With so much content already out there, content writing that stands out and convinces readers to read your blog over someone else’s is difficult.
Not only do you need to engage them so that they stay on your blog, but you also need to stop them from simply saving it to read later—which they will probably never end up doing.
To do this, working on improving your writing is an important step. Here are 29+ actionable content writing tips to help you, along with examples, statistics, and quotes.
1. Make Your Content Actionable
This is a great way to stop readers from simply saving your content to read later. If you give them specific examples of what to do after reading your content, they’re less likely to go looking for more specific information on other sites. Don’t give them any reasons to leave. Telling them to share their thoughts in the comments or share your content on social media is also a great way to make your content actionable.
Example: Don’t just tell your readers about that easy-to-make vegan cake that you made. Give them the recipe. Give them alternative options for ingredients. Tell them exactly what to do to be able to eat that cake.
2. Don’t Forget the Reader
You should never forget your reader—there's a real person reading your content, not just some mysterious abstract being.
So, when writing, keep in mind these three questions:
- Who is your reader?
- What do they want?
- And how can you make their reading experience easier and more enjoyable?
Answering these questions will help you deliver the kind of content that your intended reader wants.
Example: If you’re writing a book review blog post, keep in mind that your readers probably haven’t read the book yet, want to find out if the book is worth reading, and don’t want any spoilers. On the other hand, if the blog specialises in discussing and analysing books, rather than reviewing them, then you can expect that your readers have read the book.
3. Use Plain Language
Speak the language that your readers will understand. Make it easy for them. You don’t have to use long, complicated words that you don’t normally use, and doing so will actually hurt your writing because you’re likely to come across as wordy or pretentious. Sometimes using jargon is more appropriate, but avoid using unnecessary jargon because you will lose readers who don’t understand it.
Example: Write “You must finish the maths test” instead of “The completion of the topology examination is a mandatory requirement”.
Source: Quick Sprout
4. Be Conversational
Using the right tone in your writing is incredibly important. If you’re writing a blog post, be conversational, but still professional. Don’t write jargon-filled, passive sentences that are so long that you would have trouble reading it aloud.
Example: When writing, imagine you’re talking to a friend. Use contractions such as “you’re” instead of “you are” and “they’re” instead of “they are”. Read your content aloud. Is it easy to read? Or does it sound more like an overly formal essay?
5. Use the Active Voice
Avoid the passive voice. Using the active voice will make your writing clearer, more direct, and easier to read.
Example: Write “Use the active voice to improve your writing” instead of “Your writing can be improved by using the active voice”.
Source: Tribute Media
6. Avoid Verbosity
Make it easy for your readers by avoiding wordiness, which makes your writing unclear and hard to follow.
Use words like:
- “use” instead of “utilise”
- “every” instead of “each and every”
- “to” instead of “in order to”.
Use short sentences and paragraphs.
A paragraph can be as short as just one sentence, and preferably no longer than 3–4 sentences. If you struggle to explain an idea simply, you might need to do more research to understand it better and be able to break it down to explain it to someone else.
Example: Read your writing aloud. If you stumble on any of the sentences because they sound wordy and unnatural, consider re-wording and simplifying them.
Source: Enchanting Marketing
7. Avoid Weasel Words
Unless intentional, avoid using weasel words, such as the following: very, literally, somewhat, apparently, definitely, possibly, basically, and essentially. They might make your writing sound more conversational, but overusing these unnecessary words will weaken your writing.
Example: Write “This case study shows that...” instead of “This case study definitely shows that...”.
Source: The Write Practice
8. Avoid Thesaurus Syndrome
Trying to find better words to impress your readers can backfire. Trying to find different words to use because you feel you’ve been using the same ones too often isn’t a good idea either. Don’t let the word “banana” turn into “an elongated yellow fruit”.
Example: If you’re looking in a thesaurus for another word to use, make sure that the choice is necessary, and that you know exactly what the new word means. Although, if you have to look up what it means, I suggest not using it.
Source: Aerogramme Writers’ Studio
9. Use Reliable Sources and Be Specific
Always use reliable sources in your research to build your credibility, and be specific when referring to them.
