How to become a content writer can be a daunting task in the big world of online content creation. In this guide, we will step you through step-by-step the process of learning about content and reaching out to companies in need of writers. In addition, we’ll also provide a list of resources and tips you can use along the way!
In this guide, you will learn all about content writing including skills you’ll need to have, tools to use, what you should expect for a day on the job, what types of companies look for writers, and more.
What is a content writer?
Before we get started it’s worth delving into what exactly a content writer is.
“Content” is a word that has become very popular in the last few years, but was originally used to describe information that promoters offered in the form of lectures, articles, pamphlets and other forms.
These promoters would usually give these ‘content’ for free – it was an inexpensive way to get people interested in what they were offering. It was a way for them to gain followers.
Companies started taking more notice of what people were saying about them and realized they wanted to be able to update their product or service on a regular basis – that is when we saw the birth of “Content Marketing”.
Content marketing is any marketing or communication practice, where key messages are communicated through content. Thus the name ‘content marketing’.
Content marketing is when you provide content to your consumers with the intention of educating and/or creating awareness for your products or services. It’s a way to gain trust and create a lasting brand impression.
A good content marketer knows people have limited attention spans, and are constantly bombarded with information – thus they use that to their advantage.
How to become a content writer
Step 1: Get all the skills you need to succeed
In this section, we’re going to go through all the skills you’ll need in a career as a content writer.
1. Study the craft of content
Read a lot.
So much reading is key to any content creator because it will help you develop your writing style.
But don’t just read for the sake of it. Read for the process of self-development. Read to pick up those new things that can help boost your skills and knowledge, and make you better at what you do. Don’t forget about blogs too – blogs are a great way to find out what people are going through, and also about how to solve certain problems in life.
Take a short course.
Taking a short course is also a good avenue to take because it will help you get a bit more direction on what you want to do. Some people even choose to take college courses or longer online courses as well, but these can be costly so try and find one that’s affordable for you.
Consume video content on Youtube
Just like reading, consuming video content is also very important because it will help you develop your writing style. But don’t just watch for the sake of it. Watch to pick up things like how to structure your content, what are the right ways to phrase something, how to engage an audience.
And don’t forget about watching popular videos too – some of these are even educational too! You can even learn how others present themselves and their writing, and apply them to yourself.
2. Writing Skills
Content writing can be a hard and daunting task if you don’t have any experience under your belt already. We recommend beginning with improving your overall writing skills before diving into other areas of the job description.
In order to improve your writing, we recommend:
Write! Write as often as possible on a variety of topics. You should find yourself writing about different topics before you even start your job as a content writer. By writing in this fashion you’ll be able to break down the process of becoming great at content writing into smaller steps.
Do different types of writing, such as content copywriting, technical writing, informational writing, and anything else you can find. Get to know a wide range of writing styles in order to get a better understanding of all the different types of content out there.
3. Editing Skills
Do not underestimate the power of editing. As long as people expect quality content, companies will always be willing to pay for it! Editing is a vital skill set for any content writer to have.
If you aren’t sure how to edit or are looking for a few tips, we recommend:
Never stop learning – there are tons of guides online that can teach you more about editing. In addition, if you want to edit your own content, check out Grammarly. Grammarly is a website that runs through your sentences and fixes all grammatical errors. We highly recommend using this tool before publishing.
4. Understand all the different types of web and online content
Online content has so many different forms these include:
Understanding the components and pages of a website is important. Knowing the different pages such as the home page, services page, contact page, etc is crucial because this will help you better understand the goals of a website and the type of content you should create based on the goals.
A website is a digital document that allows users to interact and engage with a company or brand. You can have any type of website you want, you could even have an e-commerce store or food blog. But in this guide, we’re focusing on writing for online articles.
Landing pages can also fall under web pages. Normally your landing page is a temporary page that you’ve created and put on the web in order to get traffic to convert into leads for your business or to encourage people to become customers.
Landing pages are great ways of advertising a company’s products and/or services.
Email marketing is still one of the most important forms of online marketing. It’s a fun format to engage with audiences and convert an interest into a purchase.
Email is one of the more effective ways of communicating with customers. By having regular and/or useful emails you can keep in touch with people’s interests and it will keep them engaged so they’ll be more likely to buy from your company or blog.
