Content Writing for Blogs | Callum Sharp | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      What to look for in a creative brief


    • 3.

      Conducting SEO-keyword research


    • 4.

      Coming up with headlines


    • 5.

      Writing for the reader


    • 6.

      Writing for the client


    • 7.

      Writing for Google


    • 8.

      Publishing your content: What to look for


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About This Class

When it comes to writing for digital mediums, there's so much more to the writing than putting words onto paper. There's SEO-keyword research and optimising a blog post so it can index well on Google, there's understanding exactly what a client wants to achieve with a piece of content, and there's knowing what information you need from them to do a good job.

In this Skillshare class, join professional Copywriter Callum Sharp as he explains the ins and outs of content writing for blogs. 

In this Skillshare class, you'll learn things like:

- How to understand a creative brief and manage client expectations.

- How to conduct SEO-keyword research.

- How to come up with engaging headlines.

- How to write for the reader, the client and the search engine.

- How to optimise your blog when publishing.

Whether you're looking to write for yourself, for online magazines, or for client websites, these skills will help you understand what goes into producing content, and how it can help you grow an audience over time.

Meet Your Teacher

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Callum Sharp

Content Strategy, copywriting & SEO


Callum Sharp is a writer and editor based in Vancouver, Canada. He's been writing professionally for more than a decade and has worked with clients including The Guardian, The Sunday Telegraph, Sony, Microsoft, Dell Technologies, the Monaco Royal Family, and The Culture Trip. 

Callum regularly blogs on Medium for publications including The Writing Cooperative, The Startup, and Multiplier Magazine. 

