Content Writing: How to Write Content That Readers Love

Content Writing: How to Write Content That Readers Love

It is a superpower to be able to write well.

As great thinkers, great writers are capable of structuring nebulous ideas and simplifying complex concepts with the written word. They are persuasive and can create convincing arguments to support their views. They are interesting, and masters at captivating the attention of their readers. Their ability to connect with their readers transcends oceans and continents.

Most importantly, it is possible to learn how to write well.

A detailed explanation of how we publish consistently high-quality content marketing is provided in the following article. The book contains several practical takeaways that writers can apply to quickly improve their work, as well as a set of guiding beliefs that differentiate good content from great content.

In this article, we provide an answer to the single question that our team has devoted centuries of combined effort to answer: How do you write a blog post?

Finding ideas: How to do it

It is impossible to cover bad ideas with great writing. As part of Animalz, the Idea Farm process helps writers strengthen ideas as well as improve writing skills and style. To write effectively, writers collect seeds of ideas, nurture them, and only write them once the seeds have reached maturity.

Identify effective ideas and collect them

Many writers use keyword research as their default starting point, but this has limitations. Not all great ideas have a convenient 500-monthly search keyword associated with them. Many great ideas have been weakened by forcing the unnecessary constraint of keyword targeting upon them. There are many types of content, and not every article needs to be SEO content.

It is also possible to discover great ideas by searching for keywords, as well as by searching for:

  • Customer feedback and sales conversations
  • Slack channels, internal meetings, and conversations
  • Snippets from previous articles that have not been completed
  • A wide range of publications, including books, blogs, newsletters, and research papers
  • Communities, forums, and social media

Develop them to their full potential

Every idea doesn't need to be great at the beginning. Sometimes they need time to develop, while other times they require more data or a different frame to be successful. You can stimulate this process by taking the following steps:

  • Identifying commonalities between ideas. A deeper, more insightful insight is usually found just beyond the periphery of your vision when you search for the common threads between your ideas.
  • Experiment with new approaches. Take your idea and try framing it differently: Give a 10,000-foot view of your topic, or focus on one smaller nuance; turn a generic article into a case study, or borrow a hook from another field.
  • Consult a peer for input. Your colleagues can assist you in identifying the most compelling ideas; they can ask you questions to further your thinking, and they can add their own unique experiences and perspectives.

Take advantage of ripe ideas

Identifying the characteristics that indicate a blog post idea is ready to be written can be helpful. The following factors should be taken into account when vetting blog post ideas:

  • Impact: What is the impact of this blog post on your company and your goals?
  • Originality: Do you contribute anything new to the discourse?
  • Credibility: Does your argument possess the strongest possible evidence to support it?
  • Timeliness: Is it appropriate to share this story at this time?

A guide to interviewing for an article.

Almost anyone can write a blog post by browsing a few search engine results, reading a few articles, and interpreting the subject in their way. There is no need for expertise, experience, or actual research on the topic.

It is unlikely that these articles will be able to achieve the one thing that really matters: convincing the reader that these articles were written by real experts, even if they rank well for their target keyword (not a given in today's ultra-competitive search environment).

Interviews with industry experts (often called subject matter experts, or SMEs) are the fastest way to write credible, authoritative content. To enhance content and make blogging easier, we conduct interviews with SMEs all the time. The interview process is straightforward—ask questions that will help you write your article—but we've gathered a few tips to make the interview as effective as possible.

  • Do not be afraid to ask "dumb" questions. Interviewers are not expected to become subject matter experts. Your role is to serve as a conduit for the questions of your readers. To come up with good questions, do not rely on intuition. Instead, ask yourself, "Is this something that would be of interest to my reader?". Given their level of experience, does this make sense? ”
  • Rather than using prepared questions as an agenda, use them as prompts. Using interview questions as a starting point can be useful. If necessary, deviate from the plan and let your subject matter expert guide you to a deeper understanding.
  • Identify the main themes that emerged from your interview. Group related quotes into a few big ideas that will serve as the foundation of your article --the core steps in a process, the pros and cons of a particular tactic, or simply the most interesting stories that were discussed in the interview.
  • Any ideas that do not reinforce the main narrative should be cut. The majority of interviews contain a few anecdotes and asides that do not strengthen the primary argument of your article, even though they are interesting. Keep them in your Idea Farm for possible inclusion in future articles but remove them from your article to prevent bloat and muddy the waters.
  • Identify specific language to be used as pull quotes. As a result of your interview, you will be able to structure the general narrative by paraphrasing certain parts and incorporating their contents indirectly into your writing. You may also use direct quotes using the SME's exact language as an illustration or catchy quote.
  • You should include the idiosyncrasies of your SME in your article. Your bylined article can be made more personal by sparingly using the interviewee's unique quirks, such as their favourite idioms or exclamation points.
  • Rephrase their argument more clearly and concisely. It is common for your interview subject to gain a sense of the thrust of their argument gradually. Your call might encourage them to think aloud before concluding. In addition to skipping this exploratory process, your content creation should present the SME's finished argument in clear, organized language, making them sound even smarter in the process.
  • To gain buy-in on the call, recap the thesis of your article. Try sharing the narrative of your article directly with your interviewee as you synthesize your interviewee's remarks. Let them know the direction you intend to take their quotes and allow them to express their agreement - avoiding any unpleasant surprises when they see the draft for the first time.


