How Good is A Career in Content Writing? A Detailed Guide
Is a content writing career a good option? What are the challenges that content writers will face in the coming years? How Good a Career in Content Writing is going to be? Find out here.
Content writing has come a long way in a very short period. Content writing today is a widely recognized profession under the umbrella of digital marketing. There are billions, not millions, of pages returned by Google when you search about content writing.
The profession is also seeing immense popularity due to many factors. Some of them being easy to start, the freelancing model, and the rise of the gig economy. Today content writers can expect a sustainable income while working full-time and run their households.
Today, content writing has turned into such a lucrative career. We are seeing such a surge in the number of content writers as well as content creation jobs.
But this was not the case even 15 years ago.
History of a content writing career
Advertising and content have been around forever. But it started to be recognized as an industry by the end of the 18th century.
Before the invention of the internet and even many years into it, there was no public utility for the internet nor was there any traffic. By 1991, the World Wide Web was rolled out for public use, beyond its domain of CERN, state departments, and educational institutions. By 1994, we started seeing very few, but the sprouting of websites and, thus, began the age of information.
By the end of the century, there were so many websites that we had a new sort of service called the search engine. Web search engines were in use since 1993 but the most popular search engine today, Google, was released in 1998.
Civilians started using the web towards the end of the century and brands and companies realized the potential of the internet as a marketing medium.
By 2000, blogs became a popular medium for many people to express their views and opinions and share knowledge regarding what they were passionate about.
There was no monetary incentive during those days. Blogging was not as simple as it is today. It required coding a website with HTML and buying and hosting domains. Today, you can start a blog for free without any coding expertise.
So blogging remained the prerogative of a few. There was no financial gain and bloggers often had their day jobs or were just students or stay-at-home parents. Some of these blogs went on to become very popular which led to the next generation of ‘serious’ content creators.
These ‘serious’ content creators were not just writers, but animators, visual artists, video creators, and more. They were ready to invest much more time, effort, and money into building their website or channel.
But even back then, there was not much competition. You could write a 400-500 page article about anything and if you managed a few things, you could rank it on page 1 fairly easily. Pieces of content were easy to rank and users had fewer expectations.
The term ‘content marketing’ was coined in 1994, but it started becoming a strategy for most brands only 3-4 years later. Most of the content creation and the user base were in developed countries.
Brands realized the potential of having websites and content on their own blog. ‘Content creators’ were soon hired for marketing purposes.
With time, many websites were ranking pages unethically and the loopholes in the search engine algorithms became apparent.
But this did not last long. Search engines like Google worked hard and pumped millions of dollars into filling those loopholes and creating an algorithm that was not easy to trick.
As the competition among businesses grew, it became increasingly harder to rank new content. Websites with more domain authority were hard to beat by new websites. They needed to do something unique.
Thus the need for expert content creators was felt and in the blogging sphere, the need for content writers who could create content that users would feel compelled to read was realized.
Content writers started earning a decent income by writing for brands and websites. Many writers developed specific niches and worked inside their domain.
Countries like India and China, however, we’re growing rapidly and the market in these countries was coming of age. Especially India, where English is an official language, saw rapid growth in the service industry.
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Content writers in India began to work for overseas clients due to cheaper rates for clients and foreign currency for Indian workers meant higher equivalent income. Even if it was less than what a native speaker would earn for the same work.
This fact right here became the foundation stone for the service industry in India. The content writing and digital marketing industry witnessed great demand for Indian writers. This set in stone the flourishing of the Indian content market and content writing careers.
Content is king.
This is a popular saying today. But why is that?
Consumers are always looking for content to solve their problems. And brands recognize this fact.
But no matter how much optimization, strategizing, and marketing tools we use, if the content does not help the user, it will eventually be outranked.
Today, the average number of words in an article that ranks on page 1, is about 1800 words. Compare this to 500-word articles 15 years ago.
Besides, content creators almost always use social media tools to promote their content. This was not the norm 15 years ago and social media was hardly seen as a part of the digital marketing strategy.
Today, there are more than a billion blogs active on the web. Starting a blog does not require coding skills anymore. You can easily set up a free blog and start creating content.
This also means that there are so many people creating content that users have started valuing content quality high.
We have come a long way since the early days of content creation. Content is a serious business in most niches. Most people who want to start a blog today, and choose some niche, eventually find that someone is already doing it, much more seriously than they plan to.
15 years ago, there were popular ways to trick search engines into ranking your content. Today, it is almost impossible and search engines can ban your website from using unethical practices.
