The term content writing has grown increasingly common over the years, as traditional forms of advertising have fallen to the wayside.
Companies from all industries have discovered that success in the digital age requires more than traditional, outbound marketing strategies.
With content writing, companies can build emotional relationships with their target audience, paving the way for customer loyalty and brand engagement.
Content writing often forms the foundations of every digital marketing strategy, as emotive content is necessary for everything from blogging and SEO strategies, to email and social media promotion.
Here’s your introduction to content writing, and why it’s so valuable today.
What is the meaning of content writing?
The term content writing in today’s digital age applies to the art of planning, writing, and publishing web content. Content writers may also be responsible for promoting and editing the content they produce.
Content writing is a form of inbound marketing designed to attract an audience to a specific company, product, or digital location.
The aim is to share valuable information about a product or brand, earn customer trust, improve engagement, and create opportunities for sales.
Today, content writing practices are used in the creation of various forms of content, including:
Blogging: Blogs are a central part of building a strong content strategy, they can convey ideas related to products and your brand, while highlighting your thought leadership.
Blogs can also be useful for SEO purposes, to build organic traffic, and raise brand awareness.
Email: Writing content for emails can help to convert customers, as well as generate better engagement for your business.
Email marketing also helps to build loyalty and strengthen your opportunities for repeat purchases.
Social media: Social channels require content writers to communicate various ideas and campaigns as effectively as possible.
Product content: Selling products and services requires a unique set of writing skills. You’ll have to balance sales copy with storytelling and SEO strategies.
Brand journalism: PR news releases, customer and brand stories, and internal communications can all require the support and guidance of a content writer.
Whitepapers and eBooks: Content writers can help to produce highly technical and professional content which requires a focus on a specific subject. This helps to strengthen the authority of the brand.
Video scripts: If scripts are required to create videos or even podcasts for a company’s branding purposes, a content writer can assist with this.
What does a content writer actually do?
As the definition of content in the digital marketing world continues to evolve, the role of a content writer can vary. Some content writers focus specifically on a certain aspect of content production, such as researching and writing blog posts optimized for the search engines.
Other content writers might provide a host of different services related to the production of engaging, relevant content.
The fundamental role of a content writer starts with understanding the target audience of the company they’re writing for.
At the same time, these professionals can write content optimized for both a human audience and search engine algorithms.
Some of the tasks a content writer may be responsible for include:
Keyword research: While some companies have separate SEO experts responsible for keyword research, content writers can also assist with this task.
They can help with pinpointing potential terms and phrases you should be using in your content. Some will also give you guidance on things like long-tail and semantic keywords.
Content strategy: Content writers can work solar or with content marketing specialists and assist you in developing an end-to-end content strategy. This could involve determining what kind of blogs, eBooks, listicles, and whitepapers you should develop and publish.
Your content strategy might include a plan for social media and email marketing, or video creation too.
Content production: Perhaps the most important role of a content writer is actually creating content. These professionals create everything from blog posts to web pages on the behalf of a client.
Some will offer things like edits and updates for free with their work. You may also be able to request ongoing metrics to see how content is performing.
Proofreading and editing: Again, this can be a task completed by a separate person in your marketing team.
However, some content writers do all of their proofreadings and editing themselves. This could mean you need to pay for additional hours of service, however.
Publishing and outreach: Content writers will usually be able to upload your content to your chosen platform. This could mean adding posts to a WordPress site and scheduling them.
Many professionals will also help with the creation of a content calendar, so you know exactly when to publish and promote each piece of content. Certain content writers can also assist with outreach to other guest blogs and publications,
The exact work done by your content writer will depend on who you hire. As the content writing marketplace grows more saturated, many professionals are offering bonus services to increase their opportunities for attracting customers.
What are the basics of content writing?
Content writing is the practice of producing content that engages, motivates, and potentially converts a specific target audience.
Around 87% of marketers use content for directing prospects through the different stages of the digital marketing sales funnel. Each component of the customer journey requires a different approach to content.
For example, during the awareness stage (top of funnel), the aim of your content would be to inform and attract customers.
During the consideration stage, you highlight the benefits of your products or services against those offered by competitors.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to content writing, there are some basic content writing tips that should apply to any content strategy:
1. Always do your research
Research is important for content for a variety of reasons. First, you need to conduct research to determine who you’re writing for.
The best content writers cultivate a specific voice to speak to a certain audience. The more you understand your customer, the more you can connect with that person on an emotional level – generating conversions.
It’s also important to research any information you’re going to be writing about. Factual, credible information is key in content production, even if the content you’re writing is primarily for entertainment purposes.
Studies show if a brand generates fake content about products or services, around 59% of customers will stop buying from this company immediately.
To make your content as compelling as possible, research:
- Your subject matter: Learn as much as you can about the topic and use references to reputable sources to give your work credibility.
- Customers: Know your audience. Building buyer personas and understanding how customers respond to different content at various stages in the consumer journey will improve conversions on a significant scale.
- Competitors: Understanding what your competitors are producing in terms of content will give you some valuable inspiration. It also helps when you’re trying to make your content unique to what’s already available on the market.
2. Master the key components of content
Every piece of content is constructed with a series of different elements. For written content, there are certain components more important to capturing and converting customers than others. For instance, you’ll need:
Head-turning headlines: Headlines determine whether your audience will bother reading the rest of the article, eBook, or any other content you produce.
If your headline isn’t engaging, readers will just hit the back button. Engaging headlines are thought-provoking and interesting.
