4 Content Writing Strategies That’ll Help You Drive Traffic, Engagement and Conversion

A chef, a traveler, and an artist walk into a bar. Except that the bar is the freelancing community; the chef is crying because nobody is approaching him even though he’s an expert in his niche, while the traveler and the artist are bolting for the way out.

I have struggled too, as a freelancer, in getting my words out into the open. Writing is in my blood. It’s my passion, my calling.

So why was I not gaining any traffic nor some sort of engagement from my nonexistent readers?

Simple.

I was writing, but in no way was I content writing.

Yesterday, I stumbled upon a Tony Hawk video and I noticed the similarities of redoing a skateboard trick with content writing.

The trick was implanted within Hawk since the beginning, and after 17 years, even though it was difficult, he conjured it up again.

Every writer already has the tricks needed for content writing waiting to be used.

Freelancing is more than just outlining and then publishing content. It’s unlike any other form of word-crafting and product-building.

To be successful in launching a career in freelance writing, one must wear an incredible amount of luck and a whole pack of specific strategies for writing content behind his sleeve.

There are different types of writing strategies: there are those writing strategies for students wanting to earn quick cash and there are those writing strategies for freelancers that simply want to up their game.

But sometimes the strategies can intertwine, yielding an amazing result that can help both beginners and veteran content writers.

Are you a student looking for a way to earn extra money while expanding your writing skills?

Good.

A serious freelancer wanting to quit your day-job?

Great.

Either way, the following list of writing strategies below will help you in crafting a perfect piece that’ll help you drive traffic, engagement and conversion.

Table of Contents

Step 1: Craft a Killer Headline
Step 2: Craft An Introduction That Captivates Your Readers
Step 3: Go In-Depth and Write a Mouth-Watering Content
Step 4: Craft a Motivational Conclusion

Step 1: Craft a Killer Headline

A lot of books for writing strategies offer advices regarding the importance of labeling your article with a good title.

But good isn’t enough. If you’re going to write a headline, you better make it the best.

The ingredients for a killer headline is as follows:

a. Brilliant Word Choice

Here’s the stitch: you want to make your headline sound intelligent, but you don’t want it to seem arrogant.

Here’s the solution: trash the thesaurus and look for simple words. Rather than using words that few people understand, depend on the arrangement of simple words to make your headline sparkle.

In sketching and painting, artists are known to take references from other people’s works and photographs; and it isn’t much different in writing.

Look up some interesting headlines in articles that you like and list down the words that catch your attention.

Some simple words I have found interesting are: journey, guide, beginner, and entice.

b. Don’t Make It a Paragraph

Unless you’re writing for a news site or a scientific paper that requires a lot of detail, your headline should be sufficient enough to summarize the article, yet short enough to leave out some details and grab your reader’s curiosity.

c. Keywords

Make sure that keywords are sprinkled all throughout the article and the headline. For example, something like “Frivolous Students! Write!” won’t show up in search results as much as “Writing Strategies for College Students”.

Make sure that your headline is easily searchable, but make it so that it still stands out from the rest.

In the end, you can title your article, “A Guide to Effective Writing for College Students”.

d. Curiosity Gap

Our brains are wired with a psychological flaw called the curiosity gap. This is a phenomenon wherein our natural curiosity is triggered when we read a line that leaves out information.

That’s why articles with headlines such as, He was Insulted by a Guy Bigger than Him, What He Does Next Will Leave Your Mouth Hanging Open!” are easily clicked.

The curiosity gap is being used by marketers and writers all throughout the world, and so should you.

But don’t abuse it. Clickbait-y titles are dominating the internet, so you need to know the right amount of providing and leaving out information to be successful in using this trick.

e. How To

How-to headlines are being clicked with lightning speed. After all, learning things over the internet is one of the main reasons I click my laptop open.

You can replace the words “how to” with other synonymous words such as “guide” for more viral clicks.

An article by Rikke Thomsen titled, “A Beginner’s Guide to Turning Instagram Followers into Subscribers” has the perfect example of an effective killer headline.

