Are you ready to make content writing your full-time job? To become a professional writer? If so, there are a few steps that will help you succeed. Whether it’s your first time writing content or you want to take your skills to the next level. This article is an insider guide on how to start content writing and become a successful content writer.
What Is Content Writing
Content writing is a profession that requires certain skills. Not just writing skill!
Content writers must be able to research various topics and perhaps even interview several people on a topic to find out the most important points.
Even before they start outlining, drafting, and writing.
If you’re running your own website, you may also need to learn SEO (search engine optimization), topic research, and on-page optimization. Plus some WordPress skills!
Content writing is a fundamental part of digital marketing, therefore acquiring the skill can help foster a career in marketing.
You don’t learn these things overnight! Becoming a web content writer is hard work, but very rewarding!
Types of Content Writing
There are many different types of content writing, such as:
- writing content for websites
- writing content for newspapers and magazines
- writing content for online marketing
- writing content for public relations (PR)
- SEO writing
There are many different subjects that a good content writer could write about.
For example, it could be recipes or travel guides. Or spirituality and philosophy.
Often, though, content writers tend to specialize in areas in which either they have prior experience or ones in which they develop expertise over time.
Writing SEO articles is a special type of content writing because SEO content writers need to know how keywords work so that the articles can be optimized for the search engines.
Examples of Good Content
It’s a good idea to look at excellent examples of website content online first.
For example, you could search Google for successful content writers and then find their work on various websites. That way, you can look at some of the different types of content writing and content marketing, as well as examples of the best content that’s been written.
The Working Time of a Content Writer
Content writers spend their time in different ways.
They may spend time researching a particular topic, interviewing different people to gather information, and then writing the content when they feel they’ve enough information.
Online research plays a huge role.
The content writer can then spend time editing and rewriting the material to make sure it’s as good as it can be.
Creativity and Content Writing
Although content writing is largely about formulating a topic, researching, and creating outlines to structure the content, there’s also a considerable creative component to this work.
While it’s possible to dig into the more technical aspects of content writing, such as research and editing, the content writer must also develop creative ideas and present them clearly and concisely.
A content writer can even be tasked with presenting a new perspective on a topic, showing how it works and how it can be better understood and used.
You also need to be able to write creatively to develop a story or something that’s compelling.
In content writing, you need to be able to look at a topic from a different perspective. The job of a content writer is to put themselves in the reader’s perspective and ask, “What if it were such and such?” This can be a difficult skill to learn, but a content writer must’ve some creative ability to be successful.
Content writing is a profession that depends on putting one’s thoughts and ideas into words in a way that the reader can understand. In this way, content writing can’t only be a lot of fun, but also a good income for those who do it well.
Content Strategy vs Content Writing
Content strategy is the art and craft of planning, organizing and publishing content. Thus, it encompasses both content creation and content marketing.
Content strategies are developed for different purposes. Some content strategies are created to help websites rank better in search engines. This is to attract more customers. Other content strategies aim to attract customers by engaging with them through content. This type of content strategy aims more to involve customers in the content creation process so that they’re engaged with the company.
It’s not limited to websites or social media marketing but is also an important part of advertising.
Content strategy is about understanding what you want your content to achieve and how you can use it to achieve it.
Content writing is part of content strategy.
Effective Content Writing
It’s important to write content in a way that’s effective.
This means that your copy needs to be written in a way that serves the purpose of the content.
For example, if you’re writing an article on your website to help readers in the kitchen, you need to make sure that you focus on teaching them how to make and use things in the kitchen!
When you’re writing about kitchens, you don’t want to write about something that the reader may not have wanted to know about. If you focus, your readers will be more likely to stay on your website to read more articles.
You need to learn to write clearly so that your readers understand what you’re writing about.
You also need to make sure that you use the right writing style for your audience so that they understand what you’re trying to say, and resonate with the content.
If you don’t make your content focused and clear, your audience won’t enjoy reading it and won’t learn anything.
Freelance Writing Niches
As a rule, it’s a good idea to specialize in niches as a freelance content writer. This means that you specialize in areas where you know your stuff or have a lot of experience to share.
By sharing this knowledge, you help others learn more about the things that interest them.
When you have clear niches, it’s usually easy to get more work. People see that you’re an expert in your field and hire you because they assume you know what you’re talking about.
They also find you more easily online, where they can consult your resume, work samples, and other information.
Having niches also makes writing articles much easier and faster!
