Writing anything requires a high level of skills. Hence, we have CV writers who create resumes for job seekers, authors who write books, journalists for news coverage and poets to write ballads and poems.
In recent years, a new profession in writing has emerged- Content Writers. This phrase is rather vague since everything that gets printed in a newspaper, magazine or online is broadly defined as content. Therefore, it is essential to know what exactly constitutes ‘content.’
Content, as mentioned earlier, is anything that is aimed at attracting the attention of a targeted audience. It can be in form of a written article or video, pictures, and graphics. Content can broadly be categorized under various fields.
- Advertising Content: Words, pictures, audio and videos that aim at marketing a particular brand, product, service or agenda, among others.
- News Content: Printed, video, audio and graphics that are used to convey latest events and happenings at a place.
- Online Content: Brief product descriptions used by online stores, blogs, pictures, audio and video including podcasts.
- Technical Content: Includes technical information that is used in writing instruction manuals for complex machinery, software, and other applications. This content is targeted at engineers who are well versed in technical jargon.
- Medical Content: Generally includes medical research, description of a variety of medicines including its chemical composition, uses, side effects and contraindications, dosage and other relevant information for physicians. It can also include diagnosis of diseases and will generally consist of complex medical terms.
- Financial Content: As the term signifies, financial content pertains to money, investments, stock markets, derivatives, commodities, banks and interest rates. These are of relevance to experts in banking, securities, finance and insurance sectors.
Content has one primary purpose: To appeal to the largest number of people in the shortest possible time. However, this is possible only if the content is written artistically and keeps the audience interested and engrossed.
Therefore, we look at ways and means to bring more artistry to your writing. Understandably, weaving artistry into writing is no cake walk. However, once you master the skill, there are hundreds of freelance writing jobs you can take to make some extra money online.
7 Ways to Write Better
1) Authoritative Knowledge
Being an expert on the topic you are writing is prerequisite. Sans such knowledge, anything you write will appear amateurish and will fail to attract the attention of the intended audience.
Worse, it can render you a laughing stock among those who are well versed in the field and can severely mar your career in content writing.
Merely studying about a topic on the Internet or acquiring superficial knowledge through books is not sufficient. The commonest blunder most content writers commit nowadays is reading blogs and other online material, without as much bothering about the origin of such information.
Hence, they are unable to weave artistry into writing. Instead, they are merely rewriting whatever they read.
2) Excellent Language Skills
Merely knowing about a topic or field is not enough. You have to provide information in a manner which appeals to readers. Hence, excellent language skills are imperative.
Remember, language skills are not applicable only for content in English: The same yardstick applies to writers who create content in any language.
Despite your linguistic proficiency, write content using simple words while taking care to avoid technical jargon wherever possible.
Remember, your English skills are not at test: it is your writing proficiency. Avoid using words that can cause a reader to reach for a dictionary.
3) Flesch- Kincaid Readability Test/ Flesch Reading Ease Test
These two tests are something all content has to undergo before it gets published. Highly specialized content such as technical, medical and financial is exempt from such tests unless the information is intended for the public who may be unaware of jargons.
Under these, all content is tested for ease of reading. A score of 100- meaning- it can be understood by a fourth-grade school kid is considered the best.
Indeed, American laws make it mandatory for technical stuff like insurance policies, automobile manuals, and others to be written in language that has a very high score on this test.
The test takes into consideration number of words in a sentence, syllables and lots more. To make your writing more artistic, conduct the free online test on some of your articles. The results will highlight where you can improve ease of reading.
While writing content, you need to shift focus from one feature to another. This transition has to be seamless. Meaning, the reader should not be jarred or abruptly led into something unrelated to the paragraph or sentences are written earlier.
This can be achieved very easily by writing a sentence or two that prepares the reader for what you will write next in an article. Generally, you can achieve the more subtle transition from one aspect of a topic to another by writing about something in steps.
The best example of such transition can be seen in recipes. Every recipe follows a pattern of steps, from beginning to the end.
5) Use Anecdotes
Anecdotes mean presenting your article in narrative form. Alternatively, you can intersperse your writing by briefly narrating your personal experience or that of someone else.
Generally, first-person accounts keep readers interested in the writing, as long as they can identify themselves with a situation.
Writing anecdotes can be pretty tricky. Unless you have personal experience or can cite that of someone else, they can appear fake.
Further, presenting your own experience in words can often prove difficult since you may fumble for words. However, memorize the situation and describe it in best possible words that make your writing very artistic.
6) Positive Criticism
Writing negative or criticizing something is extremely easy. However, it causes readers to frown since they will inadvertently believe you are getting paid to write ill about something or someone.
Additionally, you may attract lawsuits for defaming something. Everyone has an opinion about everything. Hence, it is best to avoid direct criticism.
The best example of positive criticism can be seen in reviews of smart-phones. Reviewers will write something like ‘…the camera could have been better…”, instead of saying it is poor quality or “ ..battery needs bit more power..”, rather than calling it weak. Find words and sentences that adequately express your displeasure rather than a definitive description about anything.
7) Weave Emotions
Everyone subtly experiences a series of emotions while reading any content- regardless whether it’s a tearjerker novel or restaurant review.
Emotions are nothing more than a mind’s reaction to something external. Hence, try and weave emotions into your writing to make it more attractive.
Blending emotions gives you the unique advantage of getting a reader to identify with your writing. It should leave them with a desire to try the brand, product or service, study a course or try a restaurant, among others.
Only specialized content such as technical, medical, finance and unbiased news is neutral since it is generally not written to swing opinions. Blogs and advertising content aim at attracting content and hence needs to emotionally appeal to the targeted audience.
Artistic writing is much simpler than you may believe. However, we reiterate that it requires expert level fluency in any language, combined with expertise in at least one field. You cannot write artistically about something you do not know.
Aspiring content writers can identify any specific field for which they have an aptitude and sufficient knowledge. Often, a journalism degree may prove insufficient to become a good writer and churn out artistic content.
Myriad style-guides for writing is available online and at bookstores. You can refer to these to get a fair idea on how to bring more artistry to your writing.
The most time-tested and proven technique to write interesting content is by reading a lot. Reading not only improves your overall vocabulary, it subtly teaches you how to present a subject or situation without boring the audience. General knowledge also plays a major role in bringing artistry to your writing.