll still need to personalize the AI’s output and align it with your voice and needs.

Here are some tips for effectively implementing Gen AI in your content writing strategy.

1. Give context.

When prompting your generative AI of choice, give it the context of what your content will be about, your goals, and who your target audience is. Be as clear and descriptive as possible when prompting your AI.

2. Be specific

Tell the AI about specific keywords you want to hit, the length of your post, and any other structural information relevant to the type of content you want to create. Do you want a bulleted list of points as opposed to whole paragraphs? The more detailed instructions you can give, the better.

3. Workshop your prompts.

If your AI didn’t output what you sought on the first try, reiterate, rewrite, and adjust your prompts to get the best results. You can ask your gen AI to review and expand on specific segments until you are happy with the results.

4. Use AI to summarize.

Let’s say you are researching an upcoming post, which requires you to read many other articles for inspiration and fact-finding. You can use generative AI to summarize a lengthy passage.

Copy and paste your source text and ask the AI to summarize the input as a bulleted list.

Just like that, you’ve saved time and have access to key takeaways and points that will inform your content writing process.

5. Be you.

Generative AI is exciting and convenient but is not a replacement for human content writing. Remember, AI is trained on existing content, but only humans can create something out of nothing.

Use AI for inspiration and jumpstart your writing process, but don’t copy and paste the output verbatim, or your content will end up generic and lacking your personal touch.

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