Paola Bassanese is a freelance author and writer specialising in food, lifestyle and entertainment.
Writing content and/or copy is competitive work, and expectations from recruiters and potential clients may go beyond simple writing ability to include things like image editing and social media skills. Once writers have decided on which niche to work in, they can upskill to ensure they stay relevant.
Essential Skills for All Content Writers
When searching for content writing positions on major job sites, the essential skills writers should demonstrate include:
- An excellent grasp of spelling and grammar
- good time-management skills to ensure all deadlines are met
- The ability to accurately edit and proofread
- Research skills
- Attention to detail
- The ability to adapt one’s style of writing to conform to the tone of voice (TOV) of the client so that new content can weave in seamlessly with existing content
- Storytelling skills to engage the reader and facilitate conversions (sales)
- A good understanding of search engine optimisation (SEO)
- The ability to fact-check information and refer to reputable sources
- The ability to write many different types of content including articles, press releases, e-books, social media posts, email newsletters, blog posts, and more
Content writers should be able to absorb information quickly then package it in a way that is easy to understand. When it comes to sales copy, writers must be able to ensure their copy encourages readers to take action (e.g., make a purchase or enquire about a service.)
Desirable Skills for Content Writers
Each industry has its own set of requirements for content writers. For example, when working in verticals such as the finance or technology sector, writers need to have a good understanding of that sector and—ideally—prior experience.
Additional skills that feature in job specifications for content writers include:
- Interviewing skills, particularly with people at the senior level and industry experts
- Familiarity with content management systems such as WordPress
- Knowledge of image editing software such as Adobe Photoshop or Canva
- Ability to write scripts for videos and podcasts
- Ability to write documentation such as user guides and instruction manuals for products
- Ability to follow trends, gain insights and come up with new topic ideas
Websites such as Indeed (see related article on finding remote jobs on Indeed), WeWorkRemotely and Problogger feature content writing vacancies on a regular basis, and search results often include hybrid positions combining writing with social media expertise and content planning.
For example, some job roles require writers to be able to deliver content such as articles and find relevant pictures to accompany them as well as create infographics detailing the key points contained in the content.
In the case of podcasts, the emphasis is typically on strong storytelling with the ability to convey ideas in a conversational manner.
For roles requiring writing for social media, expectations often include being able to draw up a content plan and create posts that generate engagement.
It can be an extremely valuable asset to manage your own WordPress website to gain experience in formatting text; some content writing roles require that candidates create drafts directly on a client’s WordPress site ready for publication.
How to Stay Relevant
Freelance writers can join online communities to exchange advice on how to stay relevant in a competitive market and how to keep their skills up to date. For example, there are a few communities on Reddit that are dedicated to freelance writers, however, it can be quite time-consuming to browse through the entries.
There are many online courses for advanced writing skills that include marketing and SEO. Once you have figured out what additional skills may be required for a role, it can be a valuable investment to gain a certification to demonstrate that you have acquired the necessary knowledge. It is also worth investigating opportunities to learn on the job.
Another strategy to employ to stay relevant is to ensure you are active on your own social media profiles; LinkedIn can be useful for sharing your latest content and connecting with potential clients and employers. The key is to show how competent you are, how you can help by producing content that is specific to your chosen field and network with your contacts to find out what projects they are working on.
However, it is worth noting that it takes a while to make an impact on LinkedIn. several factors come into play when it comes to gaining visibility, such as having a large network, using the right hashtags when posting and regularly commenting on other people’s posts. Direct messages are often ignored, as inboxes tend to be full of sponsored messages.
It takes a range of skills to be a successful content writer, so keeping a close eye on the market is an extremely beneficial way to spot new trends and client requirements.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Paola Bassanese
Paola Bassanese (author) from London on September 17, 2021:
Thank you for your comment Umesh. It seems employers want more and more from writers!
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 17, 2021:
It is very exhaustive article with nice details and good points. Thanks