The outline is the cornerstone of our writing process. It serves as the road map that ensures our readers reach their destination by the end of the article while hitting each key point along the way.

Three key stages have been incorporated into our outlining process:

  • The Thesis: Whether it is that companies must cultivate ownership mindsets or that call tracking is a critical marketing analytics tool, every article is written to argue a point. As a one-sentence summary of this argument, your thesis is intended to direct your attention to the core topic (as well as help you communicate with your boss, editors, and teammates about the premise of your article).
  • The 10%: A 10% outline (so named because your article is approximately 10% complete at this point) summarizes the key points necessary to support your argument in bullet points. Depending on your topic, you might choose to include a list of steps involved in a particular process, a series of compelling reasons that support your thesis, or even a chronological sequence of events that provide a comprehensive narrative.
  • The 30%: In the 30% section, you add supporting evidence to the broad strokes of your argument. To increase the clarity and persuasiveness of our key points, we aim to include two to four supporting points: examples (real or hypothetical), statistics, expert quotes, and responses to anticipated objections.

Our approach for determining when an outline has been completed is based on a framework borrowed from McKinsey: mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive, or MECE. In a great article, the topic is covered sufficiently in detail to prevent missing ideas (collectively exhaustive), while ensuring that repetitions and tangents are kept to a minimum (mutually exclusive).

A guide to writing an introduction hook

Whenever an article is written, the introduction is the most important part. To capture the reader’s attention, it must compete with a thousand competing distractions and hook their attention. Within a paragraph or two, it must provide enough value to convince the reader to stay, as well as to establish that the article understands the reader’s problem.

Great writers usually adhere to a few familiar principles when faced with these constraints:

  • To capture the attention of your audience, use a hook. Those who write great introductions surprise their readers with something unexpected, whether it is a metaphor, a hypothetical question, a quotation, or a fact. It utilizes the unexpected to force the reader to pay attention instead of slipping into the same well-worn tropes as every other blog post ("Did you know that most sales teams...").
  • The importance of providing substance along with a clear thesis cannot be overstated. In contrast to the hook, the thesis establishes clear expectations of the value that your article will deliver in a short, one- or two-sentence summary of the argument you intend to make.
  • Provide concrete examples of how reading can benefit you. In addition to teaching new processes, explaining useful strategies, or telling compelling stories, great articles leave their readers richer for having read them. You provide a clear reason for readers to remain engaged by pointing out these benefits right at the beginning of your article.
  • Your introduction should be connected to the rest of the article. The best introductions set up a hook that captures the reader's interest and links them to the rest of the text. In an article, the hook -- for example, a story about shark fishing -- provides a structure that facilitates understanding of the subject matter.

Most professional writers believe that it is beneficial to "tease" the reader in the introduction. They hint at the value on offer and try to entice the reader to read the article to earn a reward. However, when dozens of other articles compete for the reader's attention, the reader is more likely to click the back button.

Persuasive Writing Tips

It is the writer's responsibility to convince the reader that the idea he or she is presenting—be it a product, process, story, or opinion—is credible (ideally so credible that the reader will act upon it). Unfortunately, few articles are written with persuasion in mind. Rather than putting their ideas on the page, they hope the reader will make connections (spoiler: They won't).

Using an ancient philosophical framework called a thesis, antithesis, and synthesis, we can create consistently persuasive content:

  • Thesis: Present the status quo, the widely accepted and widely held viewpoint: "All writing should be persuasive."
  • Antithesis: Provide a brief description of the problems with the thesis (often referred to as "the negative"): "But most writing relies on the reader connecting the dots on their own."
  • Synthesis: The purpose of this paper is to suggest a new viewpoint (a modified thesis) that will resolve the problems: "Make writing consistently persuasive by using the thesis, antithesis, synthesis structure."

