By Mike Murray published June 3, 2016

54 Content Writing Examples, Tools, Tips, and Resources

content-writing-examples-tools-tips

Consuming great writing is like listening to a great singer. If the performer makes an emotional connection with me – even though she misses a few notes – I eagerly listen to the rest of the song and anticipate the next performance.

A year ago, I shared helpful lessons on powerful and effective text with 48 examples, tools, tips, and resources. Today, I share those plus another six to help you win over as many of your readers as possible.

Lesson 1: Power up video text

U.K.-based web designer Purplefeather created the powerful Change Your Words, Change Your World video. In it, a four-word plea (I’m blind. Please help.) is changed into a nine-word sentence (It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it). The text transformation generates far more compassion.

Since its 2010 debut, the video has been viewed over 24.7 million times and received thousands of comments on YouTube.

Lesson 2: Create something that must be read

In 2013, the National Agency for the Fight Against Illiteracy in France earned accolades for its print ad campaign. Viewers had to read the ads to discover what they were really about – not only creating awareness of the fight but also demonstrating the actual value of literacy.

Illiteracy Print Ad Campaign

Source: BuzzFeed

Lesson 3: Get to the point

Visual content is a useful vehicle for your messaging. Market Domination Media took a meta approach to explaining why infographics work by creating an infographic. Note that the text is minimal and gets straight to the point, stressing facts over long descriptions.

The Power of Visual Content

Infographic by: Market Domination Media 

Lesson 4: Don’t be so serious

Design program Canva uses lighthearted content touches to connect with its readers, such as this simple way to mention notifications.

Design Program Canva

Lesson 5: Think smart

Headline writing involves many challenges – tone, length, etc. This headline from Business Insider appears to be straightforward – good use of a numeral, direct, etc. But the word “smarter” caught my attention and elevated the post’s value in my mind.

Think Smart- Headline

Lesson 6: Use text to help visualization

The Dropbox blog provides numerous examples of how to use the service. I like the crisp writing that consistently includes realistic examples based on diverse needs.

Dropbox

Lesson 7: Explain succinctly

Zendesk elevates its customer service by writing briefly to illuminate the difference among customer support, customer self-service, and customer engagement. With a few words, Zendesk communicates to its customers that it cares about their relationship and wants them to access the best resource to help them right away.

Zendesk

Tip 1: Know your audience

You need to speak their language, but it doesn’t mean settling for jargon that can clash with creative phrasing. Typically, an informal, conversational approach works best when you’re creating content.

An informational, conversational approach works best when you’re creating #content via @mikeonlinecoach Click To Tweet

Other content writing suggestions include:

  • Focus on actionable content that someone can use in their lives or jobs right away.
  • Write in first-person or second-person.
  • Be careful with humor, which can fall flat for the reader.
  • Use profanity rarely because it can throw off someone who may wonder why the content includes those words.
  • Don’t be so creative that a reader struggles to detect your main point.
  • Avoid starting sentences with vague words like “this” or “that.”
  • Link to other websites, newsletters, and blogs because the links provide added value to visitors and help establish your credibility.
  • Identify potential keywords that you should consider by using Google’s Keyword Planner and Soovle, which provide examples of what keyword phrases people use when they search.

Tip 2: Get visitors to take the right actions

Sometimes it’s a simple word or phrase that can prompt someone to take the next step. Buffer offers a list of 189 words, including words that focus on exclusivity.

Buffer - Word List

Tip 3: Remember that length depends on the context

It’s easy to stick to some content length rules and preferences.

For example, you will want to maximize the 35 characters you get on each line of a Google ad. With social media, you might improve engagement by stopping well short of the maximum character limits.

It gets tougher with website pages, articles, and blog posts. I understand that short pieces (let’s say anything under 500 words) are easier to consume for online readers. But longer content can draw in people as well. Visuals in the core content and within the site architecture can support your text.

Odds are that your agency or company will have policies that control length. But there should always be exceptions.

If you don’t write enough, you disappoint someone by not devoting sufficient attention to a topic. If you provide too many details, you might overwhelm a reader who might miss your primary ideas.

Editors and writers should agree on whether the article is a suitable length. You can discard information that doesn’t quite fit. But in the content writing and editing process, you might identify opportunities to use some portions for future content (with additions or modifications).

From a search engine optimization perspective, longer content is always best. A website, for example, can get by with shorter pieces if it becomes authoritative through its age, the number of pages, inbound links, and more. However, extended content often helps generate high rankings for targeted keyword phrases and similar words.

