I’ve been a freelancing content writer for around six months now and it’s safe to say I’ve learnt a lot in that short time. Like so many, I had my expectations of the job fed to me by industry-influencers and course creators. But here’s the long and short of it: people online don’t tell you everything about content writing (especially if they’re trying to sell you a course).
So I’ve broken down five must-know points to provide you with honest insights from my own experience.
Content writing takes pre-planning
Whether you ghostwrite or not, you’ll be assuming the identity of the business you’re working for. This comes with a generous amount of pressure and a need for high-quality content. When you work a business, you really need to get to grips with knowledge like:
- What the business does
- Who their clients/customers are
- Why their clients/customers use them vs a competitor
- What their content strategy is
- What products/services are they pushing throughout the year (so you can align your content with these events)
- Legacy content they’ve already created
It’s not as simple as putting fingertips to keyboard and seeing where your writer’s flow takes you. You need to have a clear-cut, calculated plan of what you’re writing, for whom and why.
Writing is the smallest portion of what you’ll do
Ask any content writer and they’ll echo this point. The majority of your time will be spent reading, researching and editing. Lots of editing.
With so much content already out there, as a content writer you have to do your bit to help your posts stand out. That means your inner-creative genius can’t run wild, but instead needs to be reined in with facts and data.
Personally, I find research and editing the most time-consuming when I’m writing client content. I’ve read countless blog posts that advise enforcing a time limit on these activities, but regardless of what someone else says: do you. It doesn’t matter. If a client is paying you to produce high-value work, then you have to do what works for you in order to create that.
It’s less creative than you might think
Piggy-backing off of the last point, content writing isn’t an overly creative job. It’s much more analytical and data-driven than many courses and industry-related influencers lead you to believe.
Although there is undoubtably an element of creativity within content writing, it’s vital you understand how much time you’ll spend digging up details and analysing a word’s impact within your work.
With time spent on researching and editing, attention to detail is a must. This point is especially important for all you big-picture people (myself included) to remember.
It’s hard work
This either seems to escape influencer content or, if it is included, it’s worded in a weird BS cringe-worthy manner e.g “If you don’t want to work hard, this course is NOT for you!!!!!!!!!”
There’s only one guaranteed truth of content writing: it’s hard work.
Making x amount of money in y time is tough, regardless of the numbers you choose to fill that statement with. For you, content writing can be a side-hustle or a full-time job, but either way it’ll require dedication and hard work. The more effort, commitment and hard-work you output, the more rewards you’ll reap.
Don’t be fooled by anyone trying to sell you the ‘easy money’ line. If you want easy money: content writing isn’t for you.
The only way to improve is to keep writing
Out of all the articles, videos and podcasts I’ve consumed, the only thing that improved my writing… was writing.
The more I write, the better I get. Sometimes I read my older posts and instantly wish I hadn’t. But we move forward!
The more you use your writing, reading, researching and editing muscles, the stronger they’ll get. It will all come together if you put in commitment, time and practice.
So you’ve got this far. Now what?
First and foremost: if this is the tenth article you’re reading about how to become a content writer / things you need to know about content writing: STOP READING.
I implore you to go and write.
If you want to be a content writer, don’t make excuses. Go and write. Whether it’s a LinkedIn post, a Medium post or client work. CREATE!
Are you struggling to come up with writing material? I’ve written about the strangest way I beat writer’s block. I hope it helps you defeat it too!