Strong content drives business results. And improving your writing skills is key to success.
Learn how to write better by following this guide. Inside, you'll find 18 in-depth (and doable!) tips for writing powerful content—no matter if you’re an expert or a beginner in the field.
Continue reading if you want to make your competitors think “How did their content get so good?” and your readers ask “Where can I get more?”1. Write Regularly
1. Write Regularly
The first step to writing better? Write more.
Don’t think you have time? That’s OK.
Choose one of the two types of writing exercises we’ve listed below. You can start by spending just a few minutes daily on either of them.
Active Writing Exercises
Active writing exercises are focused on a specific outcome in mind. They will push you to refine your writing and strengthen your copy. Here are some of our favorite writing practices:
- Explain a difficult subject in 100 words or less. You’ll become adept at getting your message across quickly and succinctly.
- Summarize. Take long text and rewrite it to simplify the message.
Pro tip: Try shortening some of your previously published long-form content for a shorter medium like social media.
Try our free AI Summarizer: Simply add text of any length, and the tool will generate a brief and concise summary of the main points.
- Use prompts. Prompts specific to marketing writing can be particularly helpful for developing your writing skills. Try these three examples:
- Prompt #1. Look around the room and pick any product you see. Write in the product’s voice and tell prospective customers why they should purchase you.
- Prompt #2. Think of a product you enjoy using every day. Now write about what it felt like to purchase this product—for the very first time.
- Prompt #3. Pick your happy place. Write an advertisement for your happy place based on its features and benefits.
Passive Writing Exercises
Passive writing exercises are somewhat less focused and might be more time-consuming.
But they can help you improve your self-expression, get into a flow, and make writing part of your lifestyle.
- Write every morning—about anything. Julia Cameron, best-selling author of “The Artist’s Way,” suggests three pages every morning (about 750 words if you’re typing) to help free your mind and allow for more creativity.
- Keep a journal. If you’re not a natural diarist, try gratitude or productivity journals like The Five Minute Journal or The 6-Minute Diary. This shorter practice makes it more manageable to write daily.
- Try tools and websites that encourage you to write more. For example, use the Daily Page tool to create a daily writing routine with creative prompts, or take on the 750 Words challenge.
2. Read What Your Target Audience Reads (and What Your Competitors Are Writing)
Naturally, reading more goes right along with writing more to help improve your content creation skills.
If you have time to read for pleasure, great. But you’ll also want to read what your target audience is reading.
So, where are they hanging out online?
Chances are they’re reading your competitors’ content.
From social media to blogs to email newsletters, scope out their content and read it with a critical eye.
You’ll be both reading and researching—a great way to kill two birds with one stone.
Find their top-performing content and look for patterns. To do that, you can:
- Analyze your competitors’ social media and find posts with the most engagement (e.g., likes, comments and shares)
- Use the Organic Research tool to see which website pages bring them the most organic traffic
Simply enter any domain and head to the “Pages” tab:
- Use the Traffic Analytics tool to see which pages generate the most overall traffic and engagement for your competitors
Additionally, stay on top of industry news and trends. Subscribing to industry newsletters is another option for double-duty researching and writing.
You can also set up Google Alerts to never miss new content published in your niche.3. Follow Content and Copywriting Experts
3. Follow Content and Copywriting Experts
As you study your competitors’ content, you should also take time to learn from content creation experts.
You’ll discover how they found success in content writing and get inspired.
Here are two easy things you can do to make sure you’re getting a healthy dose of good writing advice:
- Follow content and copywriting experts on LinkedIn. Some of our favorites are Henneke Duistermaat, Brian Dean, Andy Crestodina, Eddie Shleyner, Erica Schneider, Jasmin Alić, and Heather Lloyd-Martin.
- Subscribe to newsletters about copywriting and content marketing. We like Total Anarchy by Ann Handley, Yes Yes Marsha, Copy Warfare, Copywriting Examples, and Very Good Copy.
Pro tip: Save your favorite writing tips somewhere that’s easy to access. With non-stop information coming at you, it can be difficult to remember every suggestion.
Create a folder on your desktop, a Google Doc, or a note on your phone that’s accessible when you need some quick inspiration.4. Make Your Audience the Main Character
4. Make Your Audience the Main Character
Your brand is not the main character of your content; your audience is.
Understanding your intended audience is central to writing better, resonating copy.
It’ll help you identify the right points to highlight in your piece and choose a relevant tone of voice.
Make sure to research your audience before you start writing. Find out the following:
- What are their biggest challenges and goals?
- What does their daily life look like?
- What are they trying to accomplish by reading your content?
