Become a content writer with these skills. Find what are these skills before you take up writing. In the covid-19 scenario, it is apt if you consider content writing as a career option.
You could be a subject expert or good at research. If you are wondering what are at least 5 skills needed to become a content writer then you are in the right place.
To become a content writer, first you need to understand what is content.
Content writing has been in existence for a long time now. Content writing is communicating a story with a purpose.
Right from a billboard to a brochure to road signage tells a story or an idea with a purpose.
Content is information with a purpose. The purpose can be to entertain, educate, inspire, and convince.
Purpose of content writing
When we think in the context of marketing strategy, digital presence can serve the purpose of
- entertain to create a brand identity
- educate about the problem and how the product can solve the problem
- inspire to buy the product
- convince the buyer this product will solve the problem
However, all of the above has to be planned well.
Several mediums of communication have developed since the last century. The Digital medium is widely used today for entertainment, information, education, work, and business.
Most people are logged on the digital medium in this day and age. Therefore, the viewer base is vast for online marketing.
Variety of digital platforms
Knowing the existing variety of digital communication channels today, visibility has to be tailored to suit every communication channel.
Educating the audience about products and services is needed because the audience may not be aware of it.
The buyer may not be aware of the problem area and the need for a solution.
This is where the need to entertain, educate, inspire, and convince the buyer, comes into the picture.
There are several types of content writing; ranging from email newsletters and blog posts to technical writing, keynote speech, resume, white paper, articles, and many more.
Each of these will need a different presentation style.
For example, an eBook, blog post, web page, social media, or a press release will be different in format, approach, text and data, and purpose.
Goal oriented content creation
Whether you are on payroll or freelancing, writing for digital marketing is needed to generate leads and create sales.
Creating awareness is vital for sales of products, expertise, and services. You have to educate and inspire the audience translating into the creation of sales.
Consistency in educating, inspiring and convincing the buyer can create sustained brand loyalty.
Content marketing involves a thought process, planning a structure or framework, using SEO strategies to be visible, and using best practices to be effective.
Companies and experts spend a substantial portion of the budget for content marketing strategy.
Blogs, articles, cold emailing are a powerful tool to up sales, create brand awareness and loyalty in the long term. It’s like a carriage or vehicle that helps in winning the commercial race.
A lot depends on the skill and strategy.
In short, there is much that you have to do while maintaining work ethics as well. Considering all the above factors you have to be skilled at various levels.
Let us look at 5 such essential skills needed to become a content writer.
- Skill to manage time for productivity
- Persevere through blocks and challenges
- Understand audience profile
- Consistently following the Purpose
- Clarity and application of basics
1) Become a content writer: Develop skill to manage time for productivity
You have various aspects of writing to take care of. Therefore, managing time is of primary importance to maintain balance.
- Making a to-do-list
- plan framework
- form structure using organization and analytical tools
- breaking tasks into smaller sub-tasks
A lot of research goes into finding the knowledge base depending upon the purpose of the piece.
The information has to be current and relevant. You have to be up to date with the latest trends in the field.
SEO best practises have to be learnt and trends are to be followed. Ranking on Google search result is vital for getting attention.
Whatever you write has to be original and engaging. The reader can skim through basic information if not engaging enough.
The nature of work is such that you have to sit for long hours doing research, forming the buyer’s persona, studying the problem in the buyer’s story, and correlating it to writing, editing, proofreading, SEO.
Work can get exhausting if there is no conscious effort for effective time management and a work-life balance.
Use tools for organizing your work flow
- Google Sheets
- Bear Notes
- Google calendar
Good time management is essential to avoid a burnout or writer’s block. The work can be endless and exhausting. A creative mind requires change and a refreshing break.
Maintaining good health habits and organised work culture sorts a writer’s life to a great extent.
It is a skill to maintain this balance by conscious time management and configuring a framework.
2) Become a content writer: Persevere through blocks and challenges
It is research-based articles that get read the most. You have to simplify research data and information and present in a lucid style so that the readers understand it.
Getting authoritative and authentic sources of information can be challenging for certain topics. You have to use discretion to decide which source is authoritative and authentic.
Use authority sources for research
Industry experts, government websites, census reports, survey reports by reliable sources, professional publications, peer-reviewed academic and prestigious journals, university library resources, taking interviews, magazines reflecting market trends can be sourced for research.
If there is an absence of such reliable sources for extensive research it can be a challenging task to create a valuable read-worthy piece.
Consistency and quality are the keys to getting readers attention. Whatever you write has to be in-depth, informative and original. Plagiarism results in loss of credibility and therefore you have to abstain from indulging in it. There are no shortcuts.
Re-purposing old information to make it relevant in the present context can be great way for staying consistent.
