A Career in Content Writing: 5 Easy Steps to Get Started
Have you always been the chosen one amongst friends and family to word anything that requires the perfect use of vocabulary, grammar and expressions?
Are you in love with reading, researching or wordplay, and keen to share your own perspective?
Well, that’s how I was when I started, and precisely what I continue to do after 10 rewarding years of being a content writer. So can you, if writing is your forte!
The industry and social media are ruled entirely by content- in all forms- textual or visual (including video) and as a result, content writers will always be in great demand.
So, if you think you can creatively, effectively and smartly communicate any idea or concept, then you should give Content Writing a serious thought.
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What is Content Writing All About?
In simple words, content writing is just wordplay. If you can write a whole lot of content and put it across in words that are reader-friendly, engaging and informative, you are on your way to becoming a great content writer.
“Content” is a broad term and means the use of words to convey things to others- about your business, your idea, your project- simply anything. For example, a fashion designer sets up a new website, and wishes to showcase her business, what she does, her distinctions in the field, what services she offers. Here content will help her showcase her brand to the world in the right light.
As a content writer, you will be assigned ideas and topics (or be asked to come up on your own), on which you have to create the content. Such content can be both digital, such as content for websites, blogs, ads, social media platforms, etc., or offline, such as stories, presentations, projects, technical papers, research papers, etc.
Content is the heart of marketing, so in addition to digital content, you can also develop content for promotional marketing materials such as brochures, leaflets, hoardings/billboards, print ads, etc.
But before you take out your pen and paper (or laptop!) and begin writing you should also know that content writing is not about writing whatever comes to your mind, or writing from your own knowledge base.
A good content piece is based on a fine balance of diligent research, wordplay, sound expertise, and of course, good vocabulary and grammar. Not just that, high-quality content is never created in the first go, but requires incisive editing, rewording and fine-tuning to ensure that every single word is on point.
Now that I have captured your interest, let’s look at what it takes to don the content writer’s hat.
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How to Become a Content Writer in India
The great thing about content writing as a field is that there are no defined paths or qualifications necessary to enter it. While that may feel a little daunting at first, it does give you a lot of flexibility since you can take up content writing at any stage of your professional life, through any path, and in different capacities (freelance, full-time or part-time).
Not to say that you can’t take steps to ensure smooth entry into the field. A degree in literature, journalism and mass communication are preferred degrees, while for technical and research writing you may need a master’s degree in a specialised field (for example, life sciences, physics, engineering, psychology, etc.).
In either case, good writing skills and an analytical mind are two things you cannot do without.
Here are a few recommended ways to start your career as a content writer:
A great way to dip your toes in the (figurative) content writing pool is to take up freelance projects. Companies are increasingly outsourcing their content writing requirements to independent writers, and such opportunities are abundantly available on freelancing websites such as Fiverr, Freelancer, WorknHire, Upwork, etc.
As a freelancer, you can build your expertise and portfolio over time, and set your own pace for work.
If you are still in college/school, you can also start off by trying your hand at internships with organizations(online or offline) or contributing to columns for magazines and newspapers.
I remember the cheer my first article brought me when it was published in Hindustan Times years back when I was only 13. I interned that summer for a Singapore-based magazine which paid me enough to treat myself to goodies!
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Youngsters as old (or young) as 12-13 years are blogging today which I feel is really the first step anyone can take towards writing. Setting up your own blog is free, you can write at your own pace, and you don’t need any qualifications as such. You require only a writing style and voice that resonates well with your target audience. So it’s a win-win situation on all fronts.
Even if you are not able to monetize your blog, it is still an undemanding way to build your portfolio and experiment with writing styles.
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4. Added Qualifications
For writing as a subject matter expert, added qualifications are required. Higher qualifications add to your ability to process information and add your own expertise to it, and as you grow older, you can complement your writing skills with them.
Technical data can only be well-analysed and presented by a person technically qualified for it. An automobile manufacturing industry would require engineers to do the content writing for most of their parts and a medical college book would require proof-reading done by a qualified subject matter expert in it.
5. Certification Programs
You may choose to top up your graduate or post-graduate degrees with certification programs and short-term courses in skills associated with writing, content marketing and digital marketing. There are various courses in blogging, electronic rhetoric, technical writing, copywriting, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), CMS (Content Management System), WordPress, Keyword Research, Social Media Fundamentals, etc.
Such courses improve your writing skills and competence in the professional market. These are recommended as content writing is getting competitive with its greater demand.
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Scope of Content Writing in India
Content Writers are hired both as full-time writers and freelancers with MNCs, start-ups, institutions, and even by individuals.
Some career opportunities available in India and abroad are:
- Content Creators/ Developers
- Content Strategists
- SEO Content Writers
- Brand Journalists
- Social Media Specialists
- Curriculum Designer
- Instructional Designers
- Academic Writers or Researchers
- Technical Writers
- Subject Matter Experts
- Video Content Creators
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Courses/Certifications For Content Writing
If you are serious about giving content writing a go, you will find that short-term courses and certifications add on to your skills and give a definite guideline about what works best in the digital world. Courses in SEO content, Press Release, Creative writing, Business writing, Editorial writing, Report and Research Writing, Instructional Design, Ghostwriting and Copywriting are just a few courses that you may search for to find what interests you the most.
There are a number of courses available in India and abroad which are both online and offline-
- TBS The Brand Salon, Mumbai
- IIEDM, Mumbai
- Content Knock Out, Bangalore
- Inventateq, Bangalore
- Digital Academy 360, Bangalore
- Leads Academy, Multiple Locations
- Udemy Content Writing Course (Online)
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Tips for Aspiring Content Writers
I am sure if you have read through till this point, content writing is not just a casual, temporary interest for you. For all you fledgeling writers, I just wanted to give my two cents on a few things I have learnt in my years as a content writer.
- Read, Read and Read- Funny as it may sound, the number one tip is not “write, write and write” I sincerely feel that only a well-read person (read: intensive and voracious reader) can infuse more life to her writing.
- Improve your Networking– Attend more seminars, workshops to know more about the latest trends and buzz in the industry. They’ll increase your relevance in the professional market.
- Keep Your Research Base Strong- Articles that are well researched, fresh and logically brewed go down well with clients and readers. Make sure you spend as much time researching for the topic as you do writing it. Research is especially indispensable for technical writing.
- Maintain a Social Media Presence- Just as (or more) important than networking is being there on all major social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium (social network for writers), Twitter, etc. Social media helps you build your personal brand and get eyeballs for your content.
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- Broaden Your Horizons-Write in all niches to broaden your work spheres. Take up every new assignment as a new challenge; the internet is a great tutor!
- Keep Evolving-The content form keeps changing with the needs of social media and its trends. From the written word it has shifted more to video content and chatbots. Be prepared always to embrace the changes that come your way and plan for them in advance (again, by reading up).
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Finally, my biggest advice to all aspiring content writers would be to keep experimenting until you satisfy your own creative urges. The written word is a strong medium of expression of your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and by extension, your own self.
Thus, if you see your future in content writing, don’t be afraid to take the leap, but do so only after a careful evaluation of your fit with the career. And if you’re not sure, you can always speak with career experts.
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An MBA in HR and a graduate in Economics from Delhi University, Vibha is an independent education management professional. Her long experience in academic writing and working with middle school children helps her to enthuse perplexed youngsters on credible career solutions. A creative and passionate writer, Vibha loves writing quirky and funny stories in the young adult and kids genre when she isn’t working on educational solutions.