For more, visit


See full profile

Related Skills

Marketing Business
Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hey everyone and welcome to my skill share class in creating content for blogs. My name is Callum Sharp and I'm a Copywriter from London. I've been professionally copy writing for five years now, working with people like Microsoft, the Amelikan fed with back rows, Deliveroo and a whole range of other clients producing content for blog posts, white papers, case studies, social media assets. All of those things that companies use for their marketing efforts. In this skill share class you will learn things like how to understand a creative brief and manage client expectations. You will learn how to conduct SEO keyword research and formulate topics and then how to turn these topics into engaging headlines that catch a reader's eye. You will learn how to write not only for the reader, also for the client and for the search engine for Google, most likely and what to do after you publish your content. Producing a social media calendar, for example. It's my first time teaching a class on this subject and I'm really excited. Thank you so much for taking the time and I hope you learned something new. Let's dive in. 2. What to look for in a creative brief: What does a creative brief contain? What information do you need from your client in order to do a good job for them? Well, the first thing you need is tone of voice guidelines. That is how is your client communicating to their customers? If, for example, you're writing for a coffee shop, you're going to be wanting to talk quite informally. I imagine, probably quite friendly and you're going to be a bit more entertaining. Whereas if you're writing for a lawyers office, for example, you're probably going to be a lot more direct, professional and maybe even use some technical language in that too. The next thing to consider is buyer personas. Who specifically are you trying to target with your piece of content? Let's again, say you're writing for a coffee shop, are you writing for the consumer? So the everyday person like me and perhaps you who drinks a cup of coffee. Are you writing for coffee roasters? People who work in the industry that know a little bit about it, and baristas as well for that, or maybe you're even writing for coffee brokers. People who are buying green beans from producing countries and sell them on to coffee shops. The next thing you need to know is who to speak to. So some pieces of content are going to require a lot more research than others and that might mean doing a lot more primary research rather than the secondary research. Research, speaking to people who are subject matters in that field. You're going to need to know if that's the case, who you want to speak to and how you can go about reaching those people and getting information from them. That might mean setting up interviews with people, or it might just mean simply sending an email to someone. You will also need to know the goals and objectives of the campaign. Chances are if you're writing for a big client, especially your content is going to be part of a wider marketing strategy and that strategy is going to have, if a client knows what they're doing, it's going to have goals and objectives. Hopefully it has goals and objectives. If it doesn't have goals and objectives, question why you're doing it in the first place or take the money and run, that's your call, but you need to know the outcome of that campaign. Is it to raise brand awareness, for example, is it to increase website visitors to a client's website, is it to convert more leads on a client's website so that they have more prospects to sell to. If you understand what the goal is, you can understand how to angle your piece of content for them. Lastly, sometimes you need to know what point of view your client takes on a certain topic. So I recently wrote a white paper on AI for a client here in London and AI is obviously rapidly changing. There are new trains of thoughts emerging every single day. I had to understand what angle my client wanted to take, what argument they wanted to make and how they wanted to make that argument about AI. Understanding the angle is something that's really important in a creative brief and that's it. That's what to look for in a creative brief. Hopefully that helped, next up is research. 3. Conducting SEO-keyword research: Now that you have a good brief, it's time to do some research. My mentor always tells me that good writing is 70 percent research, 20 percent editing, and 10 percent writing. He is right because if you can do all the work up front, the actual putting words on the paper part of the process is the easiest thing to do. Because we're writing for digital mediums, that means we need to conduct SEO keyword research. What is SEO keyword research? Search engine optimized keyword research is a process of understanding what within your topics people are searching for on Google. Ensure people go to Google, they type a few words into the search bar and then they get a bunch of results that relate to those words. Those keywords are the words that you need to understand so that you can produce content that relates to what people are searching for. For example, if you're a coffee roaster and the aim of the campaign is to educate people at home how to brew up the perfect cup of coffee using your coffee beans, you will need to understand what people are typing into Google around coffee brewing at home to produce content that relates to certain search terms. How do we do this? How do we do SEO keyword research? Well, the first thing to do is to brain dump on a piece of paper a bunch of ideas that you may have in and around the topic that you're writing for. If it's around brewing coffee at home, you might talk about milk alternatives or how to steam milk. How to pour a shot of espresso. Different coffee brewing methods like using a french press. Using an area press or a stove top. There's already a bunch of ideas that I can put down on paper to give me a good starting point. Next, we need to put these search terms into Google to see what content's already been talked about. Let's use the example coffee brewing methods. Let's type that into Google and see what comes up. Already you see this bigger feature snippet here and you've got different types of coffee and brewing, cold brew, you've French press, Arabic coffee, percolators, vacuum coffee makers. There's a list here from this article. You have what other people are searching for, and then you begin to see different types of content around it. For example, the top result is most popular coffee preparation methods, which could be an interesting article. There's a list of cool 19 ways to brew amazing coffee. You've got some video content here and video content in 2019 is really important. Again, you've got three listicles here, different comparisons of brewing methods. There's clearly a general theme here of listicles, and that type of content is clearly being favored for this search term. Cool. Now we understand and have an idea of what the first page of Google looks like for the search terms which we're trying to rank for. We can go and run those search terms through an analyzer. I like to use most pro personally, but there's a cost to that. The best free alternative is probably Neil Patel's Ubersuggest tool. Let's type coffee brewing methods into Ubersuggest and hit "Search". There's a keyword overview here and there's a few things to look at. The first thing to consider is search volume. How many people per month are looking the keywords that you're trying to rank for? The next is SEO difficulty. How competitive is that keyword? Then you have a few other factors like paid difficulty if you're looking to advertise on Google and cost-per-click. As you can see, Neil Patel deems is keyword quite competitive and you probably have, you have more than half a chance of ranking in the top 20, which is good, and you start to get some