Intro to Content Writing: Learn the Basics of Writing to Your Audience | Erica Bartlett | Skillshare

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Intro to Content Writing: Learn the Basics of Writing to Your Audience

teacher avatar Erica Bartlett, Copywriter and Content Writer

Watch this class and thousands more

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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.

      Lesson 1: Copywriting vs. Content Writing


    • 3.

      Lesson 2: Types of Content


    • 4.

      Lesson 3: Why You Need to Know Your Audience


    • 5.

      Lesson 4: Questions to Use When Defining Your Audience


    • 6.

      Lesson 5: Identifying Your Prospect's Starting Point


    • 7.

      Lesson 6: Content End Point and Next Steps


    • 8.

      Lesson 7: Getting From Here to There


    • 9.

      Lesson 8: Wrapping It Up


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About This Class

This class will cover some of the fundamentals for content writing. You’ll learn:

  • How content writing is different than copywriting
  • Types of content you might use
  • The importance of understanding your audience
  • Considerations for moving your prospect from their starting point to taking action

The class project will be focused on creating a persona for your ideal prospect, and describing how you would approach writing a piece of content for that prospect.

No prior content writing experience is necessary for this class. The only pre-requisite is knowing what market you’ll be using for your project. It’s also helpful if you already know some basics of writing persuasively.

Meet Your Teacher

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Erica Bartlett

Copywriter and Content Writer


I've loved writing since I was a teenager, but for a long time, I thought that meant I had to be a fiction writer. Since I didn't think I'd be able to make a living with that, I went into computer science and worked for a software company.

Once I discovered copywriting and content writing, though, I realized I could have it all! I'm trained and verified through American Writers & Artists, Inc. (AWAI), and now I write copy and content for technology companies.

When I'm not writing for work or fun, you can find me reading, playing with my cats, getting out in nature, visiting friends and family, and doing some side work helping people learn how to eat mindfully.

