It’s not impossible to say that as each day comes, hundreds of people are deciding to start to become a content writer. If you are already a good writer to begin with, you’ll find that content writing is one of the easiest things to do in the SEO industry. It is also a very good place to start if you’re really planning to get into search engine optimization and online entrepreneurship. Writing SEO-related industry will force you to research and know all about the rules, updates, features, functions and so forth about running websites and optimizing (making them be easily visible on the SERPs) and monetizing them.
On the other hand, there’s more to content writing that makes it not for everybody. If it is very easy, then there would probably be no freelancer searching for social media marketing or SEO positions. It shouldn’t be difficult too to find writers who can match the standards demanded by Google and the clients themselves.
In order to become a successful content writer, here are some things that you should do and should be able to do in the long run:
1. Continuously develop your writing skills.
Not everyone will find writing easy. There are those who struggle to put their ideas into sentences and putting them all together into one cohesive article. The only way to be good at writing is to continually practice and develop the skill. Here’s a helpful tip: read. Read samples of the types of articles you want to be good at writing. Even just reading novels can help you improve your writing. You become familiar with sentence structures, plus your vocabulary improves each time you encounter a new word, find out what it means, and how to use it in a sentence.
2. Always edit and double check your work.
This is especially important if you are not working with an editor. Correct grammar and spelling is always expected of a content writer. When you turn over your output to your client, it has to be proofed and edited already. Mind that errors in the text might put your clients in a tight spot. Internet researchers always put in high regard the websites they consider to be authorities and reliable sources of information. Errors in the text may remove a site from that esteemed list. If you want your clients to be satisfied with your work and hire you again in the future, make sure the content you turn over is perfectly written.
3. Be up for research work.
Content writing is all about writing what you know. What you know is garnered through research, reading, and analyzing. No one can claim to be an expert on every topic in the world. Unfortunately, it is the job of a content writer to still sound like an expert even when writing about topics they haven’t even heard off before. The only way to accomplish that is by reading and researching. Only then can you know enough to write treatises on various subjects.
4. Practice writing different types of web content.
There are so many types of content that will be needed for websites and for various campaigns across the Internet. General information articles are just one of them. This is probably the easiest to write because as the writer, you will only be given a set of parameters (ex: keywords to be inserted in the content, keyword density, word count, format) and as long as you follow them, you can take whatever direction you want to go with the articles.
When you’ve gotten the hang of article writing and incorporating keywords and phrases without committing—or at least minimizing—grammar and spelling errors (which can be quite challenging at times) proceed with practicing the more difficult pieces to write, like ebooks, white papers, product reviews, sales copies, biographies, press releases, infographic text, and many more.
5. Be adept at choosing topics and writing timeless articles.
There are two kinds of topics that content writers should know about. First, we have the timeless topics. These are subjects that don’t “age.” Even if they were published two or five years ago, they are still considered useful and valuable. Second are topics that do “age.” These are the ones whose value and relevance will go down as time passes by. This is usually the case for medical topics, for example, or events in the SEO industry. Niches wherein change is constant will have a fast turnaround of relevant subjects. As a content writer, you need to know how to write timeless articles aside from the general articles on what’s new or current.
Writing articles that tackle timeless topics will assure that you get evergreen appeal for those. Flickr photo by Krissen
6. Prepare a portfolio of articles.
Whether you apply for a one-man, short-term project or to be part of a bigger content writing company, you will always be asked for samples of your work. You can always use your previous work as samples or site the websites where your work has been published as reference. However, nondisclosure agreements are very common in this business. Content writers are often hired as ghost writers. That means they are bound by contract not to reveal that they were in fact the ones who wrote specific articles or website content. In case all your clients will demand non-disclosure agreements, prepare several sample articles on your own. Edit, proofread, format the articles, and keep them ready at all times. You never know when a good writing opportunity will come your way.
7. Be updated with your current niche.
Content writers, especially those who only accept short-term projects, need to know at least the basics of the niches they are writing for. That’s honestly asking a lot from a person considering that this month a content writer could be writing about printers and scanners, the next month about fashion, and the next about proper pet care. Yes, it is a lot of work studying each topic, but that’s part of the job description. More importantly, know the latest trends about each niche you are writing for. Doing so will benefit you (because then you’ll have lots of ideas for article topics) and your clients (because the variety of and quality of your output will help their purposes). Do this in all your writing projects, and you’ll develop a very good portfolio and a generally positive feedback from previous clients.
8. Have your own LinkedIn profile.
LinkedIn is a networking site for professionals. Having one of your own can help develop your image and credibility as a content writer, especially if your clients will add you to their circles, leave positive comments on your profile, and recommend you to their peers. Should you want to write a guest post at an authority blog as yourself, you can include a link to your LinkedIn account. Anyone who becomes interested in hiring you as a writer will be able to reach you easily.
9. Learn how to manage time properly.
One of the challenges of being a content writer is balancing your time between your assignments, chores, and leisure time with family and friends. For some people, writing is as easy as a finger snap. There are others though who need more time to complete an article. It depends on what your output rate is in a given span of time. If you know you need more than an hour to write a 1500-word article, start early. More importantly, do your best to finish on time. If you don’t, you’ll have to sacrifice the time you originally meant for other things.
10. Be aware of the rules and expectations of Google regarding website content.
Make it your business to know what Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird are, for starters. Just like in any other job, you need to know how the industry works. Find out how websites work and what they need from content in order to rank, convert and monetize at the present environment. You should know that writing poorly or stuffing articles with keywords and hyperlinks will put a website (your clients!) in trouble. If get into trouble because of your work, you will have to face the consequences: discontinued contracts, bad reviews, and no referrals to other clients.
11. Be motivated to write.
If you lose interest in writing, if your enthusiasm starts to wane, this job will start to become difficult. There are many articles about finding your motivation for writing on the Internet, and books probably have a lot to say about this too. However, only you can solve this problem. Only you can prevent from this becoming a problem. Find what makes you happy in content writing, and keep that in your mind as you proceed from project to project.
If you pursue content writing over time, surely you will come up with other strategies that will improve your skills and habits in writing. It’s also important to maintain your enthusiasm for writing. Your success as a content writer will ultimately depend on these three.