other keyword ideas is. What you're looking for is quite a high monthly search volume. You aren't quite uncompetitive or low difficulty scoring. It's important to note that the metrics you get shown in Ubersuggest or in most pros, keyword explorer tool or in RF, or any other tool that you use. They're all Advisory. The secret source of these tools is where that data comes from, and nobody really quite understands where they pull their data from. If you put a keyword in ROS, for example, you'll probably get a different dataset than a keyword in moss and a keyword and Ubersuggest for example. It's important just to look and gauge an idea about what is being searched for and what perhaps is quite uncompetitive and it's from there that you'll begin to find gaps that you can start to fill with your content. Now for the work. Now that we have the tools that we need and we have a process in place, it's time to start building up a list. What you want to do is all of your relatable search terms, all of the ideas you had on paper at the beginning, whether it's about milk alternatives, how to steam milk, different beans used for espressos, what coarseness or fineness your coffee beans need to be. All of those ideas, run them through Google, see what Google is saying, and then run those keywords for an Analyzer and see what an Analyzer is saying and you want to build up a list of keywords. Once you have that list, you can start to prioritize what keywords are being searched for quite highly and what keywords have a low difficulty scoring and perhaps have quite a high click-through rate, because that's also really important. By doing that, you can find pockets of free space on the Internet, so to speak, that your content has a good chance of ranking for. Is important to remember that Google is really clever. It uses a bunch of different AI algorithms, and as a result, it knows search intent. It knows if you type in all blue eyes into Google, you probably mean Frank Sinatra. Or if you type in Obama into Google, you probably mean Barack Obama or Michelle Obama. When it comes to your content idea, if in this case it's about coffee brewing methods, you might want to look at keywords like brewing hot beverages at home, because that relates to coffee, a hot beverage that you can brow at home. Now that we have are prioritized keyword list, the next thing to do is go and ideate some headlines. This is the fun bit. 4. Coming up with headlines: What you should have by now is, a good creative brief from your client. You should have done all of your research and understood what's being talked about around your topic and perhaps what isn't being talked about around your topic and you should have a prioritized keyword list that you can go and expand on. When it comes to writing headlines, it's really important to remember that the first headline you write probably isn't going to be the headline you use, and writing a headline can happen either at the beginning of a piece of content or at the end of a piece of content, depending on the direction you take when you write. Donald Murray, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, wrote a book called Writing for Deadline, which if you haven't read, you should definitely read. He always says that a good headline comes out of writing 50 draft headlines. I don't personally write 50 headlines for each piece of content I do, but it gives you a sense of how much work goes into producing a headline. Because at the end of the day, the headlines really important. It's what attracts a reader to click through to a piece of content, to read on it's what gets a client more website visitors and it's the difference between high quality informative content that educates a reader and clickbait. When it comes to ideating content, there are different headlines styles, different approaches to content that you can take. For example, you could write a how to guide. That's often very informative, very educational, and it teaches people about different steps to take to do something. If it's coffee brewing, it might be a how to guide on brewing the perfect French press, for example. You might produce a listicle, which is another good example. A listicle is really good. Let's say if you're comparing something, nine different ways of brewing coffee at home. Another really good idea is to consider writing a headline and there's a question. What is it that makes a perfect cup of coffee? For example. Maybe you're writing a guest blog or a feature piece for a magazine or just generally a longer a piece of content, a listicle on how to guide or an ultimate guide to or a question might not be the best approach to it. Another approach to it, and it is more traditional to journalism, is to use the inverted pyramid. An inverted pyramids is really good at keeping a reader engaged in and reading on in a piece of content. All I mean by the inverted pyramid is to unfold and unpack more information about your topic as a reader reads on, as you keep writing. Good examples of the inverted pyramid are often found on new sites like the BBC in the New York Times, and anyone reporting daily on breaking news. That's a really good way of writing a blog post too. A good example is, I recently wrote a blog post for a coffee company I write for about shooting coffee into space to roast it in the atmosphere. That's a new thing that's happening, it's actually happening. There's a company at Dubai called Space Rosters who are sending green beans into the atmosphere and then roasting them on re-entry. That's a good news story. It's a good piece of information to report on a blog. The way you tell that story would be using the inverted pyramid style. Now that you've understood your creative brief and you've done all of your research and you've got all of your keywords and now you've turned those keywords into longer tailed how to guides, listicles, and engaging headlines, it's time to go and write. 5. Writing for the reader: When it comes to content writing for blogs, it's really important to remember that you're not just writing for the reader anymore. Unfortunately, that's the case. You're also writing for your client and you are also writing for Google, and you have to please both the reader, your client, and Google at the same time. There are different ways you can do that in your content. When it comes to writing for the reader, which in my eyes is the most important person because that's the person who's going to engage with your content. It's really, really important that you inform and educate your reader because that's what they're looking for when they search into Google, is an answer, is value back for their search term. If you can provide value to your readers, that's going to benefit your client as well, because it means that you'll have more loyal readers, you'll have people who return to the site and to the blog and keep reading. That's going to help your client out a lot. One thing that's really important to remember when writing for the reader is not only to provide them value, but to make sure your content is structured in a way that it's easily digestible. There's a really good headline about attention spans by time, and the headline is, "You now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish." The article shines light on a study done by Microsoft in Canada. It basically states that goldfish have an attention span of nine seconds long but since 2000, when the mobile phone and the internet boomed, human's attention spans have dropped from 12 seconds to eight seconds. What that basically means for you as a writer, for you as someone who's blogging, it means that the important parts of your content really need to be focused on in your article. Whether that's bolding your sentences or just breaking up your paragraphs, so it's just a few lines per paragraph rather than a big chunk of text. Whatever it is you can do to make your content as digestible as possible is going to really help a reader out and provide them with value. It's no longer unfortunately, about telling a long-winded story. People just want the information they can get their hands on as quick as possible. 