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 to 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 don’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 action. In contrast, a white paper will likely work best with more details to explain a more complex issue.
Regarding 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. Strong Research Skills
Good research is key for good content writing – 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 Solid 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. Organizational Skills
Organizing isn’t just about having a clean workspace; it’s about keeping on top of the writing jobs you’ve taken on.
Keep a calendar and know your deadlines. Most smartphones even have programs that will help you organize your time. Turning an assignment in late sends a bad message to your customers and often won’t give the editors as much time to proof your article. Prioritize your jobs, so you get them all done promptly.
5. 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.
6. The Ability to Meet Deadlines
Your clients have deadlines they have to meet. Delivering high-quality content promptly 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 can accept and reject and deliver it on time. If you find yourself struggling with time management, check out these 14 writing and productivity hacks.
If you have a question about an assignment, let the customer know. Writing is an area of communication, so there are no excuses for not getting in touch with your client if there is a problem. When you write to your client, treat it as an official communication: proofread your message. Your customer will remember your courtesy.
8. Editing, Editing, and More Editing
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.
9. Deliver Quality
Do your best to create quality unique content – make your articles engaging and grammatically correct. Ideally, when customers need articles, you want them to think of you as a superb writer that gets the job completed on time. If you want more clients and higher-paying work, consistently delivering good writing will eventually get you there.
10. 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 Content 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.