Marketing Writing 101: What Is Content Writing?

Luke Gorski on Content Marketing

What is Content WritingHow do I write good content? What do I write about? How often should my company publish written content? What do I do with my written content?

These are all questions we’re asked by our clients.

If you’re new to content writing or if you just need a refresher, this article will answer these questions and help you decide whether written content fits into your marketing strategy.

First, What is Content Writing?

Content writing is the process of creating written material for your buyer.

Content writing vs regular writing

Content writing, sometimes referred to as marketing writing, differs from regular writing because it is an extension of your broader content marketing strategy, which may be a combination of audio, visual, and written content.

Defining “written content”

“Written content” is the term we’ll use to describe any written material from this broader content marketing strategy. Written content typically provides free information to your prospective buyers. Great written content educates and adds some kind of value to the lives of your prospective buyers.

But content writing applies to more than just blogs and articles. All of the following are considered part of a content writing strategy:

  • Social media posts

  • Email marketing copy

  • Ebooks and white papers

  • Articles and blog posts

  • SlideShare presentations

  • YouTube titles and descriptions

  • Podcast titles and descriptions

Does content writing help my SEO?

You can probably guess the answer: yes!

Written content on your website is indexed by search engines like Google and Bing. Creating a lot of relevant written content can improve your search rankings significantly.  

How does content writing help my social media strategy?

Even though Google and Bing currently do not index Facebook posts, your social media content can indirectly improve your search engine rankings.

When your social media posts are carefully written to be relevant and helpful to your audience, you can build an engaged audience.

The engagement you generate on Facebook can directly transfer to qualified and organic traffic to your website. This traffic tells Google your website is relevant, and improves the speed with which you move up in search engine rankings.

Is content writing appropriate for every business?

Yes, to varying degrees. The answer depends on your buyer.

If your buyer doesn’t respond as well to written content – they prefer podcasts to written articles – you may consider skewing your content marketing strategy towards a different medium, such as audio podcasts.

Matthew Barby of MatthewBarby.com says “you don't need to even be doing blogs to be getting involved in content marketing.” We agree – blogging because you think you must can be a wasted effort when no one is reading your posts.

This doesn’t mean you won’t need a content writing strategy. Using the example above, if your content marketing strategy is skewed towards audio content, you will still need to create relevant and contextual written content for the podcast episode titles, the podcast episode descriptions, and any transcribing of your podcast episodes.

How do I write great content?

And how do I make sure buyers will read it?

To answer this question, you’ll need to see the world through your buyer’s eyes. Let’s take a look at how Freshbooks successfully executed a content writing strategy.

Example: Freshbooks’ content writing

Freshbooks is a leading accounting technology company. It wanted to position itself as the go-to accounting solution for freelancers and independent service providers.

To do this, Freshbooks used content writing to creatively answer a question all freelancers eventually ask themselves: how do I charge for my services?

The Freshbooks team put together a 70-page book entitled Breaking The Time Barrier and because of its valuable information, BtTB has since gone viral, being shared and talked about by thought leaders in the freelance and entrepreneurship spaces.

What contributed to its success? Was it the writing style? Was it the author (CEO Mike McDerment)? Was it their advertising?

It was all of these combined. But above, they created a piece of content their target buyer was eager, even desperate to read. The success of your content writing always comes down to your buyer.

Write content your buyer will appreciate

How can you apply the Freshbooks approach to your company?

It starts with your buyer. Your written content should answer questions your target buyer has a hard time answering without extensive research or expertise. To find topics to write about, ask yourself:

  1. What questions does my buyer have a hard time answering?

  2. In what areas might our buyer view us as experts?

  3. What buyer questions can we answer using our expertise?

With these answers, you can start creating a list of questions around which you can build your written content strategy.

7 Forms of Written Content

Translating your expertise into written content can take many forms. Once you have an idea of what to write about based on what your buyer may find helpful, you will need to find the right medium to use. Here are some to consider:

1. Articles and blog posts

Articles and blog posts are shared on your website or popular blogging platforms like Medium. To be successful, ensure you’re creating more than one article around target keywords and search terms on a consistent basis.

2. Email marketing campaigns

Successful email marketing campaigns must be helpful and relevant to your buyer. Email is no longer just a platform for delivering coupons, discounts, and links to the aforementioned. It’s a communication platform that competes with Facebook and Twitter. Be relevant and helpful right in the buyer’s inbox.

3. Social media posts

Approach writing for social media or writing articles on Linkedin as a content writing opportunity. Can you be helpful and relevant in your Facebook post copy? Can your articles on Linkedin be an extension of your content marketing strategy? The more helpful you are, the more likely your buyer is to click, comment, and share your content.

4. Ebooks and white papers

If you are content writing in a B2B environment, ebooks and white papers that deeply explore and answer a question your buyer has can be put behind an email gateway – buyers exchange their email to access your well-researched ebook or white paper.

5. SlideShare presentations

Writing for SlideShare is a content writing opportunity. Did you publish a recent white paper? SlideShare allows you to repurpose that information into a new, more visual format. However, you still need helpful and relevant copy to use in the presentation.

6. YouTube titles and descriptions

Consider transcribing your YouTube videos and incorporating the written transcriptions right in your YouTube descriptions. Your buyer may appreciate the transcription. If the transcription is too long, provide a snippet followed by a link to a web page with the video and full transcription.

7. Podcast titles and descriptions

Podcast titles and descriptions are key visual elements your buyer uses to determine which episodes to play. Make your titles relevant and your descriptions helpful. You may provide a partial transcription, a partial synopsis, or relevant links. The more helpful you can be, the better.

Don’t disguise your sales pitch as written content

As you are reading this article, you are not being force-fed a sales pitch disguised as written content. These are poor marketing attempts, and they are common. It turns out your buyer can sense the bait-and-switch attempts almost immediately.

But learning about your product and reading your sales page should not be a requirement in order to read your article. That is the difference between successful written content and “fake” content.

How much written content will I need?

If you find your audience responding well to written content, the more written content you can create, the better.

Summary of What is Content Writing?

  • Content writing is the process of creating articles, emails, and social media posts your customers will eagerly consume.

  • Written content provides free, useful information.

  • Content writing is an extension of your broader content marketing strategy.

  • Content writing only works when adding value becomes more important than increasing your sales.

 

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