Do: Show readers HOW they can change their life, work, or business and empower them to do so; aim to solve their problems and answer their questions
Don’t: Write content without a clear audience in mind or only focus on pushing a product or service
But this doesn’t mean you can’t use content to promote your offerings; the trick is to do it in a natural and helpful way.
To accomplish this, try following the Hero's Journey construct. Also called the monomyth, here’s a brief outline you should follow:
- Identify your hero (your reader and potential customer) and what their problem is
- Show them how their current solution isn’t working
- Show them how your product or service could be the turning point in solving their problem
- How does their future look now that they have this solution?
In other words, when you focus on your customer and on telling a story, and not on making a sale, it builds trust.
Let’s look at an example.
In this article, Hotjar is sharing useful and practical tips on how to test your website prototype.
Along with generic advice anyone can follow, they share guidelines on how to get even better results when using their tool.5. Understand Your Audience’s Search Intent
5. Understand Your Audience’s Search Intent
Search optimization is a game-changer in helping people find your content.
And search intent analysis is a central concept when optimizing your copy for rankings. It helps ensure you’re creating content that meets the needs of your audience.
Search intent (aka keyword intent) is why someone types a specific query into a search engine like Google.
For example, a user may want to answer a question, buy a product, or find business information.
When you understand users’ search intent, you can create more robust content by organically helping them find their answers on your website.
To analyze search intent, simply google your target keyword or topic and analyze the pages appearing at the top.
For example, imagine you’re writing an article summarizing your favorite blogging tips.
By simply looking at the titles of top-ranking pages, we can see that you should create a listicle article targeting beginner bloggers.
Next, analyze a few of those pages. Take note of the following:
- What content formats are they using (e.g., blog post vs. downloadable template)
- Which subtopics do they cover
- How these pages are structured
- Which tone of voice do they use
- What visuals do they feature
From here, you can spot some generic patterns to use when structuring your own piece. But you should never blindly copy someone else’s work.
Instead, use it as your reference to your readers’ high-level preferences.6. Always Start with a Content Outline
6. Always Start with a Content Outline
Once you know your topic and have completed your research, it’s time to create an outline.
Think of your outline as a blueprint for your content to help you determine your main points before writing.
If you don’t think it’s worth the effort, know this:
- It saves you time as you decide what you’re going to write about before you start
- It supports search intent to ensure you cover searchers’ potential questions
- It helps you fill in any gaps in your research
- It makes it easier to delegate content to another writer if needed
Your outline should be structured to help uncover the topic of your content piece in the most logical and effective way.
For example, you could use the following formula for many educational articles:
- What is___?
- Why is___important?
- How to___?
When it comes to organic content, it’s also essential to conduct search intent analysis when designing outlines.
In other words, you should examine the top-ranking pages for your keywords and spot common characteristics and patterns.
It’s important because the structure of your article should reflect the expectations of the users searching for your target keyword.
The tool generates ready-to-publish, SEO-rich articles in one click—structured to boost your chances of ranking.
You can then further enhance them using an integrated AI chat and suggestions based on competitive analysis data.7. Deliver an Engaging Headline
7. Deliver an Engaging Headline
Strong headlines increase the chances of grabbing your target audience’s attention.
They are not clickbait; they summarize content, encourage sharing, and are often optimized for search engines.
The most successful headlines answer your readers’ questions or match their search intent.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula for writing an attention-grabbing headline.
But we have tips to make it easier:
- Include keywords your audience is looking for
- Brainstorm several headlines and choose the best one
- Tell readers what they can expect
- Split-test headlines to see which performs better
- Make sure your headline describes the topic in a comprehensive way
- But, do your best to include a hook to spark curiosity
For example, this headline from Buffer’s blog clearly explains what the piece is about. And, at the same time, it’s designed to encourage readers to click by highlighting an exciting, real-life case study.8. Hook Your Readers in the Introduction
8. Hook Your Readers in the Introduction
You might lose your readers if you can’t keep their attention in the introduction.
According to Roy Schwartz, president and founder of Axios, “Less than 5% of people who click on a news article get to the bottom, and most don’t even make it past the first sentence or two.
“And if that’s true for news, just imagine what it means for advertising,” Schwartz adds. Swap “advertising” for “content,” and we agree.
Keep your customers engaged by enticing them in 15 seconds. Here are a few tips along with some of our favorite examples:
- Include a hook that captures them instantly
“Scoff at the guy ordering an oat milk latte and vegan breakfast burrito all you want, but he may just live longer than you. At least according to one new study.”
- Be concise: Inform or surprise them—fast
“Hiring top diverse talent is simple. All you need to do is increase the volume of applicants. Right?Wrong.”