Remember that certain niches pay more money for content writers than others. For example, writing SEO articles, medical newsletters, or articles for the legal industry, provided you have the necessary qualifications and expertise.
It’s a good idea to cultivate a consistent and helpful mindset as a writer.
This is important because it allows you to approach writing assignments with a certain amount of composure.
Writing daily is a helpful way to approach things. This allows the writer to write something every day, even if it’s just a few sentences, and then edit and rewrite it. It helps the writer develop his/her content writing skill.
A good attitude is also important.
No matter what your experience as a writer, it’s important to remember that no one is perfect and that you can always learn.
If you don’t have any experience as a writer, don’t worry. No one knows everything about writing when they start out. Most experienced writers will tell you that they’re still learning something new every day.
If you want to write for a living, you need to realize that writing is a business, and it’s important to approach the work with the right attitude. That doesn’t mean all work and no play!
If you’re working, you’ll probably be sitting at the computer for hours, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.
Learning to write can be an exciting adventure. It’s fun to see your first articles published, whether it’s on a blog or in an online magazine.
Even if you’ve been writing for a while, it’s fun to see your earnings grow. It’s not easy to get money and work. So when you’re successful, you’ve to appreciate it. That’s part of the business of being a writer.
The benefits of writing every day include the following:
- You can work on a regular schedule, so you can plan your life around your writing.
- You can write a specific workload every day.
- You’ll have a regular number of articles with which to build a portfolio.
- You’ll have a regular number of articles that you can submit to online magazines and other publications. This will help you build a good reputation.
Know What to Write
When you set out to write a text, it’s important that you know what you want to write. In this respect, content writing is very different from writing fiction, for example.
When you’re writing content, you need to know what your message is and how you want to present it.
So before you start writing, you need to do some research and ask yourself some questions.
- What’s the topic?
- How will you approach the topic?
- How will you structure the article?
- Where will you publish the article?
- How exactly do you want to be in the article?
- How will you format the article?
These questions and the decisions you make will help you write high-quality content.
Stick to the Point
You may be tempted to write about something other than the subject of a particular article or content job, but you need to learn to focus on your message and stay on point.
This is a crucial part of being a content writer. You need to find a way to stay focused on the topic you’ve been assigned, and you also need to keep your audience engaged.
You need to keep your content clear and concise. Only talk about what’s relevant to the article!
The best way to do this is to figure out the main topic of the article and use it as a guide throughout the writing process.
- Focus on the main topic of the article.
- What do you want to achieve with the article?
- What’s the main argument of the article?
- What’s the main reason someone wants to read the article (the “search intent”)?
This is easier if you have a clear topic and audience.
If you know what you want to say and who you’re addressing, you can approach the topic from different angles, but you’ll still be able to get to the heart of your text.
Writing valuable content means that
a) the text is valuable to the audience, and
b) it’s useful to the company for whom you are writing (which might be your own).
Content writing is a valuable business, and if you learn how to create valuable content, you’ll be able to make a good income from it.
When you think about what you’re sharing with your audience, make sure you’re giving them the information they can use.
For example, if you’re writing about how to bake the perfect apple pie, make sure you provide information about what ingredients are needed, how to mix them together, how to bake the pie, etc.
You need to make sure that your readers can use the information you give them. You’re not doing anyone a favor by giving them the information they can’t use!
Don’t Choose Random Topics
You might think that a website content writer will sit down and pick a topic out of a hat. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Each topic is chosen with a clear goal in mind.
Whether it’s to get more organic search traffic to a website, with SEO writing to get backlinks that improve SEO rankings, to generate leads for a company’s products or services, to promote a company’s products or services, or to drive traffic to a company’s landing page.
It can also be about increasing leads for a business, establishing a new brand name, making people aware of the brand, or selling a product.
It can also be about getting people to sign up for a mailing list or download a free eBook.
You get the point. Each topic is chosen with a specific goal in mind.
It’s important to be aware of this because it’ll help you write more effectively.
Pay Attention to Keywords
Even if as a writer you get an assignment where the keyword research is already done for you, it’s still important to think about the keywords when writing a content piece.
If you don’t include the keywords in the article, the article isn’t technically optimized for the keyword and someone searching for that keyword may not find the article even if your article is the best answer to their question.
Keywords help you structure your article and focus on the main topic.
For example, if you’re writing an article about how to make a perfect organic smoothie, you will need to know what’re the most important keywords for this article.
Don’t Keyword Stuff
You need to avoid the so-called ‘keyword stuffing’ in your work.