6. Writing for the client: Writing for the client, this is also really important because they're the people who are hire you, they are the people that pay you. You need to make sure that you please a client too. That comes down to managing expectations. When you go and write a piece of content, don't forget what the purpose of that content is for. You should always have that in the back of your mind. Why have you been hired to write that piece of content? What is the client trying to get out of that piece of content? Perhaps they're trying to sell a product subtly and you need to influence that product in your article. Maybe they're trying to raise brand awareness and you need to just mention the brand occasionally to remind readers that that brand exists. When you write, make sure you consider tone of voice, point of view and all of these things we covered in the brief. That matters quite a lot because when it goes to sending your content for review to a client, it probably means that you'll get less edits back from them. That's a good thing for you because it means that you don't have to keep going back and forth on a piece of content all the time. You can produce content that is of high quality and that is in line with the client's agenda. One of the things I do before I send a piece of content off to the client is I'll put my content into an app online called Anyone can access it. It's a bit like Grammarly, in the sense that it just points out where your content could be tightened, how it can be a bit more punchy. It takes out passive voice, it shorten sentence structure which helps SEO, and it generally just tightens and makes your content a bit more concise. That's really good for the reader as well because it makes your content more digestible. It makes it easier for Google too, because it helps Google bot understand what your content is about. It's also really good for your client because it keeps things really concise, really nice and neatly packaged, and to that point. 7. Writing for Google: Finally, you're also writing for Google for the search engine because you need to please a search engine in order to have the best chance possible to index high on search results pages. A client wants to see that the piece of content you're producing is going to get good traffic, it's going to get good search results, and that it's going to help grow website visits, and lead conversions on their platform. To do that, you have to write with Google in mind, which means making sure your headline is engaging, has the key word in it and is relatable to what it is you're trying to talk about. It means making sure that your H2 tags, so your sub-headings are well-placed throughout your piece of content and that they also subtly imply the keyword and that is making sure that your body copy, so the actual writing that you put onto the page is well optimized and relatable to the general search term you'll going for. Now that your content is aligned and optimized for Google, and for your client, and for the reader, it's time to go and publish a piece of content on a CRM platform, whether it's web press, Squarespace or HubSpot, there are different technical checks you have to get in place when publishing a piece of content to give it the best chance it has to rank well. 8. Publishing your content: What to look for: Often, if you're working with clients over a long period of time, you'll probably be trusted enough to go and publish content on their website. There's a lot to consider when it comes to SEO and optimizing your content for the internet and there are a lot of on-page SEO checks that you have to get right when you publish a piece of content to make sure it has the best chance possible of ranking. The first thing to consider is putting your primary keyword at the very beginning of your title. This way when Google bot scans and it's going to scan your headline first, it's going to pick out that keyword and understand exactly what your piece of content is going to be about. Then you want to look at the URL of the blog that you're posting onto and you want to make sure that your primary keyword is in that URL too. You also want to make sure that you get your keyword into your opening paragraph. Again, Google will look at your URL, it will look at your title, it will look at your first heading and then it will start scanning your body copy and if you can put your keyword in all of these things and in your opening sentence, you can begin to sincerely demonstrate that your content is exactly about this. You also have to consider your meta descriptions. When you type something into Google and you get given search results, you often get a little description underneath the heading and that description is a meta description. If you can optimize your meta description, you're going to have a better chance of ranking higher on Google. Because again, it makes your content more relatable to the topic you're trying to rank for and it helps inform the reader exactly what it is you're trying to talk about and inform them all. Then you want to make sure you have some internal links placed within your content. Link building is really important when producing content and you have internal and external links. Links pointing to your other URLs on your domain, and links pointing to other URLs on the internet or other websites. If you can put some internal links into your content, you can start building some authority about the relevancy of different pages on your website, and with that said, outbound links so links to other areas are also really good because adding links that link to other websites on the internet demonstrates to Google what your content is about. Another thing that's really important to note is visual stimulation. Videos, photos, images, graphics, illustrations, the more of those types of content you can add into your blog posts, the more chance you have of retaining readership, keeping people engaged in a piece of content and helping them understand what your content is about. You also need to consider mobile optimization. More than 88 percent of users nowadays are searching the web on their mobile. I know I do, and I'm sure you do too and that means that your content needs to be well optimized for a mobile. That means making sure there are things like large finger friendly buttons on your piece of content if you have any buttons. Making sure your images are well compressed so that they can show up neatly on a phone. Making sure that a website doesn't have too many popups that keep coming up on a phone because that's really annoying and generally just making sure your content looks really good on a small screen. Another interesting consideration is how long your content is. A study run by Backlinko who are really good SEO company found that the average first page result on Google, was 1,890 words and it's easy to understand why that's the case because longer pieces of content are often going to be more in depth, more authoritative, and they're going to give both the reader and Google more relevant information about what that topic is that you're writing about. If you really want to aim to rank well on Google, you're going to be producing content that's probably a 1000 words plus. Then you want to look at social sharing. That's obviously a really important part of blogging these days is producing content as easily shareable and making sure that when you publish a piece of content to a platform, you give your readers the opportunity to share that content on their platforms and that will help you out massively. That's going to help your client out, and that's just going to basically get your content out there and seen. In terms of publishing content, those are the checks that you need to make sure you have in place when you publish if you want to give your content the best chance possible.