How Content Writing Works: Your Essential Guide

An Essential Guide: How Content Writing Works

by | Jan 5, 2017 | Content Marketing

Content writing is currently one of the most essential digital actions.

The need for it, industry regardless, has virtually no limit. Talk of how content writing works, what result it produces, and how to effectively strategize around it, pops up in virtually every niche. Hospitals have site copy needs, mechanics start their own informative blogs, Mexican restaurants publish social media updates, and agencies of all types create a ton of content, from blogs, to landing pages and white papers (not to mention creating all of that x 10 for their own client base).

With all this content flying around, it’s easy to wonder where it comes from and how content writing works as a whole. If you’re new to the world of content writing, the entire thing could easily seem like an impenetrable mystery, populated by highly trained professionals that you cannot access nor understand.

Fortunately, learning how the world of online content writing works is a simple as understanding the mechanisms that make the process move. While it’s true that the world of content writing is complex, it is far from inaccessible.

We’re here today to talk about how content writing works, and which types of content you should get familiar with to build out your online presence. Grab a coffee, and read on!

a guide to content writing

How Content Writing Works: Understanding the Big Picture & How Content Types Support Each Other

The first step in understanding how content writing works is understanding how seriously interrelated content creation, and its elements, really is.

Today, it’s not enough to just have a blog or to just have a website.

Instead, the world of content writing relies on various types of content, ranging from a PR writing to social media, to come together and create one cohesive content strategy. Without any of these different pieces, the entire strategy falls apart, and content writing doesn’t work.

Here’s some of the major types of content, from our infographic last year:

types of online content

While it may seem like a lot of work to focus on creating 7 to 10 different types of content, the reason that each type of content is so essential is simple: each type of content, from white papers to blog posts, appeals to a slightly different segment of a company’s audience.

Plus, you need content that appeals to your audience at all levels – not just at a buyer level.

Not all consumers who arrive on your website are ready to buy something, and if you don’t have content to appeal to each of these groups and the dozens of smaller groups in between, you’re going to lose many of your leads, which will have an adverse impact on your company’s bottom line.

This is exactly why it is so critical to use various types of content in your content strategy and to understand how content writing works, and how each specific type of content relies on many other types of content to function properly. And, not limit yourself to creating only one or two types of content.

The 10 Pillars of Good Content Writing

If you were an excellent blogger, but you didn’t understand how to create any other type of content, you might succeed online for a while. The fact of the matter is that there is a high demand for blogs, people love to read them, and you’d likely see some return on investment.

Over time, however, your content strategy would begin to wear thin because it would be too one-dimensional. To thrive and continue from months and years, a content strategy needs enough pillars to equally disburse its weight. Know how content writing works when you understand the “big picture.” Here are the 10 top components of great modern copywriting:

1. Web Content

Think of content writing like building a house. In this analogy, web content is the foundation. Web content, which includes the text on individual website pages, landing pages, about us pages, contact pages, and more is the foundational content that every company needs to build an online presence.

Without this, readers cannot find the information they’re seeking about your company, and the rest of your content strategy has nothing to build on. As such, web content is the single most critical and essential type of online content writing in the modern world.

2. Blogs

If web content is the foundation, blogging is the framework for the house. Blogging is a primary category of filler content that provides structure and formatting for virtually everything else you do online.

Did you also know that B2C companies that blog 11+ times per month gain more than 4X as many leads than those that blog only four-five times a month? (Source: Hubspot)

Aside from your company’s web page, your blog is the place where consumers can learn the most about you.

Not only does it showcase your brand personality, but it also helps readers get a sense of who you are, what you care about, which topics to cover, and how much value you can provide for them, or not. As such, blogging is a highly essential type of online content writing, and when it’s done correctly, it can dramatically increase your views, your return on investment, and your overall success in the world of digital content creation.

Blogs today are as diverse as they are critical. There is no one-size-fits-all format for a blog. Instead, there are multiple styles of blogs including list blogs, “how to” blogs, “what to avoid” blogs, and more. By mixing and matching these various blog formats, you can create a diverse and highly functional online content strategy.

3. Social Media

Social media is the house’s furnishings and critical tools. You wouldn’t want to cook in the kitchen without a stove or spatula, and you wouldn’t want to develop an online content strategy without social media.

Think of social media as a supporting player: it’s not enough for a company to only have a social media presence, but companies without any social media presence whatsoever typically do not make it very far in today’s social dominated culture. For example, we’ve been able to do very well on Twitter and expand our profile reach to millions of users by starting a Twitter Chat, #ContentWritingChat.

Even small, local businesses use social media as a method to broaden their reach an appeal to leads. And with so many social media platforms to choose from, it’s easier than ever to find a distribution channel that aligns perfectly with your brand’s personality and message.

Today, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, LinkedIn, and Twitter, dominate social media marketing strategies and provide targeted and ongoing value for brands and all industries.

4. Advertising & Sales Copy

Advertising and sales copy are the curb appeal of the home, when it comes to your online copy.

While everything may be cozy and welcoming on the inside, the job of advertising and sales copy, or curb appeal, is to showcase the unique attributes of the “home” to people on the outside.

Plus, advertising and sales copy applies to companies in all industries. A Mexican restaurant, for example, may create a sales-focused a blog post designs to pitch new menu offerings, or a digital services provider may create a series of social media updates around specific products, goods, or services.

Advertising and sales copy takes many forms, from social media to blog posts, and looks quite a bit different than sales copy of yesteryear. Today, advertising and sales copy read like an approachable appeal to friends. They’re not pushy; they are not manipulative, and they’re not misleading.

