As a content writer, the more skills you have under your belt, the better you are at what you do. Knowing how to self-edit is one of those invaluable skills that separates mediocre content writers from great ones. But there are many other things a freelance writer should know before getting started, like SEO basics or social media strategy. We’ve compiled a list of 13 essential skills every content writer should possess.
Fixing grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes is a common practice amongst writers, even if they’re professionals. Over time, this becomes second nature and the need to constantly correct things goes away.
Some writers even forget to correct simple mistakes because they get so used to reading their own content, and it’s easy to fall into that trap.
If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, you must be able to self-edit your work. Before publishing anything, take a few minutes to study your content, fix errors and make sure everything is completely accurate. Don’t rely on spell-check either – always read over what you’ve written.
2. Reading, Reading and More Reading
Content writing is a fascinating business because it’s so related to the other fields in which you can freelance. There are things that every writer knows – audience engagement, or how to write for brands — but there’s also an endless amount of knowledge required of a content writer that doesn’t relate to writing.
A writer should always read the news, industry blog posts, and content on the internet to get a better understanding of what’s trending and relevant. A writer can’t be an expert in everything, but he must know what’s important and write about it in a way that elicits emotion from his readers.
3. SEO Basics
When looking for freelance writers, it’s important that you know who you’re dealing with and what their skillsets are. If you hire an SEO copywriter, a writer who has basic knowledge of SEO will be able to write quality content that gets a lot of traffic.
An SEO copywriter must be able to write the kind of content that is easily accessible by search engines, making it highly readable and interesting. This is not simple because it requires extensive knowledge of the ways in which search engines work, and knowing what kind of information they need to index your website efficiently.
4. Multi-Platform Content Creation
Content writers need to know the differences between platforms and how each one works. An article for one platform might not work on another, and that’s where a basic understanding of each platform — with its strengths or weaknesses – comes into play.
An experienced content writer knows how to create content that is optimized for multiple platforms, which means he doesn’t have to create multiple versions of each piece of content when he publishes it.
5. Social Media Strategy
The amount of time a content writer spends on social media is directly correlated to the quality of his content. If he’s spending all day on Facebook and Instagram, creating posts for this platform, he can’t be as productive on other platforms. A writer must keep up with what’s popular in social media and know which strategies work for each platform.
A good social media strategist must always have a plan executed, and then track results from each post. He must be able to use the analytics to create a strategy that will help him reach his goals, whether he’s trying to get more followers or better engagement.
6. Learn How To Work With Others
No one person knows everything about content writing. That’s why writers rely on others for information, and why they must be able to work well with others in order to provide high-quality content.
A writer needs to know how to ask questions and be able to listen to feedback. Alongside being able to share ideas with others, he must also be able to take criticism well.
Some writers may feel uncomfortable with this aspect of their work, so before you start working on a project for a client or employer, make sure you know what kind of environment you’re placed into.
7. Lengthy Writing Process
Whether it’s a blog post or an article that needs to be written, you should always take the time to make sure that your content will be up to par. It’s important to understand what kind of content a reader is looking for and how long they’re willing to wait for it.
A writer should have a time frame in mind, and know-how long he can spend on each piece of content before he has to move on. When you’re creating your schedules, don’t forget to also factor in breaks and weekends when you’re publishing content.
8. Consistency & Integrity
No other thing is more important than being consistent with the quality of your work. A writer must produce high-quality content daily and show that he knows what he’s doing by doing this consistently. Repetition equals success, so make sure that the work you do should be good enough to be published daily for weeks on end.
9. Be Open to Feedback
When writing, you should always take feedback into account. It’s always good to have someone else look over your work and give you advice on how you can improve it. Your clients and employers will be grateful for the comments that they give you because they’re their opinion about whether or not your content is good enough.
10. Know Your Audience & Write for Them
It’s important to understand what kind of content is most relevant to your audience. For example, if you’re writing a blog post about a certain subject, it would be a good idea to research that subject and know exactly what kind of content your readers like.
Knowing the types of information that your audience needs will allow you to make timely posts because this information will either match what people are searching for or comment on and provide some insight into the topic.
11. Time Management
This is perhaps the most important skill that a content writer must-have. A good time manager knows how to prioritize and get things done, no matter what’s on his agenda. If you want your job to be successful, you can’t allow all of the other things that are going on in your life to distract you from your work.
Content writers who are good at management will also make sure they don’t bite off more than they can chew. They can plan and manage multiple projects at the same time because they know when it’s time to work on a certain project.
12. Personal Branding
As a writer, you need to have some kind of personal brand that people can recognize when they see you in the public eye. Even if you’re writing for large companies, being able to maintain your own personal brand is so important in today’s world. A writer whose brand is known by others will be more likely to get hired and recommended by others in the industry.
This allows the writer to maximize his income because not only is he more likely to be hired, but he’s also more likely to be recommended to others. This increases the writer’s reputation, which leads to a higher salary.
Being professional is one of the most important qualities that a writer must-have. He must be able to work professionally with any type of person or company. This means that he must take a lot of ownership over his work. Job security is also based on professionalism because clients won’t want to work with someone who doesn’t take his job seriously.
Content writing is a powerful tool for business owners who want to increase their chances of gaining more exposure. By creating and publishing high-quality content on a regular basis, you can be sure that your website will be on the first page of Google for your target keyword.
The people who are reading your content will be more likely to click on it and visit your website because they trust the information that you’re providing. You won’t just have an increase in traffic, but you’ll also have a higher conversion rate.
A good content writer should be able to not only write creatively and share valuable information with the world but also understand the importance of each skill that we’ve mentioned above.
Bloggers who write about their experiences are most likely to get published in popular sites and gain a following. On the other hand, those who can provide authoritative and credible sources will help their readers make better decisions that improve their lives.
Last but not least, a good content writer should be able to communicate and work with others. These are the skills that will help a writer maximize their income and find more clients in the industry.
Getting started in content writing? Check out our content writing guide here.