As a freelance writer, you must write things to accomplish something: increasing a website’s traffic, boosting conversions, promoting a product, and so on. It all boils down to changing someone’s perspective on something, and you can’t do that if your content fails to engage readers. However, If you develop an articulate, persuasive style, you will succeed.
So, how can you write compelling, influential articles, emails, essays, or papers? How do you deliver your message clearly?
What Makes Strong Content?
1. An Interesting Slant
You can’t write everything about a subject, so you must narrow your scope. Slants are specific ideas tied to a vaster topic. They help your content stay concise and manageable. “Bread” is an unslanted idea, while “How to bake sourdough bread” is slanted.
Slants also play a major role when tailoring an article to a specific audience. For example, take the topic of parenting: “The basics of parenting” would be a perfect slant to reach an audience of budding parents, while “the hardships of parenting teens” will connect with a completely different crowd.
2. Methodical Research
Have you ever sat down to write something just for your fingers to freeze on the keyboard? Renowned writer Gary Provost once wrote, “You cannot write securely on any subject unless you have gathered far more information than you will use.” Authoritative content thrives on facts, statistics, and quotes; only thorough research will give you all the facts you need to get writing.
Here’s how to research effectively without going crazy:
- Find a topic
- Find information
- Evaluate information and sources
- Cite sources
3. A Good Title
A good title must be short, insightful, and, most importantly, captivating. Your title should help the potential reader understand if your content is for them. It should make them curious while also revealing relevant information.
First, a title should always tell the reader what to expect. “Content Writing” doesn’t tell you anything, while “Understanding Content Writing: A Beginner’s Guide To Write Better Content” is already much more specific.
You must also tailor your headline to your article. If you’re telling a story, your title should reflect that, and induce readers to want to know more. On the other hand, if you’re going to help your audience solve a problem, your title should convey that as straightforwardly as possible.
Including numbers and statistics from reliable sources also make for much more interesting and descriptive headlines. If you read “The 10 Best Cheap Headphones of 2022” you already know what the article is going for and how much you’re going to learn.
Finally, always optimize your headline for SEO. Remember to include your chosen keyword to make your content rank better on Google, and always optimize it for readability and SEO. 50 to 60 characters are the ideal length for a title.
“Tips To Write Content” is a lousy title. It’s non-descriptive, boring, and barely optimized for SEO. “10 Tips to Write Powerful Content as a Freelance Writer” is better: it reveals all the necessary information, establishes a slant, tells the reader what they’ll learn reading the article, contains the desired keyword, and is the right length for SEO.
4. Scannable Content
Generally, people don’t want to read your content word by word. The vast majority – 79%, to be exact – want to be able to scan it for information they want to read. Here’s an example:
Your goal is to write content that will immediately highlight what you want the reader to learn. Brief sentences and paragraphs, frequent subheadings, bold text, and bullet points will do the trick.
5. A Strong Conclusion
An excellent piece needs a satisfying conclusion. A conclusion shouldn’t bring new information to the table; instead, it must come back to your content’s initial message, summarize it, and make people care for it. Finally, you must include a call to action to let people know what to do next. Conclusions are vital in SEO writing since they direct the reader to an end goal.
Here’s my formula for a simple but effective conclusion to an article:
“And there you have it! We’ve gone through all the steps to [keyword], from [step 1] to [final step]. What other tips would you leave to [action]? Let us know!
10 Tips to Give Your Words Strength
1. Hook Your Readers With Simple Words
You have eight seconds to grab a reader’s attention before he tunes out. It doesn’t matter how well thought-out your 5000-word-long guide on choosing the right TV is if you can’t keep your readers from thrusting it aside.
The key to keeping someone’s attention is simple, concise writing. You can achieve this through short words your average reader will recognize. This is not to say you should never use longer terms, but you should introduce them after you’ve grabbed the reader’s attention.
For example, you could replace disquietude with fear, mischievous with naughty, or anachronistic with outdated. A great rule of thumb is to stick to words with four or fewer syllables.
2. Use Fewer Words
Avoid wordiness. Sometimes, you might find yourself able to replace a group of words with just one that conveys the same meaning. Once a year becomes yearly, an animal that walks on two legs becomes biped, only now and then becomes seldom, and so on.
