What is an Online Content Writer? A Beginner’s Guide
“Content is king” – the world heard this phrase in 1996.
At that time, it seemed like another hypothetical concept that the industry’s biggies like to give to become ‘It’ in their industry.
But after 24 years, when we are drowning in the puddle of content and data smog is choking us, we now know that content is actually ruling today’s world.
According to Worldometers, more than 4.4 million blogs are published every day, and this number is increasing each day.
This staggering number seems fascinating. But have you ever thought about who writes them?
Yes, an online content writer.
Based on this concept, if I ask what is an online content writer, you may answer:
“A person who writes content. Full stop.”
Literary, you are not wrong. But in today’s world, become an online content writer does more than just creating content.
But before digging out this question, let’s find out what is the future of content writing in 2020.
Should you be doing content writing? If yes, would you get a job?
Let’s find out.
What are the job prospects for Content Writers?
I searched for the most popular jobs in 2020.
Can you guess my search results?
Well, I checked the first five top searches, and become a content writer online was nowhere near even in the top 100.
But who compiled and wrote these posts?
I guess you are saying content writers, and you are right.
Content writing might not be in the list of the most happening jobs, but people who wrote this information are content writers.
What does it mean?
Content writing is essential – even if not popular – the job required in this digital age.
Let’s take it another way.
Look at these promising facts.
Can you see where we are going?
Content is everywhere.
Content is king might sound cliché because from SEOs to marketers, everyone talks about it.
But the fact is:
Content is actually the reigning king of the digital world.
Need to know why?
Here is your answer:
- You can’t rank higher.
- Your business can’t get visibility.
- People will not know about your brand.
- You can’t enhance brand awareness and loyalty.
- You can’t set yourself apart from your competitors.
- You can’t generate leads.
- Your business can’t generate revenue.
In short, it is all about content – and about content writers.
Obviously, if you need content, you also need someone to create it. That’s where a content writer comes into play.
In fact, according to a report by the Content Marketing Institute, 84% of marketers are outsourcing content creators.
What does it mean?
Content writers have a huge job market.
Want to know something even better?
Every business belonging to whichever niche needs a content writer if it wants to go online.
So, forget about what the internet says. The fact that 4.4 million blog posts are published every day is enough to prove that content writing is a promising business.
And based on your skills, you can also earn quite good as a content writer.
But the question is:
How to become a professional online content writer?
Is content writing an innate ability?
Do you need just good language skills to become a content writer?
Is it enough to know how to scribble a few words and knit sentences together?
Do you need creativity or a simple language can also work?
These are a few questions that buzz in everyone’s mind who wants to become a content writer.
But Robert Lawrence Stine has pretty good advice for the wannabe writers:
So, if you think you can become a writer, you can do it. But how?
You know, every writer is not the same. Some writers are better than others.
Forget about J. K. Rowling and Stephen King. You can see that difference in the digital world as well.
You read different blogs and can sense that some blogs trigger your fancy better than others.
The reason is simple:
They are better written because better writers wrote them.
It means that a strong will to write, the know-how of grammatical rules, and the ability to scribble sentences are simply not enough to make you a good writer.
You should have a better set of skills than a person with simple know-how of the language.
That means if someone asks you: What is a quality online content writer, you can’t simply move away by saying someone who can write.
Here are some skills you need to have to become a content writer that can ace out today’s online world.
Trait # 1: Great Writing Skills
It goes without saying that if you are a writer, you should have excellent writing skills.
It means you should focus on…
- Grammatical rules
- Correct spellings
- Sentence structure
You can’t expect people to read your content if your content is a mess of spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or missing words.
Something like this…
And mind you, keeping a check on spelling and grammar mistakes is not easy.
Even big brands have committed this mistake many times. And of course, they ended up earning a tone of embarrassment.
Because people don’t let go of such opportunities to hype their mistakes.
You can even find articles written specially to clap language errors of big brands.
If you dig out this article, you will find many big names in this article, including HubSpot itself.
Let’s take one example. It’s regarding H&M, a high-end fashion brand.
But the spelling mistake they made was seriously not high-end.