Example: Instead of writing “Research shows that...”, mention specific research. Instead of writing “Some people argue that…”, name specific examples. Instead of writing “Over 50%...”, write a specific number (e.g., Is it 51% or 59%?).
10. Don’t Overload on Ideas
Trying to write about every idea you’ve ever had in one blog post will result in a confusing, disorganised, rambling piece of writing. Stick to one main idea for each post, and make sure to give each point its own paragraph.
Example: Every time you think of a new idea that doesn’t belong in your current post, jot it down on a piece of paper or in a notebook. You can write a separate post on it later, but, for now, forget the new ideas and focus on your current one.
11. Know What Else your Readers are Reading
Do your research. Knowing what else your potential readers are reading can give you a better idea of what has already been written on your topic, and what your readers will expect from you. Even though this won’t guarantee that they will read your content, it will make it easier for you to give them what they want, rather than give them something they’ve already read a few times before.
Example: Search your topic in Google and read the most popular posts. Make note of what readers like and any gaps that you could address in your own post.
12. Add Your Own Unique Twist
Add something new to the conversation. Make your content different to the what other people have written on the same topic. An easy way to do this is to make it personal, and write something that only you can write. Everyone loves a story, and sharing a personal story could make your content more relatable and honest.
Example: If you’re writing about indoor plants and succulents, open with an anecdote about your previous unsuccessful attempts to keep plants alive until you bought a succulent.
Source: Quick Sprout
13. Use the Inverted Pyramid
If you’re a journalist, this is probably one of the first things you learnt. Start with the most important information and end with the least important. Depending on the type of content you’re writing, you might structure it differently, but the inverted pyramid is an easy way to do so that doesn’t make your readers wait.
Example: To start your inverted pyramid, write a first sentence around 26 words long that answers the 5 W's and H (Who? What? Where? When? Why? And How?), or an opening that answers most of them.
Source: Enchanting Marketing
14. Use White Space Effectively
Don’t be afraid to spread out your text. Line breaks add more white space, giving the reader’s eyes a break and allowing them to absorb the information better than if they were confronted by nothing but text.
Example: Use numbered lists, bullet points, or photos (or a mix of these) to add white space.
Source: Human Factors International
15. Stick to a Word Count
Writing to a specific word count is a simple way to improve your writing, as it makes you think about what you really need to include and what you don’t. Sticking to a regular word count also gives readers an idea of the length of writing to expect from you. Having a word count doesn’t work for everyone, but try it first to see if it helps.
Example: Write 2000 words for each blog post, with 150 words leeway to go under or over the limit (i.e., 1850–2150).
Source: Quick Sprout
16. Avoid Unnecessary Repetition
When used effectively, the repetition of words and phrases can guide the reader through your content and reinforce your message. The unnecessary repetition of words, phrases, and ideas can make the pace too slow and frustrate readers.
Example: Use the function “Ctrl+F” to find out how often you’ve used certain words or phrases, and delete or re-word them if there’s too much repetition. Look out for repeated ideas as well, and be prepared to delete whole redundant paragraphs if you need to—a shorter, more concise blog post is better than one that repeats the same things.
17. Use Numbered Lists and Bullet Points
Numbered lists and bullet points are a great way to break up large blocks of text. This makes it easier for the reader to scan through the information.
For example, you can use bullet points to create lists that are:
- easy to read
- and add white space.
Or, use them like this:
- You can use them for longer points, as they allow you to break up and organise more complex ideas—just make sure to start each point with the most important information.
Example: If your content is nothing but blocks of text, try adding a numbered list or bullet points.
18. Write Compelling Headings and Sub-headings
Use keywords (this makes it easier for potential readers to find you), avoid unnecessary words (e.g., "the", "in", and "of"), avoid overly long headings, be controversial sometimes, and use formula headings like “Top 10...” lists. Don’t be afraid to say that what you’re writing is the best, but make sure to deliver what you promise in the heading.
Example: Even if you think you’ve found the perfect heading for your blog post, see what else you can come up with. Try writing 5 different headings for the same post, compare them, and pick the best one. Is it still your original heading? Or did you surprise yourself and write an even better one?
