4 Questions to Help You Get Started As a Content Writer

Hi – it’s Mindy McHorse, back to talk to you again about getting started as a content marketing specialist (along with why this could be the career-making move you’ve been waiting for!).

Because, not only is it rife with opportunity and clients willing to pay …

It’s also an excellent choice if you’re a fence-sitter. Seriously. If you’ve ever been on the fence about which direction to take your writing career (and come on, who hasn’t?) …

Then you’ll love this one, because it marries everything into one.

See, content marketing is about understanding how all the pieces of marketing connect and reinforce each other. It’s a smart course for your writing career, because it gives you versatility. It puts you in an excellent position to not only consult on each type of content, but also to write the pieces that most interest you.

That’s why I asked you yesterday to think about which types of content you most want to write.

The next step is to choose the industry where you’d like to focus your efforts. Keep in mind, the industry you choose will often dictate which type of content is more effective. Some markets respond best to email, others to social media posts, other to case studies.

Today’s task, at least if you want to hit the ground running as a content marketing specialist, is to zero in on the industry you want to write for. Think of it as a jumping-off point. You can always branch out in other directions, or to other industries, in the future.

To pick your “starting point” industry, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. What industry or profession do you already have experience in? What do you already know about certain jobs?
  2. If you’re interested in an industry you don’t yet have experience in, do you have access to someone who does? For example, if you want to write for chiropractors, do you know anyone willing to be your inside source? Think about friends, siblings, neighbors, and so forth.
  3. Are there any industries you’d like to promote based on your passions or hobbies?
  4. What about charities or causes you feel passionate about?

Your goal here is to find the ideal intersection between opportunity and passion. Pick something, and then I’ll help you move forward with it. (Tell me what you’ve picked – I’d love to know!)

But don’t stress about it. At best, you’ll hit on something you love and are good at. At worst, you’ll gain experience and portfolio samples before moving on to a new industry.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you examples of different marketing strategies so you can start thinking about things you’ll advise clients on.

The Barefoot Writer

The Barefoot Writer

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Published: March 31, 2015

50 Responses to “4 Questions to Help You Get Started As a Content Writer”

  1. Hello, as a physician, healthcare would seem the obvious choice, but I'm concerned I'd get bogged down in too many facts. I like Finance - with the dearth of women in the field, what's the best way to get the proper skills quickly? Many thanks!
    P.S. Let me know if I can be of any assistance if you have a quick health care question you need answered

    Gail from Seattle

  2. Mindy,

    I worked for 12+ years at a non-profit, so I have experience with what that's all about.

    But I think I would really like to work for publishers of non-fiction books: health, how-to, etc.

    I just have a lot of enthusiasm for good, practical information. Is "publishers of non-fiction books" actually a niche though?


    Guest (Steve Wagner)

  3. Information provided is useful in getting direction. Hopefully , I, as a new member, shall see more content like this in future for clarifications. Thanks


  4. Hi Mindy.
    Thanks for that lovely, encouraging post. I have chosen the Natural Health market as my niche and have just started Casey Demchak's Key Message Copy Platforms course.I really want to get my copywriting business launched by June this year. The hardest part is knowing how and where to start!Look forward to your next post.
    Best regards, Teresa

    teresa f

  5. I've worked for nearly 10 years in direct mail marketing for non-profits, but on the data side, not content. Knowing that I want to focus on writing B2B content, I proposed some ideas for an agency I currently freelance for and yesterday was given two case studies to write! It helps starting with where you are and what you already know in order to start honing the skills to expand into other markets. But truly, the most critical element was just asking for the opportunity to write for them. Without that, they never would have had the opportunity to say yes.

    Sara H

  6. My passions are Gardening (organic), Genealogy & Lineage Societies (non-profits), Natural Health, Quilting,& Financial.
    I would love to write for financial Newsletters, etc. And also to write fundraising letters for some of my groups. On the group side, most are very small, less than 5000 members, and I know most can't afford to pay, so that would be a labor of love.

