Women and Writing: How to Become a Top Content Writer

Becoming a content writer is something that many people assume to be an easy ride. You wake up, you write an article or two, and then you have the rest of the day to yourself – or so they think. However, becoming a successful content writer is not as easy as it appears. It takes time, skills, and patience. While the benefits of working remotely can be all someone needs to pursue a career in writing, there are a number of people who back out within the first year of trying. If you have the resilience to take the leap, and the skills to blow readers’ and clients’ minds, then there is nothing stopping your from following your dream, apart from yourself.

Invest in a good computer system

If you are going to be spending every working day on your laptop or desktop system, then it needs to be a good one. Speediness and memory space are key, as you may be required to download certain software for a new client, and you will often need to be producing content in high volumes in a short space of time. If you get frustrated with your computer after being on it for a few hours, then you know you won’t be able to work from it for hours each day, your screen may be too small, or the keyboard too difficult to navigate. These are all signs that you should be considering a new one. It is understandably daunting to invest money in a new computer at the start of your career, so it’s a good idea to rent a computer before you save up enough money and confidence to commit.

Register as self-employed

When you are a content writer, you could be working for a company who enters you onto the payroll system in order for you to pay your taxes. Yet, most content writers work freelance, and develop working relationships with many clients over the course of their career. This also means that they are responsible for paying their own taxes; in the wake of tax scandals in recent years, it’s always wise to join the millions of other self-employed people as soon as you can to avoid any hidden fees. You won’t want your hard work going to waste if you get caught out over a small mistake, so check local and national regulations fully.

Discover your niche

There is a possibility that you are a highly versatile writer, who can mold themselves around any subject that may come their way. Even so, it is always good to specialize early on in your career if you want to land the writing jobs that are most enjoyable, and that you can learn something from as you go along. Not only will this allow you to build a name for yourself in that field, but it will enable you to enjoy the freedom that many content writers speak of when they have hit a golden streak in their work. It marks the difference between you stating that you are a content writer or, for example, a business writer, a travel writer, or a medical writer. Each field has noticeably different rates of pay, so you need to weigh up whether it’s worth writing for a niche you aren’t keen on for more money, or for one you love for slightly less. If you can truly establish yourself in your niche, there’s a high chance you won’t need to worry about rates in the long run.

Set up a blog or portfolio

What you may notice when you are applying for jobs online is that potential clients will ask for some examples of your written work in order to consider you for a position. Having a strong portfolio is not only a good thing to have, but necessary. If you are just starting out, you may not have a bank of published work to rely on. This is where you need to put the graft in, by offering to do your first pieces as part of an internship or voluntary position. This may seem like a lot of time to put in for future jobs you may not get, but it is essential if you need to have some published work in your portfolio. This may also open opportunities for you, as word of mouth will spread about your abilities and land you new clients. Once your work has built up to a substantial level, transfer your work from your portfolio onto a professional-looking website for people to find you.

Figure out your rates

This is where most writers struggle. When you are starting out, it’s important to set your rates low as you build up experience and a reliable client base. After you have done this, you need to sit down and assess your finances. Ultimately, you want to be working a sustainable amount for a pay packet that will keep you afloat, and pay for small luxuries and savings. If you are currently working hard for small payments, then don’t be afraid to ask them to up your rates, and if they say no, then realize your self-worth and go on a search for new clients. It may seem like a drag, but it will pay off in the long run when you eventually achieve shorter working hours for great rates of pay.

Make use of online resources

This applies to the job hunt, as well as to improving your writing. Just as the internet helps countless people in their everyday jobs, it will also help you in yours. Luckily, there is an infinite amount of resources available to budding content writers, but you need to find the right ones. For example, don’t follow blogs or subscribe to emails from people who promise to make you lots of money in the space of a few days, as these schemes are tempting, but they almost never work. You should be following people who write in a similar niche to you, or joining Facebook groups to get advice from successful writers. You can even find jobs in these groups if you are willing to sift through the low-paying offers from companies that don’t seem legitimate. Even better are the job boards such as Problogger or Freelancewriting.com, who update new listings every day for you to apply to.

Work hard

Contrary to popular belief, you won’t get anywhere if you sit around doing nothing and hoping for clients to come to you. Even when you start making big money and have made a name for yourself, you still need to search for new work whenever you need it. Content writing is one of the few jobs where your hard work will show in the work you produce, and receiving good praise from a client is enough to make anyone’s day.

Do more than one draft

On rare occasions, you can get away with writing one draft and submitting it, but this is usually for low-paying clients where it isn’t sustainable for you to sit and re-draft for hours in return for little pay. In other times, it’s a good idea to write one draft, and return to it later with fresh eyes to see if it reads as well as you initially thought. You may think that something sounds great, but you need to make sure it is optimized for the reader experience, as well as for SEO purposes. This is where a tool like Visible Thread will help you cut down on time by showing you where you need to improve your writing. This could even save you from re-writing an entire piece.

Put yourself out there

You have the perfect portfolio, a polished resume, and several good references, but you need to find yourself some clients. This is the part where many people give up, as the whole process can be daunting and off-putting when you sometimes don’t hear back from any applications. Eventually, something will pull through. Make sure you try cold emailing, advertising yourself on social media, giving out business cards, as well as other techniques that will create ripples in the writing circuit and land you a few jobs. Confidence is key in this world, so market yourself as the best at what you do, even if you don’t believe that yet.

Be prepared to take criticism

Someone once said that being a writer who doesn’t want to be criticized is like being a boxer who doesn’t want to be punched. Criticism is the only way in writing to build up a varied skill set and become more resilient. It may be hard hearing your first bits of criticism, but bear in mind that the client isn’t telling you off – if they didn’t want to work with you, they wouldn’t waste time growing your potential, they would just cut you off. It’s worth noting that there is a difference between constructive feedback and criticism that won’t help you. If your client oversteps the line, or isn’t helping you grow, then it’s more than alright to talk to them about this. You need to build a thick skin to be a content writer; if this is something you can’t handle, then it’s best to rethink your chosen path.

Thanks to Wendy Manning

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