Content writing is a growing industry, and it’s a super popular way to get into the world of freelancing too. Content writing is essentially writing any kind of – you guess it – content, typically for online businesses or website owners. But how can you become a better content writer as a beginner?
My 8 tips for beginner content writers are:
- Read a lot
- Don’t just write for clients
- Ask for feedback
- Don’t pay too much attention to keywords
- Stick to one idea per section
- Edit and proofread your own work
- Learn what good research looks like
- Keep it simple
Below, I’ll go through each of these tips in more detail, and hopefully by the end of it you’ll know how you can quickly improve your skill set!
8 Content Writing Tips For Beginners
1. Read A Lot
Reading extensively is a crucial step in honing your content writing skills. By immersing yourself in a variety of writing styles, genres, and formats, you gain exposure to different techniques and you widen your vocabulary. This will not only broaden your perspective but also improve your understanding of language itself.
But what you read matters too. Make a habit of reading industry-related materials, influential blogs, and well-written articles to stay updated with trends and to develop a keen sense of what quality writing looks like in your niche specifically (more on choosing your niche later).
2. Don’t Just Write For Clients
While writing for clients is essential in a freelance content writing career, it’s important to do some work for yourself too. Personal projects allow you to explore your creativity without constraints, allowing you to improve your writing and build up a portfolio of writing samples at the same time.
I recommend writing on a platform like Medium.com (it’s free), and consider starting your own blog too. This can allow you to reach audiences with your writing of course, but it can also serve as a way to impress future clients.
Personal writing can also be therapeutic and a source of motivation. It reminds you why you chose writing as a career path in the first place, keeping the passion alive.
3. Ask For Feedback
Feedback is a powerful tool for growth in content writing. Don’t hesitate to ask clients, peers, or mentors for their thoughts on your work. Constructive criticism can provide insights into areas where you can improve. Whether it’s in grammar, style, or engaging your audience more effectively. Remember, the goal is to grow as a writer, so approach feedback with an open mind and a willingness to learn.
Plus, actively seeking feedback demonstrates professionalism and a commitment to delivering quality work. This attitude can help build stronger relationships with clients and may lead to more job opportunities. I have personally had clients commend me for asking for feedback, as not all freelancers will do it. So this can actually help you stand out!
4. Don’t Pay Too Much Attention To Keywords
While keywords are important in SEO-driven content writing, overemphasis on them can compromise the quality of your work. Focus first on creating content that is informative, engaging, and valuable to your audience. An article that reads naturally and offers substantial information is more likely to resonate with readers and perform well overall.
If you’re not all that knowledgeable about SEO, that’s fine. I recommend learning the basics anyway, but if nothing else just be aware of the trap of stuffing articles full of keywords because your client asked you to include them.
5. Stick To One Idea Per Section
Clarity and organization are key in effective content writing. Stick to one main idea per section to keep your content coherent and easy for readers to follow. This approach helps in structuring your article logically, ensuring that each section naturally leads to the next. It also makes it easier for readers to process and retain the information you’re presenting.
Begin each section with a clear topic sentence (wow that phrase sent me back to high school English classes!) that introduces the main idea. Then, elaborate on that idea with supporting details, examples, and explanations. Going off on tangents or including too many ideas in one section is a sure-fire way to lose your reader’s attention.
6. Edit And Proofread Your Own Work
You need to be able to edit and proofread your own work as a content writer. There is simply no substitute. Always take the time to review your work after writing it. Look for simple grammar mistakes, typos, and awkward phrasing. Editing isn’t just about correcting mistakes. It’s about refining your message and ensuring clarity and conciseness.
Use tools like spell checkers or grammar checkers as a first step, but don’t rely solely on them. Read your work aloud or step away from it for a while before editing it. Fresh eyes can often catch mistakes you might have missed the first time around.
You can be an incredible writer, but if you make your client’s editor’s life hell, the relationship won’t last long.
7. Learn What Good Research Looks Like
Another non-writing task that will improve your content writing overall is how good you are at researching the topics you’re writing about. It involves not just gathering information but also:
- Evaluating sources for accuracy and relevance
- Understanding what quality sources look like
- Knowing who you’re competing against
Familiarize yourself with reputable sources in your niche and learn to discern credible information from questionable content. Good research adds depth to your writing, providing your audience with valuable insights and accurate information.
8. Keep It Simple
Finally, simplicity is key in content writing. Your goal is to communicate ideas clearly and concisely. Avoid jargon or complex language that might confuse readers (unless it’s necessary or relevant to the topic of course). Instead, use simple, straightforward language that is easy to understand. Remember, you are writing to inform and engage a diverse audience, not to impress with your vocabulary.
Keeping it simple also means being concise. Get to the point quickly, and avoid unnecessary elaboration. Readers appreciate content that is easy to digest and delivers value without requiring them to sift through filler material.
Want more tips? Check out our guide to the top content writing dos and don’ts.
How Do You Start Freelance Content Writing?
Becoming a freelance content writer involves a few key things. Namely, solid writing skills and an ability to sell yourself. But what else do you need to do?
Develop your writing skills: The first step is to hone your writing ability. Practice writing regularly and read extensively. Experiment with different styles and formats to find your unique voice. Consider taking writing courses or workshops to refine your skills. You can also check out our list of the best freelance writing books.
Build out your online presence: Create a portfolio showcasing your best work, and include a variety of pieces to demonstrate your versatility. Also update your social media profiles, especially LinkedIn. This ensures future clients can easily find you and check out your past work.
Choose your niche: Choosing a niche isn’t a must. There are lots of great generalist freelance content writers out there. But that’s the problem—it’s hyper-competitive. Niching down is a great way to set yourself apart and prove yourself as an authority in the space.
Register on freelance platforms: Sign up on freelance platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr. These platforms can be a good starting point to find your first clients and build your reputation. Also check out writing job boards like ProBlogger and FreelanceWritingGigs.com. They’re great places to find beginner writing jobs.
There’s obviously a lot more to it, and there are other ways to find content writing jobs like using your existing network and cold pitching. But I talk more about that in my guide to becoming a freelance content writer.