How to Become a Content Writer (With Steps and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 January 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you enjoy researching diverse topics and using your words to promote a brand or an organisation, a career as a content writer might appeal to you. Content writers are professionals who use their research and writing skills to create optimised content for digital platforms and to increase online traffic for a brand. Learning about becoming a content writer, the common daily duties, skills and the average salary can help you determine if content writing is your ideal career choice. In this article, we discuss the steps and the skill set necessary to become a content writer.

Related: Q&A: What Does a Copywriter Do and How Do You Become One?

How to become a content writer

The following steps provide an overview of how to become a content writer:

1. Complete a bachelor's degree

While getting a bachelor's degree isn't mandatory, it's still a prerequisite among most companies, even for entry-level content writing positions. You can choose a major in English, journalism or media studies to gain a background in writing, develop your research skills and obtain useful industry knowledge. Consider earning post-secondary English language certifications to increase your credibility as a writer.

2. Gain professional industry experience

To understand the future duties of your work, begin content writing in your free time without expecting to earn compensation for your work. Consider starting a blog and begin testing out various niches. Trying out various topics, writing techniques and tones can help you understand your own content writer persona better. Study SEO and HTML coding to learn how to produce content that's optimised for digital platforms. This way, you can gain valuable industry experience that can increase your employability in the job market.

Related: How to Become a Copywriter Through a Few Easy Steps

3. Create a portfolio

A portfolio is an effective method to showcase your research and writing skills to other organisations. It offers authentic examples of your work, which helps employers evaluate whether your writing style aligns with their audience's interests. If you have a record of your success as an intern or part-time content writer, you can also use your portfolio to highlight your work experience.

Consider making your portfolio as diverse as possible to show your flexibility as a writer. Include any comments of recommendation or reviews you may have received in your previous writing positions to convey your ability to learn from feedback.

4. Create a presence on social platforms

Aside from building your portfolio, you can increase your chances of getting hired by having an active presence on social platforms. Social media can help you network with other writers and editors. Commenting on your niche topics and following rising content writing agencies can connect you to brands that are looking to hire content writers in their industry.

Related: The Value of Networking for Professionals (With Tips)

5. Acquire technical credibility

Gaining a technical certification can help you obtain essential content writing skills. Consider pursuing various certification programmes in content marketing, search engine optimisation, editing and copywriting. Employers may favour CVs of content writers with valid technical certifications as it gives credibility to your skills and work.
Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

6. Build your CV and cover letter

A well-structured CV includes details about your educational background, skills and previous work experiences. Aside from a CV, creating a strong cover letter can help you highlight your achievement and expand on the details in your CV. These application documents aim to convey your professional image, show your passion for the position and explain why you can be a great fit for the job.

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Writing Your CV

7. Begin applying for jobs

You can begin applying for jobs by researching for content writer positions by your location, skill, salary and qualification preferences. Apply for jobs that match your qualifications and skills to increase your application's success rate. You can use your social media platforms to look for companies seeking to hire content writers, too. If you have a specific company in mind, consider visiting their website to see if they have any vacancies.

Most employers ask for specific samples of your content, so it's important to attach your portfolio along with your CV and cover letter. Some employers may also ask additional questions about your qualifications or request you to complete a test to verify your skills. For example, they may use a proofreading test to evaluate your attention to grammar, tone correction and the flow of the content.

Related: How to Apply For a Job (With Tips for Different Situations)

What does a content writer do?

The job responsibilities of a content writer may vary in terms of their employment. Content writers usually provide their services for marketing and advertising agencies to produce promotional written pieces such as blog posts, social media posts or how-to guides for their clients, products or services. Whether employed full-time or working freelance, the common daily responsibilities of a content writer are:

  • researching the client's requirements and target audience to create relevant content

  • conducting in-depth analysis of well-performing SEO content topics

  • writing original content and proofreading to avoid grammatical and factual mistakes

  • following the client's guidelines for consistency

  • executing SEO practises, such as keyword optimisation, internal linking and backlinking

  • publishing content on the platforms in use and monitoring its online traffic rate

  • preparing monthly content performance reports

  • proposing improvement strategies for future implementation

Related: 50 Top Writer Skills You Can Use In the Workplace

What are the key skills for a content writer?

Here are some key skills that can help you become a successful content writer:

Adaptability

Most of a content writer's career includes creating content for topics of varying niches or content types. This requires them to shift their tone according to the assignment. Adaptability to all content tones and styles is an important skill to develop.

Related: 18 Content Writer Skills and How to Highlight Them

Research skills

Researching information is pertinent to content creation as a well-researched piece can build a loyal audience. Good researching skills add value, credibility and reliability to content. Consider reviewing information from trustworthy sources to ensure the quality of your content.

Organisational skills

It's common for content writers to manage several projects at one time. Keeping a calendar to mark your deadlines and distribute your workload is a great way to navigate your work. Keeping up with your projects sends a positive image to your employer and helps you manage your work more efficiently. If you're a freelance writer, being organised can encourage clients to work with you again.

Communication skills

Having strong verbal and non-verbal communication skills can help you share information with your team effectively. Corresponding with your editors and project managers adds to the progress of the project. You can avoid misunderstandings when you communicate expectations and deadlines to your team clearly.

Creative intelligence

As a content writer, your creative skills can help you produce engaging and insightful content. Creative intelligence allows you to approach complex topics and simplify them so they appeal to your readers. Your reader may find your content valuable if it's original, creative and compelling.

Common work environment for content writers

Most content writers work from home or in an office, depending on the requirements of their job. Employers may ask you to be available at short notice to make edits to your project, especially if you're working remotely. While a full-time job may require you to work designated business hours, you can choose your own work hours for a freelance content writing project. A freelance position also allows you to pick your own workload and schedule.

Related: How to Succeed in a Fast-Paced Work Environment in 8 Steps

The average salary of a content writer

The salary of a content writer depends on their experience, qualification, industry and the company of their employment. On average, a content writer earns an average salary of $21,193 per month. Depending on the organisation, some content writers also receive additional financial benefits such as travel allowance, paid vacations or yearly bonuses.

Related: Salary vs. Hourly Pay: Differences, Benefits and Challenges

Career prospects for content writers

After gaining some experience in content writing, you can start applying for positions such as research writer, technical writer, business writer, social media manager or content editor. These positions require you to have expertise in researching, editing and your industry niche. Content writers can also consider growing their writing skills by writing biographies and e-books. Your writing and researching skills can also help you advance towards leadership roles, such as a creative director or social media strategist.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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