3. Use Active, Specific Verbs
According to Academic Journal Editors at Oxford, active, specific verbs will imbue your content with strength. Active verbs are less wordy and make for better, direct sentences.
For example, check this out: “Active verbs improve your content’s readability” has a better flow than “Your content’s readability is improved by active verbs”.
Specific verbs will sharpen your content and cut down the word count. When looking for precise verbs, the thesaurus is your closest ally. Look for the verb you want to replace and discover dozens of possibilities.
You could simply write, “The old man ate his dinner”, or you could be more specific with “The old man nibbled on his dinner” or “The old man wolfed down his dinner”.
4. Write For Your Readers
Think about who would read your content. Is it a student or a professor? A lawyer or a concerned parent? Knowing your audience will let you set the appropriate tone and choose the right words. Picture the ideal reader in your mind, and think about what they would understand on their own, what you would need to explain, and what would be better left out.
If you’re writing for your blog, ask yourself: “Who am I trying to reach? Who do I want to sell my products or services to? Who would read my blog?” Tailor your content accordingly.
On the other hand, if you’re writing for a client, remember that you’re writing to reach their ICP (Ideal Customer Profile). A B2B article would never target high school students, for example.
5. Use Topic Sentences
Topic sentences establish the theme of a paragraph. Ask yourself, “What do I want to say with this?” Answer that question with a single, general topic sentence. When writing, ask yourself if each sentence supports the paragraph’s topic sentence: If they don’t, cut them out.
For example, take the above paragraph. The first sentence is the topic sentence. The topic is “Topic sentences”, and the controlling idea is “establish the theme of a paragraph.” The rest of the paragraph supports the topic sentence. What doesn’t support a paragraph’s topic sentence doesn’t belong and must be deleted or moved elsewhere.
6. Use Short Paragraphs
Short and sweet paragraphs are lively and easy to read. You won’t bore readers, and they’ll go through your content more quickly. Avoiding the infamous “text wall” will go a long way in making your message clearer.
This is a prime example of the text walls you want to avoid.
7. Use Bridge Words
Bridge words, such as therefore and however, serve as logical connections between statements and paragraphs. They make it easier for people to follow your train of thought while improving readability. With them, you will hold the reader’s hand and guide them through your content.
8. Use QuotesThe wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotation. — Isaac D’Israeli Click To Tweet
Quotes attract readers. Why?
Because quotes are human: People feel like they’re communicating with your content. Also, quoting an expert on the topic you’re writing about gives your content credibility, which is always welcome.
Read more about increasing a writer’s credibility here.
9. Use Statistics
Statistics are powerful and can lend much of that power to your content. When used correctly, statistics can be the foundations of a whole argument; however, they can also wreck your piece if not used properly.
First, statistics should always be accurate and come from reliable and trusted sources. Sprinkling a few well-placed stats will make your content more understandable and authoritative.
However, adding too many will numb the reader and harm your content. Additionally, you should always include a link to the original source. A dead or missing link will immediately bring down your content’s credibility.
A great rule of thumb is to use statistics only when giving the reader the necessary context to view other facts in your article without bending reality.
For example, suppose you’re writing about the importance of content writing for a company. In that case, you could write that, according to DemandMetric, Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3 times as many leads. You’re including statistics that give your readers valuable information on the topic at hand.
10. End Sentences With Emphatic Words
Words you want your readers to pay attention to are called emphatic words. Putting them at the end of your sentences is the best way to highlight them. For example, “This affordable sweater costs $29.99” puts the accent on the sweater’s price, while “This $29.99 sweater is quite affordable” emphasizes affordable.
Write Better Content Now
I hope I’ve shown you how easy it is to write better content. Did you already know about them? Will you incorporate any of them in your day-to-day writing? Let me know down below in the comments.
I want to thank FWJ for the fantastic opportunity they gave me. It’s not every day that you get to write for a website you adore.
About the author
Francesco Viola is a freelance writer and engineering student passionate about helping budding writers get started in the industry. You can find him on Linkedin.