If you want to be a full-time writer but aren’t sure if you want to write books for a living, a content writer is a great alternative. If you dream of becoming a full-time author but still can’t quit your day job, content writing is a fantastic way to provide additional income while paving your way to success as an author.
In a saturated market, learning what skills to use and how to become a content writer is imperative. In this article, we answer your questions and define what content writing is, the various skills you need, where to find a job, and of course, how much it pays.
What is content writing?
A simple definition of a content writer is simply a person who writes copy (content) for brands, businesses, or individuals. Whether you’re writing for a large corporation’s website or ghostwriting for a celebrity author’s newsletter, this is content writing.
While the definition of a content writer may seem simple, the practice is not that simple. Due to the wide spectrum of content writing, choosing which area you want to specialize in is a great first step in reaching this goal.
Let’s discuss some of the top skills you’ll need as a content writer, regardless of what topic you choose to write about. You can apply these skills to social media, books, and emails.
5 Skills Needed to Become a Content Writer
If you want to work as a primary care physician, you will need a certain set of skills. If you decide that you want to become a surgeon, then you will focus on improving yourself in a particular skill set. The same is true if you want to become a content writer: you have to master your skill set.
#1 – Featured Writing
If you want to write content, you have to be a great writer. That said, you don’t need to start at the level you want to reach. Everyone has to start somewhere, but as a content writer it’s crucial to focus on great grammar, finding every typo, and engaging your readers.
#2 – Love of learning
Whether you plan to go niche or love to write about every topic a potential client wants to hire you for, loving the content creation process is crucial to your longevity.
If you naturally love to learn, research topics, and engage in topics you may not have considered before, you can create a well-rounded content writing career.
Even if you find yourself writing about a topic you’re familiar with, doing your best is key, so be sure to do your due diligence on your research.
#3 – Confident Investigator
Speaking of research, when writing content on a deadline, knowing where to find quality data can make or break your project. When you work as a content writer, not only is your qualification at stake, but also the career you hope to create.
Don’t let this scare you, but make sure you know where to find quality content. Tip: Journals or academic research are a great starting point!
#4 – Time management
We all have the same number of hours in a day, and somehow we all end up in different places in our careers. One contributing factor is how we manage our time. Often, writing content for multiple companies will include a lot of weird details:
- Long email threads
Create a schedule for yourself so that you can accomplish what you need to do, without feeling overwhelmed. The sooner you can build healthy habits, the less stressful it will be to start a content writing career.
#5 – Pay attention to details
While I might have described this as “detail-oriented,” you don’t need to naturally pay attention to detail to work as a content writer. Just like content writing, you can learn the art of detailed organization.
At first, you are likely to book many small projects for a variety of clients. Delivering work on time, invoicing, answering emails, etc. all require attention to detail.
Where to find the job?
Now that you know what a content writer is and some of the skills you need, it’s time to get online and find your opportunities! You might want to get your feet wet by browsing places like Indeed, Glassdoor, or even LinkedIn.
Looking at the various jobs out there will give you an idea of what you think you’ll be good at, as well as alert you to jobs you might not even know existed. You can also sign up for job alerts on specific sites (for example, LinkedIn) to save time searching for specific jobs.
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find content writing work. While it may take some time to build your network, once you start building your foundation, the work is likely to come pouring in. This of course depends on how well you execute the tasks, but you know what it takes to be a great writer!
Paying for content writing is extremely subjective. This is due to many factors. Take a look at the list below to get an idea of what it takes to determine how much you earn:
- Your experience
- The quality of your work
- your niche
- your knowledge base
- The size of the company you work for
- Your trading strategies
- response time
- The location of the company you work for
For example, let’s say you have a year of experience, working in many fields and haven’t carved out a niche yet, and you land a writing job for a small nonprofit in a small town.
Now imagine you have over five years of experience writing in a specific niche and a national brand hires you to write copy for their company’s website. Its headquarters are in Silicon Valley.
Which gig do you think will pay the most? You get the idea! Much of content writing income depends on presenting your skill set well and then standing up for yourself. Also, understanding the current rates nationally and globally will help you negotiate early on.
Become a Content Writer: Starting Your Career
Content writing covers a lot of topics, but with that being said, you can expect to earn anywhere from $100 for a short post with no images or formatting, all the way up to what is considered the holy grail of $1 per word. You can expect this amount of payment if:
- Have several years of experience
- Write strong content in your niche
- Implement keywords and phrases
- Format your post for publication on the site
If you write website copy, your fee will depend on whether you optimize for SEO, as well as how much copy you write and the company you write for.
Keep in mind that when you set your prices, if you’re a freelance writer, your pay will need to cover self-employment taxes, health insurance, and all the other extra expenses that come with the privilege of being your own boss. Companies that want quality work will be willing to pay for it.
As you begin to search for jobs, introduce companies, and negotiate rates, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. This gives you time to present your best work and build your career!