If you’ve been thinking about turning your passion for writing into an income, then content writing is a great place to start. But first, you’ll need to master the basics! As a beginner content writer, there are lots of ways to kick off your career and develop the necessary skills to become a successful content writer. Below, we give you our top 5 content writing tips for beginners, so you can get off to the best possible start.
Our 5 content writing tips for beginners are:
- Create headlines that generate interest
- Write content that’s easy to read
- Focus on quality, not just keywords
- Be mindful of the word count
- Always proofread your work
Before we dive deeper into these tips, let’s consider what content writing actually involves.
What Is Content Writing?
Content writing is a broad term describing the creation of content that aims to inform, entertain, or educate an audience. Content writing is the backbone of many websites including e-commerce businesses, blogs, and news sites.
While it refers to both digital and analogue media, these days writing online is the main market. With millions of new blog posts being published each day, there are plenty of opportunities to pick up your pen (or laptop) and start working as a content writer. Content writers create blog articles, social media posts, technical white papers, marketing materials, ebooks, and YouTube scripts.
Given the broad range of topics and industries that need content writing, you can leverage your expertise and personal interests to find a niche and build a profitable career as a content writer.
Average Content Writing Salary
According to Total Jobs, the average salary for a full-time content writer in the UK is approximately £29,000 ($40,000).
It takes a lot of hard work to achieve this rate of pay, but once you’ve grasped the basics and learned how to communicate value-adding concepts to your readers, you’ll soon find your efforts start to pay off.
To help you get started, here are some tips for improving your writing as a beginner content writer!
5 Content Writing Tips for Beginners
1. Create Headlines That Generate Interest
It’s true, first impressions count! When writing an article or blog post, creating a good headline is vital for attracting the attention of your readers. It should be clear, concise, and explain what the article covers.
Writing headlines is harder than it might seem. A good starting point is to do some research. Google your article topic and take a look at the headlines of the top search results. Think about what they have in common and take them as inspiration for your own titles.
Ideally, keep your headlines between 50 to 60 characters in length. While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, a short and snappy title is usually the most effective way to attract a reader’s attention. Plus, Google will usually truncate titles that are longer than about 60 characters.
Most importantly, your headline should always contain your main keyword or phrase. This helps you to rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) while letting readers know what your article is about.
2. Write Content That’s Easy to Read
Writing in the digital space is different from writing for offline publications. This is partly because people reading online tend to scan an article for the information that they’re looking for, rather than read it in detail. So, when it comes to online writing, it helps to structure your work in a way that’s easy for readers to follow.
You can do this by using subheadings, bullet points, and numbered lists to break up the text into the relevant concepts and components. This requires good planning skills and the ability to format your work to meet the needs of your readers.
Formatting articles this way also helps the Google algorithm to identify keywords, boosting your ranking in the SERPs.
3. Focus on Quality, Not Just Keywords
While using keywords in your content writing is essential for SEO, you need to avoid the temptation of keyword stuffing. Keyword stuffing is a black hat SEO technique. It undermines the quality of your work and can lead to you being penalised in search rankings.
Your writing should prioritise user experience by providing valuable information to your readers in a clear and easy-to-read way. When you focus on quality rather than keywords, you’ll build a loyal readership and boost your rankings in the SERPs.
When it comes to main keywords or phrases, you should aim to use them no more than three to four times in a text of around 1,000 words. You can also include secondary keywords and phrases a couple of times within the text.
4. Be Mindful of the Word Count
Different projects require different lengths of text. As a guide, for the average article or blog post, you should shoot for somewhere between 1,000 and 2,500 words. For complex, technical papers you may have to write significantly more than this. Ebooks tend to start at about 20,000 words.
A recent analysis of the top results on Google’s SERP by BackLinko found that the average number of words was 1,147 words. This is a useful guideline, but don’t sacrifice the quality of your writing to meet an arbitrary word count! For topics that are easy to explain, you may only need to write 500-700 words. Bear in mind that clients might require specific word counts too, so you should become comfortable with writing short, concise pieces along with longer, more in-depth articles.
5. Always Proofread Your Work
Our last content writing tip for beginners is perhaps the most important, whether you’re writing for yourself or for clients. And we can’t stress this enough – always take the time to carefully proofread your writing! Going over it with a fine-tooth comb allows you to pick up any mistakes in terms of grammar, word order, formatting, and spelling.
A helpful proofreading technique is to read the text aloud to yourself. This way, you can hear the text more objectively and you’re more likely to pick up any mistakes or awkward phrasing in your writing. You can also use a text-to-speech reader for this. Natural Readers is a popular (and free) online text reader service.
Grammarly is another helpful tool for picking up common grammatical mistakes in your writing. The basic version is free to use and offers an excellent level of service for content writers. However, you shouldn’t rely on technology! Remember that you’re writing for humans, not computers. Become comfortable with the best practices, and you can definitely get by as a content writer without any paid proofreading tools.
Practice Is the Key to Success as a Beginner Content Writer
Stephen King, one of the most successful writers of all time, once said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
As with any skill set, you must practice your writing as much as you can. Setting up your own blog is a great way to motivate yourself to write. You can also use the articles on your blog as a portfolio to find paid work.
Spending time reading other people’s work is another way to quickly improve your writing. By looking at the techniques that work and don’t work in other people’s writing, you can implement the winning techniques in your work.
If you want to learn more about writing online, check out our other articles here!