Content writing is an art. However, unlike art, there is a right and wrong way to write articles. Here are eight tips to guide your content writing and make sure it is above par.
At times during your content writing career, you will be asked to write about a variety of different subjects, depending on the clients you take on and the work you produce for them. However, while the lure of more money may seem, well, alluring, you have to consider the long-term effects of accepting every job someone asks you to do.
If you are being asked to write about a subject you do not know enough about, think about declining the offer. It is better that you refuse a job and keep your reputation intact, than accept a job and ruin your professional reputation. You, and the rates you charge, are determined by the authority conveyed in every piece you write. Since your livelihood depends on your reputation, you should prioritize it first and foremost.
Create an Article Outline Before You Write
Article outlines are beneficial for two reasons. First, it will allow you to structure your article logically. Each point will flow into the next without any seemingly-jarring shifts in tone or direction. Second, article outlines help you write more efficiently. You can only accept so many jobs in an hour, day, or week. By creating and following an article outline, you will be able to finish writing jobs quicker. This will allow you to accept more jobs and make more money from your profession.
Your articles do not need to be long to be effective. It can even be a short form list if you want. To do this, write out a sentence detailing each argument you will make, as well as one or two examples for each argument. If you create an article outline, writing the final product will become much easier for you to do.
Do Your Research Beforehand
You will not be an authority on every subject you write about. This is normal. Anyone who thinks they know everything about anything is wrong. It is simply impossible to do. As such, research the main topics of your articles before writing them. You may discover new research that negates your pre-conceived ideas about a subject. This is most important in subjects that are subjectively-valued, like the Liberal Arts.
Unlike mathematics and science, where an answer or argument is objectively right or wrong, Liberal Arts are open to interpretation. If you can write a convincing argument for a subject in the Liberal Arts, you can argue your work is correct. However, even in Liberal Arts, you should research the topic beforehand. Make sure the objective facts in Liberal Arts, like dates, times, events, etc. are accurate. If your articles are inaccurate or factually wrong, your reputation as a content writer will suffer.
Check, Double Check, and Triple Check Your Text
One of the worst things you can do to hurt your professional reputation as a content writer is to rush a job and send it out without checking it for spelling or grammatical errors. Spellcheck is not a reliable substitute for checking your own text yourself. If, for instance, you are writing dialogue, your sentence syntax will be irregular at times as you attempt to capture the idiosyncrasies of human speech patterns. In addition, making errors like the substitution of “there” for “their,” “your” for “you’re,” and the like is unacceptable, especially if you want to make a career of content writing.
Attempting to be Needlessly Original
Not every article has to be 100% original research. You may not be earning enough to justify the hours, days, or even weeks of time spent studying to develop your own research. In addition, your work does not have to be original to be good or useful. A literature review of a topic can be very valuable to the right audience. Think about your client, their audience, and the parameters of the writing job you have accepted. However, you do not need to be 100% original, 100% of the time.
Edit Your Work 1-3 Times
Even experienced content writers edit their work multiple times to ensure they do not make an error. Note that editing your work is different than checking it, which is covered in a previous section. Checking your work is done to ensure it is factually correct. Editing your work may include checking your work, but it is not limited to this. When you edit your work, you choose to alter it to change the tone, style, or format as well. You should edit your work at least one-to-three times, to ensure you are comfortable with it and so you know your client is receiving what they ordered.
Add Examples to Your Arguments
Your articles need to be well-researched and well-written. One of the common mistakes people make when writing articles is to not include enough examples in their articles. Dry, technical writing may be fine for some audiences. However, without examples, your readers may not understand your articles to the extent you want them to, or they not understand how to apply your teachings. As such, including examples in your arguments are a great way to strengthen and support your thesis statement.
Be Careful with Humor in Content Writing
It is better not to include humor in your articles if you can help it. The inclusion of humor can hurt the strength of your article, and your reputation, if you are not careful with it. However, if you do, you must keep the following things in mind. First, all your humor must be 100% original. Using other people’s jokes, or using typical jokes that have been around for ever, will make you seem, ironically, boring and uninteresting.
Second, your humor fit with the theme of your article. If it does not, it will distract your audience and detract from the arguments you are trying to make. Third, you cannot control how your audience will react to your humor. Unless you are a seasoned comedian and have been writing for a few years, it is best to leave the humor out of your article and play it safe.
As always, if you have any questions about content writing, digital marketing, or want to know what type of coffee to drink in the morning, comment or send us an email. Until next time, Write On.