Content writing is a job that many are in the midst of discovering. For most people, writing content on the web is something they’ve done in their spare time or as a hobby. But there are those (like me) who’ve come to realize how valuable their skill set can be as a profession. Freelance writers and bloggers make money by crafting content for clients, while others may want to join an agency or team of writers in a specific niche. No matter what is the path, there’s no reason why one shouldn’t consider pursuing this as a serious career path.
If you’re reading this, chances are that you want to step into the magical world of content writing. You’ve probably been thinking about it for a while, but don’t know where to start. The good news is that many people are in the same boat as you!
If you want to know how to become a professional content writer, you are at just the right place. In this blog post, I will share how to become a great content writer and tell you the story of how I did it. But first, let’s clear up some basics.
What is Content Writing and Who is a Professional Content Writer?
Content writing is a broad category that includes the creation of web content. It includes everything from blog posts to web pages, newsletters to ebooks and more.
Content writing examples include:
- Blogging about your favourite recipes or ideas for new products you want to create.
- Or writing an ebook where you give advice on how to cook certain dishes in your kitchen.
- The email you get from a website you subscribed to, is also a form of content writing.
There are many other types of content writing that you will get to know as you dive deep into this profession.
So, Who is a Professional Content Writer?
A professional content writer is a person who writes content for a living. This may sound like an impossible dream, but it’s not! In fact, there are more vacant jobs in the content writing field than most other professions. And what’s more the remuneration is also quite lucrative if you have the writing skills that create value for the client and the readers.
Content Writing Jobs & Average Content Writer Salary
Content writing is an expanding industry with many job opportunities. The demand for content writers is growing rapidly as companies are looking to create and publish content in order to provide value to their customers, increase brand awareness and drive business. Even companies like Google and Facebook use content writing to help them attract new users. But it just doesn’t end with tech companies. Medical, finance, small to medium businesses, and pretty much everyone else needs the service of content writers today for one reason or another. While a large number of content writers work in agencies or in a company, there is a high demand for content writers in the freelance marketplaces as well.
Now let’s talk about the salary. Averaging the salary of a content writer is a hard task. This is because of the difference in pay between the lowest and highest earners. A freelance content writer can be hired for as low as $10 per thousand words. Now obviously these writers write as generic as their pay and create no value for the readers. However, a good quality content writer with well-research can charge between $50-$75 when they start writing.
When it comes to annual income, according to Talent.com, an average content writer earns $58,149 per year or $29.82 per hour in the USA. When you’re beginning you can expect to earn around $43,875 in the USA.
So, as you can see, the pay is obviously good! But to become the highest-earning content writer, you need to focus on a single niche and become an expert on it. There is nothing better than topical authority in the field of writing.
How to Become a Professional Content Writer
Writing is a skill that can be learned, improved, developed and mastered. It’s not something you’re born with; it’s something that you can get your brain to do. I have not started my career as Content Writer, but I was still able to successfully break into this amazing profession. If you are worried about how to become a good content writer, or if you are really cut out for this creative line of work, I believe my journey will inspire you a lot.
How I Transitioned to a Content Writing Career
It all began in 2017. I was doing a full-time job in the customer support (which eventually helped me write better). I had to do the same routine task after waking up every morning, solving the same problems of the customers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know It is great to help people, and customer support is a great job. But to be very honest, I wasn’t satisfied with the monotonous way of working and the lack of scope for creativity.
I was then a regular reader of Seth Godin‘s daily blog, I still am (If you don’t know him, you should definitely explore his website). One fine morning, I read this piece (which you can see in the image below). And I just knew what I had to do. I needed to create, I needed to write and I needed to express myself.
I didn’t want to make this realization go in vain. So I followed a systematic approach.
Here’s what I did –
I started with the basics of writing and editing. Later in the blog, I will share what are the courses that I took to learn the basics.
I also started reading more blogs and looking keenly on other websites, not just for inspiration but also for grammar tips. This helped me understand what makes good writing and how to improve my own work by learning from others’ mistakes (and successes).
At first, I only wrote about sports topics, because those were easy for me. I wrote on cricket fan groups at first—but as time went by and my confidence grew; it became more difficult for me to just write about sports. I wanted to implement all that I was learning, and It wasn’t possible by just writing on the sports fan groups on Facebook. I wanted to write more and become a full time content writer.
So I did this.
That day, I got an influx of messages in my inbox. With this courageous move, I kickstarted my freelance writing career.
In the meantime, another interesting thing happened. I was still working as a customer support executive, but one of the content writers of my company got fired for disciplinary reasons. I stepped out to the marketing lead and expressed my wish to apply for the content writing position. She was surprised at first but eventually allowed me. I attended the interview with other candidates and after the three-step selection process, I heard the good news. “Faisal, you’re now a full-time Content Writer and will work in the marketing team. Go pack your bags and come upstairs.”
