Want to make a living writing? One way to do it is by providing content for websites, businesses and individuals. Here’s what you need to know to start an online content writing business.
As long as there is an Internet there will be demand for content writing services. That’s both good news and bad news for writers.
First, the good news: There will always be work.
And the bad news is, there will always be stiff competition. Other writers have noticed the demand and are marketing their services to the businesses that need strong writers, and many of those content writing services have been doing business online for years. So you have your work cut out for you to cut through the competition and get the business. It is possible, but it’s not easy.
What Kind of Content Needs to Be Written?
Businesses of all kinds need content. That includes:
- Website content
- Newsletter articles
- E-mail campaign content
- Blog writing
- Social media
- Video scripts
- Paid advertising pitches
- White papers
- Technical writing
- Online magazine and trade journal articles
- Mobile phone app content
- Interactive content
- Multimedia content
- And much more
As new online technologies emerge, there will be a need for writers to step up and create content for those media. That means there will always be an increase in demand for great content writers to fill a void and meet this demand.
How to Start Your Online Content Writing Business
All kinds of businesses, and individuals, need content. Before you start looking for work, take inventory of your personal skills. What are you good at, and what do you enjoy writing about? Start there. However, you should be realistic about expectations. You likely won’t make a lot of money marketing yourself as a poet. There are also other writing niches that might offer promises of glory but that aren’t lucrative, so adjust your expectations accordingly.
If you already have a writing business and you want to add online content to your inventory, you should consider building a website if you don’t already have one. Online writing clients want to see a portfolio of related writing before they hire you.
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On the other hand, if you are just starting out and you have no writing samples, you’ll want to acquire some rather quickly. There are a few ways to do that credibly:
- Write for content mills – You don’t want to hang out on content mills for very long. Just long enough to get some writing samples, then you should move on to higher paying markets.
- Bid websites – Sites like and will force you to lower your prices in order to get writing samples. For that reason, you won’t make as much as you are worth because you are competing against low bidders. But if you need to kick start a portfolio, it’s a great way to do it with low-hanging fruit.
- Work on spec – A better way to establish a portfolio quickly is to offer your ideal client a speculative work agreement. Write something where the client will pay for it only if they like it. Be sure they understand they can’t use it if they don’t pay for it. This allows the client to evaluate your writing without risk to ensure they are getting quality work. If they like your work, they’ll hire you long term, which is what you really want.
At some point, you’re going to want to move up to higher paying markets. You’ll have a difficult time doing that if you don’t have a website, so start thinking about your website the moment you open your online content writing business.
Another asset you want to establish quickly is aprofile. If you want to write for businesses, you have to go where the businesses are, and LinkedIn is the social network for business professionals looking to do business with other professionals. Not only should you have a profile on LinkedIn, but you should also seek endorsements from clients and people you know and publish regularly on your LinkedIn blog as your posts will be included in LinkedIn’s daily Pulse magazine, which receives wide distribution based on the size of your network and your ability to optimize your content.
Skills You’ll Need to Succeed as a Content Writer
It goes without saying that you’ll need strong writing skills. You should brush up on your grammar and spelling if you want to write online. You should also learn something about search engine optimization. This is an essential skill for online content writing. It basically means learning how the search engines categorize and rank online information so that you can write content that is more easily found through them.
It would also benefit you to learn how people interact on social media because online content writing clients expect their blog posts, articles, and other content to be sharable.
Finally, learn to write headlines. Headlines and article titles are the first items that readers will see. You must learn how to write them in such a way that they attract people’s attention and entice them to click a link to read the article. If readers do not click links and read content, then it doesn’t matter how well written and informative the content is. The headline must grab their attention and draw them in.
Online content writers can earn $30,000 per year or more.. The most successful earn upwards of six figures. How much you earn will depend on your skills, ability to market yourself, and the economics of the writing niches you choose to specialize in.