Just What Does a Content Writer Do, Anyway?
Content Writers De-Mystified
So, whenever someone asks me what I do, I reply that I’m a content writer. Quite often, they aren’t sure what that means, and for good reason. It’s not the most descriptive job title in the world, but that’s because content writing has to remain as open and flexible as it can; content writers wear a lot of hats. Ask 10 different content writers what they do during the day, and you’ll most likely get 10 different answers. The truth is the job of a content writer is about much more than just churning out articles or blog posts. Let’s take a moment to break down the job of the content writer, and see if we can develop a more thorough understanding of just what we content writers do – and why you probably need one.
Defining the Content Writer
To some writers, writing online content is basically equivalent to journalism. They contribute articles to e-zines, corporate blogs, and other such places on the web. Yet more content writers spend their days working exclusively for small businesses, and some even write content for government websites. Content writers are full-time employees and independent contractors. We are SEO specialists and html experts. We’re reporters, experts, comedians, and salespeople. We’re the filter and the amplifier that sends your voice out into the universe, and when used effectively, we are the keys to success on the web.
The content writer is a hard job to define simply because we have to be so many different things to so many different people, but we all do share a few things in common. Let’s take a look at some of the essential elements that make up a content writer, and examine how those elements would improve the way you interact with your web audience.
We are researchers.
No matter who we’re writing for, or what sort of material it is, every content writer is a researcher first and a writer second. In nearly every case, the content writer will be dealing with a subject that he or she is not familiar with, and must do adequate research to ensure that all the information presented in his or her article is accurate, current, and doesn’t contradict the company’s existing messaging. Good research is the foundation of good content writing. And for those of you wondering, yes, this article is the rare exception to that rule – I actually knew this stuff already.
We are editors.
In some cases, the guidance or existing copy that a content writer receives from his or her client is, in a word, awful. Many are the days that I’ve sat down to look at a wall of ill-formatted, poorly spelled, stream-of-consciousness rough copy, and begin the arduous task of editing and polishing it. It’s the intellectual equivalent of cleaning up someone else’s bedroom: you just don’t want to know what goes on in there to cause such a mess. Still, we do it, and we smile, because in the end making you look and sound good is what our jobs are all about.
We are designers.
When a content writer puts together a piece for a website, e-zine, blog, or newsletter, he or she doesn’t just have to make sure that the piece is well written, it also has to be nicely formatted and properly displayed on the screen. With clever and (dare I say) artistic placement of headings and subheadings, the content writer ensures that your copy doesn’t look like an insurmountable wall of text. A good content writer can take your complicated idea and turn it into an easily digestible and accessible piece of copy that pleases your readers, and keeps more eyes on you.
We are SEO experts.
The content writer doesn’t just write 500 words on how great your hat shop is and call it a day; a good content writer will ensure that in addition to content being fresh, it’s also optimized for the specific keywords that are going to increase your search ranking, bringing more visitors to your site. We understand the value of a great headline, appropriate keyword density, and keep up with current SEO best practices to ensure that the methods we’re using are the most effective. If you’ve been seeing your search ranking sinking, a good content writer can dig you out of the hole of SEO silence.
We are your allies.
Finally, a great content writer should not be “just another” contractor or employee. We are your allies in the quest for online success. We do what we do because we want you to succeed – because your success is also our success. As long as there are businesses thriving with a content writer on their staff, we know that it is all thanks to our relationships with our employers. If you need an ally who understands how to use research, good editing, attractive design, and proper SEO techniques to take your web content to the masses, then you need a content writer.
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