Content Writing. What does it take?

15 replies
  • SEO
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Hey warriors, for the last couple of days I've been wondering about being a content writer, being that I have no experience in writing for anybody, except for my own sites, I'd like to know what do experienced members of this forum want and expect from expert content writers.

Here are some things I think are common sense when writing for somebody:
  • Understand article structure requirements, SEO factors e.g. keyword density, keyword positioning, overall article "feel" and quality > quantity,
  • research the subject in-depth, e.g. wikipedia entries, youtube videos and forum discussion - in order to understand the subject both in a scientific way and in way of someone being emotionally tied to the matter
  • quote experts in the field if possible, find relevant studies and link if necessary in order to show credibility and trustworthiness of the website,
  • use of media where it applies such as images, videos and infographics,
  • understand the employer's needs and points of view on the subject matter;
  • understand what POV to take when writing to a certain audience, obviously this will make a huge impact on user engagement with your posts (likes, shares, +'s) etc.

All of the above is, once more, just basic, common sense stuff I'd do, maybe all that goes without mentioning but I like to make lists. ^_^

Those are some I just thought about at the moment, I'm sure there's plenty to learn about content writing, also probably most important thing is being in a mindset where you write like you are writing for yourself, for maximum content quality and employer's pleasure.

I'd like to work long-term for someone who knows exactly what they want and need, and are willing to pay accordingly!

I've looked trough some jobs on Freelancer, oDesk and iWriter, the competition is huge, and the worst part (for me) is that majority of these people who bid on content writing jobs are willing to work for pennies and dimes per hour.

Willing to work for free; I'd be willing to write about anything for free, in order to prove myself to interested employers. I firmly believe many people would hire me instantly, if they knew I'm available and were aware of the quality I provide.

Someone may say I'm promoting myself here (obviously, in a way) but what I really want is advice from people who know what mistakes writers mostly make. And hey, if anyone here IS looking for a writer, shoot me a PM.
#content #writing
  • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
    I disagree with your first point.

    The last thing in the world I want any of my content writers to do is to think they understand SEO.

    Write what I tell you to write. I'll take care of the SEO.
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    • Profile picture of the author creat1veone
      Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

      I disagree with your first point.

      The last thing in the world I want any of my content writers to do is to think they understand SEO.

      Write what I tell you to write. I'll take care of the SEO.
      I don't understand. You don't want writers to be aware of your keywords, how many times you want them in a post? Does this mean you would take the post and then implement keywords and other SEO factors on your own? If that is the case it would mean less work for me, and of course any writer would agree to write without taking that into account, if instructed so.

      Do employers in general, think that way? Or is it common sense a writer would take my first point into account?
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      • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
        Originally Posted by creat1veone View Post

        I don't understand. You don't want writers to be aware of your keywords, how many times you want them in a post? Does this mean you would take the post and then implement keywords and other SEO factors on your own? If that is the case it would mean less work for me, and of course any writer would agree to write without taking that into account, if instructed so.

        Do employers in general, think that way? Or is it common sense a writer would take my first point into account?
        I don't want writers to think about SEO at all when they write. They just screw it up.

        Perfect example. You just mentioned how many times a keyword would show up in a post. That is exactly the kind of junk I do not want them thinking about. That is not SEO.

        I give very specific instructions for what they should cover. In some cases I even give sub-topics in a specific order that I want them to discuss.

        I will never hire a writer that advertises their service as anything like "SEO optimized writing".
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        • Profile picture of the author creat1veone
          Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

          I don't want writers to think about SEO at all when they write. They just screw it up.

          Perfect example. You just mentioned how many times a keyword would show up in a post. That is exactly the kind of junk I do not want them thinking about. That is not SEO.

          I give very specific instructions for what they should cover. In some cases I even give sub-topics in a specific order that I want them to discuss.

          I will never hire a writer that advertises their service as anything like "SEO optimized writing".
          Thank you for the feedback Mike!

          The business relationship you are describing sounds great to me, I think it is best if the employer is direct and strict with what they exactly want.

          The "SEO optimized writing" point in my original post is there because I would want my employers to be aware that I do have SEO knowledge and if asked to, I could implement whatever specific requirements they would have for the post.
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          • Profile picture of the author MikeFriedman
            Originally Posted by creat1veone View Post

            The "SEO optimized writing" point in my original post is there because I would want my employers to be aware that I do have SEO knowledge and if asked to, I could implement whatever specific requirements they would have for the post.

            Yeah, I get that. You are just catering to your market.

