I keep getting queries from many people every week on how to get started with content writing as a profession. Well, there are many questions in their mind! Does it need any specific qualification? Does it require training/certification? Does it pay well? Can I do it in those 3-5 hours I can spare every day? What will I write on? And they go on…
Though I have been patiently answering them all individually, I thought there might be even more who are reluctant to ask (no clue why they should hesitate!). So this one’s for everyone out there who wants to know what Content Writing holds in store as a profession. But before you decide to take up writing as a profession, it helps to understand what goes into this profession. Let me clear some misconceptions many people have when they jump into content writing and then realize the mistake!
- Content Writing is not a Copy-Paste job! That’s the last thing your client would want you to do! In fact, the content you submit should be 100% unique and there are tools to check for plagiarism.
- Content Writing is not Data Entry. Strange enough that some people still cannot figure out what this profession is all about and yet want to jump into it! I guess it’s more because of the flexibility and opportunities this field offers.
- Content Writing is different from Blogging. You can blog about anything you like, but when it comes to content writing, you have to follow the guidelines given by the client and stick to them.
- You cannot make up a story unless you are writing fiction! Yes, professional content writing involves a lot of reading and online research which takes up a lot of time. Well-researched articles make a better impact. Your client definitely wouldn’t want a shabbily written article to be published which would tarnish their reputation. So it takes more time to research than write to come up with quality content.
- You cannot spin the same matter repeatedly. If you think, you can get away with spinning an existing article, you are absolutely wrong. Every word should make sense and add value to the content rather than simply repeating the same point differently. Fillers are despised!
- You need to write to the point, keeping in mind your audience. This is the biggest hurdle to cross for the newbies. When you are writing professionally, it is for a specific audience as the content will be posted and marketed by the client accordingly. You have to write specifically for your audience for your content to make an impact and definitely cannot beat around the bush.
- The more is not always merrier. When your client asks you to write 1000 words, it cannot definitely be less than 1000 words and ideally not more than 1500 words. Usually, the client pays for what he’s asked for and not a word more! So if your client asks for 1000 words, keep it around 1050 – 1100 words at the most. But then, there are clients who appreciate longer articles also.
- Creative minds need more time. You may be right, but the client may not wait! When you are getting into professional writing, you need to strike a balance between being creative and still keeping the deadlines. Even though writing is considered to be a creative profession, content writing requires you to keep the deadlines as the client may have to work on your content further before it can be published. So you cannot take your own sweet time to submit the work.
- My grammar is perfect! Maybe, you are right, but it is professional to get all your content grammar-checked before you submit.
- There are standards to follow! Even though there are no written rules for content, every company follows some standard. No matter how experienced you are, you have to follow them. For academic and technical writing, these guidelines get stricter.
Now let’s get to the point and answer those questions
Does it need any specific qualification?
If you have a literature or journalism background, it definitely helps. But even otherwise, if you can work on those words tactfully, you can still do it. The first example is myself as I am a commerce graduate but with a good grasp of English which I managed to develop by reading books and watching movies that come on TV (with subtitles :-D!). And that too, I started speaking in English only after my college as where I live, it was never deemed a necessity. So if I can, so can you!
Does it require training/certification?
I didn’t get any! But all thanks to the wonderful people, with whom I started working. They guided me properly and I took their instructions to the point to fine-tune my writing. In fact, I think it’s an ongoing process and I still look forward to suggestions for improvement from every client I work with.
So with training, yes there are some good courses available for content writing. But again that depends on the kind of writing you want to take up. I somehow believe, creative writing comes from the heart and hence cannot be taught as such. But yes, there are tips and tricks that can help you hone those innate skills that you can gain from such formal training. For technical writing, formal training will definitely help as it involves certain industry tools which you can learn to start off professionally. Otherwise, do check out the online courses offered by Udemy, Open2Study and Coursera. There are more you can Google. These are certain elements you need to understand when you opt for content writing as a profession:
- The fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization & SEO Writing
- The fundamentals of Search Engine Marketing & SEM Writing
- Social Media Marketing and writing Social Media Handles
- Keyword Optimization
- Writing different types of content – Creative, Web, Technical, Educational, Marketing, Informative etc.