See? It looks so unprofessional and… bad.
It takes many years to build brand reputation, and ruining it due to a spelling mistake is the last thing a brand could bear.
That’s why a writer must have a firm grip on writing skills and sharp eyes that focus on details.
So no wonders that in research, Grammarly has found that writers with stronger writing skills are paid better and get good reviews.
In fact, recruiters also lookout for a pro-grammar writer while hiring a writer for their agency.
Obviously, no one wants to draw his/her marketing budget just because a dude forgot to learn the spelling of ‘genious’ – oh, I mean genius – in his class.
So if you are looking to become a great website content writer (that you definitely are!), work on polishing your writing skills and get a firm grip on the language.
How to Avoid Language Errors?
Here are some tips to improve your writing skills:
● Use Helpful Tools
Online tools are like a lifesaver for writers.
From plagiarism checker, headline makers, and grammar checkers, you can find everything to save yourself from a dire writing mistake.
Go for them.
Let me show you how these tools, like Grammarly, change things for you.
Now, this is a published content on a website. I put it into Grammarly and found this.
Things could have been changed if the writer had used this tool in the first place.
That’s why no matter how much you believe in your language skills, it never hurts to take the help of tools that are there to help you.
●Never Stop Learning
There isn’t any parameter to measure that you have acquired adequate knowledge, and now you don’t need to know anything else.
Learning is a continuous process because there is always room for improvement.
Well, it doesn’t mean to get enrolled in a hundred dollar writing program at a university.
But joining an online course and reading books on writing at your home doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Here are a few books on grammar and writing that can save you from any embarrassment in your professional life.
Trait # 2: Knack for Creativity
Having a deep understanding of language and its rules is great.
But is it the only thing you need to become a good freelance content writer?
The answer is no.
Any content with an amalgamation of grammatical accuracy, well-structured sentences, beautiful words, and accurately placed punctuation might win a perfect grammar award, but not readers’ hearts if it lacks a crisp of creativity.
You need an edge in your writing that:
- Attracts readers’ attention
- Gives your content a distinct voice
- Drives readers to perform the desired action
To understand this, let’s rewrite Elif Shafak’s Forty Rules of Love.
Just imagine if Elif Shafak’s best-selling book would have read something like that.
Hard to imagine, right?
That’s why online content marketing writer needs something more than great knowledge of writing that grabs readers’ attention, triggers them to scroll the page, and engages them to read the content till the end.
So much content is cluttering the internet, and writers have to make their space in this saturated, dense environment.
Obviously, to make your voice heard amidst this clutter you need a lot more than playing by the grammatical rules.
But you don’t necessarily have to come up with the poetic verses or talk about stars and the moon.
The key is to deliver the goal-oriented content in a way that…
- It has a hook that grabs the attention
- It’s interesting so that readers keep engaged
- It has a new element that sets it apart
Remember that you don’t always have to come up with an out-of-the-box idea.
Well, it’s great if you do, but writers are also humans, and it’s natural to run out of the creative juice.
So, in case you are writing on a topic that so many else have already handled, give your content an edge.
- Add a new perspective that others lack
- Use unique sentence construction
- Revitalize ideation and execution
That’s where creativity can help you, and that’s why you need creativity as a professional freelance online content writer: To get your content read, make an impact, and stand out.
How to Improve Creativity?
This is true that creativity is something innate and gifted ability.
But the good thing is that it is not something that you can’t acquire at all.
Here are a few tips to spark creativity in your writing:
●Make Reading Your Habit
You can’t enhance your writing skills if you are not a good reader.
Reading has so many benefits as it…
- Improves your language skills
- Broadens your horizon of imagination
- Expands your vision of idea delivery
- Builds your vocabulary bank
- Give know-how of ideation and execution
Reading can single-handedly help you to improve all these things that are the foundation of creativity.
While reading, don’t just read; focus on every aspect of it.
The more you read, the more you will dwell deep into the world of writing to carve out a better writer within you.
●Write, Eat, Sleep – and Repeat
Creativity is in-built or not, but it is surely polishable.
And the best way is to keep on writing and practicing.
