What Is Content Writing? (Beginner’s Guide)

A lot of what you read online is produced by content writers. Content writing is an important skill in the online world. If you master it, there’s no limit to the work you can do – and money you can earn!

Using expertly crafted messaging, content writers inform, entertain, and educate readers. In this article, we take a closer look at content writing, the skills you need to do it, and how much you can earn as a content writer. First up, let’s take a closer look at what content writing involves.

What Is Content Writing?

Content writing is content written for a specific marketing purpose. Its aim might be to inform readers about a product or service, educate an audience about a topic, or generate a discussion about something. When someone refers to content writing, they’re usually referring to some form of online writing such as a blog post, article, social media post, or email.

Content writing also often involves the use of search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques to boost websites’ rankings in the search engine results pages (SERPs) and attract more readers. It needs to be informative and engaging and provide value to the reader.

Content Writing Meaning

Content writing means different things to different people. But it’s important to realise that, fundamentally, if you’re reading a piece of text, online or offline, it was written by a content writer of some kind.

The terms “content writing” and “copywriting” are sometimes used interchangeably. But they’re actually different types of writing, each requiring unique skill sets.

Content Writing vs Copywriting

The main difference between content writing and copywriting is their purpose. As we know, content writing aims to educate, entertain, or inform an audience. While content writing might occur in the broader context of selling a product or service through building an audience, that isn’t always its primary aim.

Copywriting, on the other hand, is designed purely to persuade. It aims to prompt the reader to do something, for example to buy a product. Copywriting is also usually short-form. For example, ad campaigns, headlines, and slogans all involve copywriting. Content writing is generally long-form.

Let’s look at some specific examples to fully understand what content writing is.

What Is a Content Writer?

The role of a content writer is to produce written content. They may work as a freelance content writer, or they might work as part of a team or agency, producing content for one or more clients at a time. They may also produce content for their own use.

But there’s a lot more to it than that short definition! Content writers offer a wide range of different services to businesses and website niches.

Content writers may:

  • Create unique text about a concept or topic that the client has requested
  • Use keywords and SEO techniques to generate organic traffic for the site
  • Write content that informs, entertains, and engages a target audience to promote a product, service, brand, or website
  • Deliver high-quality content that interests readers and increases the amount of time they spend on the site
  • Converts site visitors to paying customers by building trust and brand recognition

What Skills Do You Need as a Content Writer?

The online space is generally competitive, and content writing is no exception! To be a content writer, you need to be something of a jack-of-all-trades. As you develop your skills, you’ll find that they’re highly transferable and will serve you well in other aspects of your life.

To succeed as a content writer, the following skills are useful:

  • Flawless grammar
  • Excellent research skills
  • The ability to consistently meet deadlines
  • Being able to deliver complex information in easy-to-read ways
  • Proofreading skills
  • Editing and formatting skills
  • A broad base of general knowledge
  • Good understanding of SEO
  • Social media expertise
  • Being able to write for specific demographics
  • Creativity and flair in your writing
  • Attention to detail

Why Do Businesses Need Content Writers?

Content writers play an important role in the marketing, branding, and communications of any business. There are several reasons for this.

High-quality, targeted SEO writing can boost a website’s ranking in the SERPs, which can bring in a greater volume of organic traffic. Content writing also builds trust with potential customers and boosts conversions. Interesting and valuable content increases the amount of time visitors spend on a site, translating into more interactions and more sales.

Informative content helps to establish a business or brand as an authority in its field. Well thought-out content writing answers the questions potential customers may have and educates them about the ways that products or services can help them solve their problems.

7 Content Writing Examples

1. Blogs

Blogging is one of the most important types of content writing on the internet. There are more than 4 million new blog posts published each day! While this means there’s a lot of content writing work available, there’s also a lot of competition when it comes to attracting readers’ attention. So, you need to be able to write engaging, SEO text to convert new readers into loyal followers.

Successful content writing for blogs requires a good understanding of your readers’ needs. By understanding the type of information, advice, products, and services they’re looking for, you can create clear, high-quality content for your readers.

You’ll also need to have solid research skills. You must base your blog articles on factual and accurate information. So, if you’re writing about a new topic, you’ll need to research essential facts and background details to incorporate into your blog post.

2. Technical Writing

A technical writer is an expert in a particular field. They produce information-rich content that promotes or explains a product, service, or industry. Technical content writers create ‘how-to’ articles, ebooks, white papers, business to business (B2B) documents, manuals, guides, and FAQs.

It’s a fine line for technical writers to keep their content clear and engaging while conveying complex, technical information. Technical writing isn’t for everyone. It’s a type of content writing that requires specialist background training, educational qualifications, or extensive experience in a particular field.