From a #SEO perspective, longer #content is always best says @mikeonlinecoach Click To Tweet

Tip 4: Ensure that your content can be scanned (especially with websites)

Readers will skip many of your words. Make it easy for them to discover your key points by including:

  • Short paragraphs
  • Subheads
  • Bulleted lists
  • Bolded text
  • Words in color
  • Links

You don’t need to write long sentences to get your point across. Short ones will work in your favor. It’s the same thing with words. Here are some examples (sometimes a few short words sound better than one long word).

  • Indicate show
  • Eliminate get rid of
  • Utilize use
  • In order to to
  • Facilitate help
  • Obtain get

Tip 5: Understand fair use

As a content writer, you may occasionally use other content. It’s not always enough to simply use quotation marks and cite the source.

Fair use depends on several factors, including whether your content is used for commercial purposes and its potential impact on the market value of the copyrighted work.

I mostly worry about the length of the original source. If I quoted 100 words from a 250-word blog, I think that would be too much. A lawyer would have the best advice, but I would limit the quote to 25 words in that case. Books are a little easier. If you quote 300 words from a 150-page book, I believe you would be fine. Poems and song lyrics are a danger zone because they’re often short. I’ve cited as little as possible from them. It’s always best to get legal counsel before publishing the final content.

Tip 6: Evaluate sentence structure with the Hemingway App

Content writers have many tools to reference to make their jobs a little easier and to improve their work. Among the best is the Hemingway App, which provides immediate feedback on content structure, including sentence formatting. With the website version, replace the default text with your own.

Hemingway App

Tip 7: Create compelling content with the right words

Jon Morrow of Smart Blogger, previously Boost Blog Traffic, offers an extensive collection of words that can make a difference in what you write: 317 Power Words That’ll Instantly Make You a Better Writer.

Smart Blogger - Word List

Tip 8: Use a blog topic tool if you need inspiration

HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator works well to get your creative content writing juices flowing. All you have to do is fill in the fields with three nouns to get blog topic ideas.

HubSpot Blog Topic Generator

Tip 9: Evaluate the complexity of your sentences

The Readability Test Tool scores your content, including the grade level and the complexity of words.
Readability Test Tool

Tip 10: Analyze the impact that your headlines could have on readers

Size up headlines with the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer.

Headline Analyzer

A similar tool, the CoSchedule Blog Post Headline Analyzer, looks at tone, grammar, structure, and more.

CoSchedule Headline Anlyzer Tool

Discover hundreds more tools, tips, and lessons to boost your content writing at Content Marketing World 2016. Use discount code BLOG100 to save $100 on registration.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Please note: All tools included in our blog posts are suggested by authors, not the CMI editorial team. No one post can provide all relevant tools in the space. Feel free to include additional tools in the comments (from your company or ones that you have used).

Author: Mike Murray

Mike Murray has shaped online marketing strategies for hundreds of businesses since 1997, including Fortune 500 companies. A former journalist, he has led SEO studies and spoken at regional and national Internet conferences. Founder of Online Marketing Coach, Mike is passionate about helping clients identify their best opportunities for online marketing success based on their strengths, his advice and industry trends. You can find him at his blog, Online Marketing Matters or on Twitter @mikeonlinecoach.

Other posts by Mike Murray

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  • Kassie

    Brilliant tips, Mike. It’s the first time I see the infographic about infographics and that’s awesome!
    The Readability Test Tool seems very useful, I’ll definitely start using it. This list of tips and tools is really huge but a reliable plagiarism checker like Unplag is missing here. The content should be not only readable but also unique, then your blog will rank high in Google’s search engine and leave your competitors far behind. Been there, done that 🙂

    • http://www.onlinemarketingcoach.com/ Mike Murray

      Kassie,

      Thanks for letting everyone know about Unplag. Hopefully, any one of these tools will be a good match for someone depending on their needs.

      – Mike

      • http://brandonduncanfierceconsulting.com Brandon

        Brilliant indeed and for a non savvy like myself, I just got educated and informed, thank You sincerely for this….

        • http://www.onlinemarketingcoach.com/ Mike Murray

          Brandon,

          I’m glad the tools and resources will be a good fit for you.

          – Mike

  • http://www.1001imagens.net Elias Monteiro

    Thanks for sharing this tips. Unfortunately, the tools you mention are suitable for English writting. I wonder, is there any tool you know that is suitable for Portuguese? You see, i’m from Portugal 🙂

    • http://www.onlinemarketingcoach.com/ Mike Murray

      Elias,

      Good point about the tools and their English focus. I haven’t seen or used the international features. But I’ll try to keep an eye out for them. Let’s connect and maybe we can touch base if either of us see a useful tool: @mikeonlinecoach

      – Mike

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  • http://www.myinfonet.comn Joe Reevy

    This is great stuff and our editors really get it!

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    great share. i had find some useful tools

  • Tips For NewBloggers

    Absolutely great tips , thanks very much for sharing

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