Thomsen has a good choice of words, her headline isn’t too long, her article shows up in search results, she has taken advantage of the curiosity gap, and her how-to article is viral.

Step 2: Craft An Introduction That Captivates Your Readers

Introduction is the next thing readers see after the headline, and it should be strong enough to urge the reader to continue on the content.

According to Casandra Campbell, when writing an engaging introduction, It helps to think about your readers.

Many people write introductions based on what they want to say. Instead focus on what your readers will connect with.

For example, if you’re addressing a pain point for your audience, start by showing readers you understand their struggle before pivoting to your solution.

Here are some examples of writing strategies for transforming a wall of text into an informative and persuasive introduction.

a. Surprise

The first sentence of an introduction should surprise, horrify, or question your reader- in other words, it should be interesting.

Start with a fun fact, or a tip, or maybe an anecdote. Anything to hook a reader onward.

Note that when writing formal papers, you need to ease the surprises a bit, as to contain a serious tone.

b. Graphs and Statistics

Starting off with numbers and pie charts highlight the credibility of the article. You can also create an infographic for maximum effect. This is especially effective when you need to write formally.

c. Keywords

Here are the keywords again. Flinging words that would optimize the article for search results is essential if you want your piece to be seen.

Throw in keywords in the first one hundred words of your article, and you’ll sure attract readers.

Transitioning from the Introduction to the Content

d. Call-to-action

“Buy here!”, “Click now!” aren’t inclusive in marketing a product. Calls-to-action are words that persuade readers to do a certain action.

They are also effective in transitioning from your introduction to the content. Write something along the lines of:

“Here are some examples of blah blah,” or “Read below to find out how to blah blah,” and you’re sure to increase readership.

e. Question

You can also make the last line of your introduction into a question. You can write, “Have you ever wondered why blah blah?” This piques the interest of the reader to find out the answer.

An article with a good introduction is Jason Chow’s “30 Blogger Tips on How to Grow Blog Readership”.

It opens with a graph of WordPress posts, and ends with a question to smoothly transition to the main body.

Chow’s choice of words are moving forward, nudging the reader’s interest in completing the whole article.

Step 3: Go In-Depth and Write a Mouth-Watering Content

Here comes the fun part: writing the content itself. I open my backpack and present you with various strategies for writing content.

a. Tie Your Article with an Interesting Story

Weaving a narrative or connecting your article with an interesting story will spark engagement with your readers.

Hunt the internet for trending stories and string that to your article to make your piece timely and relevant; or you can tell a personal story.

As a successful freelance writer, for example, you might want to tell your personal journey on how you climbed the stairs of freelancing while giving tips and tricks on the way.

Doing this makes you seem more relatable and approachable, thus making the chances of your article earning reviews and comments rise up, and overall giving you and the piece a noticeable online presence.

Michael Pozdnev founder of Iwannabeablogger.com believes that in reality, people want to learn personal stories, but not simply read articles that tell them what to do or give recommendations.

That’s why income reports, challenges, and articles about failures and successes are so popular these days.

Because from them you can learn your lessons!

When readers see that an author is a real person, just like them, an invisible connection is established. They get into the process.

It’s very important to show by your own example how a specific topic can influence your reader’s life.

When Michael wrote his blogger outreach case study (which is a rather boring topic), he shared a story how with the help of his technique he came to know his future girlfriend, and he started getting comments like these:

“Reading your personal story at the end showed again how building genuine relationships can lead to beautiful things.”

“It was a long post but you know what he was waiting for…your personal story! How amazing.”

As a result, the article got 153 comments!

Look at his other article, it tells how to write your first blog post, and it’s gotten 164 comments so far.

In this article, there are not only some step-by-step recommendations, but his personal experience of writing his first blog post, what mistakes he made, and what results he achieved.

But he could see quite clearly that people would like to know not only his personal view on this topic.

That’s why he asked his online friends some advice (experts and regular bloggers too).

As a result, it ended up to be a super blog post with the highest engagement level I’ve ever seen.

This article has got him more than 7k shares and 1,222 subscribers.

