How to Be a Professional Content Writer
Professional content writers create written content for a living. A professional writer
should be competent and skillful, and they should be engaged in writing as their main
paid occupation. As a content writer, you may write content on a variety of topics for
a variety of organizations, from popular websites to scientific and technical print
documents or manuals. The benefits of being a professional content writer includes
being paid for an activity you enjoy (writing), and as you become more established,
the ability to work remotely or from a home office.
Developing Your Writing Skills
Understand the Realities of Content Writing
Before you plunge into a content writing career, it's important to be aware of the facts.
Most writers graduate with a degree or certificate in content writing and are quick to
learn the realities of the industry, including:
• Low pay. Most content writing positions do not pay well, especially entry
level writing positions. Small newspapers or publications are often good places to start
in terms of gaining experience and contacts. But often, the compensation will be $10-$12
an hour. The average salary for content writers in the United States is $40,000 a year.
Higher paying positions in the content writing field include project managers, online
researchers, and proposal writers. However, you will need higher levels of experience to
qualify for these positions.
• Lack of creative license. Though you may think content writing will give
you a chance to showcase your creativity and rousing ability with words, in fact, most
content writing is seen as a way to sell a product or simply inform a reader of the
facts. In a content writer role, you will likely be writing about dry or dull topics,
though you may get a chance to also write copy for more engaging projects on occasion.
Your employer will dictate the topics you write about, and you will need to learn to be
flexible and engaged on even the most obscure or boring subjects, regardless of your
• Quick turnarounds. When you write for an employer, on their timeline, you
will need to be able to write fast and write well. This is especially true for writers
just breaking into content writing. Often, your project will come with an expected words
per hour, or article per hour, as well as strict deadlines. You will not have time to
labor over every word or turn of phrase. Instead, you will need to produce content fast
and at a constant rate.
Consider a Technical Writing Certificate
Technical writing is a type of content writing that focuses on communicating technical
material through manuals, reports, and online documents. This could be a how to guide,
a safety manual for a worksite, or a document on a process or procedure. There is a
growing demand for technical writers who can explain complex procedures to the average reader.
Most technical writing programs are accelerated and take one to two years to complete.
These programs will focus on improving your organizational skills, your project
management skills, your ability to create user guides and documents, and your ability
to write content for online formats.
Check your local college or university for a technical writing certificate program.
Look at the faculty of the program to confirm you are being taught by professionals in
the field or working content writers who are familiar with the demands of the writing
industry. Certificate programs can be beneficial for writers who are new to content
writing or technical writing.