Try techniques like using numbers to demonstrate authority, such as “98% of marketers say…”, or asking questions: “Do you know these email marketing tricks?”
A compelling hook: You only have a matter of seconds to keep readers engaged after they’ve read your headline. The first sentence or two is also crucial in keeping your audience’s attention. Make sure you get this first section right.
Stay clear and focused: Don’t confuse your audience with a hundred different ideas in one piece of content. Focus on a specific topic and concentrate on giving your customers plenty of actionable advice to walk away with.
Remember, use a tone of voice specific to your target audience and the persona you’re writing for. This will help to make your content more compelling to the right people.
3. Edit and optimize everything you write
Finally, great content takes work. Most content writers don’t publish the first version of the piece they write. Taking the time to read through every eBook or article is crucial.
Remember any grammatical error or unusual sentence can confuse your audience and send them running in the opposite direction.
Often, it’s helpful to have a separate proofreader on hand when creating content, because they’ll be able to examine your work from an objective perspective and spot things you’ve missed. Other ways to enhance your work include:
Checking for content SEO: Have you used keywords naturally and organically throughout the post? Are there internal links for page connections on your site, and external links for credibility? Have you optimized your H1 tag, meta tags, headlines, and title tags?
Examining readability: Is your content divided into logical segments? Have you got subheadings to guide your reader, short paragraphs, and plenty of bullet points? Keep everything as clean as possible to improve readability.
Looking at relevancy: Is every part of your content as relevant as it should be? Can you remove anything which isn’t going to be useful to your audience?
How do I start content writing?
Getting into content writing doesn’t have to be as complex as it seems. Though content writers can earn a decent income (often around $49,204 per year), you don’t necessarily need a specific degree to become one.
The key to successfully starting a job in content writing is often developing your skills and gaining as much experience as possible.
Here are some steps to get you started.
1. Enrol in a course
Enrolling in an online course is an excellent way to develop some of the necessary skills you’ll need to impress and attract potential clients.
You can even get a copywriting certificate to add to your resume.
When looking for suitable courses, focus on the aspects of content writing you’re most interested in.
You may decide to take a selection of different courses to build out the appropriate skillset.
2. Practice your writing talents
Many people aspire to be writers, particularly when they have a creative mind and a talent for language. However, only a handful of hobbyists turn their skills into a profession.
The only way to actively pursue your career in this landscape is to begin practicing. It takes a lot of hours to become the kind of writer a professional team or business would want to hire.
Begin by writing blogs for your own website, where you can advertise your skill, collect testimonials, and build a portfolio over time.
You can also get involved with online writing forums and groups. Following accounts like the One Minute Briefs Twitter page is a great way to gain inspiration.
You could even volunteer your writing services to publications you like. This will help to build your skills while getting your name out there.
3. Develop complementary skills
Writing is the most important talent you’ll need to become a professional content writer.
However, there are other skills that can come in handy, and improve your chances of getting the attention of potential clients. For instance, you’ll need fantastic communication skills to interact with clients and companies you work with.
Learning how to convey your ideas effectively to a wide audience will be essential as a content writer.
You’ll also need fantastic research skills. Make sure you know how to track down credible sources of information when developing your career as a content writer.
Other complementary skills may include:
- SEO: Most companies want their content writers to have some basic search engine optimization Make sure you know about things like backlinking and keywords.
- Problem-solving: Problem-solving skills will help you to come up with unique ways of using content to address the needs of your clients.
- Adaptability: The ability to adapt, constantly grow, and develop new skills is essential to a content writer. The tools you use to convert customers for your audience will likely change over time, so be ready to evolve frequently in your career.
4. Find your niche
While some content writers and copy artists will work on a broad range of topics across a wide variety of companies and industries, a general approach can make it difficult to stand out.
You may find you can reach a wider audience and spend more time on work you actually enjoy with a niche.
Focusing on a specific area of specialization could mean you work best for companies in the healthcare or technology industry. The more you focus on this space, the more you develop your reputation and attract potential future clients.
Alternatively, your niche could involve looking at a specific aspect of content writing. You might be particularly good at writing engaging blog posts, creating social media content, or producing whitepapers for technical companies.
5. Build your experience
Finally, the most important thing that matters to people planning on hiring a content writer is usually experience. Your future employers want to see evidence you have skills in your space.
The best way to begin building experience as a content writer is to create a portfolio of work you can share with your employers. These are basically examples of your content, in the form of ad mock-ups, blog posts, and social media campaign ideas.
Once you have your portfolio, and you’re posting regularly on your own website blog, look for opportunities to branch out and gain more experience.
Contributing to reputable sites, even if you don’t get paid for it, will help to demonstrate your writing skills. You can also consider offering clients a discount price in exchange for a review when you finish their project.
How Much Do Content Writers Get Pay?
The average salary for a content writer (1-4 years of experience) is around $49,204 per year in the US. Experienced content writers (10-19 years of experience) may earn around $60,000 per year.
Indeed.com says content writers earn around $18.76 per hour. Your exact earnings will depend on your area of specialization, and the kind of companies you work with on a regular basis.
Should You Become a Content Writer?
Content writing can be a highly engaging and satisfying job role for many people. It’s an exciting career, with plenty of opportunities to be creative work with new people, and develop your skills. However, it also requires significant dedication and hard work.
If you have a way with words, and you know how to produce content that speaks to people, a content writing position could be ideal for you.