How to Become a Content Writer ($2K+/Mo Easily)
Being a content writer has its perks.
Hey you. Yeah YOU. Want to learn how to become a content writer and ACTUALLY make good money even with NO EXPERIENCE?
I’ll walk you through everything you need to start generating an income from online writing – skills, tools, job boards, landing new clients, plus how I broke into the business.
I’ve been writing content full-time online for 5 years now, and demand for quality writers is HIGHER THAN EVER. This is a pretty sweet job – not gonna lie.
- Slept ‘til 9:30
- Hit the snooze button
- Stayed in bed ‘til 11
- Got coffee
- Laid back in bed (I was out ‘til 4am last night in Ho Chi Minh City. My head hurts)
- Wrote for a few hours about digital marketing
- Ate Pho
- Now I’m writing this
Most of the advice out there sucks. DO NOT LISTEN TO PEOPLE LIKE THIS:
You don’t need a degree, and you can easily make $50/hr + starting.
Ready to become a Freelanceaholic?
LET’S GET READY TO WRITEEEEE CONTENTTTTTTTT!!
Ⅰ: 5 Skills Every Content Writer Needs to Be Successful
Becoming a content writer kicks ass.
It’s not glamorous by any means, but you get to:
- Make your own schedule
- Work from home, a cafe, or some dodgy pub in Prague, Czech Republic drinking $1 beers at noon
- Set your own rates and work as much or as little as you want
If you want those perks, you need skills…a certain set of skills.
Being a good writer is not enough. You need to have AT LEAST some of the following skills to go along with it:
- Can you write concisely?
Good content is not the same as good prose or good “writing”, whatever that term means.
Long, fluffy, ultra-douchey writing doesn’t keep readers around long, and doesn’t get clicks, likes, or shares. New writers fall into the trap of trying to sound elegant or erudite, when really it’s just putting their readers to sleep and killing engagement metrics.
If you want to start content writing and make good money, you’ve got to get to the point. In fact, the #1 difference between writers that fizzle out and those that succeed is that successful writers learn how to condense, condense, condense.
Here’s an example:
Fluffy Sentence: We must all pay taxes to the government from our paychecks because this is mandated by the law.
Not terrible. But not good by any means either. How about condensing it down.
Concise: Everyone is obligated to pay taxes by law.
Both of these sentences convey the same information, but one is half as long and to the point. If you think you can do this, you might be a writer.
2. Can You Give Yourself a Kick in the Ass?
Content writing is awesome because you’re your own boss.
But it’s hard to stay motivated when nobody’s breathing down your neck. But this is a job just like any other, and things need to get done. When clients are paying good money, they want their stuff on time.
Distractions are everywhere. The internet, uhhh, and, uhhh, well that’s it actually.
You need to be self-motivated to survive. Hopefully you can check this box.
Tools to Improve Your Productivity:
- Tomato-Timer: The Pomodoro Technique flat-out works. 25 mins of work followed by
255 minutes of rest. I get more done in 4 hours now than I used to the entire day.
- Limit by Freedom: Struggling to do anything without getting distracted by the web? Limit by Freedom is a free Chrome plugin that sets limits on distracting sites so you can get shit done instead of wasting oodles of hours on Reddit.
- Airtable: Airtable is great as a freelance content writer. It lets you create a different table for each client and track what’s due when. That way you don’t forget things or miss deadlines.
3. Can You Research ANYTHING?
Strong research skills are a must for content writers.
I’ve had days where I’ve written about cats, email marketing tools, and blood sugar supplements all in the same day. Talk about a roller coaster ride in some sadistic diabetic, cat-crazy internet marketer’s carnival.
I’ve developed my own method for researching, critical thinking, and fact checking. If you can’t do something similar, you’re going to struggle.
Check out this academic resource for teachers that details research skills every student needs. It’s VERY APPLICABLE to content writers, too.
4. Do You Know SEO/Can You Learn It?
Search engine optimization (SEO) skills go without saying.
Your clients won’t pay for something that isn’t formatted to rank on Google. It’s actually a lot easier than you think, but it’s still necessary. Take the time to read up on:
There’s only one authority I trust in the SEO space. Matt Diggity’s blog – Diggity Marketing – is the resource for all things SEO related. Check it out.
5. Do You Have a Unique Personality?
“This is a blog post. This blog post blogs. Do you like my blog post? Thanks. I wrote this blog post.”
That’s how 95% of content sounds these days.
Boring, drab content does not work these days.
You’ve got to be unique, fun, informative, engaging. You’ve got to have wit, a unique voice, and a bit of charisma.
Do you have a unique personality that shines through when you write? If so, you’ll make good money.
Speaking of originality, your clients are definitely going to use tools to check for plagiarism. YOU HAVE TO BE ORIGINAL!
SUCCESSFUL CONTENT WRITERS NEED LOTS OF SKILLS. CHECK THESE 7 SKILLS WRITERS NEED OUT TO SEE IF YOU'VE GOT EM'. IF YOU DO, YOU CAN START MAKING MONEY ONLINE IN A FEW WEEKS.
