Wondering How to Become a Content Writer? First, Understand the Extraordinary Demand

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In 2020, online content marketing changed forever.

The global pandemic forced people out of physical retail outlets and into online stores.

E-commerce exploded with what we call “The Leap.”

What’s The Leap? Well, it’s an incredible opportunity to win big as a content writer, if you know

  • where to look,
  • how to find the projects, and
  • how to capitalize on the growing demand for skilled content writers.

So, let’s take a few minutes to understand The Leap and why it’s a game changer for content writers.

The Leap

Until late 2019, e-commerce in the United States was growing at just over 1% per year … a surprisingly low rate, given the popularity of online stores.

But in just three months of 2020, e-commerce grew by 18%. That’s over 10 years’ growth in just 90 days!

This graph shows the growth in e-commerce penetration from 2009 to Q1 2020 in the United States
The global pandemic rapidly accelerated the transition to e-commerce.

What happened? The pandemic meant that many physical stores had to close their doors. They were forced to go online.

And now that these businesses have moved online, they’ll remain there. They’ve spent a lot of time and money setting up online stores and digital marketing channels.

So they won’t be going back to only the traditional sales methods. They’ve seen firsthand that online shopping is more cost-effective … No physical stores, fewer staff on the payroll, and fewer overhead costs.

This is especially true for businesses that relied on in-person sales. They had to quickly shift their marketing budget from in-person to online.

For you as a writer, this means all those new online businesses need content.

And don’t forget about the existing businesses that were already online. They also need content, more than ever now that their competitors have moved online.

So what exactly is “content”? How is it different from “copy”? We need to understand where content fits into the sales funnel.

The Difference Between Content and Copy

Content and copy are complementary. And sometimes the line between them is blurred.

However, content is designed to be “pre-suasive.” In other words, it pre-sells the reader on the opportunity awaiting them.

We’ll separate content from copy, then explain how they fit together.

What Is Content?

Content includes the following:

  • Articles
  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • E-newsletters
  • Video scripts
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Support pages
  • Lead magnets
  • FAQ pages

This is by no means a complete list. There are dozens of different types of content.

Content broadly covers the items you read to get information on a specific topic, to get answers to your questions … anything you interact with, short of actually buying the product.

What Is Copy?

Copy typically includes things like the following:

  • Sales pages
  • Landing pages
  • Product descriptions
  • Long-form direct response
  • Promotional emails
  • Google ads

Copy closes the sale. It gets the prospect over the line.

The Dance Between Content and Copy

So, content leads readers toward a sale by informing them … answering their questions, solving their problems. Then copy takes over and closes the sale.

Like copy, content sells. In fact, it plays a huge role in leading the prospect toward the sale.

But it’s not as direct or “in your face” as copy. Rather, content sits more at the information-gathering phase … A prospect goes online to look for a solution to their problem. In the process, they consume content.

A screenshot of REI’s Day Hiking Checklist, with a link to a blog post and a link to a product page highlighted in red.
This is a screenshot of part of a Day Hiking Checklist. Notice the links to other blog posts and to product pages (source: REI).

The screenshot above shows part of a resource — a Day Hiking Checklist — that REI (an outdoor equipment supplier) has provided for people looking for information about outdoor activities. The reader wants to know what they need to go day hiking, and this article gives them the answer.

They use hyperlinks to connect the reader with further useful information and also with product pages. See the first one circled in red? It goes to a blog post, which helps the reader choose suitable energy foods to take hiking.

A screenshot of REI’s blog post on how to choose energy foods and drinks
If you click on the “choosing energy food” link, you’ll go to this blog post about energy foods for hiking (source: REI).

The second circled hyperlink takes the user to a product page (copy), where they can make a purchase. So the content gently hands the prospect over to the copy, which then closes the sale.

A screenshot of REI’s product page for water bottles, where the reader can choose from a selection of water bottles.
If you click on the “water bottles” link, you’ll go straight to a product page where you can see REI’s entire range of water bottles (source: REI).

Take another look at the sequence above. REI cleverly uses content to help the reader and to gently pass them on to their online store.

Someone had to write all this content.

And wherever you look online, you’ll see content.

Millions of companies are scrambling for content right now. But there simply aren’t enough skilled writers to meet the demand.

That’s your opportunity as a skilled content writer, right there!

Content: It’s Everywhere

By now, you’re probably starting to understand the massive opportunity available to you as a content writer.

And the more you look, the bigger it gets. For example, you probably haven’t even considered this yet …

These are the four vehicles we can use as content writers:

  1. Text (e.g., blog posts)
  2. Audio (e.g., podcasts)
  3. Video (e.g., video scripts)
  4. Images (e.g., infographics)

Then within each of those you have the myriad marketing channels:

  • Email channels (e.g., promotional emails, informative emails, e-newsletters)
  • Social media channels (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest)
  • Video channels (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo)
  • Audio channels (e.g., Spotify)

 … and so on.