Small snack able pieces are not share-worthy and weighty. In-depth researched blogs or articles that not only inform but are intuitive to buyers’ journey are read and shared.
Through the blog or web page, you can handhold the reader towards brand loyalty and purchase. Creating such information can be a challenge for writers.
Find a niche
Creating a niche in an expert subject area is important for you to be sought after by client companies or agencies. A niche can be of inherent expertise or it can also be cultivated with dedicated research and interviewing experts.
Your assumptions and attitude towards an industry can influence your narrative. Attitude and perceptions have to be consciously positive and generate excitement.
Keywords given by companies can have low traffic. However, if the information is relevant and in-depth, it can generate brand presence and leads among the target audience.
A buyer’s persona and life cycle of the buying journey are critical for success. Studying these can be a challenge if sources and time are short.
Collaborate with subject experts
Finding and collaborating with subject matter experts is necessary when the topic is special and the writer is not experienced in that niche. Often real subject matter experts are busy with their work and do not find time to write.
If this collaboration succeeds and the writer gains deep knowledge in the subject area, the partnership could be repeated.
Falling short of time for research and understanding the buyer’s persona can be a major challenge for writers.
Finishing articles at short notice without in-depth proofreading and editing can make the article sub-standard.
Language expertise, impeccable grammar and expressing relatable information that resonates with the target audience is important. Expertise in these areas and creating articles with substance can be a challenge for writers.
Creating questionnaires and interviewing experts, getting expert insights and quotes can be helpful in this respect.
Writing blocks and difficult clients
Writing blocks can be a major challenge when you feel a lack of inspiration and motivation to write. This can be due to burnout or exhaustion. You need to recuperate with some break from writing and change of scene.
Another roadblock can be a difficult client and delays in payments.
With experience you learn how to deal with these. Practising reflective listening, letting go of fear, sustaining enthusiasm like a new writer are some skills you can master over time.
Any problem has to be broken down into small chunks to make them manageable.
It is your skill to persevere in your writing journey through all the challenges. There is a need to strategize, update and garner support to re-energize your creative and writing skills.
3) Become a content writer: Begin by understanding audience profile
Target audience has the potential to generate leads and close sales. Understanding the target audience and their buying journey is crucial to write the right information for them.
Several factors make every target audience unique.
Audience demographics and where they come from influences several factors of their journey.
To write for the audience, you must know who the audience is, where they live, what is their problem and how it can be solved.
You will need to provide real value to the customer for credibility, creating brand loyalty and repeat customers.
Ask before you begin…
“What is your audience looking for?”
“Do you know their problems?”
“How is their life like?”
“What are their happy moments?”
“Where to find this audience?”
“Do you know the audience’s thinking process?”
“What do you have to do to solve the audience’s problem?”
These are some questions that you need to answer if the information has to be relatable to the audience.
The correct medium for promoting digitally to the audience has to be identified. The latest trends and competition in the product market have to be studied.
Understanding the stage at which the buyer is in their journey helps to influence the buyer.
Buyer’s journey: Awareness, consideration and the decision.
At the first stage, the audience may not know there is a need for the product or service. The audience may feel the need for some help but may not know the existence of a product and which company manufactures or sells it.
In other words, the buyer is unaware at this stage about the existence of the product and their need for it.
You need to be skilled in making the audience aware of the pain points and evoke need for the product in a personalized manner. The blog, article, eBook, web page has to speak for the audience and not for the company.
The audience will look for reviews, testimonials and educational material once they are aware of their needs. You have to make all these available to the audience based on the company brief, budget, and time allocation.
You need to make the content entertaining and speak for the audience at all times. A skilled writer will collect audience information through various tools and strategies.
Reading on the socio-psycho, the economic and demographic background of the audience helps you to understand your audience.
A writer is skilled at nurturing the audience to generate curiosity in the product and generate leads.
Buyers tend to choose their priorities and match their requirements with product specifications, company offerings and reputation.
Buyers narrow down their choices and make several google searches. That’s when the information read by the potential buyer has to generate more interest in the product.
4) Become a content writer: consistently follow the purpose
Every piece of content has a purpose. As a writer, you have to constantly and consistently keep this purpose as a lighthouse for your work generation.
Staying relevant to the buyer’s present stage in their buying journey, you have to strategize your approach.
You have to answer some questions that will keep you on the right track and not get carried away while writing content.
Check your content for effectiveness to become a good content writer
Ask Questions such as …
“Who are you writing for?”
“What effect will your piece create?”
“How will you check the effect of your content?”
Storytelling for creating content
If you have a liking and a flair for storytelling, then this is the right profession for you.
Presenting your narrative in the form of a story is a strategy to catch audience attention.
