The Complete Guide to Building a Content Writing Career From Scratch

Last Updated on Sep 18, 2023

Fact Checked


    Have you heard about people starting a content writing career and are intrigued by the idea? Do you have a passion for writing but aren’t sure if it’s the right career option for you?

    Times are changing, and we’re seeing a rapid increase in unemployment rates, leaving many searching for alternative income sources. Though we’ve had the internet at our fingertips for decades, who would’ve imagined we’d find the solution online?

    When I started my career in content writing, I was terrified and unsure I’d get very far with it. After all, we hear many horror stories about online scams and people working but never getting paid. 

    I’m here to tell you that working online is a viable option and content writing truly is a rewarding career path. 

    Join me as I tell you all about the fascinating SEO industry and how to start a career in content writing. Ready to take the plunge?

    Building a content writing career from a coffee shop.

    Key Takeaways

    • Content writing is a career that involves creating information with the intention of educating, inspiring, informing, entertaining, motivating, persuading, or convincing an audience.
    • Experience is not always necessary to start a career in content writing, but it can be helpful in getting better opportunities.
    • It is helpful, but not essential, to establish a niche for your content writing, depending on your interests and level of knowledge about a particular topic.
    • Being visible on social media and networking with other professionals can help increase your visibility and opportunities as a content writer.
    • Skills and qualities that can help in a content writing career include strong writing abilities, research skills, creativity, adaptability, and the ability to meet deadlines.

    What is content?

    Before you delve into content writing as a career, let’s examine what content is. 

    Essentially, it refers to any kind of information produced with the intention of:

    • Educating
    • Inspiring
    • Informing
    • Entertaining
    • Motivating
    • Persuading
    • Convincing

    When it comes to writing content that’ll grip your reader’s attention, it’s all about identifying their problem and presenting a solution. By solving their problem, you’re building an audience, showing that you can add value, build trust, and authority. 

    Never underestimate the power of establishing E-A-T (expertise, authority, trust) through your content. 

    Developing your content writing career goes beyond pleasing the search engines or being creative. It’s about engaging your audience and adding value to their time reading your articles. 

    I’ve found that no topic is too challenging to write about when you keep your audience in mind. Find the balance between using keywords and providing value to your readers; that’s the sweet spot for great content.

    Facts and myths about a content writing career

    As I’ve mentioned, choosing content writing as a career wasn’t an easy choice because of all the myths and horror stories floating around. Let’s look at a few things you may have heard in greater detail.

    Experience is essential

    Experience is a tricky one to cover. The reality of this claim could go either way, depending on where you look. Let me explain.

    When I first started my career in content writing, my experience was little to none, but I knew it was something I enjoyed doing.

    I was lucky enough to find a site that provided training and published my first article with my own byline. This led me to an agency that provided training and regular workflow.

    While I didn’t stay with them, it set me on my way to significant content writing career growth. The point

    I’m trying to make is that experience isn’t essential, but it can certainly help you get a foot in the door for better opportunities.

    Stick to your niche

    Establishing a niche for your blog can be helpful when building your content writing career. In my honest opinion, though, how well this works for you depends on the type of person you are. 

    If you have a certain topic that you’re passionate about and have knowledge of, that would be your specialized niche. You have experience in the industry and can share your knowledge to those who are interested. Through this practice, you’ll find that establishing yourself as a voice of authority is much easier.

    If, like me, you have very diverse interests, then focusing on a single niche can become very tedious. You see, I thrive when I’m learning new things about the different things that draw my attention. For this reason, I could deliver a compelling article about behavioral theories or a tantalizing piece about creative one-pot meals. 

    Claiming my position of authority may take longer in each niche, but when approaching a potential client, I’d have more to offer. 

    Be visible

    Yes! Yes! And YES! The best way to be found is to be visible!

    What do I mean by this?

    Use every social media platform at your disposal to advertise yourself. Join networking groups, share your work, and interact with other posters. Create an online portfolio that includes all of your published and unpublished work. 

    Digital platforms are a fantastic tool for building a career in content writing. Create a professional presence that links to your portfolio and blog. 

    The more active you are, the more visible you are to potential clients.

    It’s better to work alone

    Now, this I have to say, is a BIG FAT LIE! Yes, it’s true; your earning potential could be more significant if you work independently. But it’s also more stressful finding clients and ensuring a steady workflow.

    This is especially true if you’re new to content writing. From my personal experience, I much preferred having a team to work with over flying solo.

    When I started my content writing career, finding jobs was worse than pulling teeth! Having little knowledge about the industry and practically no experience put me in a difficult position. Working with a content writing agency removed all that stress.

    Companies like Grassroots Content provide all the resources you need to complete your tasks and provide training if required. The absolute BEST part is having a team to bounce ideas off of when you have writer’s block. 

