So you want to be a content writer?

Writing can be frustrating and draining, but it is very, very rewarding. To give you a balanced view of what it will be like earning a living writing, here are some the things you should be prepared for.

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of starting your writing career, let’s take a look at what you are letting yourself in for! I’ll be absolutely honest here, writing for yourself, on your own blog, is one thing, but writing for other people is a very different ball game. We will look at blogging and writing content for publishing under your own name later, because these are ways of creating that elusive passive income that everyone talks about. The way that you will earn tomorrow from your writing tomorrow, though, is writing articles for other people’s websites. Before you even try and do that, here are some of the things that I had to learn.

You will not be creating works of art
If you want to write award winning prose, then content writing is certainly not the way to go about it! What your customers will be looking for in your articles is clear, concise writing that is grammatically correct and follows dome basic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) rules that we will discuss in a later post. The objective of web content is generally the following:

  • Enable people to find a website on a google search
  • Keep people on that website for a reasonable amount of time
  • Entice them to buy something or to read more

Your writing will need to be entertaining, engaging and well written, but you cannot afford to spend hours and hours on one single article making it perfect. Most content articles are in the region of 500 – 705 words. That’s just over one page in Word, using an average font size of 11. When you first start out, you might find that it does take you quite a long time to write that much, but you will find that you speed up with practice. In time, you should be aiming for approximately five hundred words every thirty to forty minutes, so there’s no time for works of art!

You will need to think like your audience
When you start advertising your writing services, you will need to be prepared to write on just about any subject. You can, of course, refuse to accept work that is pornographic or offensive, and it is quite usual for writers to do this. You will, however, be asked to write for no end of different types of web sites on many different topics. To do that, you need to think like, or at least empathise with, the target audience of a website. The best example of this is that one of my best customers is a ladies health and beauty magazine and I am a middle aged, overweight man who smokes!

You will need a thick skin
I’m not trying to put off here, just prepare you, so you don’t get the surprises that I did. Writing content on the internet means that you will come across all kinds of people. 99.9% of them are nice, reasonable people, but, very occasionally, you come across the complete idiot, and that can be very off-putting for a writer. In over two years of writing content, I have only had two or three customers who have given me negative feedback, but it is still disappointing when you do get it. Always remember, though, that writing is a very subjective thing. You won’t like all the books that I read and vice versa. Accept criticism of your work with a positive attitude and don’t let it put you off. Try and understand why you got it and work on not getting it again, but equally, understand that some people just seem to love finding fault and being critical and those people, you can just ignore.

You will need to be able to write about things that will bore you
You will also need to learn to be able to write on topics that are mundane and repetitive and that can take a lot of patience. When you feel the boredom taking control, just remember it’s a job and that you’ll be writing something more interesting tomorrow.

You will need determination
You will get times that you feel it’s just not worth the effort. When you first start out writing content, the income you earn will small for the amount of time that it is taking you. Don’t give up early, though, because you will speed up and you will get into a writing rhythm.

You will need to sell yourself
If you have never sold a thing before, then selling yourself might seem a bit alien to you. We will come on to advertising your services in a later post, but you will need to learn not to be self-deprecating about yourself on advertisements and biographies you write for yourself.

You will need to take breaks
My final point, in this rather negative sounding first chapter, is to take frequent breaks from your writing. Seriously, Writer’s block may or may not be a myth, but writers burn-out is certainly realty. Take frequent breaks during the day and take complete breaks at the weekend. If you don’t get away from your keyboard once in a while, you will get tired, make mistakes and just get bored.

But, you will love it!
If you got this far, then I haven’t put you off yet! To balance some of the negatives I have mentioned above, writing is the most rewarding and satisfying jobs that I have ever had. I don’t have to go into an office, I chose when I work, and when I don’t and I get a huge sense of achievement because, for once in my life, I am actually creating something and I’m getting paid for it.

Watch this blog for the next in this series of posts on howto make money writing. In the meantime, you can make a start on your new writing career by checking out the link below:

Learn how to write articles and get access to loads of real writing jobs