Do you want to know how to become a content writer in the most practical way but don’t know where to start?
What makes content writers good at their work is the difference in how they research and function.
Writing content has never been a cakewalk, there are some things that successful writers do differently. Those things allow them to do what they love and get paid handsomely for it.
Let’s step into their shoes and find out how to become a content writer.
But first, let’s set the context…
What is content writing?
Content Writing is a meticulous process that involves planning, writing, and editing of text content.
Content Writing can include writing blogs, social media captions, whitepapers, presentations, scripts for Youtube Videos or podcasts, and a lot more. In the present context, content writing is generally associated with Digital Marketing as it is an important part of it.
Content Writing can be used to entertain, inspire, educate, or motivate the readers. But it can do one thing that can bring a lot of impact for any business. That thing is “Convincing” readers to take an action.
Simply put, the job of a content writer is to create content that answers questions, or solves problems for the target audience. And this is why people looking for such problems – on search engines – can discover the content.
This is how content writers can add value and eventually help build trust for any business.
Content writing can involve the below formats (not an exhaustive list):
- Scripts for Videos
- Email Marketing newsletters
- Keynote speeches
- Social media posts
- Website content
- Landing pages copies
- YouTube descriptions
- Blog Posts
- Wikipedia pages
How to Become a Content Writer – Step-by-Step Guide
Now that you have made up your mind and want to find out how to become a content writer, I am sharing a detailed guide with you on how to do it.
Step 1 – Identify your Niche
A Niche is that area of knowledge which you have a really solid understanding of. This is the area you are most comfortable writing about.
When you have a niche, you have a superior understanding of the needs of potential customers and are apprised with the latest trends in that space.
This positions you as an expert and the go-to person if anyone wants to get content in that niche.
If you are serious about becoming a content writer, you must identify the niches that interest you and you can consistently write on.
Below is a post from Young Urban Project’s Instagram account where I have listed some profitable niches for content writing.
Step 2 – Learn How to do Content Research
You might be good with writing. But what you write about can make or break the performance of your content.
To ensure that you write on topics that people are searching for, content research is an important step.
Content research involves the following:
- Understanding the target audience and their personas. There are quantitative methods (conducting a survey) and qualitative methods (actually speaking to people from your TG). This will help you understand their pain points, aspirations, and fears.
- The next step is to find the keywords they are searching for on Google. This is also known as Keyword Research. You can use Paid tools like Ahrefs or Free Tools like Wordstream to find out relevant keywords.
- You need to find the questions your TG has in mind when it comes to your niche. You can find search for these on AnswerThePublic or Quora.
When you do your research, maintain a Word Doc/Spreadsheet containing all the keywords, Questions, and Audience Insights that will come in handy later on.
Step 3 – Start Building your Portfolio
Before you go for Content Writer job interviews or become a freelancer, you must build your presentable portfolio.
This will help you crack interviews or get clients easier than if you have nothing to show.
A portfolio contains the work you have done before and it builds trust for you when you are out in the industry.
If you have never done work before, you can start out by doing some projects for free or at a bare minimum fee. There are a lot of startups looking for content writing requirements and you can help them with it.
In turn, you can get permission from them to show their logos and work on your portfolio. You will also get some practice of writing professionally right at the onset. It’s a win-win.
So what do you add in your portfolio? Do you mention every piece of content that you have written?
Your portfolio should ideally contain the samples that are your best work and demonstrate your expertise in the selected niches. And it should be regularly updated.
There are various ways you can showcase your portfolio:
You can add a portfolio to your website or create one for this purpose (you can easily create a WordPress website for the same).
Or you can make a printable, well-designed file to send over. You can find many such templates on Canva.
Step 4 – Build a Showcase Blog to build Authority
Picture this – you are applying for a job where a lot of other candidates are competing for it. Or you are pitching for a project which others are pitching for too. How do you stand out?
In a competitive market where everyone has a similar resume, or has a few clients, it becomes imperative to stand out.
And the best way to stand out is by creating your showcase – a blog – demonstrating your expertise as a content writer.
Once you have selected your niche, you can start writing articles that show your competence, audience understanding and thought-leadership in that niche.
You can post these blogs to LinkedIn to get discovered, and you can send these directly to the clients / recruiters you want to work with. That’s published proof of your expertise.
Step 5 – Get Testimonials
People trust people more than they trust brands.
If you want to create trust amongst people who have never heard about you, the best way to do that is through Social Proof.
Social Proof includes testimonials from people you have worked with in the past (clients or managers) and it can increase your chances of winning over competition a lot.
When you begin doing Content Writing projects, make sure you give your best so that when you ask for a testimonial, the clients will not think twice before giving.
You can ask for these testimonials in text format on LinkedIn or on email.
Step 6 – Create a Winning Pitch
Every profitable niche is going to be competitive. But don’t let that stop you.
If you want to become a freelance content writer, you will have to sign up on various gig platforms or job boards (I’ll help you with some in the next step).
And you might even want to start cold-outreach to get new clients.
Irrespective of the method for client acquisition, one thing that you need to succeed is a Winning Pitch.
