Do you enjoy writing on your blog and publishing on social media? Are you passionate about marketing, health, sports, or other topics? In this case, you could turn your hobby into a full-time business. In today’s digital era, most brands have an online presence, which requires publishing unique content that resonates with their target audience. Hubspot reports that about 80% of marketers use content to inform, educate, and entertain customers. What’s more, nearly half of organizations incorporate blogging into their content marketing strategy. These companies are constantly seeking talented writers with knowledge in specific areas, such as technology or nutrition.
Writing online content is different from writing for newspapers and other traditional mediums. Web copy needs to be clear, easy to read, and to the point. Jackson State University recommends using short sentences written in active voice, as well as multiple subheads, bulleted lists, and eye-catching visuals. Having a good grasp of search engine optimization (SEO) is just as important. Be prepared to conduct keyword research, build quality links, and use tools like Ahrefs, Clearscope, and Google Analytics.
This career path comes with its share of challenges, but it may be worth it. If you’re good at what you do, you might end up working for Entrepreneur, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Forbes, and other media outlets. On top of that, you may have the chance to interview athletes, thought leaders, celebrities, and other successful people. As you gain experience, you could start your own business and team up with popular brands.
Getting started as a content writer doesn’t have to be difficult. First, you’ll need to learn the basics of writing for the web and practice your skills. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that most employers expect writers to have formal education in English, communications, or a related field. However, your expertise is more important than a college degree. You don’t need a formal education to start blogging, publish content on LinkedIn, or offer your services on Upwork, PeoplePerHour, and other freelancing platforms.
Take the time to familiarize yourself with SEO, HTML, and content management platforms like WordPress and Blogger. Meanwhile, focus on improving your writing skills. Learn to craft compelling headlines, research the different types of content, and follow SEO best practices, recommends New York Times bestselling author Neil Patel. Also, study popular content writing techniques, such as the AIDA formula.
As discussed earlier, content writers are also expected to have a good working knowledge of industry-specific tools. At the very least, you should know how to use Google’s Keyword Planner and other keyword research tools. If you plan to focus on social media, you’ll likely use Hootsuite, Buffer, and similar platforms, so it’s important to understand how they work. Some clients and employers may also expect you to create infographics, resize or crop images, and do basic photo editing.
The content writing industry is very competitive. Just do a quick search on Upwork or Fiverr, and you’ll find thousands of writers from all over the world. One way to stand out from the crowd is to narrow down your niche instead of trying to be everything to everyone.
Jorden Makelle, the founder of Writing Revolt, explains that high-profile clients have specific needs and won’t settle for anything less. For example, popular business magazines like Forbes and Inc. magazine prefer writers with experience in marketing, management, finance, and other related fields. A private clinic, on the other hand, will most likely hire writers with a background in health, nutrition, or physical therapy.
Some niches are more profitable than others, but it’s best to choose one that matches your expertise. If, say, you’re an accountant or financial planner, you could cover topics like budgeting, trading, or personal finance. If you’re passionate about self-improvement, consider writing content on career growth, dating, positive thinking, or healthy living. Likewise, someone with strong computer skills can choose to write about web design, mobile apps, or software programs.
Freelance writer and coach Elna Cain says that finance, crypto, travel, digital marketing, education, and alternative health are the most lucrative niches. Each can be further divided into smaller niches, making it easier to specialize in particular areas, such as affiliate marketing, startup life, or prenatal yoga.
Once you have chosen a niche, seek ways to practice your skills and acquire experience. Start a website or blog, publish content on third-party platforms, and work on small projects for startups, marketing agencies, or small businesses. A good starting point is to publish on Medium, Thrive Global, or LinkedIn. Later, you may include these pieces in your portfolio.
Blogging can be a fantastic way to jump-start your career as a content writer. With this option, you’ll have complete freedom in terms of topic selection, writing style, and other aspects. Having a blog can also strengthen your online presence, making it easier for prospective clients to find your work. Over time, you may find it easier to build your own brand and establish yourself as an industry expert.
To get started, register on a free platform like WordPress.com and start writing. Alternatively, get a domain name and hosting or use an all-in-one platform, such as Squarespace or Wix. The latter option eliminates the need for hosting and makes it easier to manage your blog.
As you gain experience, start reaching out to potential clients in your niche. Alternatively, set up your profile on freelancing platforms to connect with a global audience. Another option is to join relevant groups on Reddit and Facebook, such as Cult of Copy and Binders Full of Writing Jobs. Last but not least, contact potential clients or employees on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, Angel.co, and other job boards.