So he came to a conclusion: To create an engaging story, you have to share your experience, research, or ask more experienced people for some advice. And only after that, you follow the other rules of content writing.

b. Come Up with an Engaging Subheadings

When it comes to content writing, a subheading below the main title gives off a sense of professionalism.

Rikke Thomsen’s post about Instagram marketing is a good example of an article that uses subheadings to make the writing more reliable and creative.

She used subheadings such as, “Why use Instagram?” followed by bullet points.

Notice that she used an opinion-based question to persuade readers in engaging.

Rules of Writing a Subheading:

The subheading should be small compared to the main header, as to not stir confusion.

You can make the subtitle a question as long as the answer is given in the body, except when the question is rhetorical.

Make it brief.

Know when and when not to use a subheading.

c. Use Case Studies to Showcase Your Points

Backing your article with scientific papers will showcase your ability in researching, and would also help you and your article attain a higher reputation.

Citations almost always give your points a vibe of factuality.

Rules of Citing Case Studies in Your Piece:

Read the study thoroughly and make sure you understand what it means.

Don’t say, “According to a study.” Instead, cite a link to the specific paper so your readers can also read it.

Like subheadings, don’t bombard your article with hundreds of case studies to prove a point. One or two is enough.

Know how to properly cite a paper. Depending on the type of article you’re writing, you can either cite a study through hyperlink, or be required to cite only in APA style.

d. Include Relevant Visual Where Necessary

This blog post knows what’s up. It uses an array of appealing visuals that further enhances the readers’ experience.

Place pictures on the side, or make it so that they’re surrounded by text. This sort of formatting is used by many articles, and it is effective.

The post, written in the Beacon site, showcases illustrations with similar styles. This type of coherency is especially effective in branding.

Mike Allton founder of Thesocialmediahat.com reiterates that, screenshots, GIFs, videos, connected imagery and other media all make for essential elements to a highly connected, relevant and engaging piece of content.

First, readers today are so bombarded with content (“Content Shock” as coined by Mark Schaefer), that they have little choice but to quickly scan headlines and content to determine if it warrants closer examination.

The use of eye-catching imagery stops that scanning activity and gives the reader’s brain the kind of stimulation it’s seeking.

By the same token, breaking up long portions of copy with images and other rich media help to keep every aspect of a reader’s brain engaged by the content, increasing their level of interest and overall reader retention.

(Good writers realize that the further down the page you go, more and more of your readers are ‘lost’ to the Back button, so it’s worth increasing the interest level well beyond the opening paragraph!)

Finally, not everyone enjoys the same success rates as others when it comes to learning via plain text reading.

Many people are ‘visual’ learners and can process information better when it’s presented in a visual way.

The popularity of infographics speaks directly to this difference in perception. Including videos, infographics, screenshots, graphs and other visual learning aids through a text will aide in overall comprehension which, again, keeps your readers tuned in to what you really want them to learn.

e. Add Quotes from Experts Within Your Niche

Writing about being a novelist?

Why don’t you include some of JK Rowling’s famous quotes?

The point is, including a quote from an expert in your niche will help you relate with your readers.

Greg Elfrink Content Manager of Empireflippers.com, says; when it comes to including expert quotes in content writing, I have to say it really depends on what kind of content you’re trying to produce.

If it’s your own research, then you might not need any expert opinions. If it is a roundup, then obviously you will need them as that is an integral part of the post.

I do believe asking for expert opinions is a great method to build credibility with what you are writing, but I also think it’s a great way to show how an industry might be divided on something that can offer conflicting opinions.

For example, I wrote the post The Risk and Rewards of PBNs and analyzed a bunch of sites from our marketplace.

That post was a pretty objective, neutral research piece but the experts definitely showed some very deep rooted opinions on PBNs (whether they’re good or bad), that showed this pretty big divide within the SEO industry.

I believe that is one of the most interesting ways to really use expert quotes to enhance content, showing the many different facets of one really important subject.

And, Joshua Hardwick founder of Theseoproject.org, thinks that the biggest benefit of including ‘expert’ quotes in your content occurs during the promotion stage.

When you mention a particular expert, he/she will usually be happy to share your post on social networks…they may even link to it.