    Mary J

  7. As a 25 year broadcast professional both on the air and for the last 12 years in the production side of broadcasting, I enjoy writing as I speak and Web Content or Social Media writing is something I'd like to pursue heavily. I write ad copy for radio commercials occasionally, but feel that I could offer more and develop more in another venue

    Scott Larson

  8. Mindy, I have approximately 13 active years in the social work field. I have a keen interest in many groups but especially the mentally challenged. But I am not sure if that area would be a niche. I also have many other interests including training and coaching work skills on the job.

    Guest (Georgina Garrett)

  9. I would love to work in the legal field if this is possible is that a niche? It has been 15 years since I was in the heart of it, but my double majors in college were paralegalism and criminal justice. This is the subject that is nearest and dearest to my heart. Please tell me if law intercepts with our business in some way? Thank you, Melissa

    Guest (Melissa Cantrell)

  10. My greatest passions are innovative house design and animals, especially dogs. I know a lot about dog grooming and kennels. I would like to start a nonprofit for elderly dogs.

    I also love to design or come up with new ideas for home plans. I like to utilize energy efficiency, longevity of the house with low upkeep, and convenience of use in day to day living.

    Guest (Thelma H)

  11. I'm a psychologist and I love the fields of self-help and psychology, neuropsychology, spirituality and paranormal science, creativity, and women's issues. I'm struggling with where, exactly, to place my focus and what type of writing (as mentioned yesterday) to specialize in.

    Guest (Loral Lee Portenier PhD)

  12. Good Morning, Mindy....

    I have two therapy dogs. We visit nursing homes and senior centers. I've stated "Pet Industry".

    My mental strength is high curiosity but short attention.... once I find out enough to satisfy my mental thirst... I'm ready to move to something else.

    Joseph Lacey

  13. Hey, Mindy!
    I really enjoyed your webinar today. Thanks for the motivation!
    You said to let you know what we would be interested in writing about, and you could help point us in the right direction. My passions in life are lighthouses, dogs and writing. I would love to find clients who would need people to write about dogs or lighthouses. Any suggestions?

    Guest (Denise)

  14. Mindy, great article and thanks! Content Marketing seems like a perfect fit. For the past 20 years, I've worked in accounting and/or real estate but that is just to pay the bills.
    I love to create delicious recipes and am very passionate about environmental stewardship and the outdoors.
    Recently bought Web Copywriting 2.0, taking Josh Boswell's launch tour day in May and will be a first timer at Bootcamp in October. THIS is going to be a great year. Look forward to more from you.

    Dave S

  15. For me it's the agricultural industry.

    Guest (Judy Mark)

  16. Hi Mindy, thanks for your article.
    I spent seven years as a massage therapist/ shiatsu practitioner, so holistic health seems like an obvious choice.
    I confess I'm much more interested in writing content rather than direct mail. I love facts and educating people on how they can live healthier lives.

    Guest (Bridget Stoll)

  17. My choice is blogging to help stay home moms and retired women looking to earn money from home and also small business owners with social media such as chiropractors, dentists, health spas, nail shops abd hair salons.

    Carmen Iris

  18. I've been a fence-sitter so long I can't tell whether the grass is greener on one side or the other!

    I'm encouraged by the list of services you listed, from Case Studies (my fave) to White Papers to e-books

    I've been a well known expert in the nonprofit world, especially crafting successful proposals.
    But this time around, instead of always doing good I'd like to do well-- so a B2B industry makes the most sense. It helps to know which ones I DON'T want. Like finance, alternative health...

    Richard Lacey

  19. As I pursue my copy writing career, with emphasis in web writing, I want to specialize in a content writing that focuses on the financial industry.

    In other words, I select the financial industry as the niche that I want to specialize in and write for.


  20. Photography. I have been a photographer since six, writer since 12 and a poet since birth. Despite all my career phases (including fundraiser, university administrator, nonprofit leader, board member, instructor, etc.), photography has been part of the process.

    Guest (Dion Mc)

  21. B2B software companies selling crm, business analytics,or sales force automation tools.

    I've been a project manager on many roll outside to enterprise customers. I'm also a master black belt in six sigma continous improvement. I have marketing experience too.


