Being a content writer comes with some great perks. Depending on your position, you can have the flexibility to work from home or your favorite coffee shop, decide what topics you want to write about and see your work published and generate real value.
But the job isn’t always an easy one and there a few areas of expertise you need have to be successful other than just being a great writer. So, here are seven essential skillsets that any good content writer needs to have and continue to hone over their career.
This might seem obvious but I see a lot of content that falls flat because the tone and style doesn’t fit the purpose of the piece or the culture of the brand. For example, a landing page should probably contain copy that is short and designed to persuade the reader to take an action. In contrast, a white paper will likely work best with more details to explain a more complex issue.
In terms of tone, blog posts for a scientific equipment company targeting medical researchers will likely be much different from posts for an organic food shop targeting a wider range of health-conscious consumers. The more styles you can learn and the more quickly you can adapt, the more valuable you’ll be as a content writer.
2. Researching your way to good content
Good research is key for good content – it adds credibility and, most importantly, value. Therefore, it’s vital to find trustworthy and interesting information from reliable sources online. Experts are especially great resources if you can effectively get the right information with good interviewing skills.
3. A good understanding of SEO
Great content writers stay on top of SEO trends – after all, even the best content won’t be effective if readers can’t find it. It’s important to know how to craft SEO-friendly titles and descriptions, use keywords effectively and keep up with Google’s latest algorithm changes.
4. The ability to get focused
Writing requires focus which can sometimes be hard to find. When it’s time to work, get rid of distractions and focus on one task at a time. Sometimes to get the ball rolling, you can start with a few smaller, easy-to-complete tasks before launching into your larger projects.
5. Time management
Your clients have deadlines they have to meet. Delivering high quality content in a timely manner will show that you are not only professional, but also reliable. This means good time management is essential to help you realistically determine how many jobs you are able to accept and reject and deliver it on time.
6. Editing, editing and more editing
A lot of writing is rewriting. First drafts are rarely perfect. Editing skills require patience, discipline and a good eye for detail. In addition to grammar, spelling and punctuation, look out for redundant points and overused words. And don’t be surprised if you spend more time editing than writing.
7. Staying in demand
You may be an excellent writer, but if you don’t stay up-to-date with the latest trends, your job opportunities will be limited. Join writing and freelance communities, improve your online profiles, be comfortable with cold emailing, leverage different social platforms and market examples of your work.
Maintaining an active presence on a few social platforms will not only make you more likely to get certain writing jobs, but you’ll also make valuable contacts. Clients are always looking to boost their reach so if you can offer to share content with your network, they will have an added incentive to hire you.
There’s more to being a writer
While it’s important for a content writer to have a flair for the written word, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Research skills, SEO knowledge, adaptability and staying current are the ways to ensure that you continue to find success as a content writer. Take the time to continually develop these skills and you’ll find yourself able to craft the kind of content that’s both easy for readers to find, compelling to read and in demand.