3. Social Media

More than 55% of the world’s population uses social media. So, the opportunities for businesses and websites to generate organic traffic through social media are enormous! Unsurprisingly, there’s a huge demand for writers who can produce social media content that promotes businesses, products, and services to a carefully targeted audience.

Writing on social media requires a unique skill set. You need to be able to instantly catch and retain the attention of a social media user scrolling through their feed. To be able to stand out on social media, a content writer also needs to understand the quirks and subcultures on the various platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

4. Emails

Email campaigns for businesses can involve both content and copywriting, depending on the aim of the campaign. Content writing is involved when the purpose of the campaign is to inform, educate, or entertain an audience.

There’s a real skill to writing an effective email that connects with an audience. Given the number of emails people receive, it needs to be immediately engaging. Content writing for email campaigns involves providing value and informative solutions to real-world problems, because this will give you the best feedback and results.

5. Brand Journalism

The aim of brand journalism is to promote and boost a company or website’s brand image.  Content writers in brand journalism produce press releases and write narrative texts highlighting the benefits of the company. This includes conducting interviews with customers to write human interest stories and long-form testimonials to help readers understand the ways that the brand can improve their lives.

Brand journalists also write texts about the story of the company, its directors, or CEOs to improve the company’s image and boost customer loyalty and affiliation with the brand. The focus of this type of content writing is less on the practical details of a product or service and more on the culture, ethos, or emotionally compelling aspects of the company’s story.

6. Ghostwriting

This type of content creation involves writers completing projects for websites, companies, and other authors on their behalf. As the name suggests, ghostwriters work behind the scenes. They don’t receive credit for the work they author and once the text is sold, it’s the property of the client.

Most of a ghostwriter’s work consists of blogs, product reviews, articles, and other relatively short-form content. But ghostwriters can also write books and other longer-form texts on behalf of authors who don’t have the time or skills to do it themselves.

Ghostwriters need to be able to write in a wide range of tones and voices to properly represent the client they’re working for. Ghostwriting is an exciting way to write about a huge range of different topics. It’s also a common way for beginners to break into the writing industry.

7. Content Writing for SEO

SEO writing involves using keywords to boost a website’s rankings in the SERPs. The strategic use of keywords ensures people searching for a given topic are more likely to find a website.

Content writing for SEO needs to be highly focused and answer questions the reader has. When done correctly, SEO writing can generate huge volumes of new traffic within very short periods of time. However, it’s normally more of a long-term strategy. Affiliate marketing and promotional campaigns often employ SEO writing when launching new products and services.

However, relying too heavily on SEO techniques alone can be problematic, as the search engine algorithms become increasingly hard to game. But it’s an extremely powerful tool when used in conjunction with high-quality, informative content.

Other Examples of Content Writing

Some other examples of content writing are:

  • Editorial pieces
  • Podcast scripts
  • Ebooks
  • Reviews
  • Newsletters
  • YouTube scripts
  • B2B white papers

Content Writing for Digital Marketing vs Traditional Content Writing

Writing for an online audience requires a different skill set than writing for magazines, newspapers, or other analogue media. Online readers tend to skim much of the content they come across. It needs to be very engaging or directly address a specific question they have for readers to take a closer look. By contrast, offline readers usually study a text at a slower pace and more carefully than if they were reading it online.

This means that online content writers need to be able to quickly catch a reader’s attention and then keep it by providing continuous value and information on a given topic.

In this sense, online content writers need to be better at engaging an audience than their offline counterparts. However, the rewards are far greater in the online ecosystem. Readers spend more time online than they do with offline publications and the audiences are far larger.

How Much Can I Earn as a Content Writer?

Like many freelance professions, the average annual income for a content writer varies. It depends on the niche they work in, their experience in the industry, the volume of quality work they can produce, and how much they choose to charge.

Content writers can earn six-figure salaries at the peak of their career, but in the early days, earnings can be quite modest. The average salary for a content writer in the UK is £25,300 per year. In the US, it’s $47,800 (about £41,000).

In the World of Content Writing, Quality Is King

Since the dawn of the internet age, people have never been faced with so much information, products, services, and choices in every aspect of their lives. To stand out from the crowd as a content writer, you need to ensure that that you always prioritise quality writing.

Providing your readers with informative, engaging, and value-adding content will help you succeed in the long term as a freelance content writer. Content writing is a hugely rewarding pursuit that can offer a decent income and an enjoyable job. You’ll never stop learning new things while helping your readers solve their problems and live their best lives!