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Content Writing 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Being a Content Writer

The world of content writing is full of opportunity. Digital marketing companies are constantly searching for ambitious, talented writers who can work hard and think outside the box. 

However, as anyone with experience in the content marketing field can tell you, there is far more to the job than simply writing compelling articles. Sure, this is the most important part of the job; but there are a number of important things to consider before you put yourself on the market as a content writer. 

Why Should I Become a Content Writer?

Being a content writer is great. The hours are flexible, and you have a great deal of control over your schedule. The work can be challenging or frustrating at times, but it offers a unique opportunity to develop your skills and support yourself while doing what you love: writing! 

What’s the Job? 

So what will you be doing as a content writer, exactly? Why, writing content, of course! Content writers write articles, social media posts, taglines for websites and everything in between.  Content marketing is the cornerstone of digital marketing, for those that are new to this topic you should start discovering what is digital marketing and also get advice on how to do it.

Whatever you’re writing, you’ll be expected to meet certain requirements for quality and creativity. Nevertheless, if you enjoy writing and like learning new things, this is the job for you! 

With that in mind, here is a list of things that you should keep in mind when pursuing a position or career as a content writer. 

Be a Different Content Writer

In the online space, there are millions of pages of content vying for your attention. In this vast, homogeneous sea of articles, ads and social media posts, it can be difficult to make your content stand out. Here are some things you can do to set yourself apart from the crowd. 

Write for the Reader

As content writer, the most important thing to keep in mind is your target audience. No matter what type of content you’re writing, it should always be tailored to the consumer. Make sure to write what your target audience wants to read. 

Find Your Voice 

One of the best ways to make your content stand out is to establish a distinct style and voice for your articles. Regardless of what type of content you’re writing, it should reflect your own personal approach to writing. 

Taking inspiration from other writers is fine, but your content should always reflect your unique take on the subject you’re writing about. 

Use Language Creatively

Another great way to make your content get noticed and increase its overall quality, is to be as creative as possible in your writing. Be concise, but at the same time make your descriptions as vivid and thought-provoking as possible. 

Use clever wordplay and catchy phrases that will engage the reader and keep them reading. Among so many dry, uninteresting articles, a little bit of flair and poetic sensibility goes a long way! 

Make it Readable

The online world is fast paced, and most readers have attention spans equivalent to that of a kindergartener. If you want your articles to be noticed and read, make them as readable as possible. 

Avoid long sentences and large, intimidating chunks of text. It’s also a good idea to break your article up into smaller sections divided by headers and sub-headers. 

Be Flexible

Of course, there are certain types of content that require a more rigidly regulated style. Certain types of content writing will require you to adapt to different styles or language. Regardless, these tips will generally prove immensely useful in improving the quality of your content writing. 

Get to Know SEO 

If you’ve dipped your toes into the world of content writing, you’ve probably come across a lot of information regarding Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. As a content writer, you’ll need to learn the basics of SEO or how to do an SEO audit to maximize your effectiveness and reach. Here are the basics.

What is SEO?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is shorthand for the process of making sure your webpage shows up in the top search results as often as possible. This usually involves a combination of different strategies like keyword selection and UI optimization.

As a content writer you won’t have to worry about UI optimization too much, but you will need to learn how to find the right keywords.

How Does it Work?

Keyword selection is a relatively simple concept. The basic idea is to find keywords that:

  1. Apply to the subject you’re writing about
  2. Are searched for often, (high search volume) but
  3. Are not featured heavily in other similar content (low keyword difficulty) 

The process of finding keywords can be tedious and time consuming, but doing it correctly will yield great results. If you’d like to see an in depth guide to choosing the right keywords, you can find one here

Research, Research, Research 

As a content writer, you’re going to have to do research. A lot of research. Every article you write should be preceded by thorough research on the subject, even if you are already familiar with it. Here are a couple tips to help make sure your article has a solid, factual foundation. 

Keep it Unique

When you’re researching, be sure to avoid plagiarism at all costs. Always avoid copying-and-pasting anything longer than four or five words, unless it’s a direct quote or something of that nature. 

If you do use a quote or a reference, be sure to attach the appropriate footnote or bibliography to ensure you aren’t called out for intellectual property theft. Your employers, your career and your reputation will thank you. 

Jot That Down! 

When researching, you should always keep a notebook or tablet handy to write down ideas or observations. Additionally, this will help you keep track of the general structure you want for your article or writing project. 

Keeping track of your ideas in a notebook is also very helpful for maintaining clarity and focus. If you suddenly think of a great play on words or a clever section title, you can simply jot it down and come back to it later. 

Don’t Stop Researching

Research isn’t just something you do before you write the article. You should be researching when you start writing, researching when you finish, and researching up until you finish the final draft. 

As a content writer, you should know the topic you’re writing front and back. If you’re familiar with a topic, it will show in your writing. 

Get Out There! 

As an aspiring content writer, you have a number of different options available to kickstart your career. Freelance writers work for themselves, creating and expanding their portfolios and marketing to individual clients. They are able to work entirely from home, and are free to work as little or as much as they like

Content writing agencies offer more stability, but their writers have less autonomy and freedom regarding scheduling and clientele. This differs from company to company, of course, but in general this type of position is a bit more restrictive than freelancing. 

Then of course, many companies keep content writers on their staff to maintain consistency and reliability. These positions are typically stable 9-to-5 jobs, but don’t be fooled; they still allow you to do rewarding, satisfying work. 

Wherever you decide to pursue work, rest assured that motivation and dedication to quality will be met with positive results, more clients and higher pay. Now get out there and be successful!  

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