Got what it takes to become the best content creator in your industry?
In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport pointed out that there’s now a premium for being the best at what you do. Unless you strive to become the best, you’ll eventually find yourself struggling to find clients and make an income.
In this blog post, you’ll learn 20 ways can improve your skills along with a few app suggestions to help you become one of the top content writers in your industry.
Some links included are affiliate links. If you click on any of these, and you decide to buy, I’ll earn a tiny commission from your purchase.
Don’t worry. These are apps and tools I personally use when writing my content, so I can vouch for their quality.
1. Stay updated with current news.
As a content creator, you’ve got to stay updated with the current trends and news as they happen.
One reason is that some of these changes can significantly affect your content creation. If you don’t, the content you’ve created won’t get the attention it deserves.
Worse, it can get you into trouble with regulating bodies.
For example, Youtube announced on its blog last September 2019 that’ll it’ll now require content creators publishing videos on its platform to specify if the video appeals to kids. This new policy took effect last January 2020.
The change in Youtube’s policy is part of its agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who slapped it—and its owner, Google—with an unprecedented $170million fine for violating the Children Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA).
On top of this, the FTC also warned Youtube content creators that it’d also hold them accountable if they don’t disclose this information when they upload their videos on the video-sharing platform.
Keeping yourself updated with trending news allows you to ride on their popularity by weaving this through the content you’ll be publishing.
Here are some examples:
Oreo and the NFL Blackout
When a blackout happened in the middle of the 2013 NFL Super Bowl, Oreo published this tweet.
The result was phenomenal. The ad was retweeted over 15,000 times and was dubbed by Digiday as “the tweet heard around the world.”
Crisis management tips and #Megxit
Nicole Schuman wrote an article about #Megxit that was published on PRNews—a website dedicated to providing marketers and publicists with resources to help them develop social media marketing, public relations, and crisis management skills.
The article gave PRNews the chance to capitalize on the #Megxit hashtag’s popularity, increasing the traffic to her post. It also gave PRNews’ audience a real-life case study on how to handle negative publicity. Clever.
How to stay updated
One way how you can stay updated with the latest news and trends is by creating a Google Alert on a particular topic.
Google then sends the latest content published about your chosen topic to your Gmail.
Another app you can use is Quuu.
Quuu is a content curation tool that suggests articles and other pieces of content. You can choose which of the 500 different interest categories would you want to receive them.
2. Understand your audience.
It’s not enough to identify whom you’re targeting if you want to become the best content creator in your industry. You need to understand your target market inside out. Only then would they find your content helpful and relatable.
Simply put, you’ve got to give your content context. Industry leaders, like Gary Vaynerchuk, have pointed out that the ability to create content in the proper context is what separates the best content creators from the rest.
In this video, Gary Vaynerchuk explains in this video interview why context is far more important than the information you share in your content, as well as tips on how to understand your audience at a deeper level.
3. Make writing a habit.
Even though video is the preferred format content marketers use, that doesn’t mean that text content like blog posts should take a backseat.
On the contrary, written content is still vital, especially if you’re trying to promote your brand.
Google loves long-form written content.
In fact, recent studies show that written content—particularly long-form blog posts—rank higher on Google and other search engines’ SERPs.
Also, many of the factors that Google considers when ranking content involve a fair bit of writing.
One example is your content’s meta description. This is the short snippet of text that appears right underneath your content’s title and link when Google shows on its SERPs.
How you write your content’s meta description affects your audience’s decision to click-through your link, which is something that Google monitors.
Google isn’t the only search engine on the planet.
Google’s not the only search engine people use to find helpful content online. It’s just the most popular.
These other search engines still rank content the old-fashioned way, which is why written content has a higher chance of ranking in these search engines.
Lastly, long-form content helps build your site’s internal links–another factor that affects your content’s ranking. Linking relevant content you’ve previously published makes it easier for your readers to find them. The more time they spend on your site consuming your content, the better your website will rank.
How journaling helped me develop my content writing skills
Setting aside time every day (usually, before I start working) to journal gave me a place where I can write down all the thoughts that were running in my head. This helped me increase my ability to focus on the article I’ve got to write that day. In some cases, I’d find that I was able to brainstorm some new pieces of content that I can refine later.