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: welcome, everyone. My name is Erica Bartlett, and I'm here to teach intro to contact writing, learning the basics of writing to your audience. If you're taking this class, you probably know how important it is to companies to have good content these days. And that includes for your business if you have one. That's why you see content everywhere, from blogged post videos to podcasts and more. But when I was growing up and thinking about being a writer, I didn't know anything about this kind of writing. I thought I had to be a novelist, and since I'm remain, I thought it meant I had to be a successful Is Stephen King. Unfortunately, I learned pretty quickly that most of us are not like Stephen King, and that includes me. But since then, I've learned about copyrighting and content running, and I realized I could still be a writer just in a different way. So now I'd like to share some of what I've learned with you, whether you're working on your own business or also want to be a writer. This should help get you started in this class, will be covering the difference between copyrighting and content writing why it's so important to know your audience, some types of content you might produce and how to bring your reader from where their aunt to taking the action that you want them to. Along the way, you'll have the opportunity to put this into practice for yourself. You'll go through some questions to define your audience. You'll write a description of your ideal prospect annual outline, a piece of content for that prospect. The only thing you need to know before getting started is what market you're gonna be focused on. That could be for your business or the kind of business you want to work with. Once you know that you can go on to the next lesson toe, learn more about content. See you there. 2. Lesson 1: Copywriting vs. Content Writing: Welcome back to intro to content writing. In this first lesson, I want to make sure we're all on the same page about what content writing is and how it's used. The two types of writing you're most likely to hear about with businesses are copyrighting and content writing. They're different, but they do have some things in common. In both cases, you need to know your audience. You need to write persuasively, and you usually want the reader to take some kind of action. But the goals are very different. Copy writing is all about making a sale. The best example is junk mail that mail you get that's trying to sell you something. This might come in your regular mail or his email. This also includes fundraising letters for charities, which you almost certainly get. In that case, the difference is that you're spending money on a cause, not a product or service. Content Writing is still part of the sale cycle, but it has a very different goal. It's part of what's called content marketing. The basic idea with content marketing is that instead of sending out a sales offer, you provide so much valuable information that people come to you, and if they like what you're doing well enough, they'll consider you an authority in your particular market and will be much more likely to buy from you. Content also helps build the relationship between you and your clients and prospects. If you regularly give them something of value, they'll know that you understand their situation and little trust you to be able to help them. In this case, instead of asking the reader to buy something, you're getting them engaged with your company. Often the action you want them to take is download a free report, subscribed to a newsletter or podcast. Sign up for Webinar or other things like that. Another good thing about content is that it can make your business more memorable. Once someone has read multiple blog's articles and emails from you or listen to different episodes of a podcast, they're likely to think of you first when they're looking for help in your area of expertise. And finally, content makes you relatable. That's the other side of the relationship building. Your audience wants to feel like you know and understand them, but they also want to know you content is a great way to do that. You can share pieces of information about your life to remind them that you're human, someone they could meet and have a conversation with. So, in my case, as a writer, I can tell you how my cats like to quote, Help me with writing in different ways. This makes me were relatable to pet owners, especially cat owners. And personally, I also think it's a bit funny. Which brings me to humor. Humor can be a great way to relate to your audience and connect with them, but you have to be careful with it. Not everyone has the same sense of humor, and it's not always appropriate for the situation. That being said in small doses and in the right context, this is a great way to connect with your audience. So now that we've covered what content writing is and how it's used, let's go on to the next listen to talk about types of content. See you there 3. Lesson 2: Types of Content: Welcome back in this lesson. We're going to talk about the options you have for what kind of content to produce. This isn't an exhaustive list, but it will give you some ideas. And remember, not all content is presented in written form. You're probably familiar with blog's, but just in case. Oblong is a website where you share a series of posts around a specific topic, often in a casual style. Many people keep personal blog's, and they're also pretty common for companies these days. There a good way of providing content, but they do require regular updating. In fact, you might need to post a few times a week or even daily. So don't start a blogger unless you're prepared to update it regularly. Articles and block posts are sometimes confused, but they are different. Block posts are often more casual, and they're meant to be hosted on the blog's site. Articles can be found in multiple places, including both print and online, and they're often a bit more formal. They may also be longer and more in depth, although not always, and they don't have a defined schedule, since they come out on an as needed basis newsletters are a good way to keep in touch with their clients and prospects, and luckily, they're not expected to be as frequent as blood Post. It's fairly common to have a newsletter go out once a month or perhaps twice a month. Newsletters could be imprint or by email, and they can contain