Ever since blogging became a buzzword, many people gravitated to this exciting and engaging form of communicating with the world through the internet. This was the beginning of content writing.
Fast forward to today, content writing has taken up a much bigger space than just blogs. Whether it is a LinkedIn post or a long-form health article, content writing is at the center of it. Companies, businesses, and individuals are looking to hire experienced and skilled content writers who can connect their brand with their audience and help them sell more.
So the question is: what exactly is content writing?
In this post, that is what we are going to discuss. We will begin by defining content writing and then move on to its types, examples, and some tips on how you can become a great content writer.
Without wasting any time, let us begin.
What is Content Writing?
Before we can define what content writing is, we need to define content.
“Content is any type of information, data, or experience that an audience experiences through art, publishing, or communication.”
And today, content has many forms. Images, videos, text, and audio are all various forms of content around us. Therefore, content writing is basically:
“The practice of transferring data, information, or experience to an audience in the form of writing.”
Content writing is a process of generating content in a digital format for marketing and promotional purposes. The fact that 3 billion blog posts are published each year is proof of the prevalence and usefulness of content writing.
What Does a Content Writer Do?
The content comes in various shapes, sizes, and forms today.
Everything from a social media ad to an email blast is “content.” In fact, everything that you consume today on the internet is content. Therefore, it becomes quite challenging to specify a content writer’s role.
Some content writers write blog posts intending to rank them on the first page of Google (SEO), while others write lengthy white papers for a B2B organization. In short, wherever there is a need for written content, there is a need for a content writer.
Apart from having excellent command over language, a content writer can also understand their target audience, adjust the content according to the audience’s expectations, and write content for humans and search engines.
If we were to summarize the areas a content writer needs to be skilled in, they would be:
- Content strategy
- SEO & Keyword Research
- Market/Audience Research
- Topic Research
- Proofreading and editing
- Publishing and outreach
Since the content industry is continuously evolving, a content writer can undertake many other roles than mentioned here.
Types of Content Writing
SEO writing is the most common type of content writing. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) writing refers to writing blog posts or articles so that they rank higher in search engine results, ideally on the first page. This means more visibility and more traffic to the website.
An SEO writer knows how to structure the content and place appropriate keywords throughout the content to increase the chances of ranking. Other SEO concepts like semantic SEO, backlinks, optimized heading tags, and NLP also come into play.
Ghostwriting means writing without credit. A ghostwriter is paid to write content without getting the rights to publish it under their name. Ghostwriters usually create content for businesses, content farms, agencies, outsourcers, or bloggers, helping them generate more content in less time.
Before content writing became common, copywriting referred to the practice of writing advertising and marketing content such as print ads, promotional mail, or TV ads.
Today, the scope of advertising has widened due to digital marketing, and so has the scope of a copywriter. Copywriters write content to drive engagement and generate sales for a business. A copywriter can be expected to write email copy, social media copy, landing page copy, ad copy, sales copy, and more.
A technical writer mainly handles the content of technical nature for niches like accounting, software, finance, robotics, technology, science, and engineering. More often than not, technical writers are specialists in their fields and have in-depth knowledge about them.
Technical writing can involve formats like reports, industry documentation, reviews, manuals, proposals, white papers, blog posts, and more.
As the name indicates, long-form content is lengthier than typical articles or blog posts. Instead, long-form content refers to detailed and in-depth formats such as eBooks, case studies, white papers, and evergreen content. Evergreen content is often a detailed discussion on a topic that isn’t influenced by what’s in fashion today. It will stay relevant for a long time to come.
Email marketing content refers to the content sent to the audience in the form of emails. It involves various formats such as event announcements, newsletters, lead generation emails, sponsorship emails, etc.
Email marketing content aims to drive traffic, engagement, and sales through email, which has consistently proven to be a dependable marketing medium.
Many people wrongly assume that scriptwriting is limited to cinemas or movies. Content writers often write scripts for various video or audio media such as online advertisements, documentaries, YouTube videos, podcasts, etc. Writers with prior experience in scriptwriting can make a dependable career out of content scriptwriting.
Social Media Marketing
Many brands and businesses use their social media presence to reach more audiences and increase engagement. As a result, they need someone who can write social media content for them. The social media content writers understand how social media marketing works, and they create content for various platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn as part of the SMM strategy.