  22. Three things I am extremely passionate about:

    pet health volunteerism writing content for my daughter's age level

    Guest (Felecia)

  23. My passions are History (WWI & WWII), Nostalgia and Photography.

    My practical experience is Cleaning and Maintenance and Financial Industry (Banking).

    Mike S

  24. For the past 10 years I've been working with software development companies and seen a large gap in end user training. Content Marketing seems like the perfect way to bridge the gap between the technical developers and the not-so-technical users/customers.

    Guest (RFred)

  25. I chosen a primary niche at last years Boot Camp. The story also has an interesting twist. My 20 years of executive level experience in Logistics, would be my road to being a Successful B2B Copy writer, knowing I could always change my path.
    My WEB site launched with Logistics as my primary focus. Then an unexpected event occurred. I was at a Chamber of Commerce meeting and met my first client! He was the Director of an IT group, for an Energy Company. Since that day I have written white papers, case studies and lead gen emails. All outside my field of focus. My introductions always include my new profession. I went with the flow and now have two areas of expertise.

    Tom Rintelmann

  26. Hi, Mindy

    I am a CPA with 30-plus years in industry, and I have received acclaim for expressing clear, objective descriptions and analysis of complex business situations in writing. This objective style differs from the persuasive style pervasive in direct sales writing. I don't know the marketplace for writing but I love the idea of working for myself.

    There appear to be many markets for writers, but how can I choose a place to start? Please advise me. Thank You!

    Guest (Joseph Rettger)

  27. Hi Mindy, I am interested in the animal field. It's a hobby of mine and I also worked as a vet tech for about a year. I'm also interested in natural healing. Thanks Traci

    Guest (Traci Colby)

  28. Thanks Mindy, I have a varied background with many many interests. The construction and teaching industries stand out initially for copywriting potential.

    My AWAI Accelerated Course project is a B2B letter for a local paint company I know well. My goal is to establish at least three good accounts in Home Improvement, then move on to other niches reflecting my experience and interests:

    ESL teaching, parenting, fiction writing/publishing, environmentalism, travel, sailing, kayaking, backpacking.


  29. Based on past experience, my choices should be Higher Educ, Non-profits, Breast Cancer, Marketing. I was hoping with my new life, I might select a niche outside of these fields. I was thinking food service, restaurant industry, hospitality. What do you think?

    Guest (Donna Creighton)

  30. Hey Mindy, great article, thanks. At Launch Your Writer's Life in a Day this last Friday here in Phoenix, I have chosen for the Wellness Travel industry because I am passionate about good food as a Food Scientist and Pastry Chef/Chocolatier and also about mental and physical health. My passion for organic food falls within this niche as well.
    Exciting to offer my services to this industry.


  31. Great questions Mindy. My experience is in legal/government.

    My passion is in stress management for legal professionals, education and learning for kids and teens, and personal development for introverts.

    Serena from Melbourne

  32. Yes, still on the fence. My forte appears to be the "Jack of All Things, Master of None" approach at topics I scribble something together about. A free-spirit, interests vary from Travel, Archetecture and Preserevation, Photography, Current Events & Politics. Thoughts turn to words which tie together, forming some creative, funny and thoughtful text. Thanks for your encouragement towards honing in on lucrative opportunities for me, once I finally jump-off the fence! Ed

    Guest (Ed Gibbons)

  33. I have experience in a variety of fields: nursing, graphic designer, photographer, fashion designer, and currently work for the county as a corrections officer in the jail. My husband and I own a 60' cruising yacht and I have an interest in boating, fishing, travel. I'm also interested in the financial field, one day I'd like to know I have a secure retirement.

    Susann Panzeri

  34. Thanks for your posts, Mindy. My passion lies with non-profits (especially Christian), movies and the publishing industry.

    Mary Beth D

  35. Hi Mindy, My niche is in veterinary medicine. I practiced for nearly 4 decades. Now I'm enjoying writing animal health articles and vet practice management articles. I'm hoping to expand into other areas, including B2B work.

    Guest (Steve Pearson DVM)

  36. Hi Mindy. I met you at Bootcamp last year. My interests are: Non-Profits, Travel/Photography, Journaling and Mental Health. Not sure where or how to jump into any of these areas. I appreciate your insights, and value your experience as a writer. Thank you!

