By Nwaka Osakwuni
Content marketing according to Wikipedia “is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online”. This is one of the simplest definitions of content marketing.
I have always been a writer but my focus has always been on academic writing and editing, helping individuals write business plans and proposals, and my all-time favorite, helping folks write professional CVs. However, I have always heard the terms; content marketing, advertising copywriting, etc., yet I knew little or nothing about them. There was a conflict within me. I knew how to write but I didn’t know how to “convince or persuade” people with my writing.
During my active Facebook days, I used to have a guy on my friends’ list who is copywriter. One day, I asked him privately what he’ll charge me for a good advertising copy. And he told me N1million! I asked him “for just a page or two of an advertising copy?” He laughed and said “Yes”.
Truth be told, he knows how to captivate an audience. If he advertises something on Facebook, he gets hundreds of folks commenting with “I’m interested”. So, I took it on myself to learn how to sell with words. I learned that to be successful in building a career in content marketing, there are some skills you need to build outside of learning diction, grammar, phrase construction, and paragraph transitioning.
Below are 3 steps on how you can become a better writer and position yourself as a content marketing specialist. These skills are somewhat compulsory to learn.
Start writing – write a thousand words daily
Becoming a content marketing specialist means you should know how to write a lot of content. You have to know how to prepare contents before becoming a content marketer. In writing, it’s always easier to start with the hardest and work your way down. Learning how to write 50,000 words in 30 days is way more difficult than learning how transition from one paragraph to another.
If you find it difficult to write a lot of content at a go, then start by writing a thousand words daily. If you cannot meet up with a thousand words daily, then try a lower target. There is the option of 500 words daily. This target will help you learn how to write (type) fast and come up with a 500 words content in a few minutes.
Explore writing styles
Writing just like other fields is filled with styles, formats, systems, etc. To become a good content creator, pick a writing style that suits you. Aside the basic formal and informal writing, we have other major styles – expository, persuasive, descriptive, and narrative. As a prospective content marketing specialist, it’s advisable to focus on the informal writing genre which in a way covers the styles listed above. Formal writing fits only two purposes – one, it is the writing genre of the workplace and the corporate world where you deal with whitepapers, proposals, business documentations, etc. Two, formal writing is mostly used for academic purposes.
Our emphasis here is how to attract people and make them follow your call-to-action. We don’t need academics here. We need persuasion, narration, and storytelling. Don’t be bothered if academic writing style isn’t your thing. Explore other styles and adopt the one(s) you are most comfortable with.
Test the waters with social media (LinkedIn)
Now you have learned how to write over a thousand words daily and you have explored all writing styles and adopted one or two that you are very comfortable with. What’s next? Test your skills using social media especially LinkedIn.
Why LinkedIn? It’s a complex platform where you can keep posting content for a year and not get more than 5 ‘likes’ in total. If you can learn how to post contents on LinkedIn and get other users engaged in your posts with comments, shares, likes, etc. Then you have learned another secret skill I call attraction marketing which is a great addition to the number of skills you’ll need as a content marketing specialist.
Try telling stories on social media with mix of persuasion to others to come and contribute to your posts via comments is a method of learning how to do what we call advertising copies or copywriting.
How is this done? You tell a story by narrating a past event (this serves as your anecdote) and your story secretly exposes a problem. Then you talk about why that problem must be solved, write your proposed solution, and finally, you drop a call-to-action. You can do all of these in a post of less than 500 words.
If you do this and you get responses (called engagements), you are on your way to become a content marketing specialist.
Becoming a great content marketer is a process you can master. And if mastered correctly, companies will pay you handsomely to use words to attract paying customers to them. Every company exists to make money. Show them you can bring in customers with words, and you’ll become a goldmine!