When you combine these two lists, the number of combinations explodes. That’s a huge volume of content.

And content writers are the ones who create this content.

To give you an idea of the demand for content writers, here’s a simple search on Google for “content writer jobs” in the United States.

A screenshot of a Google search for the term “content writer jobs” U.S.
A simple Google search for “content writer jobs” yields thousands of job openings.

Each entry lists thousands of job openings. And that’s just in the United States.

But why is content so essential to businesses? What’s driving this huge demand for content?

Why Is Content So Important?

People love to buy things. And they want to make an informed buying decision.

So they go online to research the product they want to buy.

Now imagine you own a business that sells hard-shell and inflatable kayaks.

Say a user searches for “best inflatable kayaks for dogs” (yes, that really is a thing!). If you don’t have any content on this topic, you’re already out of the game … even if the user goes directly to your website and searches for this term.

The user will go elsewhere. You’ll lose the sale.

So you hire a skilled content writer to write a listicle, “The Top 5 Inflatable Kayaks Suitable for Dogs.” It’s an informative article, designed to give the reader all the information they need to make an informed buying decision.

Now you’re back in the game. You have content related to this topic.

Let’s flip this 180 degrees and imagine you’re the content writer.

The kayak company wants you to write this article. You could go ahead and write it, send the invoice, and be done.

Or you could seize this golden opportunity to use a technique called splintering.

Splintering Content for Even More Content Writing Opportunities

Splintering is taking parts (or splinters) of existing content and repurposing them for other marketing channels.

You take existing content and push it out to other channels. This way, you attract more people and increase sales for your client.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You write a blog post.
  2. Then you take five content splinters from the post and turn them into short Facebook posts.
  3. You extract 10 quotes and turn them into Twitter posts.
  4. You write three new headlines and captions for Pinterest pins.
  5. You take five excerpts and create Instagram captions.
  6. Finally, you write an email for them that promotes the blog post to their subscriber list.

Splintering is a fantastic way for both you and the client to get a ton of value from one piece of content.

You could have been paid $300 for the blog post. But instead, you’re now being paid 10 times that for supplying a content package.

And the client gets 25 pieces of valuable content in one convenient package.

Now are you beginning to see the massive opportunity for content writers?

And it gets better … The opportunity doesn’t end there.

How to Build Content for a Client

If we stay with “The Top 5 Inflatable Kayaks Suitable for Dogs” example, you could propose a content package for each of the top five kayaks. You’d include a blog post, plus splinter the content again.

So that’s another five projects.

Then you present the company with a list of content ideas:

  • The top five hard-shell kayaks for dogs
  • The gear you need to kayak with dogs
  • How to train your dog to sit in a kayak

 … and so on. There are hundreds of topics you could propose.

If the client likes your ideas, you can then propose building a content marketing calendar for them.

A content calendar is a roadmap of what’s being published this week, next week, next month. Both you and your client have a clear picture of the content strategy.

Example of a content calendar, used to map out a content marketing strategy
A content calendar is your roadmap of the content that’s due to be published.

See what you’ll be doing here? You’ll be building a complete content marketing strategy for your client.

Once you start splintering and proposing content ideas, you’re moving into the realm of content marketing strategist. So you get paid to create a content strategy and to write the content.

And do you see how easy it is to become a content marketing strategist? It’s really a natural progression.

You start as a content writer, then become your client’s invaluable “ideas machine.” They can confidently leave the content strategy in your hands, knowing you have it under control.

They’ll actually be relieved you’re taking it off their plate.

No businessperson has time to even come up with new content ideas, let alone create a marketing calendar and write the content.

In return, you can charge way more and have ongoing work.

And this is an important point. You need only a couple of clients. Two clients will keep you busy for years to come.

Why? Because as content marketing expert Russ Henneberry says, content marketing is like painting the Golden Gate bridge. Once you finish, you go back and start over.

It’s never done … You always need to add new content or update old content.

Another factor is affecting the growing demand for content writers. It’s directly related to that small handheld computer in your pocket …

We’re Connected All the Time

Say you just bought a new Honda lawn mower. It’s one of those units with a grass catcher and a mulching function.

Your new mower arrives. You unpack and assemble it in your garden shed. But you don’t know how to use the mulching function.

So you grab your mobile and Google “How to use mulcher on Honda mower model XYZ.”

If Honda understands content marketing, they’ll have a how-to on this very topic. In fact, they’ll likely have hundreds or even thousands of how-to articles on every product … how to use the mulcher, how to change a spark plug, how to adjust mower height, and so on for every model.

A content writer wrote every one of those how-to articles.

After-sales help and support are other massive opportunities for content writers. People expect after-sales help. And they expect it to be available online instantly.

