You don’t have to work at a content marketing agency or be a professional to improve your copywriting skills.
As someone who reads blogs, or even works to create highly readable (and findable) content for your business, you won’t be surprised to learn that there is a formula to structuring a blog, to writing a headline and to optimizing your work.
Short of hiring a professional writer, this article will help you see the steps it takes to create a blog that is well written, seen by Google, and read by humans. Use this list (and the attached diagram) to get started on your own content marketing.
Here is a short guide on how to create the best-written content possible without being a professional writer.
Who will read your blog?
It goes without saying that before you begin any content marketing plan, you need to be clear on a few basic things about your business. The first and most important are:
- The needs of your ideal client
- Your solution to the problem that keeps them up at night
- Who your ideal client is
Answering these will give you the basics of your messaging. This is essential to get started with content marketing for your business. And always remember when thinking about your ideal audience, it is about them — never about you or what you want.
Most professional writers know that the goal of any piece of copy or content (they aren’t the same thing) that is created is done so for a reason. Whether it is a part of a book or academic paper – or for a social media post, the first step in creating great copy is to understand:
- Who you intend it for (the answer is certainly never “everyone”)
- What the goal is of the piece (what action will your reader take)
- What channel will the work be published on
Step 1: The style of the work you are writing
Once you can clearly define these questions, your next decision is what type of piece you are creating? For the purposes of this blog, we will cover what it takes to write a blog that gets read. The rules and decisions apply to all types of writing, but this will get you started.
Here are a few of the options you might consider when writing your blog:
- Listicle – A numbered list of steps to take to achieve a goal
- Tutorial – A “how to” guide (this is one)
- Opinion Piece – What are you thinking now?
- Review – Maybe share the work of someone in your field and discuss
- Comparison – What makes you unique?
Step 2: Write the headline
The headline is the MOST important element of your blog. It is what piques the interest of your reader and inspires them to keep reading.
Sometimes a challenge can come because you also have to create a headline that is Google-friendly and that is highly searchable. Consider using your key phrases in your headline when possible.
In general, headlines should follow the format of the blog you have decided to write.
If you are creating a list of the steps to take to write a blog, consider a numbered headline like “The 5 steps you need to know to write a blog that gets read online.”
Creating a how-to blog instead? Create a headline that shares that information, and uses terms that your reader might search. Example: “How to write a blog that has high engagement in 2022.”
You’ll want to avoid bad copywriting and clickbait headlines like: “You’ll never believe this copywriting tip.”
Here are a few other examples of good vs great headlines. The great ones use words that pique your curiosity and get readers to want to ”click” to read more:
- GREAT: Do Some Foods “Explode” in Your Stomach?
- GOOD: Fried foods reportedly bad for health
- GREAT: You’ll Never Get Hired if You Say This in a Job Interview
- GOOD: Find a job using these steps
- GREAT: Proven System: Master a New in Language in 10 Days
- GOOD: You can learn a new language
Step 3: Write the opening paragraph – and make it worth reading
The opening paragraph of your blog is where you get the chance to tell your reader what you intend to share with them, and keep their interest to..well, keep them reading.
If the headline is designed to inspire a click – the first paragraph is the hook.
It does the work of not only beginning the story that you intend to share, but it has to offer just enough (think of a movie trailer) so that your reader can’t wait to get to the meat of the blog.
In school, this is where your English teacher’s spent so much time talking about the thesis statement. Purdue University notes, “Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence.”
Of course, you’re not writing a paper – you’re writing a blog. You don’t need a thesis statement exactly, but you do need to tell your reader what you plan to tell them in the body of your work, inspire them — and offer a short call to action.
The first paragraph is also a place to add keywords and phrases as Google will be looking at these to determine what your blog is about and, even more importantly, if it is worth ranking on search results.
Step 4: The body of your blog
You’ve made it! You’ve gotten your reader to open your blog with a solid headline. Then, you kept them interested with your opening paragraph that promised great value.
Now it is time to deliver on that promise.
It is where you give the elusive “value” that marketers like to discuss.
In the body, you should share information that helps your reader answer a question or solve a problem. It is where you share what you know about the topic that you are passionate enough to write about. This can be done in the form of:
- Text explanations
What is value in content marketing?
Value is what we in marketing call the information that is shared in your blog (remember blog is our example, but it applies to all other types of writing).
The Content Marketing Institute notes, “By valuable content we mean the words, knowledge, and information you choose to shape and share for your clients and customers: content that educates, helps, or inspires them. The content they appreciate.”
An old-time ad might have said, “It’s the news you can use.” Think of value in marketing as the information that you can share about your expertise that can help answer the questions or problems of your ideal client in a way that does not sell to them.
Step 5: The Call to Action
Do you need a call to action in every piece of content that you create? Probably, but there are exceptions.
In blogs, it is best to have a simple call to action at the conclusion. Consider using “Subscribe now” or “Call us to chat about your needs” as a soft sell to end your blog. Don’t hard sell in a blog — though you can use stronger calls to action in social posts or ads.
Know what action you want your readers to take before you write even one word, then ask for that action to happen at the conclusion of your blog.
Step 6: Optimize it!
This is a step that many, many business owners simply skip because they aren’t sure how to take even the first steps towards optimizing their blogs.
Here’s an easy pro tip: sign up for Yoast as a plug-in on your WordPress website. Get the premium subscription and follow the template that is laid out for you in the blog section. Not sure how to navigate your website? It is best to get help from professionals to avoid catastrophe. Reach out and we would be happy to help.
Writing content is essential to grow your business online. Doing it well means that both human and search engine readers will be able to find you and buy from you.