When you start writing, it might initially seem like a crap. But keep on writing with persistence.
Practice makes a man perfect. That’s what works here.
And that’s what Octavia E. Butler also says,
So keep on writing no matter what comes in your mind.
Trait # 3: Find Your Own Style
I am sure you would have tried pasta from different restaurants.
Just recall those moments, and think: Does pasta of every restaurant taste the same?
Hopefully, your answer is no.
Even if all restaurants serve the same dish, called ‘PASTA,’ but they all have slightly different tastes because:
- They add a few SECRET SPICES to give a distinct taste
- They add DIFFERENT INGREDIENTS from others
- They all have their OWN SIGNATURE COOKING STYLE
That’s what makes the difference.
And the same is the reason why they work of different writers sounds so different.
What differentiates Jane Austen’s novels from Toni Morrison’s novels is not only their different stories but also their different:
- Word choice
These things combine to give a writer his/her own style.
So if you want to differentiate yourself and mark a distinct and strong presence among so many other writers, you have to come up with your own writing style.
Here are some popular writing styles.
Here are some examples to show how each style looks like:
Well, these are all examples of websites offering writing services.
But you can see that every website handled the content differently.
The different writers, with different writing styles, write their content.
So if you want to be a writer with a clear, distinct, and prominent voice, you need to come up with your own writing style.
How to define your writing style?
Now you may ask how one can come up with its own writing style?
Is it something innate?
Are you born with it?
The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no.’
Yes, you can have an in-built writing style.
And no, because you can also develop it.
Here is how:
●Read – A Lot of Things
You can’t know about different types of writing styles unless you know they exist in this world.
If a person has been living in a small town for all his life, and he has never gone out.
For him, that small town would be his world. But in reality, you know the world is too huge, and that small town would be just a dot in it.
The same is the case with writing.
Many writers have created masterpieces in their own style.
Know their style first to know how you can come up with your own writing flair and make a distinct impact.
But while we are on this point. Here are a few essential things to remember:
- Don’t forget to see what your requirement of work is
- Choose the flair that you can handle
- Sometimes you also have to change your tone and style as per the company’s requirements
So come up with your own different writing style, but always keep some margin of flexibility.
A writer always needs it!
Trait # 4: Master Different Types of Writings
Gone are the days when writing was a constraint to just short stories, novels, poetry, and dramas.
If you know the art of guest posting and website content writing, you can’t start considering yourself as the king of the content marketing world.
No matter how good you are in both these types of writings, it all is not enough.
21st century’s creative & professional content writers have to learn different types of writings to survive in this deluge of content.
Because the formula is simple:
If you will not, someone else will.
You don’t have any margin to be picky or choosy.
Yes, okay fine, I agree that it is a huge list, and it is hard to get a firm grip on all of these.
Because we are not here to prove this proverb:
Jack of all trades, master of none!
But still, always try to push your boundaries and add new types of writings in your squad of writing skills.
How to learn different types of writings?
The thing about different kinds of writings is that they are done with different approaches.
You can’t create a product description with the same writing approach and mindset you use to write a blog post.
So just reading a few product descriptions and scanning the website’s content is not going to make you a pro.
But it will at least give you an idea of how these types of writings work.
Here is what will actually help you polish your skills:
Take Different Projects
You can’t handle each and every type of writing with the same perfection. I agree!
But you can definitely learn more than four, five types of writings and ace them out.
Believe me, because I have seen many writers doing this.
But for that:
You have to take the bull by the horns.
You have read the content of different types of writings. Tick!
You have taken the information and done research about them. Tick!
The next step is to start practically implementing them.
Louis L’Amour might give you some inspiration here:
Start with small projects, slowly start getting proficient in them, and then go all out with your skills.
It will take time, but… remember?
“The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
Trait # 5: Excellent Research Skills
Once you come into the content marketing world, you don’t know what you are going to encounter.
You are bombarded with different topics – and sometimes, they are outside the horizon of your niche.
Like, you might like to write about travel niches, but you get an article on how to stop ransomware attacks.
Now you know how to write, but you don’t know what to write on this topic.
