Becoming a freelance content writer is an excellent opportunity to earn money from the comfort of your house. There are so many types of content creation, but creating written content, blog posts, whitepapers, and more is the latest trend in the media industry. There is an apparent increase in the demand for content writers; companies and individuals are now accepting the importance of a content writer in an organization. Content writing is a skill, and there are rules attached to this skill. Therefore, this article will explain all you need to know about content writing and the easiest way to become a content writer.
What you need to become a content writer
First and foremost, you must know how to write. Knowing how to write entails putting out words rightly when given a blank page with little information. You should be able to create a brilliant, and engaging content. How do you do this? Research. Do thorough research on the topic, organize your thoughts into an outline, write a copy, review it to ensure error-free content.
Being a content writer requires extra effort because you will be required to work under pressure and tight schedules. You can also sign-up for a writing class or tutorial, but it is not a requirement. It is just an extra effort to improve your skills. Becoming a content writer entails creating quality and reliable content that can stand the test of time. Remember that your potential clients can be stretchy, but it is for your good.
Becoming a freelance content writer means you must have all or some of these tools:
- A laptop/desktop with a reliable internet connection.
- Microsoft Word.
- A Skype account for calls and video conferences
- A planner to help you organize your schedule and remind you of deadlines.
- A smartphone with a durable storage capacity.
How to get freelance jobs as a content writer
Freelancing is the order of the day, as remote jobs are making waves. There are many freelance sites and platforms available. You can sign-up for any. Some are free, and some have premium packages, like Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, Truelancer, etc. Asides that, you can also apply for content writing jobs within your locale, apply for internships to boost your experience. You can also contact marketing agencies, magazines, content writing companies, and other regular companies. Note that, you do not need many clients to become a content writer. All you need is to know the game and how to play well. Also, you can enroll in writing competitions with a prize. That will help boost your confidence and exposure.
Writing niches for content writers
Some writing niches require years of experience to properly understand the market structure. Think about your experiences and make your list based on it. Writing about what you have experienced or what you know about is an added benefit. However, to make money from content writing, you will not always write about what you love. But as a beginner, start with the niche you are most comfortable with, then gradually, you will begin to understand the writing market and how to produce content in other areas. You can be a product review writer, a lifestyle writer, or a tutorial-based writer. Whichever niche you choose, start easy before you go hard on yourself.
General Tips on how to get started as a content writer
Everybody writes, but only a few make their writing public. If you want to take up content writing as a career, then you have to put yourself out there for the world to see. These tips will help you understand the fundamentals of content writing so you can start your journey without hitches.
Take up any writing niche you like
Just like we mentioned earlier, you must start writing about things you love to build your audience. You can specialize in blog writing, SEO content writing, copywriting, scriptwriting, academic writing, etc. Options are numerous, so it is left for you to decide which niche will best announce your skills. Apart from that, you can also major as a content writer in any domain of your choice, such as fictional writing, technical writing, and more.
An additional advantage for you is that you can major in more than one niche. That’s the beautiful thing about content writing. If you can plan your schedule well, you can write content on different areas, that’s more money and more exposure. However, in the initial days, it is better to narrow your focus, write based on your expertise level and interest areas.
Generate exciting and relevant ideas
Whether you are wiring for a client or yourself, you need to make your content unique. Otherwise, it might get lost in the crowd. To help you generate ideas and latest trends, use a content curation tool to discover what is trending in your domain. Come with a set of topics within that domain and choose one. You can also check out the existing content within the topic you chose, which will help you know how to make your post unique. To avoid repetition, you can explore an entirely new angle, use a different tone, or content format. Content writing tools are there to help you. Tools you can use:
- Content curation tools – Flipboard, Feedly, Zest, Pocket.
- SEO tools – SEMRush, Ahrefs, Serpstat
- Headline generators – Hubspot, Sumo, TheHoth
Engaging in researches is another tip that will help you become a better content writer. You will not remain a beginner forever; hence, you will not always write about what you love. Research allows you to get information about a specific topic. It gives you various options on how to present the supposed topic. However, before you start researching a topic, here are a few things you should consider:
- First, you must understand the context of your content, your target audience, and their expertise level. Try as much as possible to understand the topic before you start writing. Understanding will help you create original content and avoid plagiarism.
- Verify the authenticity of the information you provided. If you are getting information from a website, check the domain name. You can also do a quick Google research about them to check comments and reviews. Do not be sentimental, as whatever content you put up will either be useful or detrimental to your audience.