    Could you get any of these things working on your own? I don’t think so!

    Freelance job boards are the way to go

    Again, that’s a no from me. You see, the thing with those sites is that successfully landing a gig with them is often harder than it seems. 

    Here’s a common scenario: The job posters only hire people who’ve completed tasks through the site before and have referrals from satisfied clients.

    Effectively giving job seekers certain “levels” to climb. At the same time, as a job seeker, you’re unlikely to land a gig without having successfully completed a task and earning the required level. 

    See the vicious cycle there? 

    As a result, you often end up feeling discouraged about your “failed attempts” and doubting if content writing as a career is the best choice. 

    Lay a good foundation

    I could go on for days about the “do’s and don’ts” of choosing content writing as a career, but I think you get the point. 

    So let’s look at how to start a career in content writing. Here are a few of my top tips to help you start building a solid foundation.

    Always be ready to learn

    One of the best ways to develop your writing skills is to study those who are doing it right. Read works from various writers to increase your vocabulary and learn different writing styles.

    Old typewriter with a page displaying the words "Something worth reading"

    Practice makes (almost) perfect

    I say almost because what one person considers perfect writing may not be someone else’s top choice. 

    That said, this age-old phrase rings true every day. You can gain experience in your craft only if you practice it diligently.

    Now, this doesn’t mean you have to have clients and paid jobs to practice writing. Read the news and write an opinion piece about current affairs. Write a sales pitch or product review for something you’ve tried. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you keep trying. 

    A considerable part of this practice is to get feedback. Share it with friends, family, or strangers on your networking groups. Take their feedback to heart and improve where needed. 

    Know the industry

    If you’re interested in a content writing career, then you HAVE TO understand the industry. Now I don’t mean the topics you like to write about…remember, that’s your niche.

    I’m referring to the SEO industry. 

    As a content coach, I’ve come across PLENTY of writers who have a passion for writing and natural talent but have no clue what SEO is. 

    Understanding what SEO means and the various techniques available to maximize content visibility is crucial. Knowing how to use keywords correctly also helps you understand what your audience is looking for and how to deliver it.

    Team or solo?

    Decide if you’re going to join a content writing agency or try going at it alone. By now, you know my preference for working with an agency when starting your content writing career. It’s certainly more accessible. 

    But this is where you have to decide if you’re up for the challenge of flying solo or would rather have the backing of a team. 

    Whichever you choose, I wish you the best of luck.

    Plan the start of your content writing career and a solid business plan

    It all has to start somewhere

    Starting your content writing career doesn’t have to be a huge mountain to scale alone. With a willingness to learn, and the right attitude, you’ll soon find your feet in the SEO industry. 

    If you’re keen but still feeling a bit unsure about how to start a content writing career, why not apply to join our team? Our team of expert editors is there to guide you through these rough waters and get your writing client-ready. 

    FAQs about starting a content writing career

    I know all the information I’ve provided so far has probably left your head spinning. I also know that starting a new venture can leave you with many uncertainties. So here are a few common questions to help clear the air.

    Is working from home possible?

    Absolutely, YES! I started working from home about three years ago and would never return to an office. I love the freedom and flexibility it provides, especially when I need to tend to my children when they’re ill.

    The trick is to develop a routine for yourself and have the discipline to stick to it. It’s easy to slip out for a quick coffee date but easier to lose track of your schedule completely. Not only does it impact your productivity, but your confidence too. 

    So yes, it’s entirely possible to have a successful content writing career from home. But it all comes down to how disciplined you are.

    Do I need to take a course?

    I won’t lie, courses certainly help, but they aren’t essential. As I said, not all clients or agencies demand experience or certification. Some are just looking for talent. 

    That said, having a certificate to show along with samples of your writing goes a long way to claiming your role of authority.

    Which skills do I need to become a content writer?

    When delivering quality content, these skills are essential:

    • The ability to do research: Even if you’re writing about something that you’re an expert on, doing some additional research is vital. (Yes, I also did some research when writing this) By constantly reading up on your niche(s) of choice, you’ll identify the best sources to bring value to your readers. Of course, learning more can also never be a bad thing. 
    • Creativity: While content writing largely depends on research, having a creative perspective goes a long way to engage your readers. Writing an article about a worn-out topic? That’s where your creative thinking comes in for tackling it from a new angle.
    • Being able to edit your work: The last thing you should expect is for your clients to proofread your work before uploading it to their site. You should have an excellent grasp of spelling and grammar, ensuring that everything is error-free before submitting.

    Of course, if you’re working for an agency, you’d work with editors who can assist you. But it’s still a good idea to polish up those editing skills and proofread your work, even if you’re submitting it to an editor.