What Is Content Writing? (An Explainer with Tips and Examples)
Content writing plays an integral role in a brand’s success. When you create a website, for instance, you choose your words for everything from the home page to the individual blog posts you publish.
Your copy can affect how well your website ranks on search engine results pages, as well as how valuable visitors find your site’s content. Without high-quality writing, your marketing efforts may flounder and, with them, your website.
In this post, we’ll define content writing, explore the benefits of good content writing and share tips for success as well as unique examples.
What is content writing?
Content writing refers to creating digital content for a brand’s marketing strategy. This includes content for:
Sales landing pages
Social media posts
Content writing is just one content marketing tool in a brand’s arsenal. Pair it with robust research, diligent planning and high-quality visuals to optimize your strategy.
Your content marketing strategy will depend on your product, services and audience. For example, a restaurant’s clientele might not want to follow a blog, but they will likely want to see tantalizing food photos and reels on Instagram.
A recent Semrush survey of content marketers found certain content types are more effective and successful than others:
Blog posts (36%)
Success stories (22%)
Case studies (16%)
Every piece of content in your marketing strategy likely has a written component to it. Take marketing videos, for example. Someone needs to write the video script as well as the title, description and show notes to help with SEO and accessibility.
The benefits of good content writing
97% of the content marketers in the 2021 Semrush study said that content was a critical part of their overall marketing strategy. There’s a reason for that—well-written content provides brands with many benefits:
By creating content for different channels, a brand can attract a much larger audience.
You can tailor content to different segments of a brand’s audience, making it easier to connect.
Writing great content will help strengthen a brand. This will make it easier to recognize and more relatable.
Content offers value to customers and non-customers alike and asks for nothing in return—just their time and attention.
Google rewards websites that consistently create quality content with better rankings.
Content writing helps existing customers get more from their purchases, which can increase loyalty.
Get your ethos, pathos and logos right and you'll be well on your way to building a loyal customer base from your content.
5 examples of great content writing
Before we check out how you can optimize your content writing strategy, let’s first look at these content writing examples:
In early 2022, social media users saw posts and ads from a brand called Perpetual Pup. Users noticed the social media and video script writing before the branding. “It’s a good ad,” said Twitter user @GideonNeptune.“It made me look and find out about the show it’s promoting.”
The content campaign promoted “Bad Vegan,” a Netflix documentary. People discussed this content marketing strategy on many social media platforms, including on Reddit.
McCormick's YouTube channel is entirely devoted to cooking with the company’s spices. A lengthy description accompanies each video—like this one on how to marinate and grill pork chops—and includes:
A simple yet descriptive title
A quick summary of what the viewer will learn
A list of ingredients needed to reproduce the recipe
Information on prep and cooking time
A link to the recipe on the McCormick website
These YouTube descriptions give the viewer more context and value from the video, while also helping optimize the video for search.
An email newsletter gives brands a regular chance to re-engage with website visitors and blog readers. The Wix Blog newsletter, for instance, goes out once a week and provides readers with short and easy-to-read summaries of recent posts. Subscribers can skim the newsletter’s concise, conversational writing and get just enough details for each post that they’re eager to read more.
Instacart’s grocery delivery service provides a great value to its customers. However, the Ideas & Guides section of the brand’s website offers an opportunity to maximize the brand’s service. It covers DIY topics like cooking tips, holiday and event planning and recipes.
This content is useful to Instacart’s marketing strategy for several reasons. For one, it adds values for existing customers using the service. Instacart can use customers’ shopping histories to send them relevant guides. It also can bring in new leads as visitors discover timely and trending topics.
Customer testimonials work great for people to sign up for a service. The only problem with testimonials, though, is the short length and faceless nature. Therefore, success stories can be a more effective form of content marketing. You’ll see why on SCORE’s Success Story page. Real people share actual stories about their businesses and how SCORE’s mentors have helped them. The Success Story pages aren’t long—maybe only 400 to 600 words—and yet they pack enough of a punch to touch visitors’ emotions.
Tips for content writing success
Here are 10 best practices to help you write high-quality content for your marketing campaigns:
01. Reference your content style guide
Just as you’d document your visual branding with a style guide, do the same for your content writing. It should include information related to:
Brand voice and personality
Guidelines on key company terms and industry jargon
Other preferences or rules relating to your brand’s written style
Not only will this help you consistently handle your writing, but you’ll get better quality results from contributors, too.
02. Create a content marketing strategy
According to Semrush’s survey, 78% of those who’ve been very successful in their content marketing had a documented strategy. You can create an effective strategy for copywriting by choosing 5 to 10 top-level topics you want your brand to be associated with. Then center all of your content around those major hubs, ensuring that you tackle each subtopic one by one.
03. Keep your eyes and ears open for inspiration
There are many places to find content ideas:
Subscribe to your competitors’ blogs and newsletters and follow them on social media
Follow the top publications in your industry
Listen to podcasts and subscribe to YouTube channels that tackle similar subjects
You never know when inspiration might strike with content writing. Staying tuned to what others talk about can help you avoid feeling uninspired or stuck.
04. Come up with an interesting angle
It’s common to take inspiration from other people’s content, but be careful about rewriting what others have already said on a topic. Tune into a variety of sources such as blogs, vlogs, newsletters, social media platforms, podcasts and even print journalism to help fuel your creativity.
05. Write as concisely as possible
You want to unpack the topic fully when you write a white paper or blog post. However, that doesn’t mean you need to hit some magical word count to make it a worthwhile read. Cover the topic fully, without being too wordy.
06. Focus on the user foremost
Although content writing is a marketing tactic, it usually takes a less product-forward tone than advertising.
Joe Stolte of The Tractionology Group suggests the following to Forbes:
“Make the content about the customer. Specifically, make it about what your customer wants and how they can get it. What works really well is to use your marketing to educate your target customer and help them solve real problems in advance of trying to sell to them. This naturally generates goodwill and trust in your marketplace and makes selling much easier.”
07. Format your content for readability
Content design is an important part of content writing. With consumers’ attention spans growing shorter with each passing year, ensure that the content you’ve written first gets noticed, then read. Hopefully, it’ll convert a good portion of users, too.
Even short social media posts can get more views with line breaks, attached images and strategic hashtags. Just make sure that the post’s design doesn’t distract from its overall readability.
08. Give readers a reason to engage
You can add certain assets to your content writing that encourage engagement:
More people will open a post if the headline has powerful words
Supportive imagery can help people understand the content
Actionable how-to steps can make the piece more useful
Statistics, quotes from thought leaders and real-world examples can make content more convincing
09. Proofread your work
A piece of content with an error is like a broken link on a website. While it might just seem like a minor inconvenience, frequent errors can reflect poorly on your brand. Tools like Grammarly can help you proofread your writing before publishing.
10. Use keywords organically
The point of writing website content is to create high-quality, valuable content for your audience. While you should optimize your website’s content with best practices for search engines like light keyword research, alt text for images and internal linking, you should prioritize comprehensively covering the topic.
By Jenna Romano