There are some best practices for writing a pitch:
- Have a crisp and personalized subject line.
- Greet the receiver with their name. Don’t just start with “hi” or “hey”. Make it personal.
- Set the context by mentioning where you saw their job requirement (if you did).
- Highlight your strengths. Why are you the right person for this job?
- Give a link to your portfolio or attach it with the email. This is where your testimonials should also be visible.
- Link to your relevant social media handles (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc).
- Have a well-crafted Signature. Use this Free Signature Builder Tool.
- Keep it concise – keep the email focused on the outcomes for the client and not just about you.
I want to make your life easier. And that is why, I am sharing an email pitch template that you can use below:
I saw your job posting on LinkedIn for a freelance content writer.
I’ve gone through the brief you posted and feel I can bring relevant experience and value to this project. If you take a look at my portfolio (www.xyz.com/portfolio), you will notice I have published a lot of in-depth content pieces about [the niche]. Here are two of my recently-published articles:
Article 1: Topic
Article 2: Topic
I have over 8 years of experience in this space and I believe I’d be a great fit with your brand’s voice, based on the articles I’ve read.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Step 7 – Join Freelancing / Gig Platforms
These platforms are a great way to get a steady pipeline of work – freelance work, or as a side-hustle.
While these are fairly competitive to work as a freelancer in any industry, they can still be very valuable for getting global freelance projects.
But just because you sign up for them will not guarantee you getting work. You will actually have to put in the work and build a strong profile on these platforms.
When you start, you can also choose to do some free projects (or at a bare minimum price) in return for good reviews. It is not a sustainable strategy, but it can help you make a portfolio.
With this strategy, you can build a strong profile which will increase your chances of winning projects over your competitors in future.
And the best part is, you can always convert these first few satisfied clients into return clients over time.
Some of the top freelancing platforms that you can sign up on are:
- Simply Hired
Step 8 – Join Social Media Communities
This is a great hack that you should know of.
There are a lot of focused groups and communities on Facebook and LinkedIn where people put up Job Postings to hire content writers for full-time or freelance roles.
Joining these groups and genuinely engaging with other members of these groups could help you build trust and thought-leadership in these groups.
And you will not just be able to get work right through these groups, but also make professional connections along the way.
Step 9 – Apply for Content Writing Jobs
If your goal is to get into a full-time content writing role, then you can start applying for suitable jobs on job portals.
What Skills do you Need to Become a Content Writer?
The question isn’t just how to become a content writer. The real questions is how to become a KickA** content writer.
And the answer to that is by developing some skills that can set you apart from competition.
The skills required to be a successful content writer are:
1. Know the Basic Hygienes of Content Writing
The pre-requisite of becoming a content writer is to have superior writing skills. Seems obvious, right?
Now, I strongly believe that these skills can be developed even if you aren’t born with them. Good writing takes a lot of practice. And it requires reading other peoples’ work.
The more you write, the better you will get at it.
You can learn some writing methods from Jon Morrow, the CEO of Smart Blogger.
2. Leverage Storytelling
Storytelling can be the difference between a captivating piece of content and a boring one.
It is not too difficult to differentiate good storytelling from bad one. A quick glance at a lot of blog posts online will tell you that.
Subject matter understanding, use of humour, pacing of the content, and personalisation can make your content captivating.
When you write content, try reading it out loud. In most cases, it will tell you whether it is paced well or not.
3. Well Researched = Well Received
Good writers generally tend to be good researchers too.
When readers come to read a piece of content, they are looking for specific details or answers to their questions. They are not looking for superficial fluff.
One of the biggest lessons to learn is – write for humans and not for search engines.
Statistics show that elaborate and detailed articles tend to perform better and get shared more than short, superficial ones.
4. Learn the Fundamentals of SEO
SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the process of bringing relevant, organic traffic to your website through search engines by using high quality content.
As a content writer, you need to understand how keyword research is to be done, how on-page optimisation works, and how to create SEO friendly content.
5. Deep Dive into Target Audience Understanding
You need to be very clear about who you are writing for. And you are not writing for everybody.
Once you start understanding your audience properly, you will be able to create content that is hyper-focused on what they are looking for.
You can use tools like Talkwalker, Google Analytics, and Facebook Audience Insights to understand what is the demographic and psychographic of the audience you are dealing with.
Change is the only constant.
Internet is a fast evolving space and there are new platforms & tools that keep showing up.
While it all started with just blogs and emails, today we have a plethora of social media platforms that require content to be created in a different way. Platforms like Instagram, Reddit, Clubhouse, Podcasts – all are different in terms of how people consume content there.
Even in the niche you operate as a content writer in will keep evolving and you would need to stay updated with the trends.
Don’t be resistant to change and keep learning constantly. This will give compounded returns later.
Whether you are writing about cars, social media marketing, or any other niche – you can become a successful writer.
Make sure that you have that distinct voice and a unique way of writing that speaks your mind. Put your focus on the subject, and the message.
Start working consistently and keep practicing your skill because the more you do it, the better you will get at it.
If you have any more questions about how to become a content writer, feel free to Follow Young Urban Project on Instagram and send me a DM there.