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Let’s Get Down to Basics: 5 Things New Content Writers Should Know

Feeling stressed about the influx of responsibility now that you’ve landed your first content role? There are many big-picture things to keep in mind when working in content marketing, like understanding your audience, encouraging feedback, and writing content that builds back into your company’s larger goals. However, to achieve these objectives, you must remember some basic content marketing best practices that might get buried in your priority list.

Let it be bad at first

When in doubt, draft it out. There have been countless times when I know what I want to say but not precisely how to express it, agonizing over the structure so much that nothing ends up on the page. You have to let go of perfectionism and just— start. It’s easy to procrastinate if the project seems ambiguous or unstructured, but these are easy editing fixes due to the all-powerful copy/paste. Get out what you have in your mind to break the empty page. You don’t have to keep what you write, but you do have to start. You’ll get there.

Segmentation helps keep eyes engaged

One thing you’ll see over and over is that articles must be “scannable.” This boils down to breaking up lengthy paragraphs and utilizing subheadings. The “perfect paragraph” is about 3-6 sentences or roughly 100-150 words long.

When deciding to make a paragraph split, think about:

  • Introducing a new idea

  • Offering keywords and intent for each paragraph

  • Moving from your introduction to your body paragraph

  • Changing topics

  • Adding a conclusion

  • Creating subtopics

Subheadings within your blog continue to make the content digestible because they serve to inform when done well. It’s not unusual for your readers to be skim-reading on screen or on their phones. By utilizing your subheadings, your readers get more than just the gist – they will get your key points.

Once you have their attention, don’t allow your reader’s eyes to glaze— or leave the page. If you can avoid an external link in the first paragraph, do so. You don’t want them to turn around and leave down the rabbit hole just after arriving, right?

Keyword stuffing is not your friend— it’s just not

Another repeated phrase in content marketing is that you need to optimize your content for the target keywords to rank well for SEO. This is true; however, more is not better— it’s lazy and considered black hat marketing. Instead, focus on search intent. Provide relevant information for what you know (or think) your audience is searching for. Then provide those answers in your headings to optimize your efforts.

example of keyword stuffing |

With active language comes authority; use it well

No one should have to guess what you’re trying to tell them. Not only does active voice develop authority, but it also boosts momentum and increases readability— remember, people love to skim. That said, if you present definitive statements, you must have receipts. Suppose you can’t find data to back a direct statement. In that case, use words like can, may, or possibly. These still get the point across without damaging your brand’s credibility and still sound authoritative.

Utilize tools

Efficiency is always another great tool in your arsenal as a writer. If you can save yourself time— then why not?

While tools like Trello, Airtable, and Asana work wonders for teams, the following have been game changers for individual writers looking to boost their workflow (or, at least one individual – me— but I recommend all of them wholeheartedly).


Being a great writer doesn’t mean you’re always the best editor—that’s fine. Being an expert doesn’t mean perfection; this is where Grammarly can take you to the next level. This AI-based digital writing assistant provides an array of expert-level editing features all in one simple, user-friendly product. In addition to automated grammar, spelling, and punctuation checks, writers receive suggestions to improve conciseness and word choice, remove passive voice, avoid inconsistencies, and assess overall tone.

Google Trends

I’ll be honest, I enjoy Trends mostly because it’s free— but it’s a wonder for finding valuable keywords when researching topics that may be new to you. You can gauge interest in a subject over time and by location or discover insights into related topics and questions people are Googling. It also provides information on past and currently trending topics.

Semrush, MOZ, Ahrefs (depending on your needs)

All of these are great SEO tools with similar benefits but offer more robust options than Google Trends. The choice of which to use comes down to your specific needs. Moz is known for its MozRank metric, which measures how well a site performs in search engine results pages (SERPs). Ahrefs focuses on backlink analysis and tracking, while SEMrush offers a wide range of tools for optimization, including keyword research and competitor analysis.

Moz offers free options, Ahrefs begins at $99/month, and SEMrush plans start at $119/month, though the latter two offer free trials if you’re interested in their features.


If you’re in a position where you need to create charts, graphics, or short animations, Canva is a digestible design product to have in your back pocket. This tool also offers free and paid plans, but the options are endless, even without paying. Visual content can improve readability and engagement (and it’s just fun to play with, y’know?).


If you’re like me and struggle to get going and/or are too stubborn to stop when you finally hit momentum, TomatoTimer is a great productivity tracker and health monitor. TomatoTimer divides writing sessions into twenty-five minutes of active writing interspersed with five to ten-minute breaks. Regular breaks can help prevent burnout, carpal tunnel, and eye fatigue. Get up, drink some water— breathe. You’re doing a great job.

Lofi Playlists

Ok, listen— I realize this isn’t a specific tool, but it’s a soapbox I will stand on for every writer looking to focus. There’s a myriad of choices on YouTube (you can never go wrong by typing in “aesthetic playlist”) or on Spotify and Apple Music if you’d like to avoid ads.

Lofi music often contains soft, repetitive sounds like rain, record crackles, or even movie dialogues placed over instrumental music. Interestingly, the genre has been proven to provide increased brain activity, reduce anxiety, and improve cognitive ability. Benefits all around when it comes to combating writer's block.

Get ready to write

Content writing is a complex task, but don’t freak out— you know what to do— you’re a professional writer, remember?! Now that you’re equipped with some basics, go forth and create great content! Have more content marketing best practices up your sleeve? Share them with us; we’d love to hear them!

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