Thinking of Becoming a Writer?
So, you’ve decided to disappoint your parents and instead of going to med school, you’re planning to become a teacher? No? Even worse, a writer? Well, you see, I’ve managed to become both, Latin teacher and a content writer. Needless to say, my parents were not happy. However, I am. Even though it was hard. Well, it still is sometimes but that’s the reason I’m writing this.
What Do You Need to Be a Content Writer
If you’re thinking about becoming a writer, a content writer or a copywriter, to be more specific, there are a couple of traits and tools you should possess. Behold, a list of all the necessary content writing skills.
1. Talent and Language Skills
This one is kinda obvious. You must have at least some talent for writing and, even if you are a native speaker, you must know the language extremely well. Talent and proficiency tend to get along very nicely and if one is somewhat lacking, practice and experience need to join them. Your language and orthography skills will mean nothing if you’re not willing to make an effort and practice.
Write, write, write! If you don’t write, your skills growth will be stunted. Your talent and language skills are not a teacup dog! Let them grow! Even though, I’ll admit, teacup puppies are adorable. Also, good content writers are able to produce huge amounts of text, sometimes even up to 3000 words per day. As you might expect, writing fast without jeopardizing content can be very difficult for beginners. Talent and practice, my friend!
A wizard has a wand, a copywriter/content writer has a pen? Well, this is only partially true. To become a skilled copy and content writer, you’ll need so much more than a pen or a computer. There’s a lot of tools you’ll need to get used to if you want to make a living out of writing and here you can read about the three basic ones.
CMS stands for Content Management System, like WordPress, and you need to get yourself familiar with it. When you’re writing copy and other content that needs to be online, that content is managed through website management/building system. If you’re just starting to get into content writing, you’re more likely to get a job if you already have some writing samples done in CMS. Also worth mentioning is the fact that every job description for these kinds of writings has two requirements – writing samples and CMS experience.
You’ll also need to be ready to learn the basics of HTML so you could manage CMS more easily. I know it can seem a little daunting and overwhelming but it comes with the job. I suggest you learn by practice, by actually writing in a CMS. While you do that, you should also do some research on the subject. WPBeginner is a good place to start.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and, to put it simply, it describes factors that improve your website chances to rank highly in Google search results. Your goal is to make your website attractive, both for users and for Google. You should make an effort to learn about on-site-SEO, about the things you personally can do with your content and your website to make it more visible online.
If you have a blog on WordPress, I encourage you to install Yoast SEO plugin. It will guide you while you’re writing by giving suggestions about your content and how to improve it. Also, you’ll learn about SEO in a more practical way. If you want theoretical knowledge with the practical one, I suggest reading Beginner’s Guide to SEO by MOZ for a start.
Grammarly is also pretty basic tool if you are a copywriter or a content writer.It’s a software that automatically detects misspellings, grammar and punctuation mistakes. It’s easy to use and very handy when you have a fast-approaching deadline and you need to write fast.
You can install Grammarly on your browser for free but if you want to use its more advanced features, there’s also a premium version. However, if you are on a tight budget, sticking with a free version for some time is perfectly fine and understandable. Even the free version can help you a lot.
3. Research and Time-Management Skills
Are you good at doing research? And, are you capable of doing it fast? Not sure? Let’s say you need to write a 3000-word article for your client about top 10 patisseries in France in 36h. You know nothing about patisseries in France and you need to give good arguments for including them on the list. Or, someone asks you to write a 2000 word article in 24h about differences between onshore and offshore web hosting and you’re not even sure what that exactly means.
Can you do this? If you’re not sure, these can be your first assignments. It will be a good practice and it will give you a taste of how it feels to be a content writer. Also, this leads me to my next bullet point – versatility.
If you want to be a good content writer you have to be versatile. Versatility is needed for your writing style, content subjects and its length. You’ll need to adapt your writing style depending on what you’re writing.
A business article on financial matters should be written in a professional, impersonal tone. However, if you’re writing a blog post about your pet, you should make it more personal and intimate. Besides that, you have to be able to write high-quality content regardless of its length. For example, marketing copy tends to be short and persuasive and articles are usually much longer.
5. A Healthy Amount of Self-Esteem
And lastly, you need to have a healthy amount of self-esteem. Why? Well, as English writer H.G. Wells said: “No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.” Indeed, if you don’t like to be corrected and if you don’t believe editors know what they’re doing, this may not be the right job for you.
People will correct you, ask you to do a revision, and you’re writing will be rejected sometimes. If you have small self-esteem and/or a big ego, you will not like it. You have to be willing to learn by yourself and from others who have more experience. Practice, learn and let others teach you. That’s the best advice I can give you.