In today’s video, I’m covering a popular how-to topic in the world of online content.
Specifically: what is content writing, and how to write the seven types of timeless online content that apply directly to the online growth of a business.
Let’s get into it!
Video Notes: What is Content Writing? How to Write 7 Timeless Types of Online Content (Video)
In my first book, published back in 2016 called So You Think You Can Write, The Definitive Guide to Successful Online Content, I cover the seven types of content.
- Web content
- Social media
- Ad and sales copy
- Expert, or industry writing
- Journalistic/news writing
- Creative writing
These still apply today, and in the next few minutes, I’m going to explain what these content types are and how they apply specifically to an online business presence today, as well as writers looking to grow their experience and offerings by learning these content formats.
1. Web content
Think of content writing like building a house. In this analogy, web content is the foundation. Web content, which includes the content on your home page, landing page, about us page, contact page, and more is the foundational content that every company needs to build an online presence. Without this, readers can’t find the information they’re seeking about your company, and the rest of your content strategy has nothing to build on. These pages are critical to develop.
The skills a writer needs to write solid web page copy are SEO writing knowledge, to use those important keywords well in the copy, as well as engaging and conversion-friendly writing skills. Good web page copy should be about the customer, never just about the brand or product.
If web content is the foundation, blogging is the structure and rooms of the house.
Blogging is a primary category of content that provides context for an audience, helps build SEO presence, and gives businesses a way to nurture their leads with a source of fresh, consistent content.
Did you know… Companies that blog 11 or more times per month gain more than 4X as many leads than those that blog only four-five times a month (Source: Hubspot)
Not only do blogs 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.
Blogging is an 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. 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 your blog goals and formats, you can build brand awareness as well as achieve SEO ranking goals. Read more about content goals here.
3. Social Media
Think of social media as a supporting content 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.
A lot of people finding brands online for the first time are going to go click on their Twitter icon, their Facebook page, to see what that company is ‘really’ like on social media. And that can really play into their purchasing decisions.
My Twitter presence, my personal brand profile at @JuliaEMcCoy, brings in leads that have bought my courses and books.
— Julia McCoy | CEO, Author, #WomeninBusiness (@JuliaEMcCoy) February 22, 2019
Our brand’s Twitter profile at @ExpWriters has brought in agency leads.
Mark your calendars and join us for the next #ContentWritingChat on Tuesday, March 5th at 10 AM Central!@CarlaJohnson will be joining us to share #storytelling tips for brands in 2019! pic.twitter.com/EpnX17GXOB
— Express Writers (@ExpWriters) February 5, 2019
Social media works! A good social media writer will blend fun, engaging copy, emojis, and short sentences to promote a brand’s blog posts, events, or message.
Some social media managers can even be paid to write captions. There is software that exists to discover trending hashtags.
The world of content in social media alone is so much! Finding the right platform and staying on a consistent schedule with copy and visuals is key.
4. Advertising & Sales Copy
Ad and sales copy bring the curb appeal to your products and services. This kind of copy is created to showcase the unique attributes of your brand “home” to people on the outside. Advertising and sales copy applies to companies in all industries, and takes many forms, from a long-form Facebook ad to a promoted tweet on Twitter or a paid campaign on LinkedIn.
One of my sales pages that has brought in thousands of dollars in sales is this one. However, when it comes to sales copy, remember that building an audience and trust comes first. Today’s advertising and sales copy that brings in real revenue is also written in less of a ‘pushy’ sales tone. Instead, it should read like an approachable message for a friend. Good ads are segmented to the right audience at the right time; they are not manipulative, and they’re not misleading.
A writer learning to write good sales copy should study the best. Joanna Wiebe and Copyhackers.com is a great resource for learning more about sales copywriting.
5. Expert Copy
Think of expert copy like the fine art collection inside the home. At some point or another, all companies need expert writing. This is the higher level writing you encounter on the web. Specific industries, for example, may need a high-level ghostwriter that knows the nuances of their niche. Authorities in marketing need a writer that can ghostwrite for them, in their voice, for their blog. Without expert writing, companies place their authority and relevance at risk, and may even be walking out onto thin ice with Google, which now looks for expert quality in content as a ranking standard.
Writers looking to get hired as expert writers can absolutely charge higher rates than a generalist, and should have a specific industry they can speak with knowledge in–example, a former attorney writing legal blogs, or a former chiropractor writing holistic blogs about chiropractor care.
6. Journalism & PR Writing
Critical for any company that wants to get the word out about newsworthy events, brand new products, or company changes, journalism and PR writing serves the essential purpose of sharing company news.
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, construction would go unnoticed by everybody but you. This is where journalism and PR writing comes in. Through press releases, for example, companies of all sizes and shapes can “invite people in.”
Some say that press releases are dead. They are, if you’re using them for SEO. Just trying to get a PR to rank for a keyword doesn’t work anymore. If you’re trying to spread the news of something newsworthy, they do work, and so they really aren’t dead or dying. See the description for a link to a press release we published just last year that did really well.
7. Creative Writing
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.
Creative writing is blending the best of a writers’ talents such as writing stories, humorous and appropriate jokes, puns, etc. and using that in one of the other formats. For example, here’s a creative pun our social media copywriter, Krystal, wrote for our social media content. This is creative content, but it was used for social media.
In my agency, at Express Writers, we’ve seen a growing need for creativity among all the projects we take on. While clear and customer-focused copy beats trying to be too clever without a purpose, there is a real demand for writers that can tastefully create colorful, creative content.
If you want to know more about these seven content formats, get a copy of my book on Amazon!