Ⅱ: 3 Tips to Being a Badass Content Writer (AKA a Freelanceaholic!)
Writing good content is nothing like what you think it is.
That means you can have some fun, show your personality, and get paid for it. Whenever I train a new writer, I always look for 3 things in their writing. I can tell within 5 seconds if someone is a good writer or not.
Here are 3 tips for writing better content:
Format Your Content Right
Use white space, strong headlines, and frequent subsections. Readers want to SCAN, not read. If I see walls of text, I immediately close out. I stick to 2-3 sentences max per paragraph.
Stop Trying Too Hard
Don’t use big douchey words too much, don’t us salesy language, don’t try to sound too smart, and don’t over explain things.
Content that sounds like this: “In this day and age, one must surely be aware of the plethora of mobile phone choices. We surely are spoiled for choice in our modern world”
Is F****** HORRIBLE!!!!
This sounds much better: “There are so many phones available today. It’s almost hard to choose one!”
Write in Active Voice
This one tip will change your content writing skills forever. Most freelance writers use passive voice. Freelanceaholics are ACTIVE. We have PASSION. We have CONVICTION AND VIGOR.
The subject should perform the action stated by the verb. Compare these 2 sentences:
This horrible sentence: The blog is being written by Kevin.
This not horrible sentence: Kevin is writing the blog.
Ⅲ: Still with me? QUICK STORY TIME ABOUT STARTING CONTENT WRITING WITH 0 EXPERIENCE
Being a content writer does have legit perks beyond getting every girl’s number (They can’t resist guys who write about email marketing). Once you have regular clients, you can move ANYWHERE. After I finished work the other day, I went to this iconic monument in Saigon. Any idea what it is?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always yearned for freedom. I HATE schedules.
When I was an English teacher, EVERYTHING was scheduled. My classes, my prep time, my travel time_EVERYTHING!
I wanted to make money writing online but it was hard to find gigs. Let alone gigs that paid well. I had no experience, no connections, and no samples.
I used to think that…
- All content writers were overburdened and worked only for pennies
- I would have to spend more time bidding for jobs on freelance platforms than actually writing
- Content writers had to work for months and months to build a reputation before you could find any decent paying clients
- I needed to had to have a certification, college writing samples, or
That’s all 100% WRONG.
It’s hard to break into the biz, but trust me it CAN BE DONE. Don’t give up. Keep working at it, sending pitches, creating your own samples, and networking on social media.
Looking back, I can’t believe this life is real. I really escaped that job I hated, left that small room with no view, and am completely FREE. I’ve been traveling all over the world – Prague, Rome, Paris, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Tokyo, Seoul, Saigon, Manila, Los Angeles, New York City, Montreal – It was worth all of that effort I put in.
DO IT! If I can do it, you can too.
OK, enough sappy BS. Let’s get back to doing the damn thing.
Ⅳ: How to Get Content Writing Jobs (Even With No Experience)
Does this sound familiar?…
You want to be a freelance writer….
But you don’t know where to find work…
So you think “oh, I’ll go to Upwork and find some paying gigs there”
You log in, look for content writing gigs, and see things like this:
- 86,883 other bids for the same job
- “I need EXPERT WRITERS. 5 YEARS EXPERIENCE. NO BUDGET. YOU PAY ME INSTEAD TO WRITE, MAGGOT”
- 20% commission (WHAT!?!?)
Screw that. So you give up and think that content writing isn’t for you.
I was in your shoes. Trust me, there’s a better way. Here’s what to do.
Hone Your Writing Skills
First, make sure your skills are up to par. A few places you can look are:
Gather Some Samples
I don’t care if it’s a letter to your parents you wrote in 5th grade, put it in your portfolio. If you don’t have any samples – WRITE SOME. Write about anything and everything. Look at popular content around the web and make your own versions.
These days, clients pay good money for all different kinds of content:
- How-to guides
- Top 5 lists (or 10 or 20 or whatever)
- Amazon listings
- Product descriptions
- Product reviews
ACTION STEP: Pick something in your home you use a lot. Write a sample product review for it based on popular reviews around the web. BOOM, you got a sample bro/sis!
Create a WordPress.com Site
The best place to build your brand is on your own WordPress.com blog. If you can’t get a guest post on your own blog, you must really suck. Here’s an awesome WordPress site creation tutorial.
Publish your samples and promote that shit everywhere! At the very least, prospective clients will respect you more for having it.
TIP – Other Sites to Post on
Your own WordPress blog is great, but it’s not the only place you can publish samples and grow your brand. New writers should 100% try:
- Medium: Free to use and could gain you a big following. Medium adds insta-credibility.
- Linkedin: Share your samples on Linkedin for an added boost to your content cred.
I love traveling, as you can see with me drinking this overpriced cocktail in Kuala Lumpur. My first sample articles were about traveling, since that’s what I knew the most about.
Reach Out to Everyone With Your Samples
I’m talking everyone. Look on social media, contact local companies, inquire at magazines, write for your local newspaper, try the chamber of commerce.
