The great thing about content writing as a field is that there are no defined paths or qualifications necessary to enter it. While that may feel a little daunting at first, it does give you a lot of flexibility since you can take up content writing at any stage of your professional life, through any path, and in different capacities (freelance, full-time or part-time).
Not to say that you can’t take steps to ensure a smooth entry into the field. A degree in literature, journalism and mass communication are preferred degrees, while for technical and research writing you may need a master’s degree in a specialized field (for example, life sciences, physics, engineering, psychology, etc.).
In either case, good writing skills and an analytical mind are two things you cannot do without.
Here are a few recommended ways to start your career as a content writer:
A great way to dip your toes in the (figurative) content writing pool is to take up freelance projects. Companies are increasingly outsourcing their content writing requirements to independent writers, and such opportunities are abundantly available on freelancing websites such as Fiverr, Freelancer, WorknHire, Upwork, etc.
As a freelancer, you can build your expertise and portfolio over time, and set your own pace for work.
If you are still in college/school, you can also start off by trying your hand at internships with organizations(online or offline) or contributing to columns for magazines and newspapers.
I remember the cheer my first article brought me when it was published in Hindustan Times years back when I was only 13. I interned that summer for a Singapore-based magazine which paid me enough to treat myself to goodies!
Youngsters as old (or young) as 12-13 years are blogging today which I feel is really the first step anyone can take towards writing. Setting up your own blog is free, you can write at your own pace, and you don’t need any qualifications as such. You require only a writing style and voice that resonates well with your target audience. So it’s a win-win situation on all fronts.
Even if you are not able to monetize your blog, it is still an undemanding way to build your portfolio and experiment with writing styles.
4. Added Qualifications
For writing as a subject matter expert, added qualifications are required. Higher qualifications add to your ability to process information and add your own expertise to it, and as you grow older, you can complement your writing skills with them.
Technical data can only be well-analyzed and presented by a person technically qualified for it. An automobile manufacturing industry would require engineers to do the content writing for most of their parts and a medical college book would require proof-reading done by a qualified subject matter expert in it.
5. Certification Programs
You may choose to top up your graduate or post-graduate degrees with certification programs and short-term courses in skills associated with writing, content marketing, and digital marketing. There are various courses in blogging, electronic rhetoric, technical writing, copywriting, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), CMS (Content Management System), WordPress, Keyword Research, Social Media Fundamentals, etc.
Some career opportunities available in India and abroad are:
- Content Creators/ Developers
- Content Strategists
- SEO Content Writers
- Brand Journalists
- Social Media Specialists
- Curriculum Designer
- Instructional Designers
- Academic Writers or Researchers
- Technical Writers
- Subject Matter Experts
- Video Content Creators
Finally, my biggest advice to all aspiring content writers would be to keep experimenting until you satisfy your own creative urges. The written word is a strong medium of expression of your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and by extension, your own self.
Thus, if you see your future in content writing, don’t be afraid to take the leap, but do so only after a careful evaluation of your fit with the career. And if you’re not sure, you can always speak with career experts.