Why? Because it helps elevate their status level and shows them in a good light. The result of this is simple: you gets more eyeballs on your content.

Rules for Including Quotes:

If the person is approachable, ask them about whether you can include a quote from them. Most people agree, but some don’t.

Make sure that the quote is relevant to what you’re writing.

Instead of quotes, you can also paraphrase the words.

f. Write No More Than 2-3 Sentences Per Paragraph

No matter how enthusiastic you are about building a block of text, readers will tend to scrap away from your article if it includes large information dumps and text walls.

Instead, break your long paragraphs into small sections. You can also divide them into bullet points for ease of reading.

Here’s a good example of a short paragraph: (Source)

Step 4: Craft a Motivational Conclusion

Time to end your article. The conclusion should be powerful- it should have a punch.

After all, the conclusion is the last impression you get to leave with the reader.

There are different ways of ending an article, and I’ll give a tip for each.

a. Urging the Reader to Take Action

As the name suggests, this type of conclusion attempts to motivate the reader enough to make him stand up and do something.

Whether it be planting trees or trying a new exercise, you can motivate a reader by searching through your vocabulary.

It’s all about the choice of words.

You can also include a call-to-action. Insert something like, “Try it now!” if you’re marketing a product.

b. Reflection

This is most effective when it comes to personal narratives. This part of an article tells what the author thinks of how far he had come, or how he feels about the things that shaped him.

The only writing strategy I can give you in a reflective conclusion is to be genuine and wise in looking back.

c. Summary

This one is simple, and it requires sticking with the introduction and basically shortening the article as it is.

Summarizing an entire article is as daunting as it sounds, but don’t fret. Instead, look back at the outline you made before writing the article and construct them into sentences.

d. Philosophical

A philosophical conclusion gives the reader something to ponder about. This is probably the most powerful among the types of conclusion, as it engages the reader even after the article has been read.

The best way to ignite this type of conclusion is to ask a question in the end of the article, or to end with a line that can be argued about.

David Leonhardt, the President of Thgmwriters.com does things a little differently, and actually against what he would call good informative content.

Plain language writing calls for the “reverse pyramid” structure. That means placing the most important information first.

In most cases that is the main point of the page or a short summary. Then would come important details, less important details, and finally sources for further reading.

But on his own blog, he doesn’t write that way.

He rarely summarize his main point up front. He usually leave that to the end. So, his conclusion usually wraps up the blog post with a summary.

If somebody gets that far in his blog post because he has written such an – ahem – engaging post, they will leave the page with a summary that wraps things together neatly.

He figures that most of his readers come for a combination of content and perspective, not just strictly information-seekers.

This format is better suited to including perspective, and it brings a sense of closure to the end of the posts.

And Diana Mitchell reiterates that; after reading a valuable piece of content, the conclusion should logically point toward what’s next.

Maybe that’s downloading another great piece of your content (i.e. your lead magnet), maybe it’s joining your email list to get even more insight, or calling you to learn about your services.

But whatever your close or call to action, make it logical. Don’t insult your readers by spending 1,000 words talking about one thing, only to awkwardly insert a random call to action in the end.

Your conclusion should provide just as much value as the rest of your piece.

Now It’s Your Turn to Write an Engaging Content

This list of writing strategies is small and specific, as content writing covers a whole lot of area, some of which I’m not much of an expert with.

But I’m learning, so join me as we venture this jungle of content writing.

What do you know, maybe the chef would finally have an audience and the traveler and the artist would sprint back to the bar of content writers.

What do you think of the content writing strategies?

Or maybe you have a question about Content Marketing.

Either way, leave a quick comment below.

I’ll be around to reply to comments and answer questions.

So if you have a question or thought, leave a comment right now.

Comments

  1. Glad to know that. Nice post. Very useful for me. Thanks a lot…….again.

  2. Wow, never thought of using Outbrain. We mostly spend our marketing budget on FB ads. Gonna bookmark this.

  3. Hey Bill

    Great article no doubt ! for 1000$ marketing budget. In terms of return what I can expect from each platform (outbrain, facebook) ?

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