Keyword stuffing is when you don’t focus on the topic of the content piece, but try to pack in as many keywords as possible.
Content writing is all about creating the best content possible. If you try to cram keywords into an article without structuring it thematically, you’re doing yourself (and your client and readers) a disservice.
You should only use keywords when they naturally fit the topic. For example, if you’re writing about organic smoothies, make sure you use words like “organic” and “smoothie.”
Match Search Intent
The best way to meet search intent is to really understand what the person searching for the keyword is trying to find. Think about how and why they searched for the keyword.
In other words:
- Why are they searching for the keyword?
- What do they want to accomplish with the information?
- What’ll they do with the information after they read it?
Your goal as a content creator should be to provide the most comprehensive and helpful answer to the search query.
Get to the Point
As a rule, it’s a good idea to avoid long, wordy introductions.
Get straight to the point.
The same advice applies to paragraphs. Keep them short and to the point.
Because your main goal is to give your audience the information they’re looking for, and you don’t want to tell them over much. Whether they match a buyer persona or are simply looking for information.
Your job is to get right to the heart of the matter.
Write only the words that are necessary to get your message across!
Sometimes it can be a really good idea to tell a story in an article.
However, if you do this, you should make sure that you tell the story in a way that serves the purpose you want to achieve.
For example, if you’re writing about the organic smoothie mentioned above, you could also tell a story about how you learned about the health benefits of smoothies.
Efficient research is at the heart of any good writing. You need to find a way to research in such a way that you don’t get bogged down in details.
Avoid rabbit holes!
Remember, you only have a limited amount of time to write your content, so you need to be able to research quickly and effectively.
The best way to do this is to use a combination of online and offline tools.
- Start with free sources like Wikipedia. Find the best sources of information on the topic.
- Use crowdsourcing websites like Quora to ask experts about the topic.
- Use Google to refine your search for information.
- Use tools like Answer the Public to find out what questions people are really asking.
- Tools like SEMRush can help you find out what keywords people are searching for.
Don’t ignore personal experience and experiments.
Let’s say you’re writing about Boomerangs and you want to know how to throw them most effectively and efficiently.
The best way to do your research might be to start throwing yourself!
In other words, go out and buy a boomerang and use it for several weeks.
This way you’ll get a good understanding of how the boomerang moves through the air and what’s an effective and what’s an ineffective boomerang throw.
You can develop a much better understanding of what you want to write about, and some fun stories, that will make it much easier to write a quality article.
It’s critical to be clear about what plagiarism is.
Plagiarism is when you copy another person’s work and pass it off as your own.
When writing content for clients, you need to make sure that you never plagiarize someone else’s work or ideas.
Back up your work with your own research and opinion.
If you take the example above – the boomerang – you could simply copy and paste the information you find on the Internet about boomerangs into your content.
That would be plagiarism.
It’s important that you build on your research, expand it, and improve it. Never simply copy and paste information from other sources.
Cite your sources properly. Either with direct links in the body text or with a list of sources.
If you use a quote from a book or article, put it in quotation marks.
Understand Fair Use
Fair use means that you use copyrighted material without the author’s permission, but only for a limited and “reasonable” purpose, and that you use only as much of the copyrighted material as is necessary for your purpose, and that you credit the source of the material.
You use a copyrighted work for a limited and “transformative” purpose.
The copyright owner can still sue you if you use content without permission, but if you use it according to the rules of fair use, you aren’t technically in violation of copyright.
Mastering Opening Lines
Opening lines are very important when writing content. Whether it’s the beginning of a text or the beginning of a story, the opening is what draws your audience in.
It’s your way of grabbing the reader’s attention and enticing them to read the whole story.
Opening lines can pique the curiosity and interest of your readers and/or customers.
You make them wonder, “What’s going on here? I want to find out.”
That’s why you should avoid clunky, boring, and tedious opening sentences.
Remember that you want your text to grab the attention of your target audience and captivate them.
For example, if you’re writing a testimonial, you could start with a bold statement like “This product has changed my life”.
You can start with a question or a statistic or fact.
The most important thing is that you grab the reader’s attention. The first words – together with its headline – are the most important part of your article.
You can write captivating content, but if you don’t manage to grab the reader’s attention with the first line, they won’t read to the end of the first paragraph.
Imagine writing an article about how to throw a boomerang.
You could write:
“The best way to throw a boomerang isn’t to throw the boomerang.”
