So what do content writers do?
Well, read on.
This blog post is more detailed and friendly for people who
- Want to become content writers
- Are already a content writer and asking questions about the future of the industry
- Hiring managers looking for information before hiring their next content writing/marketing talent
Sit tight, grab a cup of coffee, and let’s start.
Content Writers’ Job Description
A content writer is responsible for creating written content that educates, entertains, and creates awareness about a business. He is expected to write and write and write some more content that will be published on, say, websites, blogs, used for speeches, or social media pages.
Note: When written content’s purpose has shifted from creating awareness to converting readers to buyers or subscribers, the job is more related to copywriting than content writing.
12 Essential Skills That Make You a Professional Content Writer
Your responsibility as a content writer changes depending on what you want to achieve. How you structure a press release differs from how you write a blog post.
However, you can experience a better success rate with the skills below.
For business owners, these are the things a professional content writer can do for your business:
#1. Write good stuff
The major work of a content writer is to write. What you write is the end product. It is what people see, but you need many other skills to write good stuff.
What does the content writer write:
- Blog posts
- Press release
- Social media content
- Business-to-business content
Each of them has a specific style and requirements. You should learn how each works before you begin.
#2. Understand the buyers
You are not just writing. Depending on the purpose of your content, you’re a marketer, storyteller, brand ambassador, or more.
You need to understand who you are writing for. Understand your reader’s problem so you know how to offer solutions.
In this post, how to start freelancing, I explained an approach you can use to understand your audience.
Keyword research is also an effective way to understand who you’re writing for and what they want to read.
#3. Understand the basic principles of marketing
Have I said you are a marketer disguised as a writer?
Yes, most content writers try to sell products or tell people about a brand. Call it subtle-marketing-disguised-as-just-writing.
Usually, with a background in marketing, you understand how to convince readers to see the big picture. You learn how to communicate your brand goals effectively without being annoying.
Understanding core marketing principles is not a MUST, but it will help when writing about products or selling things with words.
It will help you deeply understand how content writing works.
Look at these two paragraphs:
Study marketing to learn how to sell with words. Those who understand this idea are using writing as a vessel for making millions. As a result, they build communities, have many fans, and earn lots of money.
Those who don’t understand marketing are one of the million blogs that do not have active readers.
I have just used a marketing trick. If you want to know what I did, check the note at the end of this post.
#5. Tell Good Stories
All humans love stories. Businesses like Netflix or HBO are good examples of how much people value stories.
But we are talking about writing here, and the effect of written stories is still the same. A professional content writer knows how to tell convincing (made-up or real-life) stories. When you use stories, people want to read what you have to say to the end. It’s in our nature.
Check this post I wrote some week ago and see how I use the story to lead you to the main point. Professional bloggers like Jon Morrow, James Chartrand, and Tim Uban are excellent at storytelling.
So how do you become an excellent storyteller?
I started my writing journey as a fiction ghostwriter and practiced for years, but you are not writing novels or movies. You can start with this beginner-friendly guide to storytelling in marketing.
#6. Learn how to use content creation tools
Content creation can be overwhelming. I started writing this post in Google docs, used screen readers to read aloud, used Grammarly to edit, and used WordPress to publish it. Before writing, I used tools like Ahref and SEMrush to understand the keyword. I designed images with Canva. After publishing, I will use Google Analytics to understand the content’s performance and the Google Search Console for indexing.
These are just a few of the tools. You will discover more tools depending on the purpose of your writing, who you are working with, or your audience.
#7. Have a deep understanding of SEO
Search engine optimization makes it easier for search engine crawlers to find, crawl, and index website pages.
So what do SEO content writers do?
As a content writer, your job includes writing content for search engines and humans.
If you follow the proper procedures and the website is in good shape, SEO content writing makes it possible for your content to appear when people search for specific terms.
For instance, it’s possible you found this post in your search by typing “what do content writers do” or “how to become a content writer.”
You should follow these SEO writing best practices.
#7. Convert content from one form to another
Content distribution is important for every new business. Some of your audience will like videos and others like images. You will have to use multiple channels to reach a large audience, especially in the early days. So it will be advisable to know how to convert one form of content to another.
For starters, Canva is your best friend.
#8. Learn how some social media algorithms work
Learning how the social media algorithm works will let you understand the steps to take to get attention to your post. Many people say Twitter wants threads, and Instagram (now) likes short clips. Tiktok is the home of short, exciting videos.
Those are the fundamentals, but if you use any channel, try to grasp how it works. For example, what do people engage with? How does the algorithm distribute content? The answers to these questions will determine when, how often, and what you should create on that platform.
If you learn SEO, you will probably learn how Google works as a search engine. That’s an example of ‘learning how the algorithm works.’
In the Nearest Future
Let’s look at some possible trends you should read more about.
#9. Understand how to use AI
Artificial intelligence is reshaping how fast we can create content.
