Content writing sounds like one of those jobs that you can do from a beach in Bali or your insta-perfect shed. Tippy-tapping out blogs and website copy all day AND getting paid for it? What’s not to love? If you’re wondering how to become a content writer, then read on.
If you’re wondering what the heck a content writer is and how is that any different from a copywriter – go and read this blog first.
Now, I’ve been a content writer for many, many years. It just wasn’t called ‘content writer’ at the time. And I can certainly tell you how I became a content writer. But I can’t guarantee that if you follow the same steps as me (definitely not recommended) that you, too, will find yourself as a content writer.
Oh, and by the way, I do not know a single person sitting on a beach in Bali knocking out a few travel blogs and topping up their tan. I do know lots of amazing content writers who work incredibly hard in their offices, looking longingly out of the window at the British weather.
But here are the skills you’ll need to become a content writer
Okay, of course, you’ll need to know how to put the right words in the correct order to be a content writer.
But there are lots of different types of writing skills out there. As a starter, you’re going to need some good storytelling and copywriting skills. The storytelling part is for the blogs. You need to be able to understand what the best story is that will pique the interest of your audience.
Understanding how you structure the story to tell it in the best possible way is a key part of being a content writer. I got this experience when I studied journalism. And I’ve built on it with practical blog writing over the years.
But if you’re a content writer, you’ll also need to write for sales pages and web pages. For this, you’ll need to understand the language that compels. Brush up on your copywriting skills as these will come in useful for every part of being a content writer.
I’d also say get some scriptwriting training because then you can get your AV skills polished up. Being able to write scripts for podcasts and videos isn’t essential but can give you an edge.
If you want to become a content writer, then it’s best to get a good grounding in marketing. Understanding how your content will be used, and reused will make you better at your job.
Even if you work with an agency or inside a larger organisation, you will need to understand the purpose of the content to produce your best work. This means getting your head around and keeping up with marketing techniques.
Data and SEO understanding
Now, I do work where I produce the words. Nothing more. Then there are jobs where I source the images, create the metadata and set the focus keyword. I even lay it out on the page. I like doing these extra bits as I get to tweak as I go.
You don’t necessarily need to be an SEO expert, but having a good understanding of SEO and data analysis will help you produce better work. Many places will hire an SEO person to feed you the keywords. Or will have done the data research before they hire a content writer. But not everyone does.
Depending on the brief, I will sometimes ask within the initial call, whether there are key phrases or particular words to use.
It is always worth topping up your SEO skills if you want to become a content writer.
And you’ll need to enjoy (or at least put up with) the making of spreadsheets. Lots of spreadsheets to track and understand the data. And probably use the data to back up your thinking and strategy. Content writing can be a surprising amount of spreadsheets at times.
Build relationships with people
Finally, one of the essential skills you need is to be able to build a relationship with your client. You’re likely to have to write in the brand tone of voice. This means listening a lot and understanding how your client uses language.
Plus the better relationship you build with your client, the more you’ll understand their business and audience.
This part of being a content writer is often overlooked but being able to get on the phone and talk to people is good for your content, too. If you can interview an expert or source a quote, then you’ll have a richer piece of work.
As much as we’d all love to be left alone to write in peace, being a content writer is a social job. But hugely rewarding work.
Interested in becoming a content writer? Find out how.