Content writing today is not an inclusive tool, rather, it is tied to different activities to increase its reach. These activities together are called content marketing.
Content writers not only just write articles but also research different keywords for popularity and potential, perform competitor analysis, create a content strategy, promote content through different channels like social media, and much more. All this while also creating amazing and comprehensive content.
The content writing industry needs professionals today. This is not part-time work or a hobby anymore. If you want to start a blog in a competitive niche, it is almost impossible without proven content marketing methods that only professionals know.
But what is the future of a content writing career? What lies for content writing for 2021 and beyond?
Content writing career in 2021 and beyond
Content writing career in 2021 is sure to remain a lucrative career for many. This is due to multiple reasons.
- Easy to begin and learn skills. Unlike highly skilled jobs of engineering, medical, and even creative fields like music, which require prior skills, content writing merely uses language as the medium of expression. This makes the profession of content writing one with low barriers for entry.
- Dynamic working situation. Content writers can work outside any fixed schedule. They can work anytime and anywhere and take only as much work as they possibly can. This is especially great for students and housewives.
- Professionals can work while traveling.
- They can charge their own rates from clients.
These reasons for the high demand in content writing careers are still going to hold in 2021 and beyond.
But content writing is sure to undergo major developments as it has in the last 20 years since it’s inception.
There are many speculations among experts. Some of which are welcomed by professionals but others spread fear over the future of content writing careers.
Increased dependency on paid SEO tools
There are many digital marketing tools that assist strategists to plan their content. These include Ahrefs, Buzzsumo, Ubersuggest, Moz as paid tools. But there are many free tools like answerthepublic.com, and google keyword planner, google trends, and many more.
There are different features of different tools. But one thing is for sure. That these tools give a great advantage to content marketers who possess them and know how to use them to their fullest.
These tools can be used to find out popular keywords, competition in those keywords, the page and domain authority, and much more.
Ubersuggest, for example, is a popular tool that can be used to find out popular articles from your competitor’s blogs. This is a great way to understand your audience in a specific niche. You can see what kind of content and language works with your audience.
It can also be used to see the ranking difficulty in relation to any particular keywords, how many visits each article gets per month, how many articles over the internet are linking to that article, and how many links does it have on social media.
It can also give you many content ideas for your blog.
This would be a major trend for a content writing career in 2021 and beyond.
Another popular paid tool called Buzzsumo is a powerful tool for creating a whole content strategy for any business blog. You can just enter a keyword and it will all the popular articles that rank for that keyword, along with all the other keywords they rank for.
You can check those articles and see how you can make an improvement upon them.
Another cool feature on Buzzsumo is that it shows which articles are more popular during certain times of the year. This will help understand seasonal trends if your niche falls in that category. For example, just before income tax filing dates, we see a surge in searches on tax-related keywords.
If you want to see trends over a long period of time, say years, there is a perfect tool for that too. Google trends have been tracking search traffic since 2004 and it can be used to check the traffic of just about anything you can think of.
You can also compare search traffic between different subjects and also see a location-based trend. This will help see which searches are popular in which areas.
We can also see which topics are trending right now, this month, this year, or any period since 2004.
These are tools that anyone can use to find topics that are popular already. But what if you could find what users want that does not exist?
There is a tool called Surveymonkey, that will help you create surveys and find out what users are looking for but cannot find anywhere. This is the best way to think outside the box, sourcing ideas.
This tool will become a major trend for a content writing career in 2021 and beyond.
Many youtube creators love the fact that viewers themselves give suggestions on what the next video should be about in the comment section. The more upvotes a suggestion gets, the more chances are of that content becoming popular after posting.
The same can be done with content writing and blogging. With SurveyMonkey, try to keep a fairly big set of responses, so that we can rule out any selection biases.
Paid SEO tools like these and more will be absolutely needed to perform in the competitive niches. It is already too difficult to rank an article from a new website into a popular keyword search.
This also means that content writers will have to become more professional and invest in subscriptions for these tools. These subscriptions can be a little expensive for new writers starting their content writing careers. This will give an advantage to established and experienced writers and content marketers.
AI content writing tools
There is an ongoing debate about whether AI will make most content writing jobs redundant. This could happen sooner than we think.
There are many writing tools that claim to use AI to improve content quality in terms of grammar and punctuation. There are tools that help enhance the writing style to make it more pleasing to the reader and to avoid common writing mistakes. Grammarly and Hemingway editor are some of those applications.