The thesis, antithesis, and synthesis can be thought of as a type of persuasive argument known as "best objection": Essentially, you are attempting to articulate and refute the reader's strongest objection. In addition to the following types of persuasive argument, the best writing uses multiple “strands” of evidence in conjunction:

  • Best objection: It is counterintuitive that strong arguments inspire doubt because they are so strong: Readers may believe you are deceiving them. By addressing the best objection directly, readers will be able to consider the other side of the argument, making them feel as if they have reached a comprehensive conclusion.
  • Repetition: If you would like your readers to be convinced, you will need to present them with numerous arguments, of various types, at multiple points. The bigger the idea, the more times they will need to be convinced.
  • Narrative storytelling: According to narrative arguments, readers should accept a conclusion due to its logical coherence. A writer will often use a narrative to reveal a conclusion they wish the reader to accept by using a personal story or by analyzing an example from another company.
  • Data analysis: Writers utilize data to demonstrate that a claim is based on objective evidence and that the reader should follow the implications implied by the data. Data arguments involve marshalling previously unexplored or unanalyzed information in support of a claim.
  • Social proof: An appeal to collective authority is social proof - the notion that because many individuals (ideally, experts in their fields) believe something, readers should also believe it. The writer will leverage readers' innate tendency to follow the crowd by using survey responses, interviews, and community feedback.

The most persuasive content will use one of these methods of persuasion. Great writing will weave together several "threads" of evidence into an irresistible argument.

Writing with authority

There are probably times when you read an article that comes close to credibility but falls short. There are parts of it that may be helpful. It is almost convincing and authoritative—but it fails the final sniff test. It feels like marketing to me. It is technically accurate. Parts of it may be helpful.

It is due to the lack of subtle hallmarks of experience that give the author credibility that these near-miss articles fail. The hallmarks of experience are referred to as shibboleths, small quirks and turns of phrase that demonstrate a writer has an in-depth understanding of their subject matter.

The use of idiosyncratic language is, for instance, correct (an article written for developers uses the common shorthand "JS" instead of the technically correct but never actually used "JavaScript"); the presentation of basic concepts is not revolutionary (what may seem innovative to you, the writer, is not revolutionary to an experienced practitioner); stories and examples are written in such a way that they resemble a day in the life of the reader.

The best way to understand these shibboleths is to walk a mile in your target audience's shoes. Thankfully, there are a few techniques for doing just that:

  • Spend time with them where they spend time. Participate in the same forums, read the same publications, and follow the same blogs and newsletters. If you are looking for developer content, you might want to check out Hacker News,, or r/devops. You may want to follow influential marketers on Twitter or join a Slack group if you are interested in content about marketing strategy or content strategy.
  • Get your content reviewed by your ideal audience. Find someone within your target audience who is willing to read, review, and comment on the credibility of your writing. Consider asking them to comment on the use of language, the credibility of the examples, and the framing of the advice in addition to the technical accuracy of the piece.
  • Overpolishing should be avoided. “JavaScript” should be written in camel case—but in reality, developers tend to write it as “JS.” Most of the shibboleths that make content convincing are incorrect. The foundation of great writing is its polish, but not at the expense of its credibility-building shibboleths.

A guide to writing a conclusion

There is a psychological concept known as the peak-end rule, which states that our experience of an event is disproportionately shaped by the peak—the most intense part of the event—and the conclusion. In other words, a reader's perception of an article is greatly influenced by its conclusion.

Several blogging guides recommend using the conclusion as a summary of the article's main points, but keeping the peak-end rule in mind, this is a problematic approach. If you’ve applied the BLUF principle (explored in the next section), a rote summary of the article you just read is forgettable and not necessary. A boring conclusion creates the perception that a boring article is being written.

You can use several frameworks to accomplish your goals in the conclusion, such as delivering extra value, leaving a lasting impression, and most importantly, inspiring the reader.

  • Inspiration for growth: Your article has taught the reader a useful skill-how can they apply it? Build the reader's excitement at the bigger, better entrepreneurship possibilities they've just unlocked, reducing cart abandonment, increasing revenue, and enabling them to scale their business, once you've taught them how to improve the checkout for their eCommerce store. Get the reader excited about how they can apply the knowledge you've given them about why Google isn't a perfect search engine.
  • Reframing: Each of us processes information differently. The conclusion can be a good opportunity to emphasize a key point in a slightly different manner, by using a different metaphor or focusing on a different aspect of the process. To illustrate the same key point of digital marketing becoming increasingly competitive over time, this example introduces a new metaphor—an arms race—to offer a different perspective.
  • The extra serving: Occasionally, you will not be able to incorporate a valuable anecdote or data point into your finished draft. These little "extras" can serve as an additional point of interest at the end of an article that will pique interest. It is particularly useful when you are writing interviews, such as this article, as it allows you to use catchy quotes that do not quite fit into the article's structure.

