Many new content writers approach content marketing with stars in their eyes and self-defeating assumptions. They may rely too much on some web content tools and not enough on others. They may shoot themselves in the foot in their business practices. They may overshoot or underplay their writing voice. These are common mistakes, and there is no reason for anyone to re-invent the wheel.
Iffy Web Content Tools
Almost every web-marketing guru sells web content tools that they swear will put the finger of God on your marketing campaigns. Some tools are good, some are bad. Some deliver as advertised, others should be used sparingly, and others not at all. These days, content spinning tools in particular are on thin ice.
Search engines are continually being refined to pick up on what is “organic” content and what is “bot” content. Content spinning is highly suspect to search engines. For a writer, spinning content may seem like a godsend in turning one article into hundreds of “technically” unique articles. If it’s “technically” unique, it’s not unique enough.
Your Content Writing Voice—Technical Manuals vs. LOLCats
Most writers have probably glommed on the fact that no one wants to read dry content. In fact, in the past few years, there has been a tendency to go to ridiculous extremes to be clever and engaging. Groupon, for instance, has some insanely overwrought content.
When it comes to your voice, you have probably heard from every writing veteran that your content has to be engaging. What doesn’t often get brought up is who your content is supposed to engage, and how you engage them. You can pull out the rubber chicken in sales copy a lot of the time, but you’ll usually get your knuckles rapped for flinging what amounts to a cream pie on a professional website.
Imagine yourself as the visitor—why would you choose to look at a lawyer’s website versus an entertainment site, like LOLCats? You’re probably not in the mood to see Ceiling Cat say “U can haz malpraktis” on the lawyer’s site.
The Business End of Content Writing
Perhaps the biggest misconception that many fledgling content writers have is that they are an “employee.” This thinking essentially puts you at the mercy of the “feast or famine” nature of the industry. What you need to avoid is having the rug pulled out from under you, and the best way to avoid that is to remember that you are a hungry and opportunistic free agent. Juggling several clients and providers while applying for more is just a smart survival technique.
Another good practice in this industry is to network with other writers. This will help immensely in finding new opportunities when your client streams have run dry. You can also refer clients to your writer friends when they run short and you have more than you can take. There is no reason to turn down a new client because you’re fully booked if a friend is floundering and willing to let you have a “finder’s fee.” Of course, you should not do this in violation of your contracts—some providers strictly prohibit a writer from outsourcing projects.
With these points in mind, there should be no reason for a writer to be a starving artist.
Brandon W is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments. WriterAccess is powered by ideaLaunch.