And thus the second step of the journey began.
Here’s what I learned along the way of my journey to become a professional content writer.
You Don’t Need a Specific Degree (But They Might Help Make Your Journey Easier)
One of the things I learned about becoming a content writer is that you don’t really need a specific degree. What you do need is a passion for writing, knowledge of the subject and the ability to communicate effectively.
I have graduated in Computer Science & Engineering and yet working successfully as a content writer. I know a lot of successful content writers and most of them don’t have a degree in writing.
Many people think that writing is something only born writers can do, but anyone can learn how to write well if they have access to good training materials and practice. Content writers are just like journalists and reporters: they research a topic thoroughly and then write an article about it for their readers.
However, I won’t say that it doesn’t help at all to have a bachelor’s degree in English, Journalism or Marketing. These degrees can actually help get you started quickly. However, they are not necessary to have.
Content Writing Courses That Are Immensely Helpful
If you want to learn how to become a great content writer, not just a mediocre one; then doing courses can be a great way to up your content writing skills. Content writing courses can help you learn the basics of content writing, as well as advanced techniques that will make your content stand out from other articles on the internet.
There are lots of free (and premium) courses on the internet. Every one of them will teach you at least something new. But it’s not possible to go over all of them, is it? So here are some of the courses that I recommend you complete.
- Essentials of Writing Content by Udemy
- High-Impact Business Writing by Coursera
- So You Want to Be a Freelance Writer? By SkillShare
You may also want to enrol on Hubspot Inbound Marketing, which is not directly focused on content writing, but will help build the idea of how content works on the internet.
Learn SEO, It’s Mandatory!
Think about this. You write great content, but nobody is reading it. Why? Because it didn’t even reach them. And to be honest, content is not going to reach your audience on its own. You have to bring it in front of them.
That’s why as a content writer, you should be familiar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization). It’s a must because there is simply no better way to increase the visibility of your content than by optimizing it for search engines. As a matter of fact, more than 90% of online experiences still start with a search engine.
Without knowing how search engines work and how they rank pages on their SERPs, you won’t be able to create high-quality content that will rank well in search results. While you don’t need to be an SEO expert to write great content, you do need to know enough to implement it on your content while also keeping your writing engaging.
I am suggesting some SEO content writing courses to you that I loved. They will help you learn all you need to know about SEO for content writing.
- The Complete SEO Content Writing Course For Web Promotion by Udemy
- SEO Writing Masterclass – Surfer
- SEO Copywriting Training by Yoast
Apart from these Ahrefs, Moz and SEMrush have some great SEO courses that you can check out.
Content Writing Tools to Assist You
While learning and working as a professional content writer, I came across some tools that helps me to write better. They can also help you.
Grammarly is one such tool. It finds out the grammar issues in your content while you’re writing. It can also suggest better words in a sentence that you are writing and sometimes they are actually better! Pretty cool stuff. I use their extension on my browser, which works great.
Hemingway Editor is another tool that I use often. While writing, I don’t always feel it is hard to read. But this editor can help me to write more clearly and concisely. Again, pretty cool stuff.
Tomato Timer. Not really a writing tool. I use it to make me focused.
It’s Time to Start Writing
Once you think you are clear about the basics, just start writing. (Yes, it is as simple as that!)
Most people don’t achieve anything, because they never start anything. Fear of not doing well prevents them from even starting. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you won’t become a great content writer overnight.
What you can do is just start by writing down any of your thoughts on a blank page in pen or pencil (or use a computer, if you prefer so).
First, write a rough outline of what you have in mind, which will help you to make sure that the story is flowing properly and letting flow easily from one part into another. Once you’ve written down everything that comes into your mind about how the story should go, start writing in detail according to the outline. Maybe even start a blog site with WordPress to document what you write.
Meanwhile, also keep a close on the writing style of successful content writers, and try to understand how they carry their content from start to finish. This will help build your own writing style and make your content writing skills more persuasive. In the following section, I will introduce you to some content writers I admire a lot.
Take Inspirations From Successful Content Writers
Reading others’ content voraciously is one of the best attributes a prospective content writer can have. Even better if you start reading content from the best writers. There’s simply a lot to learn from the writing of the maestros.
Thus, in this part, I want to introduce you to some of my favourite content writers and marketers across genres who you can learn and get inspired from.
“Become what you are capable of being”- George Eliot
It’s time to conclude my long post on how to become a professional content writer. I hope this guide has been helpful in some way, and if it has not, then at least you have learned that some people are better at writing than others. 😉
Jokes apart, I hope this post helps you in your journey to becoming a content writer. You can contact me anytime on my email id and I will be happy to help out. You can also contact me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.