Content writing is a craft that requires a natural flair for the written word, hard work, and plenty of practice. Like any other skill, you can learn over time how to write highly engaging, impactful, and valuable content. But for beginners, it’s not always easy to know where to start! This article will go through the steps of how to learn content writing, so that you can start your content writing journey today!
The 5 steps to learn content writing are:
- Brainstorm, plan, and research
- Create an outline
- Write the first draft
- Edit and proofread
- Submit or publish your work
There are formal ways to learn how to be a content writer. For example, you can take an online course, study at college, or take private lessons with a tutor. But you don’t have to spend a lot of money to pick up the necessary skills and techniques! Note that we’re not going to get into how to find content writing jobs in this article. For now, let’s get into our framework for content writing success.
Is Freelance Content Writing Easy To Learn?
Freelance content writing is easy to learn, but that doesn’t mean it’s the ideal choice for everyone. If you already have basic writing skills, it’s easy to pick up what you need to earn money from it. But if you’re not a strong writer, it can be hard to improve without learning the foundations.
You could argue that any skill is easy to learn if you put the time in, but there’s a reason only a small percentage of people are able to perform at a high level in any area. It’s why the Olympic Games aren’t full of 7 billion athletes fighting it out for gold medals. It’s why you phone someone to come out and fix your washing machine rather than attempting it yourself. Learning a new skill takes time, and we don’t all respond to the same skills in the same way.
We’re All Wired Differently
This means it might be easier for you to learn how to play basketball, for example, if you’re fairly physically fit and enjoy ball sports. Someone else might really struggle to learn the basics of passing and shooting, but might excel at learning how to analyse data and produce valuable charts and graphs. We’re all wired differently, meaning some people will find it easier to learn a certain skill than others.
Freelance writing is no exception to this rule, although you could argue it’s far less physically demanding than shooting 3-pointers all day! Learning the basics is fairly straightforward, and you likely learned most of them in school. Taking your writing up to the level where you can start charging lucrative content writing rates requires more effort, and it’s not just the writing you need to learn at that point.
There’s More To It Than Just Writing
You then need to be able to secure clients, which requires a bit of selling yourself, but also just general networking. This isn’t something that you’ll learn much useful about in a book, but you will learn it by doing it. This means you will need to apply for jobs, reach out to people, and maybe join marketplaces like Fiverr to try and boost your exposure and earn some money for your writing.
How To Learn Content Writing In 5 Steps
1. Brainstorm, Plan, And Research
Before writing a single word, it’s important to think about the message you’re trying to convey. Brainstorm some topics or research questions. And then start reading! If you’re going to write about a topic, you need to properly research it.
As you come across other articles on the topic, you can start thinking about how to frame your own content to provide more value to your readers. This is sometimes referred to as the “skyscraper technique.” Chances are that someone has already written about your topic. This doesn’t stop you from also writing about it, but it pays to think carefully about how you can build on what’s already out there. Don’t just reword other people’s content – you need to add value!
2. Create An Outline
After brainstorming and researching your topic, you can start drafting your piece. Create an overall outline by writing down the main headings and subheadings of the article. This gives you an overall structure. You can then add the detailed content in paragraphs under each sub-heading.
Don’t forget, you can always change the wording of your subtitles or reorder them later. Putting them on paper is a good starting point to write your article and ensures the result is clear and well-structured for your readers.
3. Write The First Draft
Once you have your outline down, you can start the actual writing part! Work through your subtitles and flesh out your paragraphs, referring to your brainstorming, research, and preplanning. When it comes to content writing, clarity is key. Use straightforward, easy-to-read language, and insert relevant facts and statistics as you go. Some pieces will call for more of these than others.
4. Edit And Proofread
Now that you have the first draft written, it’s time to go over it again with a fine-tooth comb for any typos, grammatical mistakes, or parts of the text that don’t read naturally.
It’s always a good idea to step away from your desk for a while before you start your proofreading process. This lets you look at the text with fresh eyes, and you might even have new ideas for the piece too.
Another good proofreading technique is to read the text out loud. You can do this yourself or with the help of voice to text software. Reading things aloud makes it far easier to pick up on mistakes and parts of the text that don’t read well.
5. Submit Or Publish Your Work
Now that you’ve finished your text, it’s time to send it off to your client. Or, if you’re writing for your own website, you can now publish it and feel satisfied with a job well done!
With this framework, you can produce well-written, clearly structured pieces of engaging content. Once you’ve mastered it, there are a few other ways you can work on improving your writing. Let’s take a look!
Is Freelance Content Writing A Good Career?
Freelance content writing can be a good career if you enjoy writing and are good at it. You should expect to work long hours to include the research, writing and editing of the content, and finding clients will also take a lot of your time. You can make good money as a freelance content writer.
If you have a passion for writing, you could definitely make a career out of it as a freelancer. It will require hard work and a lot of effort, but once you start gaining traction and finding clients, it can be a good way to make decent money from the comfort of your own home.
The Freelance Lifestyle
You will of course be a freelancer, and that career path might not be for you. You’ll get to choose your hours, but this isn’t always best for people that struggle to be disciplined. You’ll also still be working for other people and to their deadlines, so it’s not going to be total freedom from a working life.
