You are here because you are considering taking up content writing as a career. Or perhaps you have just started a content writing business and are looking for more insights. How can you start content writing in 2020?
I didn’t start out thinking I’d become a content writer and I am guessing you didn’t either, but here we are today.
Content writing can be lucrative for many people. So, I would gladly say to go for it. For one, it is currently an in-demand profession and a fulfilling career pathway. However, the biggest hurdle that most beginners face is getting started.
How to Start Content Writing?
Most newbie writers are held back by self-doubt. Frankly speaking, I had that imposter syndrome limitation too. Ultimately, you have to get over it and put yourself out there. So, this step-by-step guide is to help you understand the fundamentals of online content writing and how to get started as a content writer.
1. Just Write
This may sound cheesy but that’s what it is. Moreso, you only become a writer by writing. The scope of writing is vast with so many niches from, technical writing, business writing, sports writing, current affairs and journalism content, educational content, marketing, creative writing, fashion etc. In the same vein, there are also different types of format such as SEO writing, web content writing, copywriting, academic writing, blog writing etc.
Practice is essential to learning skills. Because the only way to truly mastering a skill is by actually doing what you’ll have to do in a real-life environment.
The idea is not to overthink it. However, you can focus on multiple niches or formats and also make some switches during your career. But recognise that they each come with their nuances and challenges and should therefore be approached in such a way as not to overwhelm oneself.
2. Research and Planning
A relevant skill that every content writer or creator should possess is carrying out research. Certainly, a content writer who doesn’t do enough research to come up with lots of ideas, especially in this internet age, would be considered a lazy writer. Content writing requires that you churn out quality content and consistently too. However, to do this effectively, you should be leveraging on content research and planning tools.
Here are some tips to help you in content research
Before you even start content writing for your business, ensure you have answered the why, who and what questions.
- Why are you writing it?
- Who are you writing it for?
- What’s your audience’s desired format, tone and awareness level.
- Understand google search tips, tricks and hacks to help you research faster.
- Very the credibility of your source of information. Check out their domain authority, find out how popular your source is by doing a quick google search.
- Stay organised, there are several tools online to help you save notes and for later eg Evernote.
Here are some tools you can use for content planning
- SEO Tools: SEMRush
- Headline generator: Hubspot
- Content curation: Flipboard
3. Build your Confidence
One effective way to do this is by making your posts publicly accessible by self- publishing.
In making your post accessible, you will not only improve your writing and confidence, but it will also help you build a strong portfolio and attain visibility.
Here are some tips to help you self-publish
- Evaluate platforms: There are so many self-publishing platforms out there. Evaluate and select one that appeals to you and your target audience.
- Optimise your post title, meta description and URL-slug.
- Repurpose and publish your post across other social media channels – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
- Add that article link to your portfolio if need be.
Here are some tools to help you self-publish.
- Self-publishing tools: Medium, LinkedIn
- Social media management: Buffer, Hootsuite
- Stock images: Pexels, Unsplash
4. Write Simply and Plainly
Do not over complicate things. The pressure of learning how to start content writing the best way may bring about your need to impress your audience with complex sentence structure and vocabulary. When you are delivering a topic, have your audience level of expertise in mind, keep your content simple, words readable, sentences neat and paragraphs short.
5. Become a Better Reader
In order to learn how to start content writing, one has to read up. Consequently, a voracious reader would gain a better vocabulary and spelling capability and hence would write better. Because the more you read, the better you internalise the elements of the text and gradually you’ll find yourself implementing them in your writing.
6. Edit, Read and Edit Some More
I can’t remember exactly where I saw this, but it says, the best way to edit and proofread your work is to read it out loud.
This is how I edit my work;
Firstly, I change and remove sentences that do not harmonize with the topic and flow of my content.
Secondly, I read to detect and remove grammatical errors, spelling and punctuation mistakes.
Then I read a third time to ensure that the draft seems good. There’s even a fourth edit sometimes. However, the idea is to learn how to write content devoid of errors.
Tools you can use to edit your content piece
- Grammarly-Free online grammar checker
- Hemingway Editor-The app highlights lengthy, complex sentences and common errors
- Cliché Finder- This app finds and highlights clichés in your writing so you can remove them.
7. Acquire Allied Skills
These days content writing is not just writing alone. For instance, as a blogger, your finished content piece also entails some form of visual content design, image editing, content marketing, social media marketing, SEO knowledge, video production and content management.
Likewise, possessing these skills boosts your employability because you will be able to handle content end-to-end. Every content writer needs two or more of these skills to learn how to start content writing online effectively
8. Showcase Yourself
You need to be seen. This is because strategic visibility is the only way you can get known and hired. In this paragraph, a lot of tips on how to start content writing are discussed.
Below are some ways to showcase yourself and communicate to your prospects that you can surely do the job.
- Create an online writing portfolio using online portfolio builders: Having a robust content writing portfolio can increase your chances of getting hired. It establishes trust, credibility and shows how capable you are.
- Optimize your social profiles: Have a professional-looking display image for your profile picture. Include necessary details like experience, contact details, links to your work etc.
- Learn how to write proposals: Your project proposals should include, identified problem, proposed solution, action plan, timeline, your budget requirements etc.
- Get work experience: You might need to do free/hugely discounted jobs for your first few gigs in exchange for testimonials or referrals.
- Start applying for content writing jobs: For a beginner to start content writing fast he/she should begin signing up on various online job boards and portals. Search for relevant content writing jobs or gigs and start applying. If your ability to write is paired with the right approach and strategy, you are well on your way to becoming a successful freelance writer.
It is easy to feel pressured at the start of your career especially when overwhelmed with information overload.
Therefore, to gain knowledge on how to start content writing as a beginner, one should take things one step at a time. Avoid overthinking or over analysing your abilities, or efforts because it reduces your confidence and hence your effectiveness. Be gentle with yourself. Content writing is a creative task and putting yourself under pressure, questioning your skills will only shackle your productivity and creativity. Slowly and steadily work your way to the top.
Note: As a newbie learning how to become a content writer, never, I repeat; never compare your content with other articles you find online. Because this can hamper your self-confidence. Always remember that it takes time to become a pro. Be patient, try to improve with every article or post you put out and strive to maintain consistency.