(The other day, I saw a post of someone who wrote 30 blog posts in three days. All I can say is “holy mother of Jesus Christ”).
Written content can be AI-generated, and artificial intelligence keeps improving whether you like it. I’m guessing many brands will produce loads and loads of content in the future. And most of them will create content that looks similar.
It will become your job as a content writer to understand how to use them to create the most interesting, original masterpiece.
Will Artificial intelligence replace writers?
Yes, it will. Some years ago, designing images was hard without hiring a graphic designer. Thanks to tools like Canva and some AI that can generate authentic human images (that have never existed). Now anyone can generate images for free.
So yes, AI will replace simple writing activities such as “10 popular movies in 2021” or “please, write thank you note” or anything that falls in that range.
No, Artificial intelligence will not replace writers. Let’s get back to our example of graphic designers. Even with free and easy-to-use tools, we still have graphic designers today. (I don’t have data for this, but they might be charging more than before). Why?
New tools create a divide in graphic design job opportunities. Amateurs have to leave because tools and AIs are now doing their job. So it leaves the space only for professionals who can do advanced work like “can you design our billboard” or “cover art of our next blockbuster movies on Netflix?” Moreover, quality designs are more appreciated nowadays because simple designs are common and easy to detect.
In summary, there will be more demand for creativity and understanding of complex niches and topics, which only professional writers can handle.
#10. Learn how Web 3 works
The future of the internet — they call it. Web 3 is still in the early stages, and they said its potential is great. The best time to start figuring out how it will work is now. You don’t want to be a late comer to the party when it starts.
#11. Build trust by being genuine
I have 3 reasons for putting this here.
- 1) People have imaginations about who they are reading or creators they like. Even if you’re hiding behind a pseudonym, they will want to know more. If your post makes them feel something (which is rare these days,) they will want to know you.
- 2) Artificial Intelligence is here to take some jobs. But, of course, your audience won’t be that glad if they find out they have adored a robot.
- 3) Being genuine depends on the source of income for your brand. As a content writer, your job is to communicate, achieve your brand’s goal and keep the buyer’s engagement high. If you are selling ad space, your income will depend on traffic. It’s a different thing entirely if your brand’s source of income depends on if visitors buy your product or subscribe to a community you’re building. The latter requires that your content and the personality delivering the content are both likable.
Yes, I am typing this and remembering images of the most beautiful women that tutors on YouTube or stream games on Twitch.
When you’re genuine, people like your content even more:
As a content writer, sentences (words) are your tools. And that’s great. The question is, how can you become more likable:
- Have a consistent voice or write the way you talk often.
- If a brand hires you, look at their previous post and see what repeats.
- Humor is good. Use it judiciously. One or two lines per post (or 1000 words) is enough.
- Have a name, even if it’s a pen name.
- Become an authority in your niche by collaborating with other top professionals in your field. Look at the big brands or online publishing websites. They build their authority and likability by bringing many respected content writers on board. Do the same, but through collaboration. You can write guest posts, request a backlink, or write about another person.
- As humans, we are biased and wired a certain way. Therefore, you must know what your audience wants and the words, beliefs, and perceptions they want to see and be on their side.
If you think about channels like Substack, Medium, and social media, you will understand points 12 and 13 much better.
12. Build community
I can’t be the only one who searches for terms on Google and add ‘Reddit’ to it.
If you ask why this is happening, it’s because people (me, personally) do not trust Google’s recommendations all the time. I want to see posts by humans and recommended by other humans. I want to see suggestions that are recommended by human consensus. In a community like Reddit, I will read upvoted answers based on how many people consider them valuable.
It is more helpful because posts are not pushed up in the community because of how many backlinks, and the domain rating. Humans are directly voting.
It means human-to-human interaction is important in content creation. So you have to lean toward building community.
This skill is not essential, but it will be valuable if you have it in the future. Write the kind of content that people want to upvote. Then, explain topics or write in a way that people search for terms and add your brand name to it the way they do with Reddit.
How do you do that?
I have said it, but I will repeat: learn marketing, build trust and understand your buyers.
I will add one more thing: it takes years of creating for free. One thing about communities like Reddit is the belief that every (most) poster isn’t asking for anything in return. It’s like writing for charity or as a selfless act. In other words, write quality stuff for free and for years.
The Hidden Marketing I used earlier.
So I said I would give you the simple marketing tip I used earlier.
Here we go:
I clearly distinguished the two types of content writers or bloggers:
- The content writers that get a lot of views. So they become famous and rich.
- The other millions who are not getting many reads and shares on the internet
I try to paint a clear picture. As a reader, you are subconsciously choosing where you want to be between the two groups.
Master Small Things for a Start
You don’t have to believe everything on the list. The truth is, “what do content writers do” depends on what you want to achieve and who you’re working with. So pick the few things that apply to you, master them and iterate according to your journey.