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Writing content takes time and mental energy. You want people to read it, and not just because of the SEO. It’s there to inform and educate, create connection and engagement, and show you as an expert.
So it needs to be and do all of those things.
And if you want people to read your content, it needs to be worth reading. Improving your content-writing skills is an ongoing process. Just like physical exercise, it’s something you need to work at if you want to see – and keep – the benefits. Good writing matters.
11 strategies for improving your content-writing skills:
1. Read more!
It might seem counterintuitive to start an article about better writing with reading – but it’s one of the best things you can do. Reading whatever you can get your hands on will help you get an idea of what’s good and what’s bad. You will pick up ideas and insights from the great writers out there. You can look to them for inspiration and guidance. And you can learn what not to do from the not-so-great writers.
2. Learn to write when you can, not just when you have to
There’s nothing more demoralising than putting aside some time to write, sitting down – and finding you don’t know where to start. It’s easy to get into the habit of feeling you’re stuck for ideas or that you can’t begin until you have a perfectly crafted opening sentence. Getting used to ‘just’ writing can help with this.
Put aside five minutes of your day to ‘just write’ and do it longhand, not on your computer. It’s a useful exercise, and not only for your writing skills. Pick a subject – it can be as basic as whatever you see in front of you or what you want to eat for dinner – set a time, and start. It’s not designed to ever be read, and doesn’t have to be spelt properly, grammatically correct, or even make a huge amount of sense. It gets you used to getting something down on paper when you have to, without worrying. No one cares how good it is and there’s no deliberating over the right words and phrases to use; you’re just writing.
3. Let other writers educate you
Make sure you follow copy and content writers you admire. Sign up to their mailing lists, follow them on their social media channels, and learn from them. You’ll find lots of blogs, webinars and other learning opportunities online. Join writing groups and professional organisations who are keen to educate. Procopywriters, for example, has plenty of free resources available to non-members.
4. Know your audience
Who are you writing for? Remember you are writing for the people you want to read your content, not yourself. Are you writing in a way that resonates with them? Are you talking to your target audience or at them? How much do they already know and how much do you need to explain? Try to avoid using too much jargon as it can alienate people.
5. Know what your competitors are doing
What are your competitors writing about? How do they approach things? And do you have a new or unique perspective on it? Not everything has to be new or unique, however; maybe it’s just a subject that should be covered by you too but with your take on it. Look at what your competitors are doing that you like and how you can do something similar. Don’t copy or imitate; work out how you can adapt and improve.
6. Understand search intent
What is it your audience is searching for? If you can understand what your readers need, you can provide it. Are they looking for information or do they want to buy something? According to Backlinko, the main reasons for an online search are informational, commercial, navigational, and transactional. Check out their blog post about search intent as it gives you a lot of information on how and why to leverage it.
7. Be interesting and engaging
You might be giving people information, but that doesn’t mean your content needs to read like a report or the answer to an exam question. Use a more conversational style, don’t be afraid to use humour or colloquialisms if it’s appropriate, and remember to make it relevant. Use examples and stories that will resonate with your readers. You want to hook your readers so use titles and headings that will appeal to them.
8. Use the active voice
“The passive voice should be avoided”, or, “Avoid using the passive”? I think we can agree that the second example – in an active voice – is likely to have more impact on a reader. You can see how the sentence applies to you – and in a real situation – instead of it being some sort of vague, general principle to apply. Try to put your reader at the centre of your writing and they should feel more engaged and interested in what they’re reading.
9. Edit. And edit again
Don’t be afraid to cut out all the extra words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs that have found their way into your writing. If you’re practising the ‘just writing’ technique you probably won’t run out of words! Always edit carefully, even if you’ve spent hours on each sentence. Be harsh. Take out all the redundant uses of ‘that’. Avoid long, involved sentences and explanations, repetition, filler words like ‘actually’, ‘really’, ‘just’, and so on.
Make sure you’ve caught all the spelling mistakes, misused words, and grammatical errors that creep in. Tools like spell check and Grammarly are useful, but they won’t catch everything – and they are not always right. Use your judgment and double check if you are unsure.
10. Use AI-writing tools for all the right reasons
Never let AI do all the work. AI-writing tools are useful – but they’re still just tools. Imagine you’re putting up some shelves. An electric drill can help you do it more quickly, but it won’t put up the shelves for you. And if you don’t use the drill correctly you could make a real mess of things. AI tools are great for helping you come up with ideas, structure, and so on – but they should be used wisely. Make sure you know how you can use AI to write blog posts, for example.
11. Don't neglect the basics
- Research your subject if you want to make certain points that need backing up. Even if you know it inside out you’ll need to show you’re not just ‘making stuff up’. Plus you’ll want to link to reputable sources to help your SEO. And remember, not everyone knows as much as you do!
- Plan out your writing before you start; it will save you time in the long run and lead to more coherent content.
- Always thoroughly edit (see point 9!) and proofread your content before publishing.
Use these strategies to improve your content-writing skills; it doesn’t have to be stressful or difficult. If it is, maybe it’s time to outsource or to do a course to help you.
If you want to Transform Your Blog Writing Skills you’ll find my online blog writing course covers everything you need to know. Learn at your own pace, knowing you’ll also have access to me for support.
And if you would like to know more about how I can help you with SEO-friendly website copy, blog writing, or any of the other professional copy and content writing services I offer, please get in touch.