Social media is where you can reach your audience the most and where they can reach you – it’s the perfect marketing channel for small businesses and brands. Content writers create content for client’s social media channels – it could be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat whichever platform they use.
5. Learn the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
In our opinion one of the most important parts of being a top grade content writer is to learn how to optimize and better your blog content so that it’ll rank high on Google search results. SEO is a lot more complicated than people think, and it takes time to learn. But we found this guide to be helpful.
The basics of SEO include:
- Title tags
- Meta description
- H1 headings and H2 headings
- Alt Image Tags
- Keyword density
- Internal linking
The two most important elements are the title and meta description for SEO. The title is an element that is displayed at the top of a webpage that’s been visited by a search engine. This allows Google to give you the best visibility to your site. In addition, the meta description is another element used to show how your website will function.
As part of your SEO learning get a fundamental understanding of what keywords are and what keyword research is. This will help you understand the importance of working on the SEO optimization of your website. Understanding how to write content is great, but if you are writing for a website, understanding how to rank on search engines is just as important and will help you drive greater value to clients.
Step 2: Creating your online presence as a content writer
Once you feel like you have the basic skills down, it’s time to create a portfolio website. A portfolio website is an online presence for a content writer. It shows examples of your writing and how you write. The industry standard is to have a portfolio that includes a blog or personal web page (this may be hosted on your own domain name) as well as social media accounts such as LinkedIn and Twitter.
A portfolio is a great way to build your credibility as a writer because it shows potential clients what you have done in terms of content creation. If you have a specific style or niche you want to be known for, create content around that style or niche.
We recommend showing off your skills on sites like ProBlogger, Business Blogging Guru, and Copy Hackers. There are tons of places where writers can interact with other writers and get constructive feedback on their work, so make sure you’re a part of those networks.
There are also communities that focus on a specific subject and are big communities in the blogger/content marketing world – we recommend joining any of these communities to help grow your network.
Your blog is a great way to showcase your writing style and personality. You want to make it clear that you’re not just interested in selling people content, you want to show them you have a personality that will help them trust you as a writer. Having a blog also gives you the opportunity to write any type of content you want.
After having your own portfolio and a social media presence, start reaching out to clients. The easiest way is by using LinkedIn – this is an online professional network with millions of people in it, which means they have tons of businesses on there too. Start by chatting with businesses on LinkedIn groups about content creation and the work that you can do for them. This way they can see you have the skills necessary to produce high-quality content.
Step 3: Getting content writing work
At this point, you have learned all the basic skills to start your content writing career. You are no longer a beginner as you have enough knowledge to start getting paid to write content.
So what’s next, getting paid. How do you do that. There are two ways:
- In-house content writer
This is the best way to start. If you have work experience and are looking for a new job, then you should be able to get hired as an in-house content writer for an online company.
The beauty of this role is that unlike freelancing your focus is on the work rather than finding clients. The advantage of working for a company is that you are guaranteed an income that will be consistent, it’s based on the work you’ve been doing and there are no stressors.
The disadvantages are the less flexible hours and not being able to set your own schedule or choose your own clients – but these can be outweighed by the advantages. If you’re looking for a stable, consistent wage with some good benefits then this is the most attractive option out there.
- Freelance content writer
This is a great way to start and it’s actually how we started out during our career writing online content. You’ll need some writing experience, but not necessarily a copyright or master’s degree in English (this can be found online).
The hardest part is finding clients as you will need to build your own client base – but this can be done by promoting and networking. In terms of finding clients, there are plenty of places online where you can find clients – for example:
- For blog posts – you can opt to write a post on a blog that is relevant to what your client does or what niche they operate in and see if they want to pay for it. This is known as guest blogging.
- You can also promote your services and blog posts on sites like:
- Copy Hackers
- Business Blogging Guru (similar to ProBlogger)
These are great places to promote and build relationships with bloggers. Bloggers on companies’ blogs will know that you’re a reliable writer and they will be more likely to give you work.
How to become a content writer – Time to get started
Hopefully, this guide has helped you get a basic understanding of the content marketing industry and how you can begin your career in this industry. In order to be successful in our industry, you’ll need to both write and market the work. This is not an easy job by any means – it takes a lot of work, but it’s also a rewarding experience.