19. Write Directly to the Reader
Don’t be afraid to write in the first person or address the reader directly. Writing as if you are having a conversation with a friend helps establish a connection between you and your reader because it’s as if you are speaking directly to them.
Example: Use the words “you/your” to address the reader directly, such as in this sentence: “I suggest trying these tips, as they should help you improve your writing.”
20. Add Visuals
Everyone loves pictures. Not only can they give your reader a break from the text, but they can also reinforce your written content and help the reader remember information easier; however, that doesn't mean you should add them wherever possible.
Example: If you would prefer the main focus to be on your writing, use images sparingly or not at all. But, if you realise that the images are the main feature, you could present your content as a photo gallery.
Source: Jeff Bullas
21. Add Questions
Ask questions to encourage responses from your readers. More interaction means more traffic headed to your site.
Example: End with a specific question like “Have more content writing tips to add? Let us know in the comments below!”.
Source: Quick Sprout
22. Add Links
Having too many links can annoy your readers, but adding them when relevant is a great way to improve your SEO. Make sure that your links open in new tabs, and include links to your own content to keep the reader on your page.
Example: If you mention any outside sources (e.g., statistics from a research study), add links to them.
23. Don’t Overuse Italics, Bold, or Underlining
Overusing these makes your writing look messy and confusing. When used effectively, the reader can use them to scan for the most important information, and can help them find specific sections quickly; however, overusing them has about the same effect as not using them at all. If you decide to use them, make sure that you use them consistently (e.g., don’t bold some sub-headings and underline others).
Example: You could make your sub-headings and quotes stand out by using bold for the former and italics for the latter.
24. Choose Your Font Wisely
Choosing an illegible font that is too small and squished together could be the difference between a reader deciding to stay on your page or leave at the first sight of it. Serif fonts are known to be easier to read online, but everyone has their own preference.
Example: Test out a few different fonts before choosing one. Some fonts might seem great at first, but it might turn out that they’re illegible when you use italics.
Source: Social Triggers
25. Make Sure It Flows Well
You don’t want your readers to start reading your content only to find that they have to keep re-reading sections to make sense of it. Great ideas won’t make a great blog post if they don’t connect and flow well together.
Example: Add signposts, such as specific subheadings, or linking words that connect sentences and paragraphs (e.g., firstly/secondly/thirdly, in addition, another, now, so, but, however, for example, and for instance).
Source: Quick Sprout
26. Fix Spelling Mistakes
Convincing readers to read your content is hard enough without spelling mistakes, which make your writing unprofessional and frustrating to read.
Example: Proofread your writing for spelling mistakes before publishing it. Look out for commonly confused words (e.g., affect/effect, allude/elude, imply/infer, practical/practicable, and assume/presume).
27. Fix Grammatical Errors
When writing online, grammar is not always as important as it is in other forms of writing (e.g., sentence fragments as sentences on their own are acceptable); however, major and unnecessary grammatical errors can put off readers.
Example: Proofread your writing for grammatical errors, such as comma splices and incorrect tense.
Source: The Content Factory
28. Fix Punctuation Errors
Use punctuation correctly and consistently. This is a simple way to make sure that your writing comes across as accurate and professional.
Example: Proofread your writing for punctuation errors and inconsistencies. For instance, are you going to write “email” or “e-mail”? Are you going to use em dashes with no spaces on either side (—) or spaced en dashes (–)?
29. Fact Check
This one is easy to forget, but it’ll be worth it if it means readers will trust you to give them accurate information. It will damage your writing if you become careless and accidentally use incorrect facts.
Example: Make a note to check your facts before publishing your content.
30. Add a Call-to-Action
Don’t forget to include call-to-actions (CTAs). Place them in your content where they are the most relevant and likely to convince readers to take action.
Example: Add a call-to-action at the end to encourage commenting as soon as they’ve finished reading your content, such as “What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!”.
Which of these actionable content writing tips do you like the best? Let us know in the comments below! Which ones do you follow when writing? Share with us!