In this ultimate guide, we’ll explore the four different types of writing – with practical exercises and tips on how to apply each style.
Having been a freelance writer for 10+ years, I’ll also show you the different types of writing jobs you should consider, as well as how profitable they can be – and how to land them!
In each section I’ll include simple exercises and techniques, so you can track your improvement and build the writing skills you need to make it your career.
What are the four different types of writing?
The four different types of writing are:
1. Descriptive writing style
2. Persuasive writing style
3. Expository writing style
4. Narrative writing style
What are descriptive types of writing?
Descriptive writing is designed to describe events, characters, places and situations in a vivid way. Its purpose is to captivate your reader and help them experience the scenarios for themselves.
Descriptive writing uses lots of techniques like smilies, idioms of metaphors to paint a detailed picture in your reader’s mind.
It’s designed to immerse the reader into another world. Types of writing include songwriting, novels, poems, journals.
What are the best descriptive writing tips?
Work your way through the checkboxes with these simple exercises to help you master descriptive writing:
▢ 1. Focus on the senses
You want to immerse the reader, and that means writing about touch, taste, sound, sight and smell. Practice by writing about what you’re seeing and smelling right now.
▢ 2. Tap into your imagination
Rely on your memory to describe a scene from your past. What were the colours, shapes, lighting, angles? Can you take the reader into that scene with you?
▢ 3. Let readers paint their own picture
Imply thoughts and emotions through descriptions. For example, instead of saying ‘David was sad‘, say that ‘A frown formed on David’s face – he looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders‘.
What are persuasive types of writing?
This is simple – it’s to persuade people to do what you want them to do.
When writing in a persuasive style, you’ll use reasoning, audience research and emotion to persuade the reader to take action or think in a specific way.
Persuasive writing covers a wide spectrum, and is typically what companies will pay excellent money for. It helps businesses to sell products, it helps politicians to gather votes, it helps you write a great cover letter to get hired.
Types of persuasive writing include advertising, recruitment, sales and opinion pieces.
What are the best tips to master persuasive writing?
We all have to write persuasively to get jobs and make sales. The better you can get at it, the further you’ll go. Here are three exercises to help:
▢ 4. Write about benefits not features
To write persuasively, you need to talk about how you can benefit your reader – otherwise they won’t care. For example, on a cover letter, instead of writing everything you’re good at, you need to tell the reader why your skills will help them out.
When you’re selling products, don’t simply write a list of features. Tell people how each feature will make their lives easier.
▢ 5. Research your audience for different types of writing
People want to do things quicker, or buy products that make their lives easier. Do your research and practice writing short sentences about what you believe their motivation to be, and then use it as a reference point when you’re writing.
▢ 6. Write with emotion
Practice bringing emotive words and feelings into your writing. It’s an old cliche that ‘people buy people’, but it’s true – we all buy with the way something makes us feel. Make sure your writing appeals to their heart, not just their head.
What are expository types of writing?
Expository writing (otherwise known as informative writing) is about separating facts from opinion.
It’s designed to inform the reader by providing insights or facts about a subject.
Examples of expository writing include how-do guides, walkthroughs, educational pieces and some news outlets like Reuters that factually state events that have happened.
What are the best tips to master expository writing?
The best way to practice expository writing is by following these two tips:
▢ 7. Separate facts from opinion.
If you are writing facts, or evidence, or statistics, then simply write what they are. Don’t take a personal stance or opinion on them.
▢ 8. Study informative writing
One of the fastest ways to get good at expository writing is to help yourself get in to the rhythm or tone by readying other examples. Reuters is a great news outlet to study, and Wikipedia is another example of factual information that hasn’t been skewed politically one way or the other.
What are narrative types of writing?
Narrative writing builds on the techniques of descriptive writing to tell a whole story.
Descriptive writing can be a single sentence. Narrative writing has a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Typical examples include a film script or a novel.
What are the best ways to master narrative writing?
Narrative writing is about storytelling. To master it you need to be able to plan a plot or a narrative. Here are some helpful tips:
▢ 9. Pretend you’re giving a speech
Write out a speech. This speech can be hypothetical but writing about a subject like you would speak about it will help you plan your narrative style with a clear beginning, middle and end. After all, you wouldn’t just get up on stage and say whatever came into your mind.
▢ 10. Plan your plot
This can be as simple as writing a chapter plan for your book. Under each chapter you can place a sub-heading which details what happens in this section. This will help your plot unwind over the course of a novel. For shorter writing, do the same.
For this blog piece I wrote every heading down first, so I could structure the information clearly.
How to make money with different types of writing
You can make a career from every type of writing, for example:
- Descriptive writing – songwriter, poet
- Persuasive writing – advertising, marketing
- Expository writing – news reporting, education
- Narrative writing – author, scriptwriter
For the rest of this piece, I’m going to show you some of the most lucrative careers you can start with different styles of writing.