At times, I’d mix things up by using a journaling app like Journey.
One of the features I frequently use is the daily prompt. I’d write as much as I could about the topic without doing any research. Only after I’ve exhausted everything I know do I go back and try to refine this further.
Doing this helped me overcome my tendency to edit my work as I typed. As a result, I was able to finish writing a 3,000-word blog post faster.
And because it syncs with my smartphone, I can also use it as a convenient way to note down content ideas as they come.
4. Write like you talk
Just because you’re writing content about a serious or technical topic doesn’t mean that it should look like a robot wrote it.
Neither should you try to impress your audience by using complicated words and lots of technical jargon.
On the contrary, your readers won’t understand what you’ve written. Rather than taking the time to figure out what your content’s about, they’ll just opt-out.
If you want your readers to stay and enjoy reading your content, write it as if you’re talking to a close friend or colleagues at work.
This makes your content easier to understand. You also get to communicate with your readers on a more personal level. In turn, your readers will become more open to building a trusting relationship with them. This is crucial because people only do business with brands that they trust.
Grammarly Premium’s Goals feature teaches you how to make your content less uptight.
By selecting the Informal option under the Formality setting, Grammarly will prompt you to simplify complicated words and sentences. It’ll also suggest synonyms to some of the words you’ve used that are easier to understand.
I also wrote a blog post where I share more tips on how to write content as if you’re having a friendly conversation, so be sure to check that out.
5. Support your content with facts
Supporting the points you share in your content with facts and figures from reputable online sources strengthens your content’s credibility among your readers.
It’s even better if the links of the sources you’ve included in your content are “do follow” links. These are the kinds of links that allow you to have a piece of the ranking and reputation these high authority sites enjoy.
One way of choosing which sites to get your supporting data from is by using Moz’s SEO Toolbar Chrome Extension. This free toolbar shows you the Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) of each of the links on Google’s page results as you search.
The higher the DA and PA of a link, the more credible it is.
6. Shift the spotlight to your reader.
Did you know your readers are selfish and self-centered?
Let me explain.
People search for content online is to find a solution to the problem or challenge they’re facing or a question that’s been bugging them. Check out these stats from Wordstream:
- 35% of product searches are done on Google.
- 8% of searches are questions.
- Searches that include the phrase “to avoid” increased by 150%.
- Search terms that use the “Is ____ worth it?” format increased by 80%.
When people read your content, they don’t want to know why you (or the company you’re writing for) are the best thing since sliced bread. They want to know if you can help solve their problem.
This was the reason why Steve Job’s keynote unveiling of the very first iPhone was so effective.
Even though Jobs mentioned some of the iPhone’s technical features, he’d always make it a point to explain why these are great from the perspective of those he’s targeting to buy it.
So how did Jobs and the other best content creators do it? By properly mapping their content based on which stage of the buyer’s journey their audience is at.
I go into more detail about the steps on how to map your content based on your buyer’s journey (or your client’s) in this blog post.
7. Establish your goal
I know that I sound like a broken record when it comes to this. But that’s because this is crucial if you want to become the best content creator in your industry.
Think of the last time that you went on a trip with your friends or your family. The very first thing you ask is, “Where are we going?”
So that you know what to pack and you can start planning out what are the places you’d want to visit or things to do.
That’s the same thing with goals. They’re the destination and the content you create is what will take you and your business there.
How to properly set your goals
When it comes to establishing your goals, make sure that you follow the SMART method.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, and time-bound. Not only will this make your goals more concrete, but also help you achieve them faster.
Another thing to consider is the “why” behind the goals you want to reach.
This is crucial because not all SMART goals can help you and your business grow.
Let me explain.
Suppose you’ve set a goal to reach 2,000 followers on Instagram by the end of the first quarter of 2020.
That’s a SMART goal.
But now, let me ask you: “Why?”
Are you setting this goal because you are envisioning yourself to eventually become a micro-influencer in your niche? If so, then this is an excellent goal to set. Otherwise, you may want to think about this some more.