            I think SEOs are just not thinking straight when they are asking for "SEO-optimized" articles or specific SEO elements to be included.

            That is an SEO problem though, not a writer problem.
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            • Profile picture of the author creat1veone
              Originally Posted by MikeFriedman View Post

              Yeah, I get that. You are just catering to your market.

              I think SEOs are just not thinking straight when they are asking for "SEO-optimized" articles or specific SEO elements to be included.

              That is an SEO problem though, not a writer problem.
              You made a good point, just realized. Yes I'm catering to my market even though SEOs should be aware that I'm asked to write, and that's exactly what writers should do, talk about the subject like if they were doing book reports in school. Honestly write about. Its simple, really.
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  • Profile picture of the author sprogy
    Originally Posted by creat1veone View Post

    most important thing is being in a mindset where you write like you are writing for yourself, for maximum content quality and employer's pleasure.
    I thought that was the way to write for years - and to make a bad thing even worse - I received a lot of praise about the "quality" of my writing (from people who were just as clueless as me)...if you want my advice - and I know this is a SEO forum, but still...take a couple of hours out of your life and read jut one copywriting book - it should be enough to help you understand why what you wrote is the exact opposite of quality content
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    • Profile picture of the author creat1veone
      Originally Posted by sprogy View Post

      I thought that was the way to write for years - and to make a bad thing even worse - I received a lot of praise about the "quality" of my writing (from people who were just as clueless as me)...if you want my advice - and I know this is a SEO forum, but still...take a couple of hours out of your life and read jut one copywriting book - it should be enough to help you understand why what you wrote is the exact opposite of quality content
      That's interesting to hear, even though I do wonder if you misinterpreted my words. However, would you care to share the book you read? I'd want to read it either way, if its going to help me write even better.

      The better job I do, the better it will serve the employer, more money for everyone!
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  • Profile picture of the author laurencewins
    I'm a writer so I will give you my thoughts and you can take them or leave them.

    When I read your original post, I get a headache.
    If I had to think about ALL of the things you wrote, I would probably have to charge $200+ per article because it would be so time consuming to do all that.

    You need to decide what skills you already have and what sort of writer you are/want to be. That's the service you then offer to potential clients.

    I never start a job until I have all my questions asked and am clear about what they want. But I don't expect them to ask me to do everything in your post because that's more of a researcher as well as a writer.
    Ask the potential employer the right questions and you won't have the headache of trying to solve all the puzzles in one go.

    I don't know if what I have said will make sense to you and feel free to pm me if you want to discuss it further in private, or in here, either way is fine.
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    • Profile picture of the author creat1veone
      Originally Posted by laurencewins View Post

      I'm a writer so I will give you my thoughts and you can take them or leave them.

      When I read your original post, I get a headache.
      If I had to think about ALL of the things you wrote, I would probably have to charge $200+ per article because it would be so time consuming to do all that.

      You need to decide what skills you already have and what sort of writer you are/want to be. That's the service you then offer to potential clients.

      I never start a job until I have all my questions asked and am clear about what they want. But I don't expect them to ask me to do everything in your post because that's more of a researcher as well as a writer.
      Ask the potential employer the right questions and you won't have the headache of trying to solve all the puzzles in one go.

      I don't know if what I have said will make sense to you and feel free to pm me if you want to discuss it further in private, or in here, either way is fine.
      Hey, yeah I get how you may think what I originally wrote is too detailed or too extensive. This doesn't mean I will spam potential customers with how much I'll care about their work. But a list such as that one will be used in my portfolios when looking for employers.

      Maybe it looks like that, but when I think about it, I believe many good writers take those things into account. How can you write for somebody if you don't have a clue about the subject you are required to write about. Of course you would do research first, at least that's how I see myself working.

      I don't feel like I have the luxury to decide my own inner writer self, maybe its easier for you if you have been rated and are looked upon with good reputation. I never did this before, so I have to make sure possible employers are aware that I'm willing to go the extra mile here just to get work.

      I don't expect any confusion, the employer needs to know exactly what they want, and I will deliver exactly that. I'm a little surprised actually to your reaction about my initial posting, I kinda thought most of that stuff is just common sense when taking a writing job.

      Yes! I do have questions for you and I would really appreciate if you could tell me about your writing career, notably, when did you start, how much did you earn at start vs. how much do you earn now on average per week/month/year.

      Where did you get your first job? I find it hard to get work because there is so much competition, and I am SO MUCH MORE willing to work, and I am certain I would do a better job than most writers on oDesk, Freelancer and iWriter. I want to provide high quality work, for a reasonable payment. I'm also willing to work for free at first in order to establish trustworthiness with a long-term client.

      Thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author ilee
    I totally agree with Mike on this one.

    There are generally two target markets for two different types of writers.

    Theres the SEO writers who regurgitate rubbish content quickly and cheaply. Sure it'll be unique, but will lack engagement, reader interest and other quality factors.

    The other type are writer writers. These guys just write without caring for anything other than writing a good piece.

    Both writers can be successful as there is a market for both.

    SEOing some content is the easiest thing to do, but every SEOer will have their own way of doing things. I don't want a writer who's job is to write doing my content's SEO for me.

    With that said. When I outsource article writing, I give the writer my general niche and let them go wild. Occasionally they'll find a topic within the niche they're genuinely interested in, and that makes both the content better and the writer's job easier.
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    • Profile picture of the author creat1veone
      Originally Posted by ilee View Post

      I totally agree with Mike on this one.

      There are generally two target markets for two different types of writers.

      Theres the SEO writers who regurgitate rubbish content quickly and cheaply. Sure it'll be unique, but will lack engagement, reader interest and other quality factors.

      The other type are writer writers. These guys just write without caring for anything other than writing a good piece.

      Both writers can be successful as there is a market for both.

      SEOing some content is the easiest thing to do, but every SEOer will have their own way of doing things. I don't want a writer who's job is to write doing my content's SEO for me.
      I don't think you guys understood what I meant with those points in the first post, those are just some basic things I would be willing to do for a client if instructed so.
      Originally Posted by ilee View Post

      With that said. When I outsource article writing, I give the writer my general niche and let them go wild. Occasionally they'll find a topic within the niche they're genuinely interested in, and that makes both the content better and the writer's job easier.
      That sounds like the most viable option, and most fun . But you must very well know different people have different requirements, again, I just stated what I'd be willing to do.
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      • Profile picture of the author ilee
        Originally Posted by creat1veone View Post

        That sounds like the most viable option, and most fun . But you must very well know different people have different requirements, again, I just stated what I'd be willing to do.
        Problem is, writers are a dime a dozen. It's such a saturated market and people just don't get around to trying every writer out for only negligible differences.

        What set's them apart for me is consistency, and a bit of extra thought/research in their writing. Have you done some market research and see just how good other writers are, and their price range? Give an honest opinion on how your writing compares.

        In terms of getting work/building a client base, I'm pretty sure you answered that question yourself. If you're happy to start off working for low/no pay, you can quite quickly get enough contacts to get recurring customers even after you raise your price to your desired amount.

        As I said before. Consistency is key. Quality and time-wise. If one of my writers upped their price by a reasonable amount, I'd probably still stick with them because they deliver. If I try out a new writer though, I'd be really reluctant to pay the same amount I pay my current writers because of the risk.
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        • Profile picture of the author creat1veone
          Originally Posted by ilee View Post

          Problem is, writers are a dime a dozen. It's such a saturated market and people just don't get around to trying every writer out for only negligible differences.

          What set's them apart for me is consistency, and a bit of extra thought/research in their writing. Have you done some market research and see just how good other writers are, and their price range? Give an honest opinion on how your writing compares.

          In terms of getting work/building a client base, I'm pretty sure you answered that question yourself. If you're happy to start off working for low/no pay, you can quite quickly get enough contacts to get recurring customers even after you raise your price to your desired amount.

          As I said before. Consistency is key. Quality and time-wise. If one of my writers upped their price by a reasonable amount, I'd probably still stick with them because they deliver. If I try out a new writer though, I'd be really reluctant to pay the same amount I pay my current writers because of the risk.
          Thank you for your input again!

          Yeah I'm willing to put in extra effort just to get started. I've just created a fiverr gig where I offer 800 words for $5, including everything from the points I made in my original post. Its up to the employer to tell me what to do, and I will do exactly that. If I manage to find a long-term partnership, I'll put the gig on hold.

          I just want to constantly write for someone who's willing to pay what I deserve. I'll keep you guys updated here on my success!

          Everyone else please feel free to shoot some more insight and advice my way.
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  • Profile picture of the author creat1veone
    Can someone please tell me the following; I got my first gig order last night and I've been writing the article, now I need to provide some research contacts and general information like naming most famous book authors and researchers, their numbers, location etc.

    I've found this information on Wikipedia and I need to know will it be considered duplicate content? I mean there's no other way for me to provide this info without copying the list of names with phone numbers, current locations etc.

    Someone please advise, thanks!
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