This is the online, connected mobile world we live in now.

We can access information from anywhere … our garden shed, our backyard, on the water in our kayak.

Speaking of kayaks, that’s yet another opportunity we can propose to our imaginary kayaking client. Propose a list of how-to articles, all aimed at helping owners post-purchase.

Not only do buyers expect this, but it’s also great for future sales.

It makes the overall ownership experience easy and trouble-free. The buyer is more likely to be satisfied, buy from your client again, and recommend the product to others.

Mobile devices have changed the way we use the internet. It means yet more masses of content … Great news if you’re a content writer.

You might be wondering if content writing applies to all types of content (Business-to-Business, Business-to-Consumer, nonprofit writing) or whether it’s more skewed toward selling only to consumers. Let’s investigate this a bit further.

Content Writing Opportunities … for Every Business

The short answer is, every business needs content, whether it’s B2B, B2C, or the nonprofit sector.

Content isn’t driven so much by companies as by customers. And it doesn’t matter whether the customer is a huge transport company looking to buy 1,000 new truck tires (B2B) or a consumer wanting one new tire for their small sedan (B2C).

Sure, they have different needs. A transport company has to justify the large capital outlay. So you need to write content that explains why your clients’ tires are the best for the unique requirements of the transport industry … low whole-of-life costs, reliable, long life, and possibly some type of ongoing maintenance contract.

You’ll need to create blog posts, articles, case studies, even white papers.

And keep in mind, you can splinter all of this content across the tire company’s other marketing channels … email, social media, and so on.

On the other hand, the consumer wants only one tire. They don’t care so much about whole-of-life costs and long life. They have different needs … best price, availability, low noise, how to check the tire pressure, how to check for tire wear.

That’s another bunch of content you’ll need to write, this time aimed at small consumers. And yep, you guessed it … You can splinter this content too.

It really doesn’t matter what the product or service is. Every product or service needs content. Why? Because customers demand it.

If your client doesn’t provide this content, users will keep searching online until they find it. No business can afford to fall behind in this race. The only solution is to keep creating content that users are searching for, so they can make an informed buying decision.

And it’s not just large businesses that need content …

Do Small Businesses Need Content?

One of the great things about the internet is that it has leveled the playing field between small and large businesses. The internet has democratized the spread of information.

Even the smallest business has the ability to publish.

Example of a small business competing with larger rivals by producing great content
The internet has enabled small businesses to compete with larger rivals, by publishing great content (source: Little Acre Mushrooms).

If a small business publishes great content, there’s no reason why it can’t compete with much bigger rivals.

Content …

  • is an “every business” thing. It’s just as important for small businesses as it is for the largest corporations.
  • helps people make informed buying decisions. It has nothing to do with business size.
  • is about business value, about growing the business.

So if you’re a copywriter for small business, propose a content package for them. Show them how to extract the maximum value from one piece of content with splintering.

Any savvy small-business owner will love it … They’ll immediately see the benefits.

One comment you’ll often hear from small businesses is “No one even knows our business exists.”

Listen for comments like that. It means the business is aware that its website and marketing strategy aren’t working. It’s a cry for help.

It also means this business is an ideal candidate for valuable content. Propose a content package, and offer to develop a content strategy. Offer to help them.

How to Get Started in Content Writing

Before the global pandemic, e-commerce was steadily chipping away at traditional retail sales.

But the pandemic supercharged the move to online sales.

Businesses that had previously resisted the move to online sales were forced into a do-or-die situation … Shift all marketing efforts to digital or perish.

And once they made the move to digital, they weren’t going back.

With this came a wave of demand for content. Not just any content, but rather, high-quality content written by skilled writers … blog posts, articles, social media posts, and email promotions, to name a few.

We’ve looked at how to take advantage of the growing (perhaps “exploding” is a better word!) demand for skilled content writers. And we’ve explored several ways to step up to the next level as a content marketing strategist.

So how do you become a content writer?

You could go out to clients today and promote yourself as a content writer. And you’ll be successful … The demand is insane.

However, a better approach is to learn from an expert like Russ Henneberry.

Russ is one of the top digital marketing experts in the world. He has created a content writing certification course for AWAI called Content Mastery Mentorship & Certification.

He’ll start by explaining the fundamentals of content writing, then lead you step-by-step … all the way through to how and where to find clients.

And he teaches you how to avoid the mistakes he made. This way, you’ll be up and running as a skilled content writer in no time.

If you’ve missed the enrollment window for Russ’s Content Mastery Mentorship & Certification, don’t worry! You can still gain the building blocks of content writing with The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter.

Content writing is a massive opportunity for both aspiring and experienced writers. Digital marketing is here to stay and is showing strong growth, as you’ve seen with The Leap.

If you want to future-proof your career, then content writing is the place to be.

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