Content writers in the new data driven age

What skills do you need to join the elite band of truly employable content writers in 2016?

Content writers needs to know how to write and craft their writing. But these days that’s a given. It doesn’t make you a stand out in its own right anymore.

If you want to make content writing your career then it’s worth brushing up these skills before you answer an ad saying ‘I love words and I’m really creative with them!’ That doesn’t make you one of the crack team of content writers that are in high demand.

Basic skills check for the new breed of skilled content writers

Underpinning all content writers’ skill set has to be someone that’s quick to learn and hungry to learn. This industry is fast-paced and ever evolving. When you join it expect to go through the revolving door endlessly without getting dizzy.

  1. You have to understand just what makes compelling and creative content. Do the research. Clip the headlines that get most traction, study popular posts and where they appear. Research endlessly. You’ll be the kind of person that’s constantly evaluating offline and online ads, articles, microblogging. In fact, study any place where the written word is found. You’ll also be critical about voice overs, video scripts and all points between.
  2. You’ll know that data underpins content creation. The last thing you want to do is create content that is flabby and joins the problem of ‘digital content obesity’. Therefore your research skills need to be pinpoint accurate. Content writers should be constantly searching for data. They also need to understand the seasonality of content marketing. How will you recycle the same kind of information in a truly original and exciting way? How will you craft  that message to be the right thing, at the right time for the right target audience?
  3. You’ll need to understand the difference between content strategy and content marketing. You’ll need to be comfortable either working from a content marketing strategy or learning how to create one. Content strategy drives business and  content writers and marketer have a significant role. they bring the aims and objectives alive
  4. You then need to be able to both use and handle data. This will help you understand the wealth of brand and consumer insights. These will inform how you create both stories and strategies. certainly, this is becoming increasingly complex as companies’ need to pinpoint attribution (see link from LinkedIn)
  5. Your digital PR and content can support both onsite and offsite SEO and therefore a content marketer no longer works in a silo. They are part of the whole marketing mix. That includes everyone from the CEO to customer services, to the tech side and beyond.
  6. You have to be curious – that what makes a really great content writer and content marketer so set some blogging goals for yourself..
  7. If you can think about how your content writing will be distributed, then great. If you also consider how the outreach will be handled for link-building campaigns so much the better. This article  outlines just how complex content marketing, data, attribution and granular analytics has become in 2016
  8. If you know your way around social media, can handle analytics well done. Then start to find the stories beneath the stories. Companies will then want a content writers just like you, for sure.
  9. So what you can do to prepare yourself is some serious research homework. Make sure you can use the following: Google Keyword Planner or Buzzsumo Google Analytics to track success. Know your way around an AdWords account.Make regular use of Google Trends and have it bookmarked and open all day.Be au fait with Moz Open Site Explorer and Moz Content Reporting
  10. Get experience of running social media accounts. Microblogging is a great test for  content writers on every single level.
  11. Research target markets and creating customer personas so you can write from many different perspectives, even when creating content for the same topic. This is key as you will cover every single long tail search phrase on the planet at one time or another!
  12. Take a course in content writing optimisation and know your way around contemporary, 2016 SEO tactics. Don’t panic though because Google really does reward great content – it’s not purely an algorithmic dance you need to learn.
  13. As content writers in 2016 be prepared to create data in excel to inform your opinion and how you have crafted, should craft and will craft your next piece of content. Someone will be ready to test attribution centred around just about everything you’ll write.

It’s a great career but undoubtedly it’s a tough one. Employable content writers  combine ruthlessness with detail, research with flexibility. But for me, creativity is the thing that keeps all the disparate parts of great content writers together.

Follow Vivienne Neale on Twitter

Vivienne Neale is a digital marketing strategist who began life as an untamed stray creative copywriter but now lives life on a very short digital leash and wears a data collar!

Write a comment