Starting to create content as a new blogger or writer can be exciting and daunting in equal measure. You got started to help your audience move closer to their goals by sharing your knowledge, but a blank screen stares back at you! Fear not, in Content Writing For Beginners I will share how to lose the fear and write helpful posts from day one.
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What is the purpose of your post?
Before you start, make sure you know the answer to this question. Your content as a whole should have the aim of providing answers to the questions your audience has and ultimately solving their problems. (Incidentally, this is where you should lose the fear! This is not about you, but the audience you are serving.)
Over time, if you do this well, you will earn the trust of your audience. Your blog will be their go-to place and consequently, products and services that you recommend will be appealing to them.
Remember who you are writing for
This is so important. It’s easy to get excited about something we want to say and not consider if it’s something that will help our audience. I’ve done it myself. But other than the joy of writing it, there isn’t any purpose and no one will read it!
Have you defined your audience? If not, take some time to do so. Otherwise, you won’t know what ‘voice’ to write in or how your post is likely to be received. If your readers don’t think it’s for them, they will scroll on.
Create content clusters
A content cluster is simply a collection of posts on the same topic. These will ultimately cover everything your audience will need to learn about that particular topic. For example, this post will (in due course!) form part of a content cluster on the topic of content!
If you are interested in the topic of content, for example, you will also want to know about content strategy, how to never run out of content ideas, and how to get more eyeballs on said content!
Content clusters have three purposes. Most importantly, your readers will feel able to take action on the steps that you have outlined and be able to make progress in the area of your cluster topic.
Secondly, it lets Google know that your site has authority in this area and you should receive more traffic and better rankings as a result.
Last but not least, it is hugely helpful when you are creating a post to have an overall framework and know what you are trying to achieve – you may even feel inspired to do all of these posts in the course of a few days (or not)! Be sure to link each new post to all relevant pages in the cluster, as that will also help your rankings.
Important keyword research pointers
I have found that while keyword research tools have their place, the results are not always conclusive. For example, I have seen keywords that show they will be easy to rank for, but if I Google them, can see that they are super-competitive.
Some people will disagree with me here. Especially those paying $99 per month for a keyword research tool! I am not saying that you shouldn’t use them – in fact, I am a fan and affiliate of Semrush!
However, I have found some really helpful ways of determining the chances of ranking using other means.
When you are starting out, or if you are in a super-competitive niche, you want to go for keywords that are not too competitive. For example, on the free tool ‘Jaaxy’ (see below) you would want to look for something with less than 100 (certainly less than 200) searches and less than 100 ‘QSR’ (which is the number of other websites competing for the same keyword).
Check out my research below. My keyword for this post is ‘Content Writing For Beginners’. Initially, the results on Jaaxy looked better for the keyword ‘Content Marketing For Beginners’, however, I always do another test before making my final selection!
Initially ‘content marketing for beginners’ looked like a better keyword with a lower QSR (though still a little high). However, a Google search showed that I had zero chance of ranking. Ever.
With 200 QSR, ‘content writing for beginners’ looked even more competitive but was actually less competitive when I did a Google search. I stand a chance of ranking for this in time.
For a lesson in the ‘low hanging fruit’ method of keyword research, click here.
The acid keyword test!
The acid test that I always run after doing ‘regular’ keyword research is to Google the keyword. Entering the keyword with ‘Content Marketing Writing’ showed that it was seriously competitive with mega-high domain authority sites coming up. (E.g. Neil Patel, Moz, Hubspot, Optinmonster.)
With the best will in the world, at this stage in the young life of my blog, I can’t go head-to-head with those sites and win (except in my dreams)!
On the other hand, when I entered the keyword that included simply the ‘Content Writing’ element into the Google search, the competition was much less fierce with lower authority sites on page one. Additionally, the terms weren’t exactly what I had put in so I knew that hardly anyone had that exact keyword. Over time, I can compete with those.
One extra reason that I was convinced that the ‘Content Writing’ keyword was the right one was imagining what a new blogger would be likely to enter in the search.
Would I have searched for ‘Content Marketing’ when first setting out? In a word, no. I would have been much more likely to search for ‘Content Writing’.
If you are new, you are almost at an advantage in knowing what someone would be searching for! Keep a note of your searches for future reference as it is likely that others will be searching for the same thing.
Two more tips on this topic before I move on. A couple of great, free tools that will help you out are:
- Answer The Public – put in your proposed topic and this tool will show you what people are searching for now on Google! It is completely brilliant!
- Domain Authority Checker – until you get to know who the big players are in your niche, simply enter the web addresses of the sites that appear on page one of the search results and you will see if they have a high ‘DA’. Scores go from 1 – 100 with 100 being the highest. The lower the DA of the competing sites the better.
Create a really good headline
Having decided on your keyword, try to come up with a great headline. Apparently, only 20% of the people who see your headline will go on to read your post. If your headline inspires your readers to go onto the next line and your first paragraph inspires them to read the second, you will be on to a winner!
Another great tool you can use to inject a bit of pep into your headline is The Hoth Headline Generator. It’s fun and will give you inspiration even if you don’t find the perfect headline directly. Check out some examples that came up for Content Writing (I went with one of my own in the end):
Create an outline
This is one of the best ways I know of to prevent writer’s block. Once you have your headings in place you can just crack on and fill in the blanks.
If you don’t know the answers, do your own research, and read some books (yes, there are some fabulous books even in the digital age!). You will end up learning a ton and gaining authority at the same time.
I recommend looking at the top posts that come up in the Google search and scanning their headings. Some of the topics you will naturally have in your post but even more importantly, see if there is something that is missing that you can include. (Be sure to take inspiration from other posts – never copy.)
Also, look for any areas where you have an opposing point of view. Nothing is more tedious for readers than every post being the same!
(Speaking of tediosity, and having an opposing viewpoint, is anyone else getting bored with list posts getting longer and longer? I mean ‘101 ways to generate more free traffic’ and the like?
Now, I know that having longer and better lists helps you get higher up the rankings but I honestly can’t bear to read (or write) them. I think (or hope!) that Google will realize that it’s getting out of hand!)
If you can share (or create some of your own) infographics to show off some statistics you have learned that add value to the post, so much the better. People love to share what they know and are more likely to link to your post or share on social media if you can include something along these lines.
Keep paragraphs short and easy to scan. Few people will take the time to read every single word you write. (Sorry…)
Call to action
End each post with a call to action. Whether that is requesting a comment, asking readers to share on social media, sign up for your emails, click a link to another post, etc.
People will do precisely nothing unless you ask them! (And are often very accommodating if you do ask them!)
Even if you are writing your first piece of content, you can produce a good post. Will you get even better over time? Of course! Like anything you do repeatedly, you will improve.
Do you have any tips for great content writing? If so, I would love to hear about them in the comments below. Similarly, if you are struggling with any element, please feel free to comment and I will get back to you.