- Your research should be error-free, concise, and focused. Put up strategic questions as subheadings of your content; that will build interest in the reader to spend more time on your content.
- Also, you must be organized. Learn to break your topic into small parts. Outline your content, and use citations when necessary. You can use Evernote, Toby, or EasyBib as your tool.
Use a better outline
Outlines make writing easier for you. A solid outline can significantly reduce your writing time. You will also stay consistent and maintain your points through the post. First, write down the title, state relevant questions that revolve around the topic, and every other idea you would like to explain in the article. You should also have your target audience in mind while creating your outline. Create a central question that will capture the attention of your audience. Find out something extra to learn about. You can also use Workflowy to make outlines; it is a powerful tool that will help you organize your research and thoughts.
Practice distraction-free writing
As a content writer, you must learn how to have a distraction-free writing session. Writing and editing should not be done together. Always resist the urge to edit when you are not done writing. Also, ensure that you put down all your thoughts because that is your selling point. It is normal for writers to always be with a pen and paper because you are prone to ideas. Endeavor to write down your ideas as they come, whether they make sense or not. Don’t go back to edit. Just write, write, and write till you have exhausted every idea in your head. Learn to use editors too. However, you can write for 45 minutes and take a break for 15 minutes.
Furthermore, do not beat yourself up if you miss a line, skip it, and continue writing. You can also invest in a good headphone to help keep you away from noise while working. Make sure your workspace is spacious and eludes calmness. You can as well turn off all notifications on your smartphone or laptop to block any form of distraction.
To be a successful content writer, you have to be an unsentimental editor, especially if you are freelancing. A poorly formatted draft that has spelling and grammar mistakes can frustrate your chances of retaining the client. Take editing seriously, as it portrays the kind of content writer you are. It is said that successful content writers spend 75 percent of their time on editing, proofreading, and processing. Make sure you thoroughly proofread before you submit the draft. It will significantly reduce and correct your errors, and you can move on to the next project quickly.
Editing may be a less glamorous skill, but it is certainly worth it. The beauty of your content lies in how well you edit your content. Do not take it for granted. In cases where you can’t edit your content, you can give it to a professional to do that for a fee. But if you must do it yourself, here is how you develop your editing skills:
- Read the document aloud. This is a great way to spot errors, incorrect or inappropriate word choices, and awkward sentences. Also, reading your content aloud allows you to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. You will get to know how they will digest the content. However, you must not be the one to read it aloud. you can give it to someone to read it to your hearing while you pay attention to identify errors and poorly structured sentences.
- Start reading the text from the end. This will help you locate errors and also logical and tonal inconsistencies.
- Use online tools that will help you spot spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, inappropriate usages, tonal inaccuracies, and long drawn sentences.
- As a content writer, always delete words that make you unsure of the information in your work. Edit out sentences that make you sound doubtful or unconfident— could seem, may— wherever appropriate. You should be able to defend whatever you write with facts.
- Also, create a checklist for editing so that you don’t have to do everything at once. For instance, start with cutting down long sentences, then spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, and finally, tonal inaccuracies.
In addition to these tips, there are editorial tools you can use to help you edit your work. They include:
- Editing – Grammarly, HemingwayApp, ClicheFinder
- Other helpful tools – PowerThesaurus, Plagiarism Software, Unsuck-it.
- Headline analyzer – CoSchedule, Sharethrough
Make your posts public
To become a content writer, you just overcome the fear of criticism and put out your work for people to see. You can’t play safe in life and get what you want. Even if you are writing for yourself, publish your posts. Make it publicly available. It will not only improve your confidence, but you will also build your portfolio and gain visibility. While putting your work out, you should also be open to corrections, criticism, and all. They will make you better but know when to draw the line between pure negativity and criticism. You need to be psychologically balanced to put up quality content.
Another way to make your posts public is by having a blog. You can use the Blogger free domain theme and post your articles there. That way, you can refer your friends and potential clients to evaluate you. In addition to that, here are a few tips to have in mind when publishing your work.
- Evaluate different free blogging platforms out there. Then, select the one that is user-friendly and is relevant to your target audience.
- Make sure you optimize the post title, the URL slug, and the meta description of the post.
- Share the post across your social media channels — LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Add the link of the article to your online portfolio and your LinkedIn profile.
- When you are starting, never compare your work with someone else’s. Never set your benchmarks that high. Instead, aim to improve from your last article/copy
Being a content writer is a continuous journey. There is no endpoint, but you have to keep learning to get better. Starting your content writing journey will not be rosy, but always aim at improving yourself.