some of your own writing as well as links to other content, news or events of interest. As for webpages, although you might not always think about it, what goes on them does count is content. It's important to make sure that what displays on your website is written well, since this may be the first thing a new prospects sees when learning about what you do. And these days, with multiple ways of producing websites at fairly low cost, it doesn't make sense not to have a well done website. Posting on social media also qualifies his content just a short form of it and sometimes very short for things like Twitter and instagram. Social media posts like blog's are expected on a regular basis, often daily. It's also becoming expected to have at least one type of social media channel, so consider what's best for your business and make sure it's consistent with the other information you provide. Case studies have some similarities to testimonials and that they're showcasing a success, but they're more in depth. They provide more details about why the client decided to go with your product or service, the process of implementing your solution and how the client's life improved. Case studies air valuable in any industry, a social proof that what you do works Elektronik books or e books can be a good option for a free download when someone signs up for your mailing list. Those types of e books air in pdf format, but you can also publish E books for sale through Amazon. With an E book, you can cover a specific topic in more depth than you're able to do in a block poster article. These don't have to be long, and one of the benefits is that they give you a lot of authority in your field. White papers are another good choice for free download. Like E books, they're meant to be educational. The goal of a white paper is to help people address a change, learn more about an issue or decide on a certain approach. They're also fact based and need good statistics to back up what's presented. The use of videos to share information is on the rise. Thes work especially well for introductions explaining how to do something, especially if it's visual and customer testimonials. Some types of businesses may find these more useful than others, but even one or two short videos will improve your content. And even though the videos aren't presented in written form, they're usually scripted. Writing your ideas out beforehand allows your video to flow well, and you can make sure you cover all the right information, podcasts or audio recordings and, like blog's, their published on a regular basis and on a particular subject, they typically come out at least once a month, but more often weekly or even multiple times a week, depending on the podcast. They've been gaining in popularity since people can listen to podcasts from their phones in any location, and each installment could be fairly short. And, as with videos, thes might be scripted ahead of time. So some writing still comes into play. So now that you know about what kind of content you might produce, let's go to the next lesson to learn why it's important to know your audience 4. Lesson 3: Why You Need to Know Your Audience: Now that you know what kind of content you might produce, you'll need to make sure you really know who your audiences and who they're not. One of the biggest lessons for me when I learned about content marketing is that you're not meant to appeal to everyone. It's tempting to feel like you should attract everyone, but it doesn't work that way. People have different tastes, expectations, needs and challenges. Trying to produce content for everyone means you end up with something so generic and bland that no one is interested. Instead, you want to get a specific as you can about your audience so you can write directly to them . This is where the idea of a user persona comes in. This is an imaginary person who represents the ideal prospect you want to do business with . It gives you someone to write to when you're creating content. Let me give you an example and sticking with my main theme. I'm going to use L. L. Bean in case you're not familiar with L. L. Bean or just beans, as we say here. They're an outdoor B Taylor that sells gear as well as close, and it's clear that their audiences people who enjoy nature and want to spend time outside . Let's specifically consider women who might shop it beans. Women who buy clothes there aren't worried about being at the height of fashion. They're not looking for heels or close they'd wear to a nightclub. They want things that are comfortable, practical, durable and look presentable. Maybe they want something with a nod to fashion in attractive colors, but not at the expense of the clothes being functional. They want clothes that could be worn by the ocean, out hiking or camping or in a casual setting. When I'm out hiking in camping, for example, I'm often a walking advertisement for beans. My boots, backpack, jacket hat and some of my pants and tops were all bought there. This is precisely because I know everything will be comfortable and can stand up to some tough use. I also got my sleeping bag, camping stove and some other gear there as my one stop shop for outdoor trips. It's clear that Means isn't trying to attract the sort of women who would shop at duty or dealer. If they tried, they'd fail in two ways. One, the women looking for fashion wouldn't find what they want. They would lose trust in L. A Bean to deliver what they promised. Those women would then tell their friends and family not to trust the story, either. The second failure would come because being wouldn't attract the kind of woman who wants the sort of close they sell. The company would miss out on those sales, as well as losing a chance to build a relationship with the people who want what they have and will come back to shop again. Remember, focusing on one type of person doesn't mean that you'll lose business. Rather, it means that you'll be doing business with exactly the right kind of person for what you're doing. This won't make other people feel left out because they don't want or need what you're offering your actually doing everyone a favor by being specific. So when you're writing any kind of content, be very clear about who you're writing to. Your goal is to understand them so well that when they read, watch or listen to what you've created, they'll feel understood. They won't have any question that you know what they're looking for or what kind of problems they need solved, and they'll be much more likely to trust you to help them achieve their goals. Bear in mind that knowing your audience goes for all kinds of companies. Grocery stores, service providers, software companies, jewelry makers, have stores and everything else in all cases. Make sure you understand who you're talking to, and you'll find out how to do that in the next lesson. 