While songwriting or becoming an author might be the most profitable – they’re also the hardest to get into!
I’m going to talk about writing careers you can start right now, with a much lower barrier to entry.
What are different types of writing careers you can start?
Here’s a quick overview of the best, most-profitable writing careers you can pursue right now.
1. UX (User Experience) writing jobs
The quickest way for any business to increase conversions is to change their copy.
That’s why UX writing is the fastest growing writing genre – and one of the most profitable.
Think about it, if you can write some brilliant copy for a button, or put together a call-to-action that makes people buy, then your writing has a tangible impact on sales.
One company that excels in their UX writing is booking.com
Their website and app is packed with phrases that drive immediate action:
‘3 people are looking at your room right now!’
‘6 people booked this room in the last 5 minutes’
’24-hour discount ends in 30 minutes’Copywriting that increases urgency and drives action
These phrases use persuasive writing techniques to inspire urgency and action to drive sales. The copy on their website helps to make booking.com billions each year.
Other examples of UX writing might be navigating a user around a website or a digital experience. In these instances, saving time is saving money. This is in such a lucrative space that you can make serious money as a freelance writer or employee.
2. Social media writing jobs
I wrote about this on my biggest marketing mistakes piece because so many brands fall into the trap of being active across all channels, but without the writing skill and content to make an impact.
Due to the explosion of social media, there is more content than ever before. The average user scrolls through hundreds of metres of social feed every day – and all that content has to come from somewhere.
There is a massive demand for skilled short-copy writers who can communicate with impact to different audiences.
The need for social media copywriters is only going to get bigger.
3. Blog writing & SEO writing
Whether you’re writing for your own blog (like this piece), or writing guest posts on other blogs, there is a huge market for persuasive and informative long-form writing.
This requires background knowledge in SEO, since you’ll need to target specific keywords for each article. If you can help a company crack the top 10 for their keyword then you can become extremely valuable to them.
SEO companies often employ teams of long-form writers.
Or you could do it yourself and start a blog like this!
4. Advertising writing jobs
This is a broad brush, because advertising can include all media types – from print to outdoor posters, from digital banners to point-of-sale copy.
However, the skillset required is very specific.
I spent 5+ years working in advertising agencies at the start of my career and it’s a real talent to be able to communicate a number of points in a limited number of words. I used to enjoy being told to write 50 words of bodycopy, or a ten-word headline because it became like a puzzle.
5. Journalist writing jobs
Journalistic writing is actually one I would recommend steering clear of.
This is strange as 15 years ago it was one of the most sought-after jobs in writing. However, the influx of news sites has taken the industry towards increasingly click-bait copywriting, and therefore the salary expactations have dropped significantly.
If you can make it through the ranks towards more opinion style pieces and become a ‘name’, then the opportunities to earn are still lucrative. However, like getting a book published or writing a hit song – it’s a tough nut to crack.
Top tips to improve different types of writing
No matter what type of writing you do, you’ll need to get the fundamentals right. Here are some writing tips for all styles:
- Nail your message. Stay on-point and have a clear idea what you’re trying to say and who you’re trying to say it to. Which leads us to…
- Understand your audience. Whether you’re speaking to Gen Z or baby boomers, you’ll need to tailor your message for the right people.
- Get your grammar right. No matter what type of writing you’re going for, there’s no excuse for misspellings or sloppy grammar. Use a tool like grammarly to help you.
- Use the right techniques. If you’re a technical writer and your copy is filled with similes and metaphors, your audience won’t have a clue what you’re talking about.
- Practice, practice, practice. Like anything, writing is a skill that you can refine. But you need to do it regularly or you’ll get out of the flow. Keep getting better and the opportunities will come.
What tools can you use for different types of writing?
There are several tools you can use to help you along the way.
1. Grammarly – to help you cut out mistakes
2. A free paraphrasing tool – to inspire you to enrich your vocabulary
3. Yoast SEO plugin – to write SEO optimized articles
4. An idiom directory – to give you wordplay ideas and phrases
How to master different types of writing: a conclusion
There are so many avenue open if you decide to pursue a career in writing.
The first step is deciding whether you’re more suited to a descriptive, persuasive, expository or narrative style.
Then you’ll need to assess which jobs to apply for, or the type of freelance career to pursue.
The potential to make money will be a factor in your thinking, so I would go for a role that is growing in demand, like UX writing.
Conversely, I would avoid a role that has become oversaturated such as journalism.
To practice different types of writing, go through the exercises listed.
Let me know how you get on. I’ve been a freelance writer and self employed blogger for 10+ years, so ask a question in the comments below and I’ll respond to each one.