While successful content writers seem to have an enviable life -- they work from home, make their own schedules and work as much or as little as they please -- the vast majority have a hard time making a living of it. They lack the skills necessary to succeed. Because no matter how talented they are, writing skill is simply not enough. So, if you want to become successful as a content writer, you need a full toolkit of marketable skills.
So, whenever someone asks me what I do, I reply that I’m a content writer. Quite often, they aren’t sure what that means, and for good reason. It’s not the most descriptive job title in the world, but that’s because content writing has to remain as open and flexible as it can; content writers wear a lot of hats. Ask 10 different content writers what they do during the day, and you’ll most likely get 10 different answers. The truth is the job of a content writer is about much more than just churning out articles or blog posts. Let’s take a moment to break down the job of the content writer, and see if we can develop a more thorough understanding of just what we content writers do – and why you probably need one.
Content writers might enroll in electronic writing certificate programs. These programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels and offer courses in such topics as Web design, blogging, wikis, electronic rhetoric, and technical writing. In many cases, employers are more considered about writing and grammar skills than with education. Many employers require a writing test to be completed by applicants.
Copywriting is designed to sell. Copywriting is closing in print. This type of writing can convert a prospect into a customer. Like I said, it’s more about street smarts, modern thinking, and the skill of simplifying and shortening the key message. That’s why your copywriting clients won’t care if you have a degree in English or journalism. They’ll only care that you possess the raw talent to sell in print. Your clients only care that your writing can sell. Can your writing produce results? That’s what matters.
I love your voice. Thank you for your emails and all the knowledge you share. Sometimes I’m a bit suspicious and wonder why do freelancers share their knowledge and let others do and grow in the same field… Well, let me tell you that although I had never thought that I could write for money, six months ago I got my first freelance writing gig… and I was not looking for that. I used to be an export director but after having kids my life changed drammatically, so my last job was as an account manager in a company that builds websites for state agencies. I realised that most of my clients got blocked when I asked them to send me the copy for their brand new website. They didn’t know how to describe their services, how to talk about the team, etc and they sent the copy full of old-fashioned expressions that I don’t like myself to find anywhere. So I used to write the copy for them… for free! I just wanted to help them and have the job done, you know, I got paid when the website was finished. So one of these clients told to a friend that I wrote the whole copy of their new website for them, and this guy came to me asking if I would rewrite his company’s website (300 employees, that’s quite a big company in Spain). I did it (not for free, but I just counted the invested hours). Afterwards, he wanted me writing the weekly posts for the company’s blog. This time I’m getting paid not only for the invested hours but also for my creativeness. Last week another big company asked me for a quotation, we will start working on his blog after summer. I’m so happy with my new career! Now I’m part of my husband’s small company and I offer my services as a marketer and copywriter.
Consider a technical writing certificate. Technical writing is a type of content writing that focuses on communicating technical material through manuals, reports, and online documents. This could be a how to guide, a safety manual for a worksite, or a document on a process or procedure. There is a growing demand for technical writers who can explain complex procedures to the average reader.
It’s that, for most of us, the idea of selling something is already unnerving. Who wants to come across as a slimy salesperson? Plus, with writing, there’s a delay between copy being created and the other person reading it. You’re vulnerable without the luxury of self-correcting based on that person’s body language. You have to release your words into the ether and hope that someone receives it and acts upon it.
Another way I use to write copy is write down headlines from my swipe file on little 3 x 5 cue cards and shuffle them. Then I ask myself 10 questions about who my target market is, like what keeps them up at night? What are their biggest frustrations, what are their biggest fears, what do they secretly desire the most… etc. what makes them tick. And also shuffle that with the headlines.
Use an existing degree to get into content writing. An English degree, or other writing and reading focused degree, can be used to get into content writing, especially if you feel you have strong writing skills. Consider how well you did in your English classes, writing essays, book reports, and other assignments. Would you be willing to spend hours a day writing on a variety of topics for an employer? Could your existing writing skills translate into more professional writing for an employer?
You’re totally right! I got my first iPhone this year and, while I do miss some features from Android, I tend to brag about what iPhone does better. That’s why I’d have liked more a different insight instead, quite in the same line as the one of that campaign: have you noticed how iPhone owners don’t call their phone ‘phone’ or ‘cellphone’ or ‘smartphone’? Only Android owners use those terms. iPhone owners instead tend to call their devices ‘iPhone’… LOL
To some writers, writing online content is basically equivalent to journalism. They contribute articles to e-zines, corporate blogs, and other such places on the web. Yet more content writers spend their days working exclusively for small businesses, and some even write content for government websites. Content writers are full-time employees and independent contractors. We are SEO specialists and html experts. We’re reporters, experts, comedians, and salespeople. We’re the filter and the amplifier that sends your voice out into the universe, and when used effectively, we are the keys to success on the web.
You have to be clear with your copy. If you’re selling yourself as a social media marketer, you can’t simply say, “If you need a social media marketer, I’m your guy (or gal).” You want to actively show your potential clients why they should choose your services (for example, Choose me because I have five years’ worth of experience in improving social media awareness for big brands, like…).