Many people get into content writing because it’s easy.
If you’re literate and have a computer, you’re good to go.
Anyone can get into content writing. But that doesn’t mean that content writing is easy or that anyone can be an excellent writer without a lot of work.
As someone who has mentored and worked with several writers on an ongoing basis, I rarely come across a good writer— someone whose work I don’t have to edit in a substantial way.
I’m also a good content writer. My clients pay me 100s of dollars for blog posts under 2000 words. They are NOT paying me for easy work.
So, forgive me my rant. I’m tired of seeing posts and videos about how ChatGPT or whatever is new will ‘destroy’ content writers’ jobs and even Google. Ha.
In this post, you’ll get to experience my angst about how content writing as a skill and profession is downplayed a LOT.
Hopefully, you also learn more about what it means to write good content.
Great content writers are not going away.
Great content matters – and that’s why you aren’t going to just start typing away and make a ton of money.
And it’s also why businesses aren’t going to see the results they want by just replacing people with the next AI tech.
Content Writing is Not Writing For Its Own Sake
There’s a narrow viewpoint that content writing is just about putting something up online.
Share some information and be clever about and voila! You did a great job.
There’s tunnel vision here.
Content isn’t just about creating something for the sake of it.
It’s about marketing and getting people to take action based on the content you share. This means that if you’re a content writer, you also need to be a marketer.
A content writer must also be a marketer
You need to understand:
- The product or service you’re writing about
- The target audience and their needs
- The buyer or reader’s search intent
- The stage of the buyer’s cycle or marketing funnel they’re in
- How to add emotions to content
- How to structure content and more!
You also need to have a deep feeling for language and expressing something in just the right way.
You need to know how to write for the internet, include the right terms, structure your content correctly, add enough context, and keep things simple enough so that people understand you without feeling like you’re condescending.
There are goals to meet with content writing – and when done well, this field can grow a business from nothing to being a worldwide success.
It can help a single mom make millions, or it can just make people happier by creating communities.
That’s why great content writers are not going anywhere. They’re the ones who understand content writing goals and know how to use words to generate results. It’s about content with purpose – not an artsy thing to do because it’s cool now.
Content Writing is Draining
In the early days of my content writing career, I would wake up on a Monday determined to create as much as I could in the next few days.
By Thursday, I would be lying in bed, huddled in the fetal position, completely and utterly done.
But I’d still have to get up and keep going.
I don’t know how many people feel this way – but writing is effing draining.
I read that the brain consumes 20% of the total energy your body needs a day. And when you exercise your mind by reading, doing research, and writing, it’s like doing a mental sprint. That’s why you need to take breaks. It’s HARD to write for 8 hours straight.
The eyes hurt.
One gets carpal tunnel syndrome.
One wishes never to see a screen again but can’t resist the lure of social media anyway.
And one gets bloody tired and exhausted.
I’ve heard of bosses who think that their writers should just keep going, and I hate them (the bosses, not the writers. Not that I’ve had crap bosses.)
Content writers do more than tap away at keyboards. They learn new things, they reframe information in their minds, they write, and they do the hardest thing of all… they edit.
Editing Sucks But it’s the Most Important Thing
Anyone can write.
But it takes talent, experience, and work to edit.
It’s pretty easy to come up with a topic and write about it. But you can be certain that the first draft will be disjointed, messy, and missing some important information.
That’s why editing is so important – it means that the content writer can take a step back, look at what they wrote, and understand what needs to be added or changed.
Editing also makes sure that errors in grammar, spelling, and facts are fixed before a reader sees them. Tiny mistakes shouldn’t matter but it does and it leaves the reader with an overall impression that maybe this isn’t the right place for them.
And I can attest that editing is way harder than just typing something out. It’s when I edit that I feel my brain pulse, my internal monologue jumping from one thought to the other, and my emotions swinging from elation to frustration as I find something clever or realize that a post structure makes no sense.
Content writing is not easy. It takes an understanding of language, marketing, and the online world. And it’s a multi-step process that leads to you reading a post that gives you exactly what you need.
Content Writing Needs Extensive Knowledge
I think at this point of the post, it’s clear that I am talking about good content writing.
The kind of content that makes it to the first page of a Google SERP (What’s a SERP? A good content writer would know).
The kind of content that leaves a reader with a sense of satisfaction in the end because they get so much – and a feeling of gratitude that someone took the time to give their all to a few hundred (or thousand) words of writing.
But maybe that isn’t relevant to you.
You could be a writer whose employers and clients just want posts to fill their blog page or because that’s what everyone says you should do.
Or you could belong to an industry where content does jack s#it. So, you just want someone to flesh out a few pieces and it’s all good.
And that’s okay.
But content writing as a field and a profession can be a profoundly impactful thing that deserves to be taken seriously.
