Millions of words across the internet amuse, entertain, enlighten, inform and horrify us all at once. Thousands and thousands of blog posts, feature articles, news stories, web pages, ezines and more populate the internet. With so many words vying for our attention, it is important that what we put out there counts.
Several qualities come to mind when describing top-notch writers who produce quality content. And they all matter. But, there is one that rises above them all.
It’s Probably Something Boring, Like Punctuation, Right?
No one could deny that it takes a fine command of the English language to create quality writing. Nothing sticks out worse than verbs that don’t match their subjects, misplaced modifiers, or run-on sentences running across the page. Comma usage can be critical. Just ask the kids in this sentence: Time to eat children!
Nothing makes me cringe more than someone calling a book “The Outsider’s” or reading that “their are five ways to massacre a sentence.” No doubt, everyone will agree that a solid grasp of the rules of grammar, punctuation and syntax is a top requirement for any writer trying to earn his or her keep on the internet.
Even so, it’s not the number one quality. Grammar and punctuation can be looked up anytime to help bring a writer who is struggling up to par. Something more is required to make the best writers The Best Writers.
Okay, then it must be creativity.
Certainly, creativity plays an important role in the writing process. Originality is of the utmost importance when crafting new content. Finding new ways to say what’s already been said will never go out of style.
Great writers produce content that appears to flow from the tip of a golden pen. Surely, such beautiful soliloquy is inspired by divine muses. We can only sit back and glare in envy.
On top of creating fresh and interesting content, the best writers know how to write naturally for SEO. It’s about more than advertising a product or discussing a topic. Writers must also be able to understand how search engines rank websites and what keywords to target for a particular client.
So, it’s an education, then.
Taking classes on search engine marketing, paid advertising and other internet babble certainly helps. Hundreds of credible sites offer courses, podcasts, ebooks, seminars and information on how to write great content that ranks high on search engines. When content is shared among people and across various channels, it gets noticed. Search engines always want to show results from popular, authoritative sites.
A formal education might just give a writer a leg up when it comes to landing a great job. I can personally attest to the fact that a journalism degree saved my hiney when all else failed me. (But that’s another story for another time.) But, a university degree isn’t necessary. A writer can learn anything on the internet. Which brings me to it.
The No. 1 Quality in a Successful Content Writer Is …
Excellent research skills! Of course! Aren’t you slapping your forehead? It seems so obvious now that I said it.
Content writers must, above and beyond all, know how to find information. Not just any information, either. It must be highly relevant information from credible sources. Wikipedia doesn’t cut it. Saying you read something on Facebook isn’t enough. Quality content writers produce blog posts, articles, web pages and other writing that links to strong facts and solid data.
There is no way to skirt around the need for facts. Opinions have their place online, but most of the time, that place is not in the posts a content writer produces. Or, if opinions are part of the writing, they must be backed up with verifiable data. It is not enough to say you think a thing is a certain way. If it can be proven, it must be shown why you think a thing is a certain way.
Research is a honed skill that takes years of practice. My bookmarks bar looks like a digital version of those old card catalog systems in yesteryear’s libraries. So much rubbish floats around the internet, fouling up the waters and making the facts murky, that when I find a route to the truth, I permanently mark the way.
Now that you know
If you are looking for a quality content writer, ask whomever you are considering about their research capabilities. Your writer should light up at the opportunity to discuss her abilities with you. I know I will! It is not often I get the chance to talk about how I spend 90% of my working time. Contact me and I will be ready to talk about how I can write quality, well-researched content for you.