Today’s guest blog post is brought to you by Helen Bailey (no relation).
Make your voice heard with a career in content writing
Approaching the end of one year and the beginning of the next, people often reflect on various aspects of their lives. One subject which frequently comes under close scrutiny in this context is work. Lack of contentment with a career can lead to resolutions to make significant changes. Finding an occupation which fits around home and family life and also provides a meaningful challenge is for many the ideal scenario. This is why becoming a professional content writer is an increasingly attractive proposition. Being able to set your own hours, choose your own clients and subjects with a flexibility rarely associated with other jobs are just some of the benefits of being a content writer. Yet like any new adventure the first step is often the hardest one to take and with family and financial commitments to think of it is important to know in advance where the journey can lead. Here we take a closer look at what is involved in writing online content and how to embrace this exciting and challenging occupation.
What is a content writer?
A content writer is basically a professional writer who produces interesting and engaging content which is used online. The format of the writing includes articles, blogs and promotional material as well as other types of online content. Many content writers cut their teeth working for online agencies which specialise in selling online content – these are sometimes referred to as content mills. Work is produced on a variety of subjects – some require expert knowledge while others do not. More established content writers often move on to servicing the needs of individual clients such as small businesses or government organisations. Although some content writers are directly employed, the vast majority operate on a freelance basis. One of the major attractions of becoming a content writer is that the job can for the most part be done from home. Set up costs are minimal – in fact if you have a PC or laptop and a quiet space you are pretty much there.
What qualifications and experience are required?
For some being a content writer is very much like being a journalist. The good news is that you don’t have to have a journalistic qualification to get started as a content writer. Although many firms prefer to work with graduates this is not an essential requirement. In reality it is much more important to possess the powerful combination of a curious mind, an ability to conduct research and well developed communication skills. Put these together and what do you get – an exciting prospective future as a content writer. Start off with a well developed interest in knowing more, add a hefty helping of gathered information and top with a proficiency in explaining complex subjects in simple terms and you are there. As American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne once said,
“Easy reading is damn hard writing.”
The skill to turn the complicated into the transparent should not be underestimated and is truly the key to great content writing. It may not come naturally – content writing is like any other job often hard work. Without commitment and tenacity the end result may suffer as English writer Samuel Johnson once observed,
“What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”
How to get started
There are generally speaking two broad approaches to getting work as a content writer. The first is to start an online blog and get jobs from there. Your blog is essentially a shop window for your work and acts as a showcase for what you can do as a copywriter. Put simply you write your blog and people visit it. Some of those visitors may then approach you and ask that you write copy for them. Alternatively the blog represents a body of work which you can then use as evidence of your work when negotiating with clients you have identified yourself. As it’s your shop window it is important to make it look nice and to ensure it represents the best possible version of you. It should be well branded (but don’t go overboard or it may actually detract from the content) and personalized in order to advertise you and your services.
The second option in terms of getting started is to establish profiles on copywriting and content creation websites and from there bid for work. This can be a sensible step if setting up a blog is unaffordable or you need further evidence to show to potential clients. Join a variety of sites in order to access the greatest range of work available – over time you will get to know those you work with best. Some sites are based in the UK while others operate from countries such as the United States and Australia- bear this in mind when checking job boards as time zones may impact on when most jobs are available.
Whichever approach you choose, deciding to become a content writer is a leap of faith but it is one which often pays off. Fitting a writing career around an existing job – at least until you know it is for you- is entirely doable. So why not take the bull by the horns – in the words of prolific Western fiction writer Louis L’Amour, “Start writing, no matter what. The water doesn’t flow until the faucet is turned on.”
Absolutely. Thank you, Helen. That was really interesting.
- and from this blog, my guests who have written on non-fiction (inc. biography, memoir, essays): AJ Kirby, Amanda Klein & Allyson Wuerth, DJ Swykert, Dr Friedemann Schaub, Graham Smith, Jane Hertenstein, Jeff Rasley, Jennifer Boire, Jonathan Taylor, Karen Robbins, Kate Funk, Kristine Millar, Nina Bingham, Sean Gray, Tonya Vrba, and William Shepard.
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