5. Lesson 4: Questions to Use When Defining Your Audience: Now that you know why it's so important to understand your audience, let's look at some questions to help you define who that is. These questions are meant to help you to find that ideal prospect that I talked about before. And as you go through them, remember that even though individuals are going to be somewhat different in your audience, you want to focus on what they have in common. What unifies them with that in mind, let's start going through the questions. You can start with just basic demographics. What gender are they? How old, How much education have they gotten? What did they make for income? I don't think about their living situation. Are they out in the country? Are they in suburbs? Are they in an urban setting? Do they own the room place? Do they rent an apartment? How about marital status? Are they single, divorced, widowed, separated in the It's complicated status. Do they have any kids? And if they do, how many? How old are they? What about pets? As a cat owner, this one is especially important to me. Then think about other preferences. What kind of car did they drive? Or do they during the car at all? Maybe they live in a city and take public transit. What are some of their favorite foods? What did they like for entertaining and then Samir? Bigger interesting activities. What hobbies do they really enjoy and focus on? Are they part of any social groups that they do outings with? Where do they go on vacation? And for reference? This photo is from my vacation in Italy. I spent most of my time in Florence, but I did a day trip to the Chincha terror, and it was just beautiful. And then finally, some of the deeper things. What do they value? Are they religious at all? And if so, what denomination? Or maybe they're fall into the spiritual but not religious category or something else. How about politics? Do they care about it? Do they not? If they do care, do they belong to a particular party? And what do they truly value? What's so important to them that helps them guide their days? The reason we're going through all of this is because it will help you understand what kind of references, anecdotes and language will connect with your ideal prospect you wouldn't make a football reference. For example, if your audience preferred baseball wasn't into sport. You also wouldn't talk about pop culture from the 19 sixties. If your audience is in their twenties. So then, taking what you've learned, I want you to write a 200 to 300 word description of your ideal prospect. Think of it is if you were describing a character in a book envious, descriptive. It's possible you don't have to include everything covered in the questions. Just do as much as you think is necessary to paint a picture of the person. One other thing that can help is if you find a picture of someone who looks the way you imagine your prospectors. Keeping this in front of you while you write can give you some inspiration. Then share what you've come up with so you can get some feedback. And along with the questions, I've provided a link to a description that I wrote of a prospect for L. A. Being once you finish that, you're ready to go on to the next lesson toe. Identify your prospects. Starting point 6. Lesson 5: Identifying Your Prospect's Starting Point: congratulations on defining your ideal prospect. Now you need to think about where they're starting from. You want to consider how much your potential client knows about you or the kind of solution you offer. In the L. L. Bean example, I described Lisa as my ideal prospect. She's into hiking and camping, but she hasn't done as much since her son was born. Now that he's six, she and her husband want to start camping again, which means buying a new tent. So I want to consider how much Lisa actually knows about buying attempt, especially for a family. Even though she's bought gear before. It might not have been for a while, maybe 10 or even 15 years. It's possible things have changed. Maybe there are new fabrics available for tense or new types of treatment to help with staying waterproof and buying a tent that will work for a child is different than one for two adults. Or if you're offering a service, consider how aware the prospect is of the problem and potential solutions. For example, I also do some side work as a health coach, specifically helping people change their relationship to food by eating mindfully, but saying that wouldn't always make sense to my prospects. They might not be familiar with mindful eating. They just know they're sick and tired of trying diets that never work for them and want to try something different. So that would be my starting point. And this is me mindfully trying some street food in Florence If you're in any doubt about how much your prospects, no, it's better to give them more information. The last thing you want to do is frustrate someone with jargon or references to things you assume they know, but they actually don't. I like to tell people about my experience with assumed knowledge, which came from my grandmother's peanut butter fudge recipe. The year after she died, I decided to make the fudge is a Christmas present for my family. I've done lots of baking, so I thought I'd be fine. But she talked about bringing some ingredients to a boil until they reached the softball stage, and I had no idea what she meant. I was able to find out from a friend. It's when you can actually form the mixture into a softball. But it's better not to assume that kind of knowledge, so no one is forced to look outside for clarification. Your goal is to meet your prospect where they're at and then help them learn more until they're ready to buy from you. But this won't necessarily happen in one step. That's why the next lesson covers the endpoint for your content. 