There are also tools that use AI to create original content, absolutely without any human interference. Tools like wordAI and Chimp are some of those tools. These tools can scourge the web for content related to any topic and create a new piece of content that is recognized as completely authentic by the search engines.
And there are hundreds of them already. They are definitely going to be more widely used in a content writing career in 2021 and beyond.
There are many other tools that have other amazing functions. Some are used to suggest catchy titles by reading the whole content in an article.
Reading about these developments makes you realize something. AI is not the future of content writing, it is the present. The things we fear that will replace humans, already exist today. And they are undergoing constant new transformations so that they can work better.
However, the range of what can be published with AI content writing tools and what cannot is still limited. Many content creators who use these AI tools complain that the content this produced lacks any coherence or any flow.
Many experts also think that creativity is a skill that will forever be outside the realms of AI and machine learning. We have tested today’s tools to produce creative content and the result is that the content falls flat.
In reality, no one can say with certainty exactly how much and when will AI affect the content writing career in 2021 and beyond. AI tool creators will always hail their creation as the beacon of hope because their business depends upon it.
Content that requires professionals in the skilled sector is one example where AI is yet to breakthrough. For example, research thesis, first-person accounts, content from a renowned person, can be produced only by humans.
For today, only blogs in a general niche, and on topics on which several pieces of content have already been written, can be produced by AI spinner tools. Since these tools need to browse content throughout the internet that already exists. These tools cannot develop thoughts of their own. Not yet.
But when the day comes when redundant jobs under the content writing sector are threatened, writers who write original pieces of content, not just that search engines deem original, will survive.
AI cannot write about things it has not seen or felt. Like an astronaut re-entering Earth, or a physicist making a groundbreaking discovery. These highly specialized and rare experiences, for example, will always remain outside the range of AI tools.
But the content writers who are only spinning content today will surely be out of jobs if they do not upgrade their skills.
This factor or development that we will see in a content writing career in 2021 and beyond, is not one that would be controlled by technology but by consumption patterns of users.
Blogging is getting popular every day, even when there are already more than a billion active blogs today. Most popular niches have become extremely competitive, and the ones that are left will soon follow suit.
What can a new blogger or content writer do in 2021 and beyond?
There are many answers to that. And the answers mentioned here are not exhaustive but suggestive.
Users are increasingly consuming content that is high-quality and that shows that the content creator has put time and effort into creating it. We have already seen Youtube iceberg theory where most of the content being uploaded today on the platform will never see the light of the day or the screen of the user in this case.
This means that in any content platform, be it Youtube, search, Instagram, or Twitter, new pieces of content are shown to fewer users to decide whether they are worthy of a larger reach.
How do social media platforms decide what content to put into users’ feeds? First, when you post content, it is shown to a very small number of users. If the engagement is good, then it is shown to some more users, and some more, and so on.
But what if the initial group of users do not like your content and do not engage with it? Then your content is out of the algorithm and will not be seen by most people, even if they are your followers.
And this initial group of users is reducing in size as the platforms are adding users.
This just means that creating content has become more competitive than ever. Content creators need to make sure that the initial viewers of your content get hooked on to the content.
In the case of blogs, you can do this in many ways.
You can provide a different angle on an already popular topic. This will arouse the curiosity of users who will be intrigued by the headline or captions.
Another way to ensure your content is at par with users’ quality standards is to have perfect grammar. Grammatical mistakes show that the content creator is not a professional and people have been seeming to lose interest in content created by amateurs.
Content writers also need to work on improving their writing styles. They will need to take inspiration from the greats.
One thing that aspiring writers in the content writing career in 2021 can do is to begin their content writing career with a professional. This will help them learn new skills in content writing quickly so they can shorten their learning curve.
It is hard to find a mentor these days, so the best thing to do would be to get trained by people who have been working in the content writing industry for many years.
Q. Is content writing a good career option?
Ans- Yes, content writing is an evolving and massively opportunistic industry closely associated with the digital marketing industry.
Q. What is the career path of a content writer?
Ans- A content writer is not strictly expected to have a literature or journalism degree, rather, any graduation level degree would work. Aspiring writers are required to have a basic understanding of how content works online, SEO, and things of that nature.
Q. Does content writing pay well?
Getting content writing training is not necessary to start a content writing career in 2021 and beyond. But it is guaranteed to give you an edge over other people who are aspiring to be content writers. You can learn many content writing skills in weeks that would normally take anyone months to learn by trial and error.
The content writing market is seeing great demand for new content writers. Many brands, both big and small, are realizing the power of having an online footprint. This is sure to attract many professionals into the content writing careers in 2021 and beyond.