This is a snappy, creative, and interesting opening line. You can use it to grab the reader’s attention and get them excited about the article.
Get Great at Outlining
The more content you write, the better you’ll get at creating an outline quickly.
You’ll reach a point where you’re able to write a full article in a few minutes.
That doesn’t mean you’ll be able to write a great article in a few minutes, but you’ll be able to formulate the outline of an article in a few minutes.
It means that you’ll know all the important points of the article and you’ll be able to write those points down quickly.
The reason why you should write your outline quickly is that you want to make sure that you get to the heart of your ideas and concepts quickly.
In my opinion, there’s nothing better than mind mapping to quickly and easily outline your ideas and concepts and then flesh them out into a full text.
The advantage of a mind map is that you can easily see how all the ideas and concepts relate to each other.
This way you can make sure you cover all the areas and provide the most benefit to your readers.
You should always write the title in the middle of the mind map. Then you should write down the most important points and arrange them around the title.
Once I’ve outlined and restructured the article in the mind map, I export it as markdown and take it into my favorite text editor. With markdown, all the branches and sub-branches of the mind map appear as headings in the text.
When you start writing content, guess what? You actually have to write!
A lot of it.
I’d recommend at least a thousand words a day, but that’s only for beginners. If you’re a veteran, I’d recommend at least two thousand words a day.
Part of that’s making a schedule for yourself and committing to putting in the hours.
Personally, I write at least 4,000 words a day. It’s a discipline.
The more you write, the better you get.
It’s not always easy. It’s not always fun.
But it’s necessary.
You’ll get better.
You’ll become faster.
You’ll get better at developing ideas.
You’ll get better at organizing your ideas.
You’ll get better at writing.
You’ll get better at writing complete content.
Over time, your skills will improve.
So don’t give up after one, two, or three posts.
And keep improving.
Have a Writing Den
Having your own place to write will help you get ready to write. If you get up, go to a specific area, and start writing, it’ll be much more effective than if you write in the same area where you do all your other tasks.
When you get up and go to a specific area, you can concentrate better. It makes you more productive.
It makes you a better professional content writer.
You can create your own space in different ways. You could set up a home office. You could set aside a room in your house for that purpose. You could set up a special room in one part of your house.
The most important thing is that you create a space specifically for writing.
This will help you start writing, get in the writing mood, and get the most done.
Time Management and Tracking
Since I use a Mac, the wonderful Session app is very useful for keeping track of time and remembering to take breaks.
However, there are many ways to track how much time you spend writing and how much time you spend on each article or piece of content.
If you get your time management right, you can become more efficient.
I recommend the Pomodoro Technique, where you work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break.
First, try to write for 25 minutes at a time and then take a break.
Then increase the time you write.
Then extend the break time.
Remember that writing is only part of the job. You usually need to allow time for other tasks as well, such as research, editing, and formatting.
Master a Variety of Writing Styles
If you’re freelancing, it’s helpful to develop different writing styles that fit the tone and style of the publication you’re working for.
This will also help you build an impressive writing portfolio.
For example, if you’re writing a business-related blog post, you’ll need to develop a slightly different writing style than if you’re writing an article for a lifestyle magazine.
Each of these publications has a different target market.
Therefore, the tone of the article will be different, as will the way the article is structured.
Freelance writers who work with a variety of publications and learn to develop a unique writing style for each publication are more valuable to a variety of clients.
In my blog, I use a light, modern, and sometimes humorous tone.
In some of my assignments, I use a formal, academic style.
On some other assignments, I use a playful style.
You shouldn’t use the same writing style for all your projects.
You should make sure you use the style that best suits your audience.
Compelling Content Using the Right Words
As you progress with content writing, you’ll start to acquire knowledge about copywriting.
Although content writing is different than copywriting, it can be helpful to incorporate a little copywriting into your content. This way, you’ll create more compelling writing.
For example, you could use a headline that’s identical to the headline of a direct response ad. Or you could use a call to action that would appear in a direct response ad. Or you could create a list that’s in the style of a direct response ad.
You don’t have to do any of that, but you can.
Don’t try to copy a direct response copywriter. Instead, learn from the best and use some of the techniques to create better content.
Get Good at Editing
The ability to quickly hack into a first draft to see the forest for the trees is really valuable.
In most cases, content is better when it’s a little shorter.
Aim to cut 15 to 20 percent of your first draft.
Remember, you shouldn’t edit the first draft while you’re still in the writing flow.
You should set it aside and come back with fresh eyes.
