The ads for freelance content writers are everywhere, and they promise that you don’t need any experience to be successful.
While that’s a bit of an exaggeration, the fact is there are many people creating content who started out in your shoes. If you have a solid grasp of the language, enjoy writing and can manage your time properly, you might have found your next career goal.
Don’t let little things like grammar and spelling hold you back. There are plenty of tools to help with those parts of the job.
If you can string together sentences in a flow that makes sense, use that and these tips to become a content writer and start writing like a pro.
1. Learn How to Use Headers
What’s the first thing you noticed when you skimmed through this article? The headlines!
When a reader decides whether an article is worth their time or not, the first thing they do is check out the headlines. They have to be eye-catching enough to convince the audience to stick around and read the rest of the content.
You can spend a lot of money taking courses online to learn this concept, but you don’t have to. Sites like Medium offer free tutorials for new writers, and what they include is plenty to get you started.
2. Develop a Hook
You grabbed the reader with your headlines long enough to convince them to give you a shot. The next step is to keep them around with a catchy hook.
This is the first sentence in your article that leads to the rest of the content. It needs to catch the audience’s attention and prove that you know what you’re talking about or that the reader will gain what they want to learn from the article.
The term “hook” is a fishing metaphor used because that’s exactly what you’re doing: Hook the reader and reel them in with your words. You have to use the right bait to catch them.
Your hook should match the style of writing of the rest of the content. If your goal is to be informative, start out with a question that leaves the reader thirsty for the answer. If your content is humorous, be witty and engaging from the start.
3. Write About What You Know
It’s tempting to start applying for any content writing job you see, especially when you’re first beginning. You do want to start building your portfolio. However, there are a few reasons you should stick with what you know or topics slightly outside of your comfort zone.
First, with familiar topics, you’re able to focus on learning search engine optimization principles as you write. SEO is the ultimate goal of any website content because it’s what drives traffic to the site (and brings clients to the person paying you to write for them).
With an unfamiliar concept, you’re pushing yourself to research material and the structure at the same time. You can’t master everything at once, especially at beginner rates, which is what you may find yourself charging until you get enough experience under your belt.
Give yourself time to learn how to write content before you try to learn new topics, too. Otherwise, you could end up spending hours on an article you were paid $10 to write.
4. Add Research to Your Content
Unlike what your years of literature teachers tried to reinforce, you don’t have to write like a researcher. You won’t be expected to cite your evidence, include sources, and add a title page. (Well, not for content writing anyway, but there are jobs out there where this is necessary.)
However, you do need to be able to back up your claims and support your evidence when it makes sense to do so. Hyperlinking to credible sources improves your SEO rankings. If you use a non-competitor’s site for statistics, metrics, and data, link back to that site with a few keywords.
5. Edit Before You Submit
When you start working with a new client, be sure you understand what they’ll be doing with your content. Will they run it through an editor before they upload it to their site? Or do they expect you to completely polish the piece and submit it as a ready-to-use final draft?
Either way, part of your writing process should include an editing component. There are free resources to help you with this part. Use the Hemingway app to check your writing style. This app lets you know if you used too many adverbs or passive voice sentences and if your structure is clear.
With these tips and your talents, you have the basics to begin content writing like a professional. All you need next are experience and a portfolio, so head to your writing forums and platforms and start applying for jobs now!