8. Set your KPIs
Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, are the metrics that’ll tell you how your content’s performing.
Some content creation KPIs worth tracking are:
- Overall website traffic
- Average time spent on page
- Internal link clickthrough rates (CTR)
- Scroll depth
- Bounce rate
- Number of comments
- Shares on social media
- Email list subscribers
Once you’ve chosen which KPIs you’ll track, the next step is to set a benchmark for each. This serves your content performance’s baseline, so you know if you’re achieving your goal.
Databox’s Data Calculations is an excellent tool to use for this. This app quickly pulls data from various data sources you use and then computes your benchmark metrics. It’ll then show you a visual representation of the results based on the data collected.
You can then include this onto your Databox dashboard to show your client company. You can also opt to receive periodic snapshots of your content’s performance via email so you can conveniently track its performance.
9. Apply basic SEO best practices.
Roughly 2.75 million blog posts are published every day. And that’s on WordPress websites alone!
With so much online content, how do the best content creators manage to get people to find their content, consume it, and take action?
The answer: by optimizing their content for search engines.
And it starts with choosing the right keyword phrases to use.
Ideally, you’d want to use long-tail keywords with a high search volume and a low competition level. If you’re writing copy for a sales page, you’ll also want to use keywords that have a low CPC bid.
Longtail Pro is one tool that makes this process easier by giving you a list of high-performing long-tail keywords based on your chosen keyword.
For example, if you’re tasked to create content about knives, here are some of the long-tail keywords that you’ll get.
Another great feature of Longtail Pro is its ability to retrieve the long-tail keywords your competitors are using. All you’ll need to do is to type in your competitor’s website URL, and the app will do the rest.
10. Curate content from other businesses in your industry.
Curating content is one of the things in leadership mentor and New York bestselling author John Maxwell’s Rule of 5 that he practices every day.
The reason? Sharing curated content on social media ensures that you consistently provide your followers with material that’s helpful and relevant.
That’s why part of becoming the best content creator in your industry means that you also know how to spot quality content to share with your audience. Using a tool like Quuu can help you find them.
What sets Quuu’s curated content apart from those you get from other apps is the fact that these have been reviewed by live human beings. So you can be sure not just of the quality, but also that none of your competitors are mentioned within the content you’re sharing.
Also, when you receive the recommended curated content, they’re already fitted with a compelling share text, hashtags, and even mentions the right people in the description, making the process so much easier for you.
11. Invest in content writing courses.
This quote by Lou Holtz says it best:
Simply put, if you want to become the best content creator in your industry, you need to hone and sharpen your skills continuously.
In my Growth Driven Marketing Course, I take you through the entire content creation process I’ve personally used to get published in over 75 online publications and grow my business. This was the very same process I also used to grow my client’s traffic and help them generate qualified leads.
You can learn more about the course by clicking here.
12. Give your readers an answer or solution.
Make it a point you create content that includes tips and strategies that your readers can quickly implement and get results.
Even if the change is small, it’ll give them a very good reason to come back, consume more of your content, and even decide to subscribe to your email list.
LinkedIn industry-related groups is a great place to learn your target audience’s pain points.
You can then create a blog post offering tips and strategies that’ll solve this, and then share it in the group as your way of helping out.
13. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
By far, the best way to know what content your target audience wants is to ask them.
Creating a survey using a tool like SurveyMonkey or Typeform works best. You can send this to your email list subscribers for them to fill out.
Your subscribers will highly appreciate this little gesture because it shows that you are genuinely making an effort to deliver on your promise of providing them with quality content.
On the other hand, if you got a highly engaged following on social media, you can create a poll here and invite them to answer.
14. Develop your unique voice.
Question: What do Freddie Mercury, Gary Vaynerchuk, John Maxwell, and Usher all have in common?
Answer: They built their brand and their careers through their unique voice.
In the context of content creation—and content marketing, in general—voice is defined as the way you reflect your personality and brand to connect with your audience and set you apart from the rest.
How do you do this? Easy. Just be yourself.
If you’re writing a blog post, write it just like you’d talk.
