10 Must-Know Content Writing Tips for Beginners
Content writing for beginners includes:
Knowing basic writing skills
Understanding your product
Learning about your target audience
Doing your own research
Understanding the why
Focusing on selling one thing
Writing, revising, and rewriting
Writing a compelling headline
Making your content skimmable
Using SEO best practices
Once you understand these content writing tips, writing that blog, case study, or digital report will get much easier. And it will make getting your first entry level content marketing job more possible.
It doesn't matter who you're writing for or what you're writing about; content writing for beginners can be challenging if you're not empowered with the right tools, tips, or knowledge to get started. We encourage you to learn these tips, and to ask us any question you may have.
Why it matters: There are no hacks that can replace understanding content writing basics. And without a strong foundation, content writing beginners will not easily evolve into advanced writers.
Let's get started.
What're the various kinds of content writing?
In general, content writing for beginners involves blog posts. However, there are many other types of content writing you may find yourself working on like:
Blog posts, case studies, and digital reports
Web copy, ad copy, and sales copy
Social media posts and video scripts
User manuals and documentation
Company narratives, pitch decks, and technical writing
This is why it's so important for content writing beginners to understand the fundamentals—so when your time comes to evolve beyond blogs to high-quality and high-impact content like pitch decks, you're ready.
Here are ten must-know content writing tips for beginners to get you started:
Content Writing for Beginners Tip #1: Know basic writing skills
Content writing just like any other type of writing. It requires you to understand grammar, voice, and style. And when we say basics, we really mean it.
Do you understand tenses, punctuation, and parts of speech? Or better said do you know the difference between active and passive voice? Or present versus future tense? What about where to place a comma? Or how to effectively use nouns and verbs?
You'd be surprised to learn that many content writing beginners fail to remember the importance of writing basics like grammar. But understanding even the most basic elements of grammar will ensure your content writing is worth reading. And free of grammatical errors.
Uncovering your personal or brand voice takes time. And as a new content writer, you may not be privileged with time to gather experience or develop a voice. We recommend you check-in with your marketing leaders to see if your company's developed a writing style guide or brand guidelines.
If you don't have access to brand guidelines, or if you're writing for your own business, we recommend a simple rule of thumb: Be yourself. When you're writing, write like you're speaking casually with a friend. Don't try to be anything you're not, and trust that overtime you will develop your voice.
Just like developing your voice takes time, so will your style. As a content writing beginner, you may not know what your style is just yet. That's why it's important to either adopt your company's voice and style by reading their brand guidelines, internal and external communications, or even reading their social media content.
Once you understand your company's style, you'll be better equipped to write content that matches it.
Content Writing for Beginners Tip #2: Understand your product
Once you understand basic content writing skills, you must understand your product.
As a content writing beginner, it's likely you've not had a lot of time to understand your company's product or service. And if you're writing for yourself, it may be even harder to do. Because understanding your product isn't just about knowing what it is, it's about knowing how to talk about it.
You'll soon learn about content marketing and brand marketing elements like messaging, narratives, and positioning as you rise up the ranks. But for now, remember that must understand your product or service before you attempt to write about it.
Content Writing for Beginners Tip #3: Learn about your target audience
It's important to know how to write well and to know about your product. But it's perhaps even more important to understand your audience.
Content writing beginners tend to forget they're not just writing to a robot or a massive audience. They're writing to an audience of one: the reader. A real human being. And if you're to make an emotional connection with your reader, you better understand who they are.
Who is your target audience?
Where do they hang out?
What do they need?
How do they speak?
Why would they care?
Taking the time to learn everything you can about your target audience is key for content writing beginners.
Content Writing for Beginners Tip #4: Do your own research
When we first got started, "research" felt like such a big and scary word. "Research" is only reserved for top-tier academics who understand the scientific method and statistics. Well, we're here to tell you that's not true.
Content writing beginners need to understand basic research fundamentals like source credibility when conducting their research. And by research we literally mean searching for content on search engines and social media. We don't mean scientific journals and other such nonsense.
