Writing is one of the most sought-after skills of the 21st century. Written words persuade different audiences to buy your product or patronize your service. Frequently, organizations have to write a copy, create a business plan, or write a video script. They can’t do this without the help of a skillful writer.
However, it is crucial to understand that writing is tasking and requires constant practice to get better. You must understand the aspects of writing you are good at and improve your skills. Subsequently, you can establish yourself in your preferred writing niche.
What is Content Writing?
Content writing involves developing tangible information around a subject matter and tailoring such information to a specific audience. It deals with processes such as researching, editing and, to some extent, publishing the written form of information on client’s websites.
Therefore, content writing involves the production of customer-centric information. This information is to make your audience take the desired action.
Tips to Get Started as a Content Writer
To become a content writer, you must never forget that you are writing to a particular audience. Hence, you might want to remember these tips as you get started;
Use a captivating headline
Your audience should understand your writing by glancing through your discussion topic. Hence, you will want to use a captivating headline that summarizes your information and makes your audience eager to read it.
Capitalize on their emotions
You need to create an emotional connection with your audience through your writing. Hence, the information you provide must solve your audience’s current problem; if not, they will move to the next available information.
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Have a unique voice
As you niche down, you must also have your unique writing voice. Please write so that when your audience comes across your piece, they can attribute it to you.
Edit and proofread well
Editing and proofreading help you avoid avoidable mistakes, which can cost you a lot. As a rule, you should review any piece you have written at least once before the final submission.
Skills You Need as a Content Writer
You need specific skills if you must write effectively. These skills will help position you as an expert in your field. Here are some skills you should acquire:
One of the good qualities of good writing is the ability to seamlessly pass the critical message without confusing the reader. Therefore, communication skill helps you with writing proficiency and shows your audience you have a good command of your writing.
One way to go about this is to have an idea of the educational level of your target audience. There should also be a logical flow of exciting and engaging sentences.
Know what and how to research any topic you are asked to write. Know how to get reliable sources of information. Good research skills will help you collate relevant content. It will help you write valuable information and avoid unnecessary repetitions.
As a writer, you need to harness good writing skills because that sums up what content writing is all about. However, there are different ways of writing; writing to persuade, writing to explain, and writing to convey real or imagined experiences.
While trying to settle down for a writing niche, it is better to be flexible and know which writing style fit your niche because different writing projects require different writing styles.
For instance, a beauty brand would require a different kind of writing than a financial technology brand. For the beauty brand, persuasive writing may work, while writing to explain or convey real experience will work better for the financial technology brand.
Tools for Content Writers
As a newbie content writer, you must understand that you cannot do it alone. Several tools are available, but the most important ones will help you correct your grammar and sentence structure, and check for plagiarism.
Some of these tools are free, but it is better to subscribe to their premium version if you want to enjoy all its functionality. Here are a few to use as a beginner writer:
- Grammarly: Grammarly will help correct your sentences, ensure they are concise and readable and check for plagiarism. However, I suggest you use another plagiarism checker because grammarly is helpful for editing. Some plagiarism checkers include 1text, Quetext, Turnitin, etc.
- Quillbot: Quillbot is a paraphrasing tool that helps restructures your sentences into professional and straightforward formats. It also enables you to summarize longer sentences. However, this tool should majorly be used for research purposes.
- Word tune: Word tune provides alternative sentence structures you can always replace with the existing ones.
- Pomofocus: Distractions can affect your productivity and even cause a delay in the delivery of your work. Pomofocus helps you to be focused and committed to finishing any writing task. Its timer can always help you stay focused and write even faster.
How to Start Content Writing in Africa
If you already have the writing skill and associated tools, the first step to starting content writing is choosing a niche; after this, you can create a portfolio and market your writing services across several freelance platforms until you get your client.
Choosing a niche
There are several niches in writing since writing itself is a vast term. Hence, you should know your writing style and choose the right niche. Some common niches are website content writing, scriptwriting, academic writing, search engine optimization writing, social media writing, email writing, etc.
Website content writing
As a website content writer, you will be responsible for writing every word displayed on different website pages. It includes landing page content writing, case studies for the website, brochures, etc.
Scriptwriting deals with creating content around conversations. It is used mainly by YouTubers or dramatists and involves taking notes of actions, directions, expressions and dialogues. It is connected with visual forms of content like video advertisements, educational videos for content creators, screenplay, stage plays, etc.
Academic writing is a scholarly job for people across different educational disciplines. As an academic writer, you must have sound research ability because your writing will span final year projects, master’s degree thesis, research publications of lecturers, books on courses, etc.
Academic writing involves the data and logical reasoning to address a subject matter. It is often used to propound on a theory, address a problem or concept, and fill scholarly gaps.
SEO writing involves creating actionable content for blogs and websites to make them rank on the first page of search engines like Google.
Hence, you need additional knowledge for SEO writing. Some of the essential SEO writing elements to know include the most searched words in your niche, knowing about link building and performing on-site optimization measures for the websites or blogs.
Social media writing
Social media writing deals with creating content for brands to help boost their online presence using their social media account. It deals with intricately understanding the brand’s social media goals and tailoring its content to measure up to the goals. The purpose is to convert this audience and turn them into loyal customers.
Email writing usually comes in the form of a newsletter. It is a way to build relationships with your audience or sell your client’s product. The keyword here is “email,” meaning every writing is sent via email.
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Creating a portfolio
Here is a question: “How would you show prospective clients that you are the right person for the job?” You cannot go about without having samples beforehand. Having samples is why you need a portfolio.
A portfolio proves your experience with the job you are applying for. There are several ways to build a portfolio;
- You can create writing portfolio on Google using Google Docs
- You can compile links to your published content on portfolio websites like Contently, Muck Rack, Authory, Clippings, Journo, etc. These portfolio websites make your samples accessible to potential clients at once. You won’t need to send a long list of links to your work once you have a portfolio on any of these websites.
As a starter, you can always upload your writing samples to Google Docs and send the link to your potential clients.
Marketing your writing services
You may want to ask, “How will I have samples of my writings since I am just starting out?” Here is how to go about it:
- Apply for internships;
- Research important topics within your niche and write about them.
- Write down a list of brands you would like to work for, and write at least three contents related to the brand’s goal. Then, you can pitch such brands directly.
As a starter, there are blogs in Africa looking for people passionate about writing like you. You can join the community of freelance writers and gain professional knowledge as you scale up your writing career. Some of these blogs are
Once you have portfolios or links to your published articles on these blogs, you can search for relevant clients who want to hire you.
To find such clients quickly, you can set up a freelance writing account on platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, PeoplePerHour, etc. Additionally, you can join freelance community groups on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., where you can find daily job posts for content writers. These platforms will tell potential clients about your offers and how you can help them with their writing tasks.
The key to being a good content writer is honing your writing skills; no one will be willing to hire someone who doesn’t have the required writing experience or exposure.
Although garnering experience as a newbie can be difficult, you can start by creating some writing tasks for yourself. Read your work, ask others to scrutinize it, re-read and edit, and review again; this way, you improve. Remember that the more you write, the better you become.