Making Your Article Skimmable

There is a high probability that your readers will not read your blog post from beginning to end, regardless of how beautifully written it is. According to our content marketing benchmark report, based on 150 million page views, the median time on a page is approximately 3 minutes and 15 seconds—the same amount of time it takes for an average reader to read 400 words.

You can make sure that readers get a great deal of value from your article if you embrace the need for skimmable content. Here are the simple tools we use to ensure that web content is skimmable:

1. It is critical to break up your text

You should use one (or more) of the following devices to break up large blocks of text into visual chunks so that it is easier to read.

  • Use H2s, H3s, and H4s to highlight key points and establish a clear hierarchy of your information ("this is the key point, this is a supporting point, etc.").
  • Wherever possible, turn long run-on sentences into numbered lists, bullet points, or checklists.
  • The text containing punchy statistics or important quotations should be highlighted, bolded, or italicized.
  • Pull quotes can be used to inject expertise in a visually appealing manner.


Provide readers with easy access to the information they require:

  • You should include a table of contents at the top of your article that links to relevant sections using anchor points, so your readers can easily locate the information they require.
  • Your key takeaway should be summarized in one or two sentences at the beginning of each section.

The Animalz team utilizes a principle known as BLUF to ensure that all of our writings add immediate value: Bottom Line Up Front. The reader gets value, and he or she reads on for more context—not as a result of a cheap bait-and-switch. Introductions and paragraphs should start with the most important details first: key takeaways, important data, and the story's punchline.

3. Include images and visual storytelling elements

A visual format such as workflows or screenshots can be an effective means of conveying information and, in some cases, images can help break up the text. In addition, just over a fifth of SEO traffic (22.6%) originates from Google Images, so creating original, relevant, and eye-catching graphics can significantly increase your organic traffic.

  • You can use screenshots or GIFs to illustrate how to act on a website.
  • Create simple diagrams that illustrate key concepts from your article (they do not have to be fancy--such as this example).
  • By adding visual templates (for terms such as "article brief template") or simple calculators (such as "how to calculate inventory turnover"), you can match the intention of your keywords.

A guide to choosing a great title

Despite great content, weak titles can undo it. Like judging a book by its cover (let's face it, we all do it), article titles play a crucial role in deciding whether your article will be read.

There are times when great titles emerge fully formed from the beginning of the content creation process. However, in most cases, they require dozens of iterations at the workshop and gradual refinement before becoming successful. In light of this, we often ask our content writers to develop as many blog post titles as possible. In most cases, this results in five or six so-so titles that are very similar to each other.

To help writers break out of their rut, it may be helpful to experiment with a few different guiding principles:

Help your readers get promotions. Each of us strives to perform better at work, earn greater recognition, or accomplish more in less time. Write a title that highlights the benefit your piece of content will provide readers so that the reader will be able to improve something in their lives.

  • The expectation of everyday life should be reversed. Content marketers often argue against convention in their articles, and powerful titles can be generated by taking the "truism" their articles refute (that the content marketer must be a great writer, for example), and flipping it upside down ("You're a Content Marketer, Not a Writer").

  • Your work should be displayed. When it comes to titles for articles, it is not difficult: You just have to own the value that you are delivering and be a little immodest in letting the world know what you have to offer. The title "10 Tips for a Better Post-Welcome Email" may be functional, but if you conduct a careful analysis of the content, this is a very underwhelming title. This article reflects the effort that goes into your writing better than "Lessons from an Epic Analysis of 50 Welcome Emails".

  • Discover universal truths by mining the specific. Consider a post on Facebook ads titled "8 Psychological Tips for Making Your Facebook Ads More Powerful." This is a functional title, but there are usually more interesting specifics hidden within your writing, such as data suggesting blue ads get the least clicks. It is therefore recommended that a more specific (and more interesting) title should be used: "Why Your Facebook Ads Shouldn't Be Blue.".

  • Don't get in the way of the story. There are times when a number (such as a conversion rate) or a name (such as Amazon) reveals the true meaning of what you're writing, and your job is primarily to get out of the way. Even though numbers and names provide concrete proof, they also make us curious about how particular individuals accomplish remarkable feats or how remarkable individuals can accomplish extraordinary feats.

Readable writing

Each page on the internet was written to be read, and there are billions of pages on the internet. There is a hard truth, though, most of these web pages will never be seen by human eyes. Of the tiny fraction that does, most will never leave a lasting impression. Most articles are glossed over, overlooked, and forgotten despite their purpose of teaching, inspiring, or educating.

A great article can be distinguished by its writing. The answer is simple, but it is not easy.

Besides incorporating expert perspectives, they are comprehensive and logically structured, persuasive, and authoritative. Their hooks and pithy introductions pique interest. In addition to delivering value to the fastest skimming reader, they also encourage the reader to apply their newfound knowledge up front, stating their clear benefits up front in the title.

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