These days, everyone is writing content. Writers used to be strange folk that tucked themselves away in dusty offices, consumed by their next big novel. Now, writing is a mainstream vocation. However, the problem is that there are many content writers out there that aren’t hitting the mark. They’re churning out thousands of words a day. But is that really what you want for your business? A talented and experienced content writer is gold dust for a modern business. The ability to write heart-wrenching prose isn’t enough.

A successful content writer comes armed with a toolkit of marketable skills.

Mastery of different writing style

An experienced content writer will have a complete mastery of different writing styles.

A news article should sound totally different from a blog post. A sales page should sound different from a technical product description. This only comes with experience and practice; it’s not something that you’re born with. Here’s an example:

News Article – CD Projekt Red, the maker of the popular video game CyberPunk 2077, has been hacked in a ransomware attack. The hackers accessed the internal network, digitally scrambled data servers, and attempted to blackmail the company.

Blog Post – Still holding out for CyberPunk 2077? You might want to wait a little longer. Last week, they were the targets of a ransomware attack – another setback in one of the most painful game launches since Fallout 76. The hackers digitally scrambled the data servers and attempted to blackmail the company. If you’ve already bought CyberPunk 2077, that could be your data they’re accessing.

Both put across the same basic information but in completely different ways. Why is this important? Because it makes a content writer versatile. They can adapt their writing skills to any situation – whether it’s a short and catchy tagline or a detailed white paper. If you’re in the process of hiring a content writer, it’s a good idea to test their writing in different situations.

Ability to perform keyword research

If any part of your business is online, you need someone to perform keyword research. Successful content writers don’t just pluck ideas out of thin air. Keyword research lets you know exactly what your customers are asking and exactly how they’re asking it. To perform keyword research, content writers need to be able to analyze data and use keyword research tools. Mastering this skill will allow them to create content ideas that can drive traffic to a website and ultimately build an audience.

Ability to perform actual research

The buck doesn’t stop here, though. A content writer should also perform actual research.

Like an investigative journalist sniffing out a story, content writers need to get out there in the real world and research topics. Okay, they don’t actually have to get out in the real world. You can perform in-depth research from behind a desk these days. But they do have to talk to people, read through peer-reviewed studies, and get information that provides value to the reader. There’s a science behind writing a high-performing blog post. Check out this infographic on SEMrush. It basically outlines the ingredients of the best-performing blog posts. The content length, lists, images, and videos are all contributing factors to a blog post performing well. That tells us that the more you research, the more people will read your post.

Organizational skills

Content writers need to stay organized. If they don’t, they risk repeating topics, making mistakes, and not analyzing the performance of content accurately. All of these things are essential to make content successful. That’s why they need to understand the tools of the trade. Most content writers use Digital Asset Management software like Brandfolder. This is a one-stop shop that allows you to store, organize, find, manage, distribute, and analyze content. Proper implementation of a system like this will help content writers work efficiently and prevent them from missing something.

Technical knowledge

Successful content writers have at least a working knowledge of HTML, CSS, SEO, and WordPress. It’s one thing crafting a perfect blog post in a Google Doc. It’s another getting it to look perfect on WordPress. Although automatic website design is becoming more advanced, you might still have to delve into the text/HTML tab to fix a spacing issue or change the color of a title. Content writers don’t need to be coders, but basic knowledge is very useful. SEO is even more important. Hopefully, you will have a dedicated SEO specialist on your team. You can’t expect a content writer to fill that gap in your digital marketing team. But, they should still understand on-page SEO and basic off-page SEO.

A finger on the pulse

You can’t create great content without a finger on the pulse. Whether you’re a garden furniture company or a FinTech startup, you should be aiming to create content that speaks to your reader. That means speaking about what is happening in their lives, what problems they face on a daily basis, and what they want their future to look like. A great content writer will tick these boxes and build an audience, whether it’s for themselves or for the company they’re working for. The best content writers are avid consumers of content themselves. They watch the news, read blogs, and have an interest in everything happening in popular culture.

Ability to learn quickly

One of the most important skills for a content writer is the ability to learn quickly. When working as a freelance writer, it’s absolutely essential to quickly digest a topic and write with authority. Some people take to this more naturally than others, but it is still something that can be learned over time. When assigned a project, a content writer should be able to quickly understand the topic, read around the topic, and then create content based on it. Without this ability, writers will spend too long researching and not enough time actually writing. When hiring a content writer, this is one of the primary traits you should be looking for.