Try places like:
You only need a few regular clients to have a full-time job as a freelance writer. And once you get that foot in the door, clients will recommend you to friends. Most industries are super tight knit. Once you’re in, you’re in.
CHECK OUT THESE 21 EASY PLACES TO SCORE FREELANCE WRITING JOBS FOR BEGINNERS. THIS IS HOW YOU BUILD AN ONLINE FREELANCE INCOME IN DAYS INSTEAD OF MONTHS.
Ⅴ: The Best Tools for Content Writers
There are a ton of tools out there that will take your content game to the next level. If you want to succeed at this job, you need to have:
I’m not a big fan of Grammarly to be honest, but it does help with one thing: EDITING.
Copy/pasting my work into Grammarly makes editing so much easier and more engaging. I don’t edit my own work anymore. I have a proofreader. But it’ll help you for sure. It also helps detect when you’ve used too many of those big douchey words I was talking about before.
Google Docs or MS Word? Not much of a difference.
You don’t need MS Word. Docs.Google.com is where it’s at. It has all the same features, is lightweight, and you can instantly share with anyone via shareable links.
And it’s all in the cloud so you can access it anywhere. Yes, even that dodgy Czech pub.
WARNING: Only badass writers need apply.
Loom is a free video and screen sharing platform that will take you from content writing loser to content writing badass instantly.
99% of freelancers just send generic pitches or proposals. Freelanceaholics send videos. Here I am breaking down this Bossa Nova Smooth Elevator Music video on YouTube for NO ONE.
Seriously, though. If you want to land more gigs, use Loom to create videos detailing how you’ll help a clients blog. This is especially effective if you’re good looking (I think I now know why I stopped getting new clients…).
Buzzsumo is a cool tool that generates content ideas for you. This helps me find content ideas when I’m in a pinch or if a client needs suggestions.
PRO TIP: In your pitches, tell clients the topics you’ll write for them and why. If you have numbers to back it up, they’ll be more inclined to give you a chance.
Like Grammarly, I’m not a huge fan of apps like this. I don’t need an app to tell me what good content is.
However, when you’re just starting out, Hemingway App is a good way to edit your posts AND practice writing more concisely. The app has metrics showing you how hard something is to read or if something has simpler alternatives.
I love memes. Use them in your content. That’s all.
You’ll definitely want Skype to schedule calls with clients. Get a Skype name and $10 worth of credit.
PayPal is the easiest, most convenient way to get paid when working as a freelance writer.
The fees suck, but they’re worth it until you’re more established. They also kill you on the exchange rate.
Not really much else to work with here. Most clients will want to pay you with PayPal.
Speaking of getting paid, I guess I should cover what content writers make.
Ⅵ: Content Writers Salary – How Much do Content Writers Make?
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN HOW MUCH YOU CAN MAKE PER WORD/PER HOUR AS A FREELANCE WRITER, I DO A FULL BREAKDOWN WITH SCREENSHOTS, INSIDE INFO, AND TIPS IN MY "HOW MUCH DO FREELANCE WRITERS MAKE?" BLOG.
A content writers salary varies depending on skill, ability to negotiate, reputation, and experience with a topic.
In general, new writers charge about .03 cents per word ($30/1,000 words) while more experienced/specialized writers can charge anywhere from 15 cents per word ($150/1,000 words) to $1 dollar per word ($1,000 for 1,000 words!).
If I’m writing in my specialty niche (eCommerce), I get about 20 cents per word ($200/1,000), but I frequently give discounts since most of my clients are my friends.
One thing is for sure…
YOU CAN MAKE REALLY GOOD MONEY AS A CONTENT WRITER
Don’t listen to idiots who are still stuck writing for $10/hour after 3 years. They just suck. I was clearing $2,000/mo as a content writer FAST. I think I was still in my first month of writing.
That’s just for 1 blog, and it didn’t even take me that long. If you can do even 1 of those per day, that’s $1,500 a week or roughly $6,000 per month. If you’re even doing half of that, $3,000 isn’t a bad income from freelance writing if you ask me.
Do You Charge by the Hour or Per Word?
Content writers should charge per word.
Personally, I hate charging by the hour. What counts as “my time”? What about if I want to take a nap? What if I want to shower for 45 minutes? What if I want to stare at my laptop with crushing writers block for 3 hours?
Should I get paid for that? I don’t think so.
I would definitely charge by the word. If you’re just starting, you will probably have to go low to break into the industry. Once you gain a foothold, you can start raising rates.
Here are some of the rates I was getting in the beginning for content writing work:
- General content: .05-.08 cents per word.
- Amazon listings: $50/listing.
- My specialty niches (Legal/ecommerce): 10 cents per word.
- Product reviews: .08 cents per word.
Becoming a content writer isn’t hard, and you don’t need any degrees, certification, samples, or connections. I did it easily with my Freelanceaholic method, and I’m 100% confident if you follow this advice, you can become a well-paid freelance content writer too. Good luck!