Content writing is virtually everywhere, with both bigger and smaller brands turning to blogs and articles to better market their products and build their following. This means there’s plenty of work for content writers around, so if you’re considering using writing to put bread on the table, then there’s no time better than the present to begin.
How to become an online content writer
Online content writers come from all walks of life and no two will report having the exact same career journey. For this reason, it can be difficult for beginners to know which path they should take. However, there are a few solid steps you should consider going through to make it that little bit easier to be successful sooner.
Part one: building your skillset
As Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz states: “better content is outweighing more content”, meaning it’s essential that the work you produce is of an excellent standard. Honing your skills is the best way to stand out from the crowd.
Here’s how you can begin:
Although a degree isn’t essential to becoming an online content writer, in many situations, it can help. Choosing a subject like English, journalism or media studies help you to build transferable skills and industry knowledge.
Degrees are more useful if you’re looking to be employed as an online content writer as opposed to being freelance, as many hiring managers are on the lookout for degrees, even when it comes to entry-level positions. However, at the end of the day employers are going to be more interested in your writing abilities, so if academia isn’t for you, then you can skip this step.
The best way to improve your writing skills is by practising writing whenever you can. But this doesn’t mean you can’t get a helping hand to show you the ropes. Whether you have a degree or not, you can benefit from an online writing or blogging course. If you’d prefer something in person, sometimes local colleges or education centres offer accessible courses that are more hands-on and practical than a degree.
SEO, HTML and more
Being an online content writer isn’t just about words anymore, though they are the most important part. Increasingly more and more digital writers are expected to be competent in integrating SEO and HTML into their work.
SEO might sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be, and learning the best keyword practices will really help with your chances of employability. Because SEO is very changeable, you’ll find a lot of different sources contradicting each other, so a great place to begin is Moz’s Beginner’s Guide. It’s completely free and gives you all the tips and tricks you need to get going.
When it comes to HTML, you’ll probably only need to know basic formatting like headings, lists and adding hyperlinks. Some online content writers may decide to expand their skills into CSS, but this won’t be necessary for most. However, it is useful to be able to find your way around the likes of WordPress and other content management systems, as many companies will ask you to upload your writing directly to their site.
Part two: cementing your presence
Once you’ve got the skills for the job, you need to let everyone else know about it, and you won’t be able to if you’re just scribbling away in a notebook or keeping your work locked up in a folder on your desktop.
Things you should consider when creating your presence include:
A portfolio is probably your most effective way of showcasing your skills and attracting clients or employers. After all, it offers people real-life examples of your work rather than empty promises.
So, how should you go about building a portfolio? Unfortunately, in the beginning, your portfolio will mostly be made up of writing you won’t get paid for, but it’s all part of the process. Start by creating your own blog, guest posting, and pitching to publications. All of these things will not only build your portfolio but give you more exposure too.
Alongside your portfolio, having a presence on social media will also help to further your career. Using Twitter and LinkedIn to network with other writers and comment on relevant industry-related topics will help you get noticed for jobs as well as present you as someone who is serious about progressing in their career. Make sure that you link all your profiles and blog together to create a cohesive, professional presence.
Part three: finding work
Now that you have the skills and portfolio to back them up, it’s time to start looking for paid work.
There are a few ways you can do this:
Signing up to an online agency like Copify is an easy way to begin, as the writing jobs are offered on a freelance basis with none of the hard work of finding your own clients. You’ll be able to write for a wide range of clients on different topics, allowing you to discover your strengths and give you more of an idea of what area you’d like to specialise in.
If you’d like to be an online content writer with a more regular 9-5 job, consider becoming an in-house writer for a company. Finding these jobs will take on a more traditional form and include preparing CVs and cover letters and attending in-person interviews. When working for a specific company, you’ll be responsible for making sure all their online content is in line with their brand, which could include looking at their blog, e-mail newsletters, and social media posts.
Freelancing takes a lot more work than the other options listed, but it has the potential to be the most rewarding. It can be difficult at the beginning, so it’s best to team freelancing with other sources of income until you build up your pool of clients. To get your first paid freelancing jobs, it’s best to search on job boards, but once you become more experienced clients will begin to find you and your online presence themselves.
Hopefully you’re no longer wondering how to become an online content writer and are ready to take your first steps on what is sure to be an exciting journey. Good luck!