“Content is anything that adds value to the reader’s life.” –Avinash Kaushik
Quality content writing is the Holy grail for all digital marketers these days. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that it’s the very soul of any marketing campaign and is what is keeping the social networks alive. Without a proper content strategy, a brand cannot hope to survive in the long run.
Content comes in many forms – plain text, static images/posters, captivating videos, attractive GIFs, and many more. In its initial stages, however, it all needs to be pinned down (or typed) by a writer well-versed in playing with words and skilled in making things sell using nothing but witty sentences – this is why content writers are in demand these days.
According to Indeed.com.pk, the average salary for content writers in Pakistan lies somewhere in between Rs. 40,000 and Rs. 50,000, however, in the United States, the average figure is a little higher ($42,042 per year). This goes to show that Pakistanis still haven’t fully grasped the importance of valuable content.
Like all other careers, content writing is a skill. People equipped with this skill can either use it to pursue writing as a full-time career or just to enhance their activities in other careers like Journalism, PR & Communications and so on. Learning it, however, takes a lot of time and practice. We have gathered some of the most basic ABCs of content writing for all aspiring writers out there. So, without further ado, let us begin our little 101 class.
1. Polish Your Grammar & Expand Your Vocabulary.
This is a no-brainer – there is absolutely no substitute for it. Having perfect grammar and a strong vocabulary is a prerequisite for all content writers. You need to be perfect with your tenses, verb agreements, articles, prepositions, and virtually every other aspect of the English language. The same goes for other languages as well. If a brand tweets a line or two containing typos and/or grammatical mistakes, it will create a negative impact on the audience. So, make sure that you have absolute command over the language which you are going to use. For this purpose, you can get English classes. Also, study the differences between American and British English. Watching movies, shows, and documentaries are also highly recommended.
Unfortunately, as far as writing in English is concerned, a lot of aspiring writers in Pakistan shy away from perfecting their grammar. A major reason behind this is our school system’s outdated teaching styles. In school, a lot of students take English classes for granted, which is why so many people find it challenging to write and speak in correct English even after receiving decades of formal education. Hence, if you feel that your English writing skills are not up to the mark, you need to invest some time and money in perfecting them if you want to be successful in your writing career.
2. Try to Understand the Audience.
Novice writers make the mistake of using the same language across different mediums. For example, if the target audience of your blog is teenagers, it’s best that you stick with an informal tone, whereas if your target audience consists of professionals working in different industries, your words should be more sophisticated and your tone, formal. Let’s say that you are writing about an event. Depending on your audience, it’s possible to write:
- “It was lit! We had an absolute blast!”
- “The occasion was magnificent. We all enjoyed ourselves.”
You can easily tell that the first sentence is meant for teenagers/those belonging to generation-Z (and even some millennials), whereas the second sentence is more suited for a grown-up audience. Whether you are writing a blog post, a post on social media, a video script or any other form of content, you must keep your target audience in mind.
3. Familiarize Yourself with Different Tools.
Many people believe that a writer only needs to know their way around Microsoft Word. But the truth is that they need to be familiar with some other tools as well. For starters, a good content writer or copywriter should at least know the basics of Adobe Photoshop, Windows Moviemaker, or other basic video editing software. Moreover, you should be registered on Copyscape and Grammarly to check your content for plagiarism and mistakes respectively. And last but not least, you should befriend Google, study content metric tools, and understand SEO tactics. You cannot rely on graphic designers, video editors, and proofreaders all the time, so you need to be self-sufficient and seek help only when absolutely necessary.
4. Identify the Different Types of Content.
Many “experts” will tell you right away that “less is more.” But, no one will go through the trouble of telling you exactly WHEN to write less and WHERE to write more. It all depends on the type of content you are writing. As mentioned above, content writing comes in a lot of shapes. Here are some rules that will help you succeed:
- Social media – Keep your content extremely short, creative, and simple.
- Blog/Article – Don’t be vague and write somewhere in between 800-2000 words with the perfect placement of keywords.
- Press releases – Keep it short, simple, and interesting.
- Web content – Keep the content extremely interesting and to the point.
5. Read. Read. Read.
Just like a car which needs fuel to keep on running, the brain of a writer needs content to keep on generating new ideas. Reading different material will not only increase your knowledge and vocabulary but will also expose you to a diverse range of writing styles, allowing you to familiarize yourself with various tones. It will also help you avoid hitting the dreaded Writer’s Block, which is a condition where a writer is unable to write due to lack of motivation, inspiration, and/or energy. So, read at least one article from a magazine or a website every day, and keep flexing those writing muscles!
BONUS TIP: If you haven’t already, then start writing! Many people spend their lives dreaming about pursuing a career but never make the effort to actually start working towards achieving their dreams. So, make a blog and start creating an online writing portfolio to share with the world. Content writing isn’t always a skill that is “God gifted” – successful writers spend years upon years perfecting their craft and even they, sometimes, find it challenging to handle certain projects, so practice is key!
You too can become a successful writer by keeping all these crucial tips in mind, putting in some serious effort, and beginning to write.