Finding clients can also be hard in the beginning, and you are likely to experience dry spells at some point. This means you’ll need to be prepared to have a somewhat volatile source of income for the foreseeable future, and it takes a lot of work and dedication to build things up to a steady level of consistent earnings. But once you get to this point, you can earn very good money on largely your own terms.
Can You Start Content Writing With No Experience?
You can start content writing with no experience, although you will need some basic writing and marketing skills. You’ll need to be able to provide your clients with value, so it’s wise to hone your writing skills first before trying to secure paying customers.
Websites like Medium are good for this, and Fiverr is a good place to start finding clients. Other freelance marketplaces, such as Upwork and PeoplePerHour, can be good sources of early clients too.
7 Ways To Improve Your Content Writing
1. Study Your Competition
When learning the basics of content writing, one of the best ways to develop your skills is to carefully study and read the work of your competition. Take a look at the articles or websites on your topic that rank highly in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Then, reverse engineer the most effective writing techniques to learn how you can achieve similar results.
You want to pay close attention to the tone of voice the top writers in your space use, the topics they cover, the way they structure their writing, and how they solve their readers’ problems or questions.
This doesn’t mean that you should copy others’ work. It’s important to develop your own unique and recognisable voice. However, you should always be ready to learn from the successes of others!
2. Get Your Grammar Right
As a content writer, you need to ensure your spelling and grammar are top-notch. It can be easy to make small mistakes, particularly when working to strict deadlines. Make sure you always schedule time for proofreading your work before submitting it!
There are plenty of useful software options out there to help you with proofreading. Your word processor probably picks up on most mistakes, but there’s nothing better than a trained pair of human eyes. If you really struggle with this kind of thing, try and find a free or low cost solution. However, I strongly recommend gaining a solid understanding of grammar and spelling yourself. This will save you money and time in the long run!
A very useful aspect of some of the premium options, like Grammarly, are their plagiarism checkers. Using multiple plagiarism checkers is a great way to ensure you don’t accidentally copy someone else’s work!
3. Follow Successful Content Writers On Social Media
Many successful content writers also have YouTube channels, Instagram accounts, podcasts, or their own blogs where they offer advice and guidance for upcoming creators. These resources offer priceless advice from people who have already overcome the challenges you might be facing as a beginner writer.
Newsletters are another great source of writing advice. Sign up to the newsletters of successful writers in your niche and learn from their tips, articles, and courses.
4. Be Detailed & Informative
When writing content, always try to be as detailed as you can without overwhelming the reader with jargon and terminology. This can be a difficult balance to strike. However, mastering this skill allows you to deliver the most impactful content to your readers.
Including a few links to relevant statistics and sources of information can add a lot of value to your writing. Using relevant facts in your work can help ground abstract concepts and make the information you’re conveying easier to understand. Linking to authoritative sources also gives your readers more confidence in your work. But you need to learn to use others’ work to support your own unique content, rather than simply relying on other people’s work and rewording it for your benefit.
5. Maintain Your Levels Of Creativity & Personal Drive
While there’s a technical side to content writing, creativity is also important. Maintaining your creativity and motivation as a freelancer can be difficult at times, particularly as a freelancer working alone. But there are ways to set up a work routine to ensure that your creativity doesn’t run dry.
One useful technique is taking frequent breaks during your working day. For example, every hour, allow yourself five minutes to get up from your desk and stretch your legs, make a cup of tea, strum your guitar, or sit out in the garden.
This can help you avoid the dreaded writer’s block while also keeping you feeling fresh and motivated, and healthy too. Most writers agree that short, frequent breaks are more productive than one long break in the middle of the day. There are no hard and fast rules though, so try out a few different ways to structure your day to find what works best for you.
6. Get Your Working Environment Right
If you’re planning to write content for a living, then you’re going to spend a lot of time at your desk! It helps to create a pleasant working environment that doesn’t distract you from your work.
Firstly, keep your working environment neat and tidy. A cluttered, messy desk and room are distracting and will affect your concentration. Some minor additions to your workspace can also make a difference. For example, adding a houseplant to your desk or a few photos might make your workspace feel more pleasant overall. A happy workspace is a productive workspace!
By putting some thought into your workspace and how it’s arranged, you’ll notice the difference in your output and motivation.
7. Build Up A Database Of Useful Resources
As a content writer, you’ll usually end up working in one or two niches. So, you’ll often be researching similar topics while hunting down relevant facts and figures for your work.
One of the most useful things that you can do to streamline your work process is set up a database on your computer with links to useful resources you’ve found. You can then refer to this database when writing future content to find relevant resources quickly and easily.
This is an excellent habit to get into early on in your career. Just remember to delete the older research from your database as you find more up-to-date information!
As you can see, it’s possible to learn content writing using online resources, time, and some hard work. Like any skill, the key is to practice, practice, practice! The more you write, the better your work will become as your confidence grows, and your rates can then increase too.
There’s a wealth of free information and resources online that you can use to learn content writing. Ultimately, if you love writing and reading, then there’s no better way to turn your passion into an income source than to become a professional content writer!