If you’re looking for a really good first revision solution, I recommend taking a look at Instatext. With the ability to correct an entire text with one click and choose the tone and region, it’s a really cool tool. One of the benefits is that it helps keep tone and style consistent.
At a later stage of editing, I use Grammarly Premium to make fine corrections (although I find that it’s often too tedious to make all the suggested changes – I reserve that for particularly valuable content).
Format Like Your Life Depended on It
If you publish your articles in WordPress (and I recommend using the built-in Gutenberg for this), make sure the article is easy to read for users reading it on a mobile device.
The best way to do this is to reduce the size of the window you’re working in to mimic the proportions of the mobile device in portrait mode.
Be Easy to Read
People don’t want to read difficult content. They want to read great content that they can understand quickly.
If you’re writing for the web, you need to make sure you’re able to write quality content in a way that’s accessible, but at the same time educates, informs, and entertains.
Hemingway App is a great tool to make sure you’re writing in a way that’s easy to understand. There’s a readability score based on Flesch Reading Ease and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.
I like this app because it provides a clear, clean, and quick assessment of a text’s readability.
The tool tells you if you’re using the passive voice, how many words are in each sentence, and how hard the text is to read.
A great way to spice up your written content is to use relevant quotes.
Make sure you attribute the quote, of course!
Best tools for Content Writing
For a whole article on content writing tools, check out this article I wrote recently.
Finding Work and Money as a Content Writer
Maybe you want to make money writing content as a freelancer.
In that case, I’d advise you to find online publications in your niche, read them, see what they write about, and then approach those publications about publishing content you want to write for them.
Regardless of your level, you can always approach companies in your niche and offer your services.
You might find employment in a content writing company (or set up a content writing business yourself!), Watch out that it is not a content mill, that might wear you down and degrade your skills.
As a freelancer, start small, take on jobs you’re confident you can do, and build a client base.
There are certain marketplaces that have a good reputation, including WriterAccess, ProBlogger, and some of the gigs on Upwork.
The problem with some of these sites is that you can get lost in the crowd, and it can be difficult to get the attention of the companies you’d like to work with.
Still, you can find a freelance writing job on these sites, and they can help you earn an income.
If you can get copywriting jobs, they generally will pay more than content writing.
Have a Portfolio
One of the best ways to build a portfolio and get freelance writing jobs is to set up a blog and write regularly.
You can use your articles as writing samples. If you have a blog, people can see how well you write.
Remember that not all jobs are right for you, and not all clients are either. You have the absolute right to turn down a job if the client is too demanding or if you suspect that payment won’t be made on time or at all.
A quick Google check on potential employers can work wonders!
For your part, act like a professional. Deliver what you promise, build a reputation for quality work, and for quick revisions (within reason). Make sure you follow content guidelines and client instructions to the letter.
Have and Keep Goals
Keep SMART goals in mind when planning which assignments to accept and which to reject. SMART goals mean that the objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
When writing, it can be easy to get lost in the words and lose sight of the overall context of the business. This is another good reason to measure the time it takes you to write certain types of content.
Your goal should usually be to increase the number of words per hour.
Dictation can be a great way to achieve this, as can an AI writing assistant like Sudowrite (which I’m using to write this article!).
Keep reviewing your goals throughout your freelance writing career.
How do I get started writing content from home?
The best way to start writing content from home is to create and grow a blog and then do freelance work for online publications. You can also approach certain companies and ask if you can offer your services.
How can I start writing content with no experience?
If you don’t have experience, you can start writing content by writing for your own blog and then using that blog for assignments.
What’re the basics of content writing?
The most important thing when writing content is that the content is relevant to the target audience and that it can be found.
What’s SEO Content Writing?
SEO Content Writing is the art and craft of writing content so that it’s seen by search engines and ranks well in search engines.
What’s the format in content writing?
The format in writing content is to make it as readable, accessible, and exciting as possible. If you can do that, you’ll do well in content writing.
What are types of content writing?
Types of content writing include blog posts, web content, articles, reviews, e-books, magazines, white papers, videos, scripts, technical writing, digital content, and presentations.
What are content writing examples?
You can find good content writing examples at major publishers like Mashable, Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Inc, Business Insider. Pick a topic that interests you and read through some of the articles. Look at how they’re formatted, how they’re written, and what grabs your attention.
What are good Content Writing courses?
There are a number of good online courses to learn content writing. I’d be crazy not to mention my own: The Content Writing Course on Udemy.