7. Lesson 6: Content End Point and Next Steps: one of the most important parts of your content is how it ends. What do you want, your prospect to learn by the time they're done? How will your content helped, Um, and what should they do next? Once you know what that next step is, you need to give them an easy way to do it. This is the call to action or C t. A. As I mentioned in the last lesson, this won't necessarily be asking them to buy something. You might want them to subscribe to your mailing list. Call a sales rep, watch a demo or something else. Continuing my example with Lisa, Say, I decided to write a guide for buying tents, one that focused on family considerations. At the end, the goal would be for her to feel comfortable making a purchase. But to do that, she could visit a store or go online. So at the end of my piece, I make sure to point her to a list of store locations as well as the online catalogue. Sometimes, though, your call to action might be to go onto the next piece of content. Maybe you sent them a teaser email that invites them to watch a video to learn more, or you've given them some basic information but now directs them to a more in depth guide. Getting the prospect to take action is critical. If you don't ask them to do anything, they'll usually move on to something else. If you ask for some kind of action, no, and make it easy, the odds are better that they'll follow through. Once they do, they're more likely to stay engaged with your company because they've already demonstrated that they like what you're doing. That's really the key to getting them to act, providing value in a way they like. And with the promise of more to come in the next lesson, we'll talk a little bit more about how to do that. 8. Lesson 7: Getting From Here to There: We have a saying in Maine that you can't get there from here, but that's not the case with your content. Now the two Notre start and end points. You need to write your content in a way that brings the prospect from that beginning to that end point. And you want to make sure the progression of your piece makes sense for my how to guide with Lisa. I wouldn't start by pointing her to the online catalogue or even talking about 10 fabrics. I take a step back and start by asking her to consider the following. How many people will be in the tent? Are any of them taller than average? Does anyone need more space while sleeping? What about gear? How much will be in the tent and what seasons will they be camping it by doing it that way , it will help Lisa think about the whole scenario of the camping trip and consider factors she might have otherwise for gotten Onley. Then, would I talk about the different styles and features a tense and why those matter? The goal is to provide value at each point along the way. This will keep your prospect going to the next section as you go. Also make sure you establish credibility and provide proof, so your prospect believes in your expertise. This can be done in different ways. For credibility. You can provide information about your company's history and track record. L. L. Bean has a lot of credibility from being around for over 100 years since 1912 and also from winning awards like in 2017 when they were ranked number 16 on America's Most Reputable companies list in Forbes magazine. In terms of proof, it always helps if you can have testimonials from people who are happy with your product or service. This is very important these days, when it's so easy for prospects to look up information about you in your company. You can also use statistics and studies as factual proof of what you're saying. Thinking of the tent example, You might find some studies to show what kind of material is more waterproof. Or maybe their studies about durability, demos and how to videos are also great. Instead of saying a certain tent is easy to put up, it's far more convincing to see a video of someone easily setting up the tent. This won't work for everything, but use those types of videos if you can. Now, when you're providing all this proof and information, keep it easy to read and follow. You're not trying to win awards for big words or fancy grammar. You simply want to make sure your prospect follows what you're saying without a lot of effort. If someone has to stop and look up a word or read your sentence a few times to understand it, they likely won't come back. They're busy people, and they don't want to read content. If it's hard to get through, even technical subjects can be explained in a clear and straightforward manner. That's harder to do that that work should be done by the writer, not the reader and then for Britain content. Also make sure that it's easy to read from a visual perspective so you can use shorter sentences and paragraphs, bulleted lists or numbered lists and keep a conversational tone. People like to feel engaged. All of this will help keep your prospect moving through your content. Then, when they reach the end with your call to action, they'll be more likely to take that action and keep going 9. Lesson 8: Wrapping It Up: congratulations on making it to the last lesson in intro to content writing class. You've learned a lot in your time here. As a recap, we've covered how content rating is meant to attract your ideal prospect, and that might be done with blood posts, newsletters, case studies and more. Whatever kind of content you use, you also learn that you should write it in a way that makes the prospect feel understood. That's why it's so important to know your audience and as much detail as possible that also helps build a relationship with them. Another way to help build a relationship is to share some small pieces of your life as you go. This makes you relatable, and it can also make you more memorable. People often remember those small details more than they might some facts and figures as part of knowing your audience. You also want to make sure your meeting them where they're at, so you don't assume they have more knowledge than they do. You also need to decide where they'll be at the end of your piece and what action you want them to take. Then you can bring them to that end point step by step, providing value and proof as you go, and you want to do it in a way that's easy to read and understand. Now you get to try this for yourself. Outline a piece of content for ideal prospect. Explain where they're starting, what they'll know by the end and what action you want them to take. Then share that with the group for feedback. And remember, if you're doing this for your own business, you'll have a great start building a relationship with your prospect. Thanks again for joining me and happy writing.