Writing for the web isn’t like writing for school or pleasure. Your goal is not to impress a teacher with your knowledge, nor is your goal to craft a story so vivid that it becomes a best seller. Your goal is to create content – informative articles that need to be written at a decent pace that speak to the broadest audience possible.
Content writing requires a very different skill than most writers are used to. That’s because often you’ll find yourself writing about topics that are boring, complicated, simplistic, or unusual, and everything in between, and writers that are not ready to complete this type of work often find that it quickly becomes too challenging or monotonous and quit long before they’re able to make any type of dent in the content marketing world.
Skills of Content Writing
There are three skills necessary to write web content. They include:
Common Sense – Common sense, despite its name, is an incredible rare skill and one that most people do not true have. It’s the ability to use logic quickly to understand and explain a subject that you’re not an expert in. If a client comes to you and asks you to write an article about five weaknesses of some topic you’ve never heard of, you need to be able to come up with 5 specific and accurate weaknesses without even searching the web first. If you can’t do that, chances are you’re going to struggle as a content writer.
Typing Quickly – Copywriting is a numbers game. You’re paid by the word, and you’re paid by the output. You need to be able to type very quickly, and you need to be able to type as error free as possible. You’re not paid to edit, you’re paid to write, and so you need to be physically capable of creating countless pages of content each and every day that looks as though you gave each piece of writing careful time and consideration.
Natural Language – Finally, writing needs to come at least somewhat naturally to you, to the point where your writing reads like natural language. It is something you can learn with practice, but if you’re forcing each word and find writing an attractive sentence to be a struggle, you’re going to find it harder to become a competent content writer.
Those are the most important skills of copywriting. You don’t need an English degree, nor do you need to have expertise in a variety of fields. You simply need to be able to think quickly, use logic, and create articles at a fast enough pace to be profitable.
5 Tips to Become a Great Content Writer
All of the above skills are necessary for writing outstanding content, but – with the possible exception of common sense – they can all also be learned over time. The following represent helpful tips that will help you become a writer that clients refer to their friends:
Don’t Try to Sound Smart – The first mistake of content writing is trying too hard to sound intelligent. It’s something that many people learn as students – they try to use big words, complex sentence structures, and forced imagery in an attempt to make their writing sound the way they think great writing sounds. It never works that way. Use your natural voice – the type you would use if you were writing an email to a friend (except with fewer emoticons and “lol!”). If you’re trying too hard to sound like a writer, you won’t.
Type Well in Every Area of Your Life – One of the key tricks that most people forget is that writing is a “use it or lose it” skill. While it’s one thing to type well in content writing for clients, if you use terrible grammar, word choice, sentence structure and shortcuts in your personal life – including Facebook – you’ll find that your writing ability is damaged in the long run.
Type Daily – Similarly, writing content is often about flow. Your brain needs to be alert and working quickly. If you take several days off in a row – even a weekend – you’ll often find that when you get back to your computer it is much more difficult to write at a speed and quality that your clients will like.
Practice Rewriting – One of the best ways to get into the habit of writing for the web is to rewrite web content that has already been created. You need to practice learning how to write in your own words from what you research online, and the best way to do that is to learn to rewrite quality content and make sure that your own writing is unique. Once you’ve rewritten an article, run it through websites like CopyScape.com to make sure that you didn’t accidentally duplicate content. If it shows up as unique each and every time, that’s a great sign.
Take Advantage of Formatting – Content writing involves a number of bullet points, subheadings, numbered lists, etc. These tools can actually make your writing better. Don’t just use them because you have to. Learn how to use them in a way that makes it easier for you to present content and come up with new ideas while you’re writing. Bullet points and subheadings actually make writing easier if you learn how to use them correctly.
Beyond these tips, content writing simply takes a great deal of practice and commitment. Don’t be discouraged by poor feedback in the beginning. Those that are new to the field need to expect that their work will not be perfect in the beginning.
Also, make sure that you’re ready to commit to content writing, because becoming a content writer doesn’t happen overnight. Most people that try lose their motivation to succeed within a few months. Make sure that you’re ready to make a conscious effort to be better, and the results will soon follow.