Content is nothing but information. In content marketing, this content is written in the form of blogs, articles, videos, images, emails, or a combination of all. Quality content is one of the main reasons for the success of digital marketing strategies. According to the Social Media Examiner, 58% of marketers feel that ‘original written content’ is the most important type of content, outdoing visuals and videos.
Though graphical representation and videos are part of the content, there is more value for the written word. For content to catch readers’ eye, it needs to be of some use to them while being optimized for search engines. Who does all this? The content writer, of course! Written content is an art, and the content writer is the artist.
About a Content Writer
A website or a blog is designed to promote a service or a product. An average reader has a very short attention span and hence, has to be quickly engaged so that there are more clicks and fewer drop-outs. This reader can be an investor, stakeholder, existing customer, or prospective customer. A website requires quality content that can provide relevant, clear, informative, and specialized information conveying the right message to the viewer and engaging the reader to do more.
A content writer does all this by writing content that is creative, well-researched, catchy, and in a language that speaks to the audience. They are specialists in writing blog posts, social media posts, landing pages, whitepapers, emails, press releases, website content, creating audio or video scripts, etc. Did you that as many as 78% of companies have a team of at least 1 to 3 content specialists
Skilled content writers have a solid understanding of the purpose of the content. They also possess the knowledge of most digital mediums and help to create content that is specific to that particular platform. A content writer helps in maximizing the reach to the target audience and increasing the chances of sales.
What are Content Writing Skills?
A content writer should be multi-talented along with being creative and versatile. Though it is an uphill task for a beginner looking to become a content writer, it can be achieved with lots of practice. For anyone looking to become a successful content writer they have to possess these basic skills:
- Quickly adaptable to different styles
Adaptability is a skill that content writers must imbibe since they have to change their tone and style of writing according to different projects. When writers are adaptable, they can respond to requirements effectively.
A writer may not always be familiar with a particular domain or writing style. However, he or she has to accept it and learn or unlearn as per the job requirement.
For example, writing a whitepaper is different from writing content for a website homepage. A white paper needs detailed research and explanation, while a home page needs short, catchy, and concise data that makes the user click on the Call-To-Action (CTA). It is also essential to learn as many writing styles as possible so that you can quickly adapt as per the assignment. Also, by being adaptable, you not only add more value to the content but also become valuable as a content writer.
Sample: Website Content Template
Sample: White Paper Template
- Possess strong research skills
An ability to conduct independent research based on the client’s requirements is an essential and important skill that every content writer should possess. A writer may have great fluency, creativity, and flair, but if the information provided by him is not well-researched, it will damage the credibility of the content. Hence, a content writer needs to research well and write informative copies that convey the message clearly and truthfully.
Research can be conducted online by going through whitepapers, digital journals, government websites, or other reliable sources. Offline research can be conducted via books, interviews, etc. Content that is well-researched and honest offers great value to the reader. The website on which such content is posted becomes a trustworthy and credible source leading to more online traffic and repeated visits.
When the viewership of a site increases, the site’s popularity also goes up, which helps boost the brand value. A well-researched, properly put-together piece is a win-win for everybody. It can increase web traffic, shares, click-through, search engine rankings, and eventually sales. For the content writer, it makes his profile more attractive.
What well-researched content offers to the reader
- Create original and creative content
A content writer might not be an expert in the topic assigned, but irrespective of that, the piece of work he or she provides should be original and unique. After conducting thorough research, the writer should be able to convert his learnings into informative, knowledgeable, and original content.
Original content which is creative and unique attracts more readership than unoriginal long, boring pieces.
Non-plagiarized work is essential in optimizing for SEO. Original content with the right keywords gets ranked higher than content that does not have relevant keywords, is plagiarized, or is not unique.
Creativity is as important as originality. A catchy headline, a good punch, thoughtful words are some of the prerequisites to creative writing. Adding audio, video, images, and optimizing digital content can be an added advantage. Put together, it makes a complete copy that is creative, unique, and original.
- Have a good understanding of SEO
Content writers come from various backgrounds like Public Relations, communications, journalism, etc., but to turn that love for writing into a successful digital content writing career, one must know about Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Why is this important?
Knowing SEO means that:
- You know more about the market and the audience you are trying to reach. When you know the demographics of the audience, you can create a piece that interests them. For instance, if you are writing a post for a family-run bakery, you should;
- research the right keywords
- analyze the competition
- know the pain points
The above will help in writing a compelling post on how this bakery is different from the competition. Instead, if you write without possessing any data, you are being generic, and the content may not reach the right audience.
- You understand the technical aspects that go into optimizing content. Knowing how to optimize content for SEO helps in creating a better strategy for your piece.
- You can publish work with a better understanding of what has to go in the headline, headers, meta description, images, external links, etc.
- You can effectively use keywords that match the latest search engine algorithms making you an effective content creator.
- You won’t be creating content blindly. After every piece of work that is posted, you can analyze its outcome and make relevant changes to boost readership. Based on the data, you can adopt new writing techniques that can produce better results. Hence, learning at least the basic aspects of analyzing tools is a must.