Examples of Content Writing
Blog posts are arguably the most common example of content writing. Almost every brand, business, or company today has a blog page. The goal of a blog is to
- Use SEO to rank better,
- Generate content that is helpful for your target audience and indirectly push them to buy the company’s products or services.
- Monetize blog content using digital advertising or affiliate marketing.
Blogs are a widely prevalent example of content writing, and a majority of content writers write blog posts.
Website content is another example of content writing. The goal of website content is to write different pages on a website in such a way that they
- Catch the attention of your visitors.
- Make them aware of your brand/products/services.
- Lead them to take a particular action (subscribe, buy, etc.)
Social Media Posts
Social media posts are a great example of content writing and are meant to drive engagement and brand awareness. Social media post writers are expected to write engaging, snappy, and value-packed posts for a brand’s target audience.
Moreover, they also need to be aware of the differences in various social media platforms and use them to the brand’s advantage.
White papers are an example of long-form and sometimes technical content writing. White papers aim to talk in detail about a particular subject. They are research-driven documents that are used for B2B or B2C purposes, such as:
- Educating a key stakeholder in an organization about your product
- Transferring internal information between shareholders, management, and business partners
- Educating the audience about an emerging problem and how this organization can solve them
Tips for Effective Content Writing
Make an Outline
Outlining is the first step in the content writing process. It gives you an eagle’s eye view of the areas you need to research to write an engaging piece of content.
Creating an outline also helps you organize your thoughts and prevents your mind from wandering. Since there is so much content out there, having an outline clarifies what you need to write and what you need to omit.
Lastly, an outline helps you successfully cover all the topics you are asked to cover.
Develop an Interesting Angle
The angle refers to your perspective while writing a piece of content. Developing an interesting angle for your audience is vital because it helps you stand out from the rest. Millions of blogs are published daily, and if you are writing what everyone else is, your content will not perform any better.
A unique angle can be anything from a personal story to a controversial statement. Make sure that it is relevant to your target audience without appearing like clickbait.
Keep Things Engaging
An engaging piece of content is crisp, rich, and snappy. You need to write to capture people’s attention before they move on to the next thing. You can achieve that by writing short, clear paragraphs, using simple language, and delivering value. A balanced mix of visuals (infographics, images, etc.) and writing is also an excellent way to keep your readers engaged.
It is, however, important to consider the medium you’re writing for. You can’t write in a humorous tone if you’re writing a whitepaper for CEOs or managers.
Don’t Forget to Edit
“To write is human, to edit is divine.”
Editing your content before publishing it is as important as writing, if not more. Editing helps you take a fresh look at your content and discover errors, mistakes, and inconsistencies you might have missed while writing. It is best to take a break after writing before you start editing.
Content writing is not going anywhere; not in the near future. In fact, it is expected that the industry will see a boom in the coming decade. A writer who knows how to write content that is relevant to the audience and provides value can use their skills in writing to generate a sustainable income.
With the information in this post, you can also set out on the journey of becoming a content writer, and please let us know if we missed something important.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I start Content Writing?
Even though it takes time and consistency to become an expert content writer, here are a few things you can do to start your journey.
Begin by reading high-quality content online
Reading high-quality content across various formats and platforms will help you learn a great deal about structure, writing for various audiences, and different niches.
Create a portfolio
Develop your portfolio on topics and formats of your interest. You can use sites like Medium to publish your content or create your website.
Reach out to clients
Once you have a few writing samples, start reaching out to interested clients. You can find them on popular freelancing platforms like Upwork, People Per Hour, LinkedIn, Freelancer, or Fiverr. You can also join various content writing groups on Facebook or content writing mills. Another way to find clients is to look for guest post opportunities online.
There’s a lot more to becoming a skilled and experienced content writer, but these tips are enough to get you started.
How Much Do Content Writers Earn?
On average, a content writer can make up to $64,000 annually in the US. However, the numbers are likely lower for new and inexperienced writers.
How to Hire the Right Content Writer?
You can find content writers on freelancing platforms (Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, Guru). You can also find writers on LinkedIn and Facebook.
Once you come across an interested candidate, look at their experience and portfolio and whether it is relevant to the nature of the job. Lastly, ask for a written test sample to understand their grasp of writing and the subject matter.
Once satisfied with their writing skills, you can interview them about their work ethic, salary expectations, and other relevant areas.