Honesty and value are the names of the game in today’s online writing environment, and companies that missed this mark will find that they’re advertising and sales copy do not perform as well as they had hoped.

5. Expert Copy

Expert writing is the art collection inside the home. At some point or another, all companies need expert writing. This is higher level writing on the web. Authority figures do this type of writing, and industries need this kind of writer.

Without expert writing, companies place their authority and relevance at risk, and may even be walking out onto thin ice with Google, which has demanded expert writing with standards outlined in their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines.

While some companies believe they can get by without expert writing, or art, these are companies that ultimately will not succeed. Expert writing is the flair that finishes the structure, and it is critical for any business that wants to be taken seriously by the readers of its content.

6. Journalism & PR Writing

Journalism and PR writing represent the first significant gathering that fills the home with friendly faces. Critical for any company that wants to get the word about its products, goods, or services out across the web, journalism and PR writing serve the essential purpose of notifying people that something exists.

Think about building a new house: if you never invited anybody over, nobody would be able to see the hard work you put into the home. Your artwork, furnishings, paint job and construction would go unnoticed by everybody but you.

What a waste!

This is where journalism and PR writing comes in. Through pieces of content like press releases, for example, companies of all sizes and shapes can “invite people in.” This can serve to enhance a business’s growth and make the business more visible online. Don’t opt for cheap PR syndication, though, if you choose to go the press release route: go to local channels instead to publicize your written PR.

7. Creative Writing

Creative writing is that wacky sculpture you love so much you couldn’t help but buy. It’s unique, specific to you, and it makes you happy every time you look at it.

Creative writing is a genre that encompasses the super creative projects companies do, and it serves to enhance and support virtually every other type of content on this list. Marketing copy, for example, can be creative. Social media, blogs, web content, and even advertisements can be creative, as well. There’s no limit here. From a tweet to a blog, creative writing can be woven in anywhere.

Take this tweet, for example. Our creative SME Krystal came up with the copy on the card, which we took to our Twitter friends as a Christmas card:

In fact, many of the top-performing companies (such as Dollar Shave Club and Poo-Pourri) have made their businesses through infusing creative writing into their online content, and they’ve done it through hiring creative copywriters, much like those outlined in our recent infographic!

8. Q&A Content

Q&A content is the user guide to your home. It’s that drawer where you store all of the instruction manuals for your coffee makers, remote controls, tech gadgets, and more.

Even if you don’t look at it very often, those things are essential, and the minute that you don’t have them is the moment that you’re going to wish, more than anything, they were around.

Question and answer content serves two important purposes. On the one hand, it shows that you are familiar enough with your own business and industry to anticipate user questions and answer them thoroughly. On the other hand, it shows Google and other search engines that your site is authoritative and relevance, and can even help you rank in the highly coveted “snippet box” at the top of Google search results. (Check out our blog on how to rank in Google’s featured snippets.)

While your entire content strategy cannot be made up of questions and answers, it is essential to keep this little drawer of instruction at your disposal.

9. Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization is like a nest learning thermostat.

It operates in the background of your content and keeps everything together.

When you do search engine optimization right, it shouldn’t be obvious that you’re doing search engine optimization. In other words, standard SEO tactics, like keyword inclusion and back linking, should not be glaringly evident to your readers.

Instead, these things should serve to enhance rather than to tracked from your content. While search engine optimization is important on a technical level, it’s also one of the most critical aspects of online content writing because it helps people find what you’ve written.

One of the big components of search engine optimization, for example, is keywords. Keywords are relevant for the following reason: when people go to Google to find a piece of contents, they enter a string of words. These words are known as keywords, or “keyword phrases.” In the old days of SEO, one of the best ways to get your content found online was to stuff it so full of these keywords that there is no way readers could overlook the relation between your material and what they searched for.

Today, however, search engines and readers are more advanced, and you don’t need to stuff your content as full as a Thanksgiving turkey to get found online. That said, though, keyword still play a major role in online content.

When you include them naturally throughout your material, it makes it easier for Google to “read” your contents and match it up with user queries. This helps ensure that your content will see the light of day, and get the attention it deserves.

10. Testimonials

Testimonials are the various inspections that tell you and other people that your house is safe to live then. For example, if you were looking at buying a home, would you purchase one that had an evaluation that told you that the walls and ceilings were filled with black mold?

If you built a house, and the final once-over by the construction company revealed about the floors and walls were unstable and likely to fall in at any moment, would you feel comfortable being there, or inviting your friends to be there with you? The answer is no.

The same thing goes for your online content. Testimonials are an often-overlooked type of web content that tells other people “Hey, it’s safe in here. Come on over!” Statistics, proof that you’re worth the investment, are an excellent ingredient along with a brief, authentic “this guy is really worth his salt,” is all you need to make a great testimonial happen. Check out one that has consistently sold us, over and over, from our friend and client Matt Janaway:


Critical for attracting new customers and maintaining your current clients, testimonials are an essential piece of online content that every business needs.

The Complete Map of Online Content: How Content Writing Works Hand-in-Hand

Still a little confused about how all these types of content work together? We created a map to help you visualize it:

web copy map

How Content Writing Works: A Cumulative Mission

Content doesn’t survive on an island.

Instead, it builds on itself to create a dynamic and diverse strategy. Between blogs, social media, and more, content comes together to create a solid online presence.

If you haven’t already, think of creating a consistent content presence today to boost your entire online presence, profitability as a company, lead growth, and so much more. Consistency, and integrating all the relevant parts, is key! Don’t stop at one, and don’t stop just a month in. We can help. Contact Express Writers for content consultation help today!

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