At our company, we’ve dedicated ourselves to helping other content writers get started in their new careers and have helped many content writers learn the craft of writing online. We wish you the best of luck in the coming years of your career and hope this guide helps you get started right.
Frequently asked questions
What are the best content writing courses?
There are plenty of great courses out there that teach you the basics to writing online content. Here are a few courses to help you get started:
- The Write Online Course
- How To Make Money With Blogs by Darren Rowse
- Hubspot’s Blogging Course
There are also other courses on Udemy, the only problem with these is you need to pay to get in, so it’s worthwhile to sell some of your articles first and then use that money to pay for a course.
We also have some guides on our home page which will give you most of the basics to get started.
What’s the difference between content writing and copywriting?
This is the number one question that people ask when they first get into the industry. The truth is there isn’t actually a difference between content writing and copywriting.
People tend to think that because content writing seems easier to do, that it’s a bad thing. The truth is, it’s actually one of the best ways to get paid for content and you can make a good living out of this.
The main difference between the two is that with copywriting you are trying to sell a product or service. With writing for content, the focus of the article will be on helping the reader – it won’t be about selling a product or service.
If you want to become a copywriter, then you won’t find much work in content writing. But if you want to stay as a content writer, then you can easily learn how to write sales copy using our Copy Hackers package.
Is it hard to become a writer?
The short answer is yes. It’s difficult for two reasons:
- You need to be able to get your ideas across and organize them in such a way that other people find them valuable. This means you need to be able to write in a way that is interesting for your readers.
- You need to have a knack for writing so that you can stand out and sell your content. This means you will need to know what makes your writing good or bad, and how you can improve it further.
However, the long answer is: yes and no.
Should I freelance or become an in-house content writer?
Ultimately it depends on your situation. If your budget is tight and you don’t have much savings, then writing for an in-house content writer is the way to go as you won’t need to spend any money upfront. You’ll be getting paid to develop your skills as a writer.
If you don’t mind spending some money to get started, then becoming a freelance content writer is a stronger option as it will give you more instant results. It’s a good idea to get whatever help you can from freelancers to help you get started, regardless of if you decide to stay as a freelancer or become an in-house writer.
Should I freelance for companies or start my own business?
This is also a question that will depend on the situation. Freelancing for companies is definitely the easier option if you are looking to start out and build your skills. Freelancing for companies gives you a lot of opportunities to work with other freelancers, so you can practice and learn from other writers who are more experienced than you.
On the other hand, starting up your own business is more difficult to do but it will give you more control over your earnings and how much you make. You’ll need to spend some money upfront in order to get started (about $500).
How do I become a content writer with no experience?
The simple answer is you do what we have explained from Step 1 to Step 3. If you think becoming a content writer is a flick of a switch you will be disappointed. It takes a lot of time and hard work to really become a professional writer.
You need to do the time and learn the craft and become a master of the craft. As you learn more and more about content writing, you’ll find that it is one of the easiest ways to get paid for your writing skills.
Can I become a content writer with no prior experience?
This depends on how much experience you have in writing. If you have a lot of experience in writing but only on personal interests, then you’ll need to put in the time and learn some copywriting techniques.
If you have a lot of experience writing but don’t know how to write to sell, then it’s likely that writing sales copy will be difficult for you. However, if you have no experience at all then learn Copy Hackers – it will teach you the basics and give you an idea of what copywriting is about.
How do content writers spend their time?
Most content writers work from home, so they can spend the time as they please. Some writers prefer to get up early and write for a couple of hours before going about their personal lives.
Others prefer to write at night when they aren’t doing anything and have their families take care of themselves for a few hours while they focus on their writing.
The best thing you can do is to figure out how you work the best and follow that schedule. Then decide what you’ll do between your writing. It’s better to learn these ideas and get better at them than to sit there and try to think up content and ideas for hours on end.
How much does a content writer make?
The average annual income for a content writer is $40,000. This doesn’t include a full-time job or in-house producer price. If you freelance you can do this through websites such as Freelancer or Elance.
Freelancing will also get you instant results as you are working with clients directly and getting paid for each job. This is a huge advantage over an in-house position where it can take years to work your way up into a full-time position.