- Use intriguing stats: Make them rethink what they know
“Research is finally showing the link between free-flowing feedback and better business results. In workplaces where managers don’t engage in feedback, employee engagement rates limp in at 29%. On the flip side, when feedback is regularly exchanged between managers and employees, engagement jumps to 79%.”
- Make it relatable: Write directly to your reader
“Once you use your plates every day, they cease to be good china. Of course, the plates didn’t change. Your story did. The way you treat them did. The same goes for the red carpet. If you roll it out for every visitor or every customer, it ceases to be red.”
- Paint a picture and bring readers into the scene with you
“We’re standing on the side of a highway in Budapest, trying to hitch a ride. I’m elegantly dressed for a proper afternoon at the National Gallery in a green embroidered dress and a knotted cotton scarf [...] This is not your average OkCupid date.”
Hungry for more guidance on creating a powerful introduction? Eat it up here.9. Highlight What’s Important: Leverage the BLUF Writing Technique
9. Highlight What’s Important: Leverage the BLUF Writing Technique
Have you ever found yourself reading something and thought, “What’s the point”?
Utilize the BLUF practice to start with the juicy details, rather than hiding them later.
BLUF stands for “bottom line up front.” This practice gives your readers the information they need early on, so they don’t get frustrated and bounce from your site.
Implementing this practice is simple. Start with the most critical information and then add context, reasoning, and examples.
Here’s an example that does NOT leverage BLUF:
“Content marketing is getting extremely popular these days. If you work in marketing or manage a business, you probably heard a lot about it.
More and more companies invest in text, audio, and video content.
And it’s not surprising: sharing great content can help your business grow and prospect in numerous ways. For example, you can use it to generate organic traffic and cut advertising costs.”
Here’s an example that DOES leverage BLUF:
“Content marketing is a powerful way to attract new clients while staying competitive.
Because it helps you generate organic traffic and leads for years to come without making extra investments.
Creating quality content is key to ranking in search engines and thereby spending less on paid advertising.”
See the difference?
Starting your paragraphs with unnecessary, “fluffy” information can easily draw your reader’s attention away.
Instead, help them save time and effort by sharing the most important details upfront.10. Define and Maintain Your Tone of Voice
10. Define and Maintain Your Tone of Voice
Tone of voice is how a brand—or a writer—communicates and connects with its audience through messaging and content they share.
It’s not what you say, but how you say it.
Your tone of voice and writing style are critical to making your readers feel connected to your content.
Ensure you write in the voice appropriate for your intended audience and that it’s consistent across your channels.
Otherwise, they might get turned off by a sudden shift in tone.
For example, if your tone is normally serious and then you start making jokes, it could be off-putting to your audience.
If you’re writing for a brand, make sure to request and study the general brand guidelines on tone in writing.
If you’re writing for yourself, ensure you develop a certain writing style that’s right for you and for your audience, and keep it consistent.
Let’s look at a couple of brands that have an established, consistent tone of voice.
Wendy’s tone of voice is humorous and clever. Read this tweet as an example.
Apple’s fresh and upbeat tone of voice matches its innovative products. Take a look at this Instagram post to see how they do it.
Not sure if you’re doing it right? That’s OK.
Tools like ContentShake AI can help you spot inconsistencies in your content’s tone of voice and quickly fix them.11. Use Active Voice
11. Use Active Voice
Active voice puts the subject in focus and keeps your writing clear and engaging.
You can transform sentences from passive to active by making it clear to the reader who (or what) is acting.
In other words, choose an active verb and pair it with a specific subject.
Still not sure what the difference is between active and passive voice? Take a look at these examples:
- Passive: Was the check paid?
- Active: Did you pay the check?
- Passive: Was the check paid?
- Active: Did you pay the check?
- Passive: All the inventory sold out.
- Active: The business owner sold all their inventory.
Pro tip: Passive voice does have its place: when the subject is unknown or unimportant or when you want to sound more formal (like in academic and scientific reports).
But, in general, stick to the active voice to be more personal.12. Ensure Your Content Is Useful and Practical
12. Ensure Your Content Is Useful and Practical
Imagine a baking website saying that you can make the best chocolate cake of your life—but then they don’t provide you with a recipe.
Avoid this mistake by making your content practicable.
Show your readers how they could do something great rather than just telling them what they could do.
(And, no, it’s not enough to say, “You could be your best self if you buy our product.”)
“How to” articles rank in the top five types of articles because they give readers a formula for how to do something.
For example, this Semrush article shares information about backlinks and their importance for SEO.
One of the reasons backlinks can be beneficial is because they generate referral traffic.
You could simply mention this and jump to the next topic. Instead, the writer provides clear guidance on what referral traffic is and how to measure it using Google Analytics.