That your audience can relate to the narrative or information and has latched on it is a good sign. It is a good idea to be conversational in the narrative.
You need to consistently lead the buyer to a clear goal. There should not be mixed messages for the buyer. The tone of the narrative is important.
Brainstorming, strategizing, planning a structure for meeting deadlines, reviewing, getting feedback or reading aloud to someone is a normal practice for a writer.
A variety of information that appeals to every stage of the buyer’s journey should be available. Buyer’s at various stages in the buying journey should be able to relate to the information made available to them.
Educational after-sales and “how-to” kind of information you must make available to the buyer at the appropriate time.
For repeat buyers and brand loyalty, the information, knowledge, storytelling or call to action has to be relatable and the buyer has to feel the product is for them.
The purpose could be to entertain through relatable storytelling with a concealed influencing message for the buyer.
As a writer, you can educate the buyer about the product and how the product will solve the buyer’s problem. Your goal should be to inspire the buyer to choose your product and eliminate other options.
5) Become a content writer: Clarity and application of basics
As applicable to any other profession, you should know all the basics of content writing.
Content can be of different types as discussed earlier. The communication channel can be different in different cases ranging from social media to press release or copywriting for print.
Writing style and format
You need to be able to tailor your style and format based on the medium and buyer persona.
Your personality could reflect through your creation so that the buyer feels a personal connection with the company.
Words can invoke emotions and making use of descriptive words can make a connection for visualisation and bringing memories of similar experiences.
Call to action needs to be there so the buyer has value addition and email id is collected for newsletter subscription or buy a product.
Metric data needs to be collected to assess the conversion rate.
Google search has to find the relevant keywords in the search. Therefore, keywords density for visibility has to be perfected.
You as a writer have to know at least basic SEO practices for visibility and ranking. Whether you are on payroll or freelancing, some knowledge of SEO is essential.
Articles or blogs created by writers should generate traffic and conversion.
Creating reader interest can be exhausting as researching information is essential and could take hours of dedicated research.
Ethical writing practice
To become a content writer it is essential that you adopt ethical practices.
- summarizing researched information
- giving credit
- understanding copyright and licences
- using quotes”
A content writer needs to work at all of these as plagiarism is not a good practice and can lead to loss of repeat orders. The company could face losses if found guilty.
Storytelling with visuals and info-graphics
Visual storytelling and documentary formats are good for creating awareness and interest of the buyer. Infographics are extremely effective. Visuals can be easy and quick to understand.
Info-graphics convey a lot of information in a compact format.
Infographics can be used as an educational tool for creating engagement and trust. Infographics can get backlinks and referral traffic.
Good design gives a better user experience. Making use of tools like Canva can help create a better design for visual effect.
Creating catchy headlines can generate interest in reading. Questions and numbers in headlines are one such strategy.
Attitude and tone
Tone and length of headlines are good for judging the readability factor.
Perception can be bent towards shorter snack-able texts.
Longer articles and blogs are considered credible. Research-based articles give value to the reader. The reader must not be overwhelmed.
Your content should be conversational and informal in style. It should suit the language and mindset of the audience .
Best practices for visibility
Outbound links to authoritative domains can improve ranking and credibility.
Inbound links increase traffic and credibility of your website.
SEO practises like choosing searchable keywords is important for visibility.
Google Keyword Planner, “suggested searches”, “questions people ask” is a good place to get keywords.
Getting website visitors to download e-books, fill forms, get a membership, subscribe for newsletters, exclusive offers, exclusive offers and such other call to action can be a good strategy that can add value to the visitor.
Call to action can engage the visitor and capture email or questionnaire.
Format your content
A visually appealing text with catchy headlines, clear font size, subheadings, short paragraphs, highlighted or bold text, bullet points and links are a great idea for ease of reading.
Fluffy words are best avoided as they can be boring for readers and they may quickly shift to other useful reads.
Having good awareness of fair use, copyright, plagiarism, and various licences is valuable and non-negotiable for a writer.
Knowledge of tools for the grammar check, keyword density, plagiarism check, word count, is useful.
Using descriptive, emotive, and catchy words can be a good practise sustaining eyeballs.
The readability level needs to be easy and understandable.
You can check headlines in a headline checking tool.
SEO is an important tool that connects the company product and services to the buyers.
On-page SEO and off-page SEO is important for finding your content in Google search.
A writer has a lot of work to do. Any job needs its own set of skill-sets.
A content writer makes the work SEO compliant. The information has to stay relevant for a long time and add value to its reader and the company.
Skills needed to become a content writer can be developed over a period of time. You must reading authority blogs by experts and follow thought leaders to keep updated with trends. Formally learn content writing from a reliable institute.