So you have two options:
Option 1: You can let go of this project.
Option 2: You can try to work on it.
Hopefully, you will try to go with the second option.
And that’s where your excellent research skills will help you.
What will you do is:
- Search articles related to the topic.
- Read and understand the topic.
- Analyze the gathered data.
- Synthesize the information.
- Evaluate the information.
And… write it.
So if someone ever asks you what is a content writer, don’t forget to say: Someone who also has excellent research skills.
Trait # 6: Good Editing Skills
A content writer with good editing skills is just like a warrior who has a sword – but it’s rusted.
Seriously, content editing skills are MUST for a writer. Full stop.
And having good editing skills doesn’t mean to read the content carefully and find any grammatical or vocabulary mistakes.
It also means to:
- Chop out extra sentences.
- Enhance your content’s comprehension and readability.
- Give your content a smooth and sleek flow.
It might be difficult to cut out your words because every sentence seems so essential. But you have to be ruthless.
In fact, Stephen King has very good food for thought for you in this matter:
So listen to this man because he knows his stuff.
How to develop good editing skills?
You can’t develop good editing skills through reading books.
Yes, sure, you can learn grammatical rules and get some editing tips by reading some books. But this is not enough to make you a pro editor.
Here is what might help you.
See from a Reader’s Perspective
Don’t think about what you like. Approach your content from a reader’s point-of-view.
While editing your content, think
- What will the reader like?
- Will it be understandable for the reader?
- Will it convey your message to the reader comprehensively?
- What would be its impression on the reader?
Once you start asking such questions, editing becomes much easier and less painful for a content writer.
Trait # 7: Know-How of Content Structuration
This is one of the most under-rated content writer traits that most people either forget to consider or find useless to focus on.
In either case, it is criminal negligence in the content marketing world.
The structure of every type of content is different.
Like, you can’t follow the same structure for a press release that you are using for a blog.
And if you don’t follow the right structure of content, you wouldn’t be able to convey the meaning.
It is just like following the right steps of a recipe to make a perfect dish.
Just imagine if someone asks to cook macaroni like that…
- Boil macaroni
- Then add raw chicken
- Go for sauces
- Put in some oil
- Add some vegetables
- Then add spices
- Cook it
Hard to imagine?
That’s the case with content.
If you don’t cook it according to the right recipe, you will not get the desired results.
For instance, that’s how an essay’s structure works:
Just think if you write the body paragraph first, introduction later, after that, write the conclusion, and then write supporting arguments.
Emm… wouldn’t work, right?
So knowing and creating content according to the right structure is the key to cast the right impact – and a online SEO content writer should know it.
Trait # 8: Knowledge of SEO
Content and SEO go hand in hand.
No matter even if you have tried to beat J.K. Rowling in your storytelling way, if your content is not optimized, no one will know about it.
So SEO knowledge is not only for SEO executives; an online content marketing writer should also know about it.
Well, you don’t have to be an SEO pro and know about every nook and cranny of SEO, but at least you should know…
- What is an anchor text
- How to place it in the right place
- How to maintain keyword density
- What is user intent
- How to create content that satisfies user’s intent
- How to enhance CTR
- How to reduce bounce rate
- How content writing can catalyze your SEO efforts
This basic SEO knowledge can give you an edge over other online physical content writers who create awesome content, but nobody finds their content.
With SEO know-how, you will be able to get your content registered among people.
A mixture of SEO knowledge and awesome content writing skills can sky-rocket your all content marketing efforts.
So when you are thinking about how to become an online content writer, don’t miss out on the basic SEO knowledge.
You need it to make your content shine in today’s digital landscape.
Answering the question about how to become a professional online content writer is just like solving a puzzle.
It has so many pieces that combine to make a great picture of a content writer.
While you might think that writing skills and a good grip on vocabulary are going to make you the most happening content writer, it is not true.
Other skills are equally essential to make you a content writer that can earn a hefty amount every month just by depicting flair of words.
It might be hard to develop these skills, it will also take time, but once you get them, it wouldn’t be hard for you to:
“BECOME A GREAT ONLINE CONTENT WRITER WHO SELLS.”