Good content writing drives your communications.
But what exactly is “content”? You hear that word used a lot, whether you’re a business owner, leader, staffer – and even more so if you’re a writer.
When I first started writing, the term “content” puzzled me. Was it a particular style of writing? Or maybe it was certain kinds of writing projects. Every definition I looked up confused me more.
Over time, I have come to learn that the word “content” is used two ways.
As an umbrella term, content refers to all the information your organization creates, publishes, and distributes.
Your content focuses on your niche, but communicates about that topic through various media and in various formats.
Your Niche. Your content targets your specific subject niche. If your business is about bees and beekeeping, then your content will focus on how to raise bees, equipment you need for beekeeping, beekeepers’ organizations, and so forth. Within that subject matter you used different content writing styles – some to persuade your readers (content copywriting), some to inform or inspire your readers, some for internal planning – exploring all aspects of your subject from all kinds of angles. But you won’t stray from your topic and write about an altogether different topic, like the philosophy of ancient Greek Marcus Aurelius (unless it’s a piece about Aurelius’ beekeeping experiences.)
Various Media. All that information – your content – is delivered in through various media. Purists say that content only refers to online information (websites, blogs, social media, digital products, sales pages, downloads.) But as a content writer myself, I take a broader view: content is any communication that has words, to include print and verbal presentations. If you want to be technical, you can distinguish between “online content,” “print content,” and “verbal content.”
Various Formats. Content is delivered through various formats. For example, an infographic is a piece of content. So is a grant application … a brochure … a speech by your executive director …a blog post or a white paper. (A good writer understands the differences between kinds of writing projects.)
As a specific term, content refers to the combined components of a single project: the writing and design (layout and images).
The writer produces the words. The designer produces the layout and graphics.
While both writing and design contribute to the whole, I’m not alone when I say that the core of content is writing.
Think of content as a car. It’s got a chassis (content’s equivalent of a layout or structure) and an engine (content’s equivalent of writing.)
The chassis is a structure, but by itself is immobile. The engine switches on and runs. In fact, when the engine is activated, it powers the entire vehicle – chassis and engine combined.
In the same way, a writing project’s layout and images provide structure, but words drive content. Good writing is the engine for a piece.
Take a webpage, for instance. A well-designed template provides the structure for the page, just as a car’s chassis provides the structure for the vehicle. But the writing is the engine that drives the webpage’s message. The writing and design work together.
Lest you doubt the importance of good content writing, take a look at a piece of content and ask this: would this content still be able to deliver its message if the design was removed? Sure.
But what if the words were removed? No.
Your words may not look pretty without the structure attached, but the words can still run.
That’s why writing good content is essential.
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