Don't scare yourself out of research. If you're given a task or topic you know nothing about, fear not. Take a few minutes to research more about it, slow down, and begin formulating ideas based on what you find.
Content Writing for Beginners Tip #5: Understand the why
Perhaps the most underrated and underused tip in this list: understand the why.
If you're a content writing beginner, you may not always understand the why behind a piece of content. And it's your job to uncover the why. Ask clarifying questions to your client, marketing leader, or co-workers. Don't be afraid to seek clarify. Because without clarity, writing will be far more difficult than necessary.
And even if you can get away with writing something without understanding the why, what happens when your content flops? Then what? Suddenly, you work twice as hard to redo your work to better align with its intended goals. Understanding the why is what takes content writers from good to great. And paves way to creating high-quality content.
Content Writing for Beginners Tip #6: Focus on selling one thing
Ah, yes. We've all read that blog post or advertisement that tries selling multiple value propositions.
Content writing beginners may be especially susceptible to this tendency, mistakenly thinking that stuffing all selling points into a piece of content will impress their audiences. But let us be the first to tell you, it will not impress them. It will only confuse them. And as content writers, our job is to guide and illuminate our audiences with our writing, not confuse them.
This content tip isn't just for beginners. Truthfully, this applies to all levels. Sell one thing.
Content Writing for Beginners Tip #7: Write, revise, and rewrite
It's a rare day indeed when your first draft is your best draft. That's why writing, revising, and rewriting is so important for content writing beginners.
We recommend going through the above tips, blocking out a specific amount of time (say 30 minutes), and then writing your first draft without judgement. Just put the words on paper. At best, massage the structure a little as you go, but just write.
Then you can take a break. Go on a walk. Do other work. Or take the day off. Doesn't matter as long as you let your first draft sit. When you come back to it, you'll see it with fresh eyes. That's when you revise and rewrite your content.
Content Writing for Beginners Tip #8: Write a compelling headline
Now that you've revised your work and you fully understand what your content is about, it's time to write a compelling headline.
Content writing beginners tend to over complicate this part. No need to get fancy. And no need to get too creative. Headlines should be clear, direct, and simple - like most of your writing.
Examples of the main types of headlines
How to headlines
Taking the time to use tried and true headline frameworks like above will help even the newest content writer. There's no need to reinvent the wheel.
Note: Many marketers argue about "when" to write the headline. Some say before, some say after your first draft. We say - it 100% does not matter. Is the headline captivating? Clear? And concise? And does it communicate what the corresponding blog post or piece of content is about? That's what matters.
Content Writing for Beginners Tip #9: Make your content skimmable
Today's readers love to skim. (We do too).
That's why it's important for content writing beginners to structure their writing in easy-to-read ways. Adding headers, sub-headers, bullet points, tables, and images go a long way for today's digital readers. And it'll help you write far better, and more profitable, content.
Look at the structure of this blog post for inspiration. It's over 2,000 words long, but hopefully it doesn't feel like a drag to read because we've cut it up in thoughtful ways to make it easy to read. You can, too.
Content Writing for Beginners Tip #10: Use SEO best practices
Content writers of all levels need to consider SEO best practices before, during, and after writing their content. And each step has a purpose.
Before - SEO things to consider
Before you get started, think about how you'll choose your keyword. Typically, it's best practice to select keywords that are related to your niche, and it's important to select keywords who's search volume matches your website's search volume.
During - SEO things to consider
While writing, think about using your keyword thoughtfully. It should be included in your headline, sub-headers, and at least in your first paragraph. You also need to think through re-purposing your words into other types of content like lists, bullet points, tables, images, and videos to sprinkle in throughout your blog post.
After - SEO things to consider
Once you're done writing your blog post, make sure that it transfers well onto your website. Make sure links are working and that your formatting is effective. You also need to think about linking to other pieces of content within your website to ensure other content gets some SEO boosts, too.
Whether you're a new content writer, or a tenured, professional content writer, these ten content writing tips will help you produce high-quality content.
Writing content can be difficult if you do it on your own, but relying on expert tips like these will guide you toward success.
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