Creating a video or a podcast? Be candid as you’re comfortable.
Executing this, is a different story, especially if you’ve got an introverted personality.
That’s because you’ll find yourself having all these nagging thoughts in your head telling you things like “no one will like you” and “who’ll take you seriously?”
It’s true. Not everyone will like you and take you seriously. In fact, being yourself can even annoy other people.
And that’s normal.
No one—not even the best content creators—can please everyone. But those you please are the ones that’ll eventually become your loyal followers, even customers.
15. Start writing using an outline.
Writer’s block is something that plagues even the best content creators. One reason why this happens is that you either know so much about the topic that you don’t know where to start or you don’t.
Creating an outline helps you to collect your thoughts and organize the flow of the information you’ll share in the content you’re writing. Each section here guides you on what you’ll share next so that you can keep your readers’ interest.
At the same time, creating an outline also helps you as you do your research. Not only does it tell you what information to look for, but it also enables you to determine which information is relevant for your content and which ones aren’t.
If you want to learn how to create an effective outline for your content, I’ve written a blog post where I share the exact steps I use to create my blog posts.
16. Make sure that you invest in the right tools.
Content creation is hard work.
Fortunately, the technology we enjoy today has given content creators like you an arsenal of tools and apps that you can use to make the job easier, and you more efficient.
If you need help creating your content creation tool stack, you can try the content creation tools and resources I shared in my blog post titled, The Complete List of Tools & Resources to Build Your Marketing Stack.
These are the content creation tools and resources I use both on my website as well as when I create content for my clients.
17. Proofread and edit your work.
Nothing can frustrate your readers or ruin your reputation as a content creator more than publishing content that’s filled with lots of errors. So make it a habit to carefully proofread and edit your work before hitting that Publish button.
When proofreading my work, I’d usually step away from it for a couple of hours before I begin my proofreading and editing process using Grammarly. This allows me to review my content with a “fresh set of eyes,” making it easier to find the errors in my work and edit them.
Another thing I do is to read out the content I’ve written out loud to myself. I found that this technique works in helping me spot grammar and sentence structure errors that weren’t picked up.
If the content you’re publishing is an image or a video, have a trusted friend or mentor review it. Then take notes about their feedback and then make the necessary changes.
18. Strive for consistency.
Many of the best content creators earned this reputation by making sure that they publish content consistently.
Take Marie Forleo, for example.
One of the reasons why her Youtube channel quickly became popular was that she made sure that she would publish a video every Tuesday.
1. It’s what she promised to her email subscribers when they signed up.
2. Her email subscribers and Youtube followers expect it.
19. Focus on quality, not quantity.
This is in line with the previous point because many content creators (particularly content writers) have the misconception that staying consistent means having to publish a blog post every day.
If you can do that, great!
But if not, don’t beat yourself up by forcing it!
Remember: quality trumps quantity.
Find your sweet balance between the two. I found that I can realistically write and publish a quality blog post once a week. So that’s what I aim for.
20. Joining a blogger’s mastermind in your industry.
Joining a blogger’s mastermind group often requires a significant investment, but it’s going to be worth it for three reasons.
First, they provide in-depth workshops and training (online or offline) to help you develop your content creation skills.
Second, you get tips and strategies to help you overcome specific roadblocks and challenges you’re currently facing.
Finally, you meet and build connections with other bloggers in your industry. And who knows? The relationship you build may even open doors for collaboration in the future.
Becoming the best content creator in the world involves developing the right habits.
The tips and strategies I shared here will help you start earning the respect of others in your industry and win the trust of your readers. I know it can be difficult to absorb everything I shared here all at once. So, I invite you to bookmark this blog post so it’ll be easy for you to come back and review this.
Just like developing new habits, it’s best to start learning these one at a time. Pick one of the strategies from the list and then apply it as you create your content religiously for 21 days before moving onto the next. That’s how long it takes for anyone to develop a habit.
Remember: Success doesn’t happen overnight. You have to be committed to investing your time, effort, and even money to become the best content creator in your industry.
What’s the one tip shared in this blog post that you’ll start practicing today? Share it in the comments below.