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I Want to be a Content Writer: Where Do I Start?

I Want to be a Content Writer: Where Do I Start?

Once upon a time, I told myself “I want to be a content writer”. If you’re anything like me, you probably said this before you had any idea what a content writer even was. Fret not! 

Today, we’ll cover your most burning questions about how to become a content writer with no experience. This includes the basics, like what a content writer is (and is not), what they actually do, and how they get paid. Let’s go!

What Do Content Writers Do?

First things first – we need to cover what content writers do. Content writers are storytellers – we bring a brand to life by sharing their tales and the stories of their customers. They are often chameleons, tasked with shapeshifting into a voice that properly illustrates the brand and the customer.

Clients may request that a content writer craft the following pieces of content:

  • Brochures
  • Blog posts
  • Manuals
  • eBooks
  • White papers
  • Press releases
  • Interviews

Anything considered informational and educational or entertaining in nature can fall into this bucket. Content writers bridge the “know-trust” gap for businesses by creating content that organically draws in potential customers through informative materials. 

Content writers will start the writing process by conducting research about the topic required. If you’re lucky enough to work with a business that has a marketing or content strategist on board, you may get a well-drawn-up brief with the project's requirements. Otherwise, you’ll be required to design and execute the game plan for the project.

It’s important to note what content writers (typically) do not do. Content writing and copywriting often get jumbled up. Content differs from copywriting in that copywriting is intended to encourage someone to take action. Click here, buy now, submit a form, chat with our sales team, etc. Copywriters may create landing pages, email campaigns, ad copy, social media posts, and product pages. 

There are exceptions to the rule, of course. But these two roles are significantly different.

Where do content writers work?

Content writers typically work in one of two places. Broadly, you could find yourself working in-house for a business, or working as a freelancer with many clients. There are benefits and drawbacks to both of these to consider.

As an in-house content writer, you will focus on one the needs of one business. That may mean that you’ll be creating content around the same set of topics over time. One of the benefits to this (of which there are many) is that you become very in tune with the brand, its voice, and its style. It can become second nature, making it easier to produce high-quality content. 

On the other hand, you may get bored of writing about the same content day in and day out. If you think that might be you, then working as a freelancer may be the right choice.

Working as a freelancer means that you are working to find the customers that you want to work with. A freelancer can reach out to brands that they specifically want to work with, or they could sign up for a freelancer job board like Fivvr or UpWork. This is a little more difficult in the sense that you have to continually be pitching in order to get paid.

There is one other alternative to freelance job boards or working in-house. Working for an agency as a freelancer can expose you to a variety of brands and types of content. It can kick the in-house monotony and offer a bit more stability than the job boards can. 

At Hire a Writer, we work hard to get the right message to the right people at the right time. We work with teams in mid-sized to enterprise-level businesses and digital agencies. Want to work with us? (We’re a pretty fun crew!) Check out what roles are open right now.

How To Become A Content Writer With No Experience

You have to start somewhere, right? 

So start by writing!

Create a portfolio of content (3-5 pieces with variety) that you have written so that business owners can see what they’re working with. Plug it into a Google Drive folder or put it up on a website, it doesn’t matter. So long as prospective employers can see the goods, you’ll be set.

“But wait, what am I supposed to write about?!”

Anything. Something you’re interested in. A product or service that currently exists. The best type of all-beef hotdogs. Why the world is flat. Anything. You need to put 100% behind these portfolio pieces – it shows people who you really are and gives them an idea of the variety you can handle. 

And please, for the love of macaroni and cheese, use a spellchecker. 

Need a few more tips on content writing for beginners? We’ve got you covered: 5 Content Writing Tips For Beginners: How To Write Efficiently

Once you’ve got your portfolio up and running, you need to get it into the hands of people with hiring power. Ask your friends for referrals to see if you can drum up business that way. Scout out the businesses or job board advertisements that you want to apply to and go for it!

From here, the sky is the limit. Diversify your skillset and learn about different types of writing like case studies, SEO blogs, and SEO pillars – it will only make you better. 

How Do Content Writers Get Paid?

Money, money, money, monaaayyyy, MONEY! Of course, we all love writing because it’s an art form we enjoy and it fills a gap in our souls and yadda yadda, but we also want to get paid. So how does it happen?

Content writers in-house are typically paid hourly or are salaried, and not based on the individual pieces of content created. On the flip side, freelance content writers are typically paid either by the word or by the hour. There are instances where you might be paid by the project as well, but that’s a conversation that needs to be had upfront before you agree to take on a freelance job.

Here’s an example of how this works. Say your task is to write a 1,000-word blog post about Changing Gears as a Freelance Writer and the pay is .10 per word. Voila, there is $100 in your pocket. If the pay was hourly, it took you 3 hours to write it and you charge $35 per hour… the same blog is worth $105.

These are all hypothetical numbers but it’s important to note that rates are a two-way street. As you start your content writing journey, you may not make mountains of cash. As you get better and have more experience in the bag, you can increase your rates that reflect your skillset and abilities. 

Content Writing: A Craft of Continual Improvement

If you’re not working each and every day to get better at your craft, you may be better off finding a different career path. Content writing can be a tough field to get into, but if your heart is in the right place, it can be a truly rewarding career. 

Take a perusal through our Freelance blog category for more hacks, tricks, and general survival tips. If you’re feeling brave and want to join us to become a freelance blogger, reach out!

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