Good or great content writing happens when the writer is well-versed in marketing and a niche or industry.
Good content writers listen to podcasts, do multiple online courses, and they read, read, read. They read so much. They read books, they read blog posts, articles, magazines, and social media snippets to build up their knowledge.
So they can create awesome stuff for you.
Interesting new ideas, easy-to-read steps, clear information – all these things are possible when a writer has done their research from multiple sources.
I love how Andrew Bouton put it in his book Copywriting Is…: 30-or-so thoughts on thinking like a copywriter – he says you should:
Read like a vampire, write like Frankenstein.
Meaning that copywriters and content writers must consume content heavily, especially reading material. So that they can transform what they learned into something new and (un)frighteningly good.
Content Writing is Technical
Actually, I need to use the word methodological but I feel like the word ‘technical’ does a better job of showing just how structured the process of writing for the internet is.
Not just that, but it’s a completely different ball game when you are dealing with SEO-optimized content or copy to promote a product or service.
It’s a process of understanding the audience, the context, and what needs to be said in order for people to take action.
Content writers need to figure out the right keyphrases that people are using, use them in their content, and sprinkle them in the right places. They also need to use SEO tools to do research to find these keywords and phrases.
They should also understand how search engines determine relevance and rank websites accordingly so that their content can make it to the top of the SERP.
Not to mention, they should also be familiar with the basics of HTML, CSS, and how to use WordPress and other CMS platforms.
And you know what? That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The very structure of an article or post is a body of knowledge in itself. The writer needs to know the right flow, the right kind of headings, what type of words to use and where, the kind of pictures and videos that should be included – all this requires technical knowledge.
They have to know about SEO best practices like internal linking and adding external links to good resources.
They also need to use the right tone, create transitions between sentences and paragraphs, and keep inviting people to take action – like signing up for a free trial, subscribing to a newsletter, or buying the product.
All to achieve the marketing goals of the client.
All in all, content writing is far from easy and it can be a real challenge for someone who is just starting out.
It’s also wildly misunderstood by decision-makers, which often leads to them undervaluing the whole process and its importance.
But if you’ve gone through the post so far, it’s pretty clear that this is a demanding field and it takes a lot of effort, research, and skill to become a great content writer.
Content Writing is Problem Solving
My latest client gave me the task of writing a blog post around a specific keyword.
This came with certain challenges:
- The given keyword was ranking for a purpose/intent that was completely different from my client’s industry and focus.
- There was almost no content available for me to use as research. This was good and bad since I could make up my own content – but I also had little information to draw from.
- I had to still mention the competition and current top result if I wanted the content to be optimized… BUT I couldn’t focus on them.
- There were many related keywords to add that were almost impossible to fit in the context I had to work with.
Somehow, I just had to make this post work. I had to meet my client’s expectations to promote their business, use enough of the recommended keywords to ensure the post ranked on Google and avoid too many mentions of the currently top-ranking content.
I did it. And that’s when I realized that I’m actually a problem solver. My clients were not holding my hand and telling me what to write and how. I had to figure out the obstacles, information gaps, and solutions on my own.
I was making my client’s lives easy and building their online authority with content. Content writing at its highest level is problem solving – keep that in mind and you’ll know why businesses pay top dollar for good writers.
Still Think Content Writing is Easy?
Yes, yes. I know. AI will disrupt the writing industry. ChatGPT and blah are here to stay.
So far, what I’ve seen is that using these tools only highlights how much skill and understanding it takes to write great content.
I belong to several online communities where people use and discuss these tools and so many people complain about not being able to get good outputs.
They don’t understand why the tool isn’t working for them.
But it’s not the tool, it’s a lack of knowledge, and content writing is just not easy.
There’s a reason why platforms like Jasper raise millions in funding to make their tool more user-friendly.
There’s a reason why these tools invest so much in education, training, and marketing.
No matter how hard you try or what tools you use, if you don’t understand the crafts of marketing and writing, you won’t get the results you want.
And as long as the demand for good, valuable content continues to grow, there will be a need for content writers who understand the process and its nuances.
So if you are one of those decision-makers who thinks content writing is easy, think again. It’s far from it.
Only when you understand the complexity of content writing can you truly appreciate the value and skill that comes with it.
So, if you are thinking about hiring a content writer, make sure to get someone who is competent and knows what they’re doing.
Or if you’re thinking about becoming a copywriter or content writer, be ready to invest time, effort, and dedication into learning the craft. Read content writing books, do courses, and learn from a mentor.
It’s not easy, but it is rewarding in the end. Anyone from any field can benefit from writing content. It’s one of the best professions for remote working and you can leverage your other skills by combining them with writing to share something interesting.
Content writing is awesome, and anyone can get into it. But ‘easy’ it is not.