    Joel Keller

  37. The niche's I'd like to do is the financial markets and grant writing. I just not interested in long copy.

    Guest (1stalgorithm)

  38. Dear Mindy, I have spent the past 33 years teaching French and English Second Language through all elementary and secondary levels.
    But my interests are very varied:I'm fascinated by alternative health practices, psychology, fashion,art, knitting and sewing.
    In the past I have done a lot of writing, and have produced my own radio program.
    I am sure we could do something with all of that.

    Guest (Marta)

  39. Mindy, I've had horses and dogs all my life and am interesting in promoting their health, welfare and the benefits of owning them.

    Cindy Nichols

  40. Hello Mindy,

    I love reading your articles. Useful, encouraging and engaging.

    The industry I've chosen is the Sports industry. I'm a retired professional athlete many years ago but sports has being a major part of my life.

    Making this choice and decision I'm hoping, helps get me off the fence(sidelines) and into the game.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Guest (MGreene)

  41. My name is Alexander. I am Brazilian, I live in São Paulo. I want to write to management consulting firms, economic and financial. I want to collaborate with these companies so that they can gain more customers.


  42. I've been writing about grief, change, and moving forward for 10 years and think holistic health is the best fit. However, it's huge and I'm not sure yet exactly how to narrow it down to something more specific. I do want to write white papers, case studies - basically long copy - so I have much research to do.

    Judy Strong

  43. Mindy,

    I have 14 years experience working with at risk children, a M.ED in Elementary Education and am also a born-again Christian. I love animals, especially horses and cats, History and Literature. I would prefer to write on educational topics, faith-based articles or blogs, etc.


  44. Hi, Mindy I would love to promote charities, especially those that service the homeless or shelters for abused mothers and children as well as Make A Wish foundations. I was an exec secretary of marketing for both Pepsi Cola and CTB Macmillan-McGraw Hill (school and private industry created testing). I was also a licensed real estate agent and Sales and Foreclosure Manager for a RE company. In fact my charities came out of working with them as my community outreach while an agent.


  45. Hello Mindy,

    After wrapping up with a large event last month, I am getting to review your coaching this week and attempting more webinars.

    My niche is the health and wellness field. I am qualified to write content. I am considering Christian copy as well.

    Thanks for asking! You are an inspiring copywriter!

    Jennifer C.

    Guest (Jennifer C)

  46. Hey Mindy!
    I'm always so thrilled to read emails from AWAI and yours are also very helpful. I've chosen my niche as web writing for the Christian Market. But I am wondering if my belief and passion for this area is enough, or if I should get 'experience'. Can you even get experience with something that is spiritually oriented besides my training from AWAI?

    Sarah S

  47. My background is teaching (literature), psychologist who coaches women in spirituality and self-empowerment. Recently, I've been dealing with food allergies and disabling gastro system requiring dietary changes, but lack of literature to assist people in need of how to implement lifestyle changes. So, I guess that's utilizing other experiences to narrow focus.


  48. My expertise is in the field of Education. I am a former classroom teacher, principal, assistant superintendent of schools and college professor. I am also an expert regarding parent involvement in education. I currently do some freelancing including writing speeches. I am confused about how to obtain clients who may benefit from my expertise in Education

    James Louis

  49. I have done many things in my life.Poetry, lyrics writing, Admin. Realtor, Mortgage lending, Loan Modifications, Non-Profit.A cancer survivor, I also lost my husband of 17 years to ALS. I have grown children and grandchildren I love and have always had grandeur dreams of writing. Finally I clicked on AWAI's email offer for the copywriting program. I am also a Christian and have 2 daughters who are in the medical/physical therapy/fitness training fields, of which I also have knowledge about.Help!

    Dorothy J Holmes

  50. My interests are Christian topics, writing for children and teens, and antique and classic cars. Most of all, I desire more time with my wife and our dog Sugar while serving God faithfully. I began a Christian story years ago. Anyone interested in co-authoring a short novel? Be Blessed,Rick

    Guest (Rick)

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