This ensures that the reader won’t have to go to other resources for more information and will keep reading your piece.13. Make Your Content Visually Appealing
13. Make Your Content Visually Appealing
Only 20% of people actually remember what they read. Meanwhile, 80% remember what they see and do.
You can make your writing memorable (and more engaging!) by adding visuals.
Adding images to your content is the most obvious visual enhancement. But it’s not the only one you can make.
Catch your readers’ eye with:
- Bullet points
- Numbered lists
- White spaces
- Headings and subheadings
Visuals make your content more appealing AND help people process information better.
For example, we found that articles with at least one video generate 52% more organic traffic than those without.
But only 8% of all blog posts we analyzed (over 500,000) had a video.14. Keep Your Copy Short & Sweet
14. Keep Your Copy Short & Sweet
Readers come to you because they have questions and are looking for answers.
And if you can’t answer them quickly with content that’s easy to digest, you risk losing them.
Follow these tips to keep your copy succinct:
- Aim for no more than 1-3 sentences per paragraph
- Keep paragraphs under 90 words
- Write sentences under 29 words
- Use words under 14 characters
Pro tip: Use ContentShake AI to optimize your content and ensure it’s easy to read.
First, it’ll score your copy based on its readability. Then, it will show the exact bits of text that need revising and help you fix them using AI.15. When in Doubt, Cut the Fluff
15. When in Doubt, Cut the Fluff
To help keep your copy short and sweet, get rid of everything that doesn’t add value.
Remove filler words, phrases, and descriptions that aren’t necessary.
Filler words might feel like your comfort zone when writing, but they only dilute your message in practice.
If your sentence makes sense without it, then you probably don’t need it.
Start by cutting what Grammarly considers the most common filler words and phrases:
- At all times
- Each and every
- As yet
- In order
- Being that
- During the course of
- For all intents and purposes
- For the most part
- In the process of
- As a matter of fact
- All of
- As being
- Point in time
From there, cut the unnecessary adjectives and any complex or fancy words.16. Use AI to Speed Up Parts of Your Writing Process
16. Use AI to Speed Up Parts of Your Writing Process
Think of AI as your friend, but not your best friend.
AI can help make the writing process easier—but cannot replace you, the writer.
Be sure to supervise the output, edit your copy, and fact-check everything AI has generated.
Besides, it’s key that each content piece you create leverages real-life experience.
Even if your competitors are using AI to write all their content, keeping your content human will give you an edge.
There are numerous other ways you can use AI to enhance your content creation:
- Brainstorm content topics
- Provide headline ideas
- Rephrase copy
- Create summaries
- Optimize for search engines
- Avoid redundant copy
- Generate structured data
- Dodge potential plagiarism
- Check for grammatical errors
17. Never, Ever Skip Editing and Proofreading
Editing is crucial to ensure you’re publishing quality content.
When you’re ready to edit, the first thing you should do is walk away.
Take a pause from your copy and return with fresh eyes. While a half-day or overnight is ideal, even 10-15 minutes away from your draft can make a huge difference.
Walking away also helps you transition from writer to reader.
When you reread your work, read it out loud to find issues with structure or places that feel “off” and need some work.
Watch out for repetition, and if you’re stuck on whether to delete or keep a word, always nix it.
You can also use tools like Grammarly to quickly find grammar and spelling errors.
Pro tip: Give someone else your writing to get their feedback. You can even work with a professional editor to ensure your copy is flawless. Feedback can be invaluable in improving your writing, as someone else might catch something you didn’t because of how close you are to the copy.18. Make Your Conclusion Impactful
18. Make Your Conclusion Impactful
Coming up with the right words to end your writing piece can feel like trying to find the right words during a breakup.
But you don’t have to break anyone's heart (including yours), because we have a handful of tips to ensure your endings lead to new beginnings.
How do you write a great conclusion?
- Address the reader
- Condense your major points
- Use a powerful or flashy “kicker”
- Maintain your tone of voice
Beyond that, ensure your ending does one of the following:
- Starts a debate: Conclude your article with a question
- Has a call to action: Offer a free download or unique access (and add users into your funnel)
- Keeps them wanting more: Incentivize readers with more content or ways to engage
Finally, be sure the point you were making in the content and why it matters to your reader is crystal clear.
Remember, crafting a brilliant conclusion aims to reiterate why your content is essential and get your reader to come back for more.Write Confidently
Congrats, you now officially know how to write better!
It’s time to apply what you’ve learned to your copy.
We have no doubt that your new writing skills will make you—and your content—stand out to your customers and give you the edge over your competitors.
Create ready-to-rank content in one click!
Try ContentShake AI-a smart writing tool for small teams with big content marketing goals. Save time, see results.