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7 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I Started Content Marketing

October 30, 2020
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written by Jess Kirkbride

If you want to be an excellent content marketer, you need strong foundations to work on. Here are 7 trusted techniques I wish I knew from the start.

With 85% of adults consuming content on multiple devices at the same time, content marketing should be an essential part of your strategy. It allows you to answer your customers’ questions, build trust and increase brand awareness, which eventually leads to more sales.

Not only that, but people consume 11.4 pieces of content before they invest in a product or service. If your writing is fuelled with benefits, aimed at the right target audience and full of personality, the chances of people buying from you will be much higher. Having an excellent content marketing strategy has strengthened some of the most luxurious brands.

High-quality content will also increase the visibility of your site, drive targeted traffic and show brand authority. If you apply advanced techniques to your content, such as behavioural economics with PPC, you’ll be able to draw on psychology and economics to increase conversions. The opportunities are endless.

But, that’s only if you’ve perfected the basics. If you’re new to writing or need pointing in the right direction, here are 7 things I wish I knew when I first began putting pen to paper.

1. Get something on the page

Just write something. Anything. Getting some words down is much better than looking at a blank page. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be written down.

This applies to anything, whether it’s PPC ads, a blog post, marketing emails, a sales page or something entirely different. Whatever comes to mind, be it bullet points, a random headline or a description that needs polishing, putting the ideas on the page makes room for new, and potentially better ideas to come to fruition.

Following this structure will also help you get over writer’s block, stop procrastinating and begin framing your work. And, because you aren’t trying to write something perfect, you’re likely to write in a more creative and conversational tone.

To make this clear, colloquial writing is much more relatable. It makes it sound like you’re having a conversation with the reader instead of reading from a textbook and makes the content much easier to read. If you use this kind of tone on your website, people will connect with your brand and be much more likely to make a purchase.

2. Forget the rules you’ve learnt about writing

If you read the last line of section 1, you’ll see that the sentence starts with “And”. This is because there are few rules to writing when you enter the world of content.

Sentences don’t need to be complex and you can start entire paragraphs with “And” and “Or”. If you’re moving from traditional content to a copywriting role, you don’t need to reference everything you write. What’s more, if you’re used to writing articles but start writing PPC ads, you don’t need to write about the entire business.

Write in whatever way makes sense for your audience and platform at the time, regardless of traditional writing methods. It just needs to fit the brief.

For example, when you’re writing PPC ads, it’s good practice to write in short sentences and list the strongest benefits in bullet points. You wouldn’t do this in the middle of a blog post, but it’s an effective technique when you have limited characters.

See this example:

Good writing makes sense, has good grammar and is full of purpose – and has a lot more personality when it’s free of the constraints of university-level professionalism.

3. Learn from the books you read

Getting your head in a handful of books is great for your writing. It’s unlikely your background will have taught you absolutely everything there is to know, so asking for industry recommendations from colleagues is a good place to start.

Better yet, reading a good book about something you’re genuinely interested in, such as music, true crime, romance and non-fiction, can teach you more about writing than research ever will. It helps you concentrate purely on the words, understand different vocabulary and test different writing styles against your own.

4. Write for someone and their feedback

Writing with someone in mind ensures you don’t overcomplicate your sentences. For instance, if you were explaining PPC management platforms to your housemate, you might say something like “PPC management platforms are designed to help advertisers improve performance across things like Google, Facebook and Microsoft ads.”

You wouldn’t give them a whole run down of each platform, talk about the intuitive tools and give insight into automation. Your content will come across in a much more natural and relaxed tone if you imagine you’re writing for someone you know.

Word of warning: be careful to not confuse this rule with getting rid of details. You can still write a long, informative article or sales page without making it hard to read; writing in a natural tone doesn’t mean being completely informal. You’ll know you’re on the right track if the person you’re writing for gives you good feedback.

What’s more, if you write with conversions in mind, your content will lean much more towards influencing your customers. You’ll convey information in a way that makes them consider your desired action, whether it’s visiting your blog, website or placing an order, and that helps you connect on a deeper level.

See this example on Moz’s homepage:

If they wrote this without thinking about conversions, they might have said “We work in SEO”. But because they want to get new customers onboard, they’re telling them the way they’re doing SEO right now isn’t smart enough.

5. Talk to other writers

This doesn’t necessarily mean networking, but having an everyday conversation when the opportunity arises. Community chats on Twitter are a great example of this – look out for #ContentClubUK at 11 am every Tuesday.

Following other writers on social media makes communication easy. It gives you the chance to understand the way they work, see which tools, platforms and resources they use and look out for their recent content. You can even learn from the way they write in their posts.

You’ll also come to learn that not everything is perfect, especially when trying to navigate Covid-19. See this example from Digital Storyteller Hassam Munir:

Learning from other people’s experiences, mistakes and day-to-day speech can improve your writing more than you realise.

If you find yourself stuck in a rut and need help with the creative process, or maybe a helping hand to work in tandem with on projects, you can find your match here. Adzooma Marketplace makes it easy to connect with the best content marketing agencies and freelance writers.

6. You don’t have to start from the beginning

Intro, middle and end.

This is the structure many people use to write but it isn’t set in stone. Putting pressure on yourself to perfect the start of your blog post, your PPC headlines or the first line of your social media posts can be a huge drawback.

Instead:

  • If you can’t think of an intro, start on a different section
  • If you can’t think of a headline, use a placeholder for now
  • If you don’t know how to write PPC ads, bullet point some benefits

This will help you get your work done quicker, stop worrying about deadlines and get your initial thoughts down on the page, as described in point 1.

Here’s what other writers told me before:

In other words, find what works for you and you will enjoy writing a lot more.

7. Everyone has their own style

Following on from that point, it’s completely normal to have your own writing style. In fact, it’s a good thing. It’s what’s going to set you apart from other people in your industry, including the people you learn from and look up to when you’re starting out.

If you can’t work out what your writing style is, start by analysing different pieces of your content. Look at things you’ve written before, your most recent work and a piece of writing you enjoyed.

Are you present in your writing? Does your writing represent the person you are, but also stretch your capabilities? Reflecting on your work will give you a better understanding of your unique voice and tone so that you can continue to grow on your journey.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re a business owner and need some blog content or copywriting that you feel is just over your head, you can find a content marketing agency to manage it for you here.

Life as a writer

If you want to convince people to choose your brand and improve visibility on the SERPs, content marketing is an excellent tool to help you get there. 72% of marketers also say that it’s helped increase their engagement and number of leads.

Keep in mind that there isn’t such thing as a perfect content marketing strategy – yours will depend entirely on your business goals.

These techniques would’ve helped me when I started writing, but I’ve also realised that the best writers never stop learning. Use these tips toimprove your style, enhance it with more technical methods and become the strongest writer you can be.

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Author
Jess Kirkbride

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Digital PR Copywriter at Adzooma writing about all things digital marketing. I love innovative campaigns and wish it was acceptable to make up my own stats. Don't be surprised if you read a wild, off-topic or beauty-related analogy in one of my articles or see me totting around in only black clothes.
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