Top Six Tips to Good Content Writing
1 February 2023
Every organisation, in every sector, requires somebody to produce content. But what makes good content?
Jill Minter, Head of Marketing and Communications (Interim) at AIM gives her Top Six Tips.
Planning and research
‘If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough’ – Albert Einstein
Research your subject. Make a plan. Set objectives. Ask yourself: ‘What am I trying to achieve?’ – Is it to increase sales, gain more followers, sign-up for an event, drive traffic to a website/video. Choose just one thing. What’s the most important thing you want to achieve and work towards that. In doing so you may naturally hit your secondary aims but without a focus you’ll end up with something too broad. Understand your subject, identify its uniqueness. Are you trying to solve a problem, are you explaining a rationale. What’s the best way to get your message across; are you writing a script for a video, prose for an advert or a blog post.
Know your audience
Check your tone of voice – is it on brand and suitable for your audience?
Would you talk to a teenager in the same way you’d talk to your granny? Put yourself in the shoes of your audience, who are they, what do they look like – create a profile. Understand their preferences, habits, demographics, listen to the type of words they use and the images they associate with. How will they react to your content. Tailor the content as closely as possible to your audience profile.
A clear value proposition
Appeal to desires
Content writers are story tellers with a very clear message. Tell your audience what they want to hear, how will it affect them, what impact will it have. Appeal to their desires.
Keep it short. Keep it light. Keep it relevant. If using third party endorsements and approvals, check your audience recognise them as authoritative or trustworthy.
Write a head-turning headline and use attention grabbing hooks by posing a question, using before and after comparisons, arousing curiosity, exploiting secrets.
- Add adjectives: “Find your dream job with us!”
- Make a promise: “Lose weight in just 6 weeks!”
- Add numbers: “Buy now and get 30% off!”
- Influence their FOMO: “Limited time offer. Free one month trial in January!”
- Feature your USP: “Join the world’s best language learning App”
Don’t be boring!
If you can, display your message in different formats. Use images, create diagrams, use rich media like video and GIFs, be colourful, in fact don’t just use one format, use all relevant channels to support your message.
Look at your images in the way your audience would see them. Just because you like them doesn’t mean your audience will. Check around the focal point – is there something in the background that shouldn’t be there, are there health and safety issues or does someone else’s logo appear on a T-shirt or other object? Does it add value or is it meaningless. Could it be offensive. Will it stand out in a crowd?
Call to action (CTA)
So you’ve written your advert, made your video, produced a shiny new webpage but have you told your audience what you want them to do?
A CTA will inspire your audience to take action — click on your advert, download your leaflet, add an item to your cart. If your CTA isn’t catchy and persuasive, your audience will scroll past without noticing it.
Even if it’s just a two-word phrase like ‘Register Now’ or ‘Buy Now’, users need direction to know what to do next.
Edit and proofread
Send your content to your enemy not your friend!
Your enemy will love to criticise and pull apart your work. Your friend will congratulate you. Show it to others, read it out loud, print out hard copies to proofread. Is there a logical flow, does it use persuasive language. Can you shorten it by removing unnecessary words. Check spelling and grammar, tools like Grammarly and ProWritingAid will help– but don’t rely on them.
Crucially, fact-check everything especially dates, addresses, prices and names.
Finding Good Content Creators
Many organisations buy-in the skills of content writers either through an agency or by recruiting professional staff. But have you thought about employing an apprentice? Find out more about AIM's EPA for the Level 3 Content Creator standard which also has a handy downloadable guide.