Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.
If you’re a freelance writer (or want to be one), you need to master 7 different types of content writing.
Note that these types of content are not different kinds of projects. (Here’s a list of the kinds of freelance writing projects you can be paid to write.)
Rather, these are 7 different styles of writing that you’ll use as you write content.
Nonprofit Marketing Guide founder Kivi Leroux Miller says that these seven different types of content writing are essential for nonprofit communicators.
But I say that a good content writer in any niche (not just nonprofits) understands …
Here’s what I mean. When you write a blog post, you need a strong headline (Microcontent). And there’s a good chance you’ll need to offer a compelling illustration (Storytelling) or report on a recent news event (News Writing) and then unpack the point with a simple life observation (Lifestyle Writing) or a more emphatic, cutting edge point (Influencer Writing).
And you also need to master when to use each content writing style.
For example … Microcontent, Reader-Centered Copywriting and Conversion Copywriting are all forms of persuasive writing. But each has a different purpose.
The purpose of Microcontent (short snippets) is to persuade the reader to keep reading. You'll use this style in a headline. Meanwhile, the purpose of Conversion Copywriting is to get the reader to take an immediate action, as in making an Ask, while the purpose of Reader-Centered Copywriting is to persuade the reader to feel good about that action - such as in showing the reader what her action will do.
You can see how you will use these different persuasive writing styles in different places in the same piece of content.
The good news is this: you’ve likely already mastered one or more of these different types of content writing. Brush up on the rest and take a big step forward! Once you master them, you can specialize.
Short but persuasive snippets in headlines, subject lines, captions, tweets, and social media posts that grab a reader’s attention and move him to keep reading. (Get some tips for writing headlines and tips for writing tweets.)
Narratives that illustrate a point using characters, descriptive details, emotions, and plot. Storytelling is a key skill in kinds of copywriting and content writing projects. (More on Storytelling.)
Factual writing used in news articles, press releases, reports, technical writing, manuals, and training content. News writing presents information in a direct way and sticks to the facts.
Persuasive writing that moves the reader to take an immediate action such as clicking, signing up, donating, registering, volunteering, or even commenting. Conversion copywriting is key in sales letters, appeal letters, email campaigns, ads, landing pages, and opt-in copy. (AWAI offers an excellent course in conversion copywriting.)
Persuasive writing that makes the reader feel good and cultivates her interest with encouraging, emotionally-gratifying content. Good examples are newsletters and thank you letters for donors, insiders, or subscribers. (Nick Usborne's Conversational Copywriting course is a terrific tool to use to develop this skill.)
Persuasive but casual content with widespread appeal and practical application. Listicles, blog posts, memes, how-tos, and features connect your product, your point, or your cause with everyday life. (Here’s how to write a listicle.)
Persuasive writing that communicates a deep understanding of your niche. Influencers are lifelong learners that offer an innovative or creative slant in their field. Editorials, vlogs, reviews, and blog posts are common vehicles for influencer writing.
Which types of content writing have you mastered ? Which do you need to develop? Choose one to get started!
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