Does it pay well?
Okay, now this is a crucial question that inspires many to get into this profession. My answer would be initially no, but eventually yes depending on your own talent. Why initially no is because, as with every profession, there’s high competition in this field as a profession. So to land a good deal to gain experience is a must. There, you may have to compromise the pay. Plus, quality content is what every client is looking for. Since there are no rules for content writing as such, every company’s requirement is different. So till you are able to establish as a professional content writer with experience and exposure to writing different types of content, the pay can be a constraint. But eventually, you will find that your writing skills are totally accepted by the clients and then, you can start demanding a better pay. There are writers who earn as much as 10-12 lakhs a year (in India) and even more abroad! It takes some time and quite some effort to reach that point. But quality content is definitely in demand and unlikely to get disrupted by any technology invention in the near future.
Another interesting factor is that content writing is one profession that can be taken up full-time as well as part-time. It is equally rewarding and lets you explore your own possibilities to a great extent. So if you are looking for a flexible profession to adopt, content writing is perfect, as long as you have an aptitude for writing.
Can I do it in those 3-5 hours I can spare every day?
Definitely, you can. Depending upon the kind of projects you take up for writing, you can do it full-time or part-time. Ideally, it takes about a couple of hours to complete a 700-word article from the scratch once the client gives you the topic. If the topic is highly technical, you may require more time to research. From my experience, more time is spent on the research part than the writing part.
What will I write on?
That’s an interesting question, a very relevant one! Content writing involves different types of writing as I have already mentioned. Here’s my earlier article on content writing to give you some idea. Depending upon the type of writing you take up, either the client will give you the topics (and keywords) or ask you to come up with topics/title based on their business. Usually, the clients have a writing guideline which they share with the new writers to make sure they follow the same pattern. This might differ with the company/client. Once the topic is fixed, you need to write keeping in mind your audience.
Does that seem interesting now? Ideally, I would suggest not getting into this profession if you do not have the patience to read and then write. Even if you are passionate about writing, you may find it difficult to follow it as a profession. There are deadlines and guidelines, especially the keyword and SEO parts which spoil the creative aspect of writing. You have to be a thorough professional and yet be easy with different styles of writing to become a versatile writer.
What’s the future for content writing?
Like every profession, as long as you keep upgrading your skills and keep adapting to the trends in your industry, you can flourish in content writing as well. In the last few years, the demand for content, especially quality content, has become quite high and this is expected to continue. SEO writing combined with vast industry knowledge will help you establish as an in-demand content writer. The wider your range of content, the better opportunities you get to explore. At the same time, specialization in one niche can also keep you in demand provided you are too good in it. Currently, there’s good demand for quality writers to fill full-time as well as part-time positions. There’s ample competition too, especially from freelancers across the globe. Content writing is definitely an interesting and enriching profession with a good career scope.
Finally here’s you core takeaways from this article:
Before you leap into content writing as a profession, please understand that:
- Content Writing is not a Copy-Paste job!
- Content Writing is not Data Entry.
- Content Writing is different from Blogging.
- Professional content writing involves a lot of reading and online research which takes up a lot of time.
- Every word should make sense and add value to the content. Fillers are despised!
- Write to the point, keeping in mind your audience.
- The more is not always merrier.
- Deadlines matter!
- Get all your content grammar-checked before you submit.
- There are standards to follow!
Now that you realize what you are getting into, here are some more insights:
- You can step into this field without formal training, though training helps in some types of writing
- Certifications are not mandatory, though it may help understand the profession better
- Though the initial pay may be low, eventually, you can charge higher depending upon your skills and experience
- Content writing can be taken up full-time, part-time, and even on hourly basis
- You have to write based on your client’s requirements
- Businesses are investing on Quality content and it is a much-in-demand profession
I love writing different types of content ranging from travelogues and culture to purely technical articles. I write web content and fiction too. To explore my creativity, I blog and to pursue it as a profession, I explore technology and different types of professional writing. It’s not rocket science, and with a little patience, love, and professionalism you can also pursue content writing as a profession.