Whether you’re a writer or not, learning how to write better content is crucial to a great content marketing strategy.
Writing is a vital part of your content. It’s your podcast show notes, your YouTube video descriptions, your social media…and that’s before we even get into long-form written content like blog posts, eBooks, lead magnets, etc.
So picking up a few tips and tricks about how to write better content can go a really, really long way.
That’s why I was so excited to speak to Joanna Wiebe, someone who knows exactly what it takes to write content that gets your audience’s attention.
Tune in as the Founder of online marketing writing education website, Copyhackers, joined me in this podcast episode. She shares her thoughts on the different roles copy and content have to play in your marketing strategy and some of her top tips for writing better content.
Hit play to listen to the full interview with Joanna…
Check out the highlights of our conversation in this short video.
Or read on to learn more…
Joanna knows how to write better content
Joanna is the Founder and CEO of Copyhackers, the site designed to teach marketers how to write copy that converts. She started the business back in 2011, and since then has helped companies like Shopify, QuickSprout, BT, Tesco, Buffer, Edgar and Wistia drive multi-millions in revenue.
She’s also the Lead Instructor at Copyhackers’ writing training program, Copy School, and hosts live online sessions giving valuable writing tips and advice.
Throughout her impressive career she’s helped more than 70,000 people in start-ups, small businesses, big business, massive agencies, and more.
So, it’s safe to say that Joanna certainly knows what she’s talking about when it comes to writing good content!
What’s the difference between copy and content?
As we kicked off our conversation, I was keen to know how Joanna differentiates between the different types of writing and why it matters. For Joanna, the difference is clear.
Copy is there to “get the yes”. Aka, get a fast sale, a click, an instant result.
Content, while also on a mission to get results, is a much longer game.
Copy is written with a direct result (e.g., a sale) in mind. Whereas content is all about building a relationship, sharing information, and part of a much wider strategy to reach an end result.
“They're two different goals for different parts of the funnel. So there's a distinction, but the world doesn't know that.”
Joanna shared that this is why you have to be careful what you call yourself if you’re a writer. Copywriter and Content Writer are two very different job titles, and just because you’re good at writing one type, doesn’t mean you’ll be good at the other!
Why We All Need To Write Better Content
Like any content type, copy and content writing can get your business out there and grow it. From Joanna’s perspective, writing is ultimately a tool for achieving business results. But do people still read online?
Every so often an article or a study will announce that people no longer read online…the future is video and audio, is this really true?
Joanna says that these studies are usually oversimplified and, if you dig into the results, what they actually show is “nobody wants to read boring copy.” In particular, we discussed The Neilsen Norman Group report which concluded “79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word."
Joanna pointed out that these studies normally show that everyone reads differently. Online readers fall into one of the following four groups:
- Those who just scan the top – and don’t even scroll down
- Those who scan and scroll
- Those who read slowly and scroll
- Those who read every single word
Depending on your audience’s reading style, your pages may or may not be working for them. But Joanna says it’s not enough to draw simple conclusions from, say, eye tracking software. What writers should be doing is optimizing for all types of readers.
How to write better content
So how do you grab the readers’ attention for a longer-form piece of content? Joanna shared two top tips:
1. Focus on your hook
The hook or lead is the opening portion of your content. This is your first and most powerful opportunity to get readers to pay attention.
“A hook is often found at the end of the phrase, ‘I never thought it was possible but…’. Whatever follows is the interesting part.”
Joanna suggests putting this phrase in front of your hook or each line in your opening paragraph. Anything that suitably completes that phrase is your hook. If nothing completes that phrase, then it’s back to the drawing board and time to do some rewriting.
2. Use fascinations
Once you’ve written your hook, the next most important thing is to give your reader more information about what awaits them in your content. You often see these as bullet points – but Joanna notes that fascinations are far better than just bullets.
The easiest way to think about what your content’s fascinations are is to think about what the clickbait is. Joanna cautions about using the clickbait writing style carefully, as “people are increasingly skeptical” of it, however people do still respond to it.
Joanna talks about it as giving your audience “the beginning of a curiosity gap”. This way, they’ll have to read your blog/listen to your podcast/watch the video to fill that gap in their knowledge and adequately satisfy their curiosity.
Why authenticity is key to better writing
Teasing your audience is all well and good when getting them to take an initial interest in your content, but Joanna is keen to dispel the idea that this is how you should write all of your copy.
Being inauthentic with your content won’t get you very far and genuine stories will bring you much closer to your audience.
“As soon as you become aware of being marketed to, then you feel put off by it.”
So, if you’re going to write content, Joanna’s advice is to write what you’re comfortable with and what you know about.
For example, instead of writing about how to write high converting copy (when you’ve only been blogging for a year), share your experiences of what it’s like being one-year into your copywriting journey.
Honest stories are so valuable to audiences and are far less likely to put people off. So don’t fake it. Get comfortable with where you are in your journey and share that story.
Commit to writing or don’t write at all
Joanna’s final piece of advice was about being true to yourself. If you’re not a writer, and don’t want to be, then don’t force it!
To see results from your content writing, you’ll need to be consistent and passionate about creating it. If you’re neither of those things, then choose a different type of content to create.
For more great writing tips and learn more about Copyhackers, visit their website, follow Joanna on Twitter, or join the Word Workers Facebook group.
If written content just isn’t in your wheelhouse, don’t despair. As Joanna says, there are plenty of other different content types you could create, such as, videos or podcasts.
But creating these types of content doesn’t mean you have to miss out. Our services can repurpose your content into all the written assets you need to support it – and so much more!
If a full content repurposing service isn’t quite right for you at the moment, then check out our book, Content 10x: More Content, Less Time, Maximum Results. It teaches you the basics of repurposing lots of different content types so you can work out what content suits you.