- Possess time management and organization skills
Organization skills are an important soft skill that a content writer must have. Here, the organization involved is much more than arranging books alphabetically or placing things on your desk neatly. It is about managing your deadlines when you have multiple assignments to work on or to be on top of things personally and professionally.
Smartphones are a great way to keep track of deadlines by setting up calendar alerts. Proper prioritization of jobs ensures timely delivery of content. It also helps to update your clients on the work from time to time.
It is not only about organizing your time and schedule as a writer; you need to write in an organized manner as well. A writer’s mind is full of random thoughts, more so when they start to write. Hence, if a proper pattern isn’t followed, the written piece can become a mixed pie where the reader cannot taste anything special. Simply put, the piece becomes confusing, and the reader immediately loses interest.
Hence, the writing process has to have a pattern with the right flow and structure. Every paragraph has to be interconnected so that the work is focused, readable and interesting. Also, bear in mind that the readers come from different backgrounds. Hence, the content writer needs to organize and put across ideas so that it is universally acceptable. Analyze your thoughts, plan the structure and organize the content so that the idea is effectively communicated.
- Have strong communication skills
Basic writing skills like knowing fundamental grammar, composing a proper sentence, and having a good structural process along with listening are the pillars of content writing. These are the basic skills needed for a content writer. However, becoming a good writer also involves much more than writing sentences and fulfilling the word count. The content should be purposeful and should be aimed towards your client’s goal.
For this, communicating with the clients is of utmost importance. Have open conversations with the clients and other stakeholders. If you have questions or need clarifications, communicate the same to the client. Make notes of what information you may need from the client and get it so that you avoid multiple revisions.
After finishing the content, the written copy should be edited. Simple proofreading can minimize errors and aid in publishing quality content that fits the readers’ requirements or prospective customers of the brand.
- Should understand Social Media
Social media is a great platform for content writers to display their work. There are millions of users and a diverse fan base from all parts of the world. So posting content in relevant places can increase the readership and create a buzz. Also, social media is a great place if you are stuck and are looking for story ideas.
Additionally, these platforms have inbuilt tools that can help you analyze the content that users liked or disliked the most. Using this data, you can build your work so that the content has more reach. Therefore, being proficient in social media works well for content writers.
- Having a Content Strategy
Strategic thinking is a very important skill for a content writer. The write-up should follow an integrated approach of the macro thought process with a micro viewpoint. Every content that is created should be based on the larger goal, the target audience, while focusing on current trending info.
It should contain keywords and other aspects of SEO that increase traffic while making it relevant to the target market segment. A content writer should think progressive with a 360 degree perspective of things. That enables writers to create entertaining and engaging stuff that can help the brand connect better with the readers.
- Knowing the brand
Know the brand better so that you can write as per their voice. Understanding the brand value, design, strategy, etc., helps in better quality content. For example, if the content has to be written for an educational portal, adding an FAQ makes it better. On the other hand, if you are creating content for social media, then having backlinks, images, etc., is a plus. So by knowing the brand, a content writer can create impactful content.
- Stay updated
A content writer needs to be updated about the latest trends to be relevant in this job. Understanding the latest updates in the content stream, search engine, and social media algorithms can help write effective content pieces. The more you know, the better you will be at creating good original copies. This would please the brand you write for and yourself for producing unique content that the audience likes.
How to Improve your Content Writer Skills?
The difference between a good writer and an average writer is that they constantly learn through practice. Some of the ways to improve your skills are:
- Brush up on the fundamentals as they never change. Sometimes, when you get too creative, certain rules can break. But to get back on track, keeping an eye on fundamentals helps. There are many online resources where you can brush up on those basic skills.
- Focus on understanding SEO and the usage of keywords better as it keeps changing. Having content with the correct keyword ratio and volume always works better.
- Focus on writing content that is fresh, useful, informative, and relevant. Search engine algorithms grade content, and so you should create great copies to pass these standards.
- Even if you are a part-time content writer, write every day. Practice leads to perfection. You can write reviews of the products you buy, a movie you watched, etc., to keep you at it if you do not do regular writing work otherwise.
- Make reading a daily habit too. Read the work of other good content writers to get inspired by their tone, writing style, and language.
- Do not underestimate the value of research. Whether you are an expert or not, going through relevant and valuable information keeps you updated.
How to Highlight Content Writer Skills on Your Resume?
Your resume should highlight your content writing abilities. Instead of mentioning all the skills you possess, highlight those based on the company you are pitching for. But if you want to create a generic resume, here are some skills you can highlight:
- Written language skills
- Grammar skills
- Technical writer skills
- Editing skills
- Analytics software
- Monitoring software
- Content Management software
- Word processing software
- Time management and organization
- Conducting research
- Adherence to SEO
Content writing and content writers are in great demand as it is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies. Creating high-quality content can drive followers, which boosts brand value, generates leads, and ultimately leads to sales. To become a sought-after writer, honing the skills mentioned above can help you take a step forward in your career