Content writing is simple to understand. It’s exactly what those two words mean — you, as a writer, write content for a specific platform for a specific purpose.
When I first started as a content writer at 19, I didn’t fully comprehend what content writing was. What I did understand was it means I’d be writing something. But what I’d write about, I didn’t know for sure.
I thought to myself that even if I didn’t have experience as a content writer, I was an avid essayist when I was a student and I’ve won a number of awards on essay writing contests. For me, that meant that my grasp of the English language was good enough. Whatever “content writing” was, I knew I’d be able to learn it.
What do Content Writers Write About?
Anything and everything! That’s what’s great about being a content writer. You get to write about lots of topics. For me, the first topic I wrote about was non-stick frying pans. It’s not the sexiest topic there is but it was a good learning experience.
I learned to describe an ordinary thing like a frying pan and emphasize its best features like being non-stick. I imagined myself as the reader and thought about what I’d want to know if I were interested in buying a non-stick frying pan. And that’s how I wrote my first article.
After that, the next topic was about real estate and why it’s a good investment to buy property on a specific place. Those were places in the US and I’ve never been to the US! How was I to describe the features of a certain place if I haven’t been there? This is where the power of research comes in.
With the internet, I did my research and read a lot before I even typed a word. I made sure that I became familiar with it. What was the climate like? What were the best restaurants and shops? What parks were nearby? These were some of the things I looked for when doing my research, and that’s how I composed the real estate articles.
If I were a reader who wanted to buy property, I’d want to know the best features of a place and what I could do there if I decided to relocate. Again, I placed myself in the shoes of the reader so that I, as a writer, could provide the information they wanted to know.
I’ve written lots of topics that I felt I didn’t know enough about but I knew I was a good researcher so that’s what I did before writing anything. Good research will equip you with the information you need so you can write an in-depth informative article that readers will value.
Who Determines the Topics I Should Write?
At my first job as a writer, the company hired another content writer and asked me to train her the basics. I remember she asked me an important question, “Do I write about anything I want?”
If you’ve been a content writer for some time now, you may think that it’s a stupid question. However, for someone like her who was new to this kind of work, it was actually a pretty valid question.
I think there are two ways to answer this. The first one is that as a content writer, you provide writing services to clients, right? And these clients have websites where the content goes to. So, the short answer here is that your client determines the topics you write about.
For example, if the client has a car wash business website, then it’s most likely that they will ask you to write articles relating to car wash services. It could be the benefits of a professional car wash, how often should a car be professionally cleaned, or how to wash a car thoroughly.
As a content writer, it’s possible that the client provides you with the topic or title of the articles you’ll write. But they could also ask you to find topics yourself and then they’ll approve them and at that point, you can start writing.
My second answer to this is that you can determine the topics to write about. For example, I have this website, and as a website-owner and writer, I have full control over what topics I want to cover. But it’s not just getting ideas out of thin air. I do a topic research first so that I’ll know what topics are readers interested in.
How to Choose Which Topics to Write?
There are many ways to do this. In fact, there are so many options that it may just overwhelm you. So, let me share what I usually do when choosing the topics to write about.
This is a mind map I did just before writing this article. In the center is “Content Writing” and around it are the words: what, where, why, how, and when. I think I learned this in my news writing seminar back in elementary school. It helps me think of content writing topics to write about.
So as you can see, linked to those prompts are specific questions that I want to cover. Under “when,” you can see there the question, “when do I say I’m ready to be a content writer?” and “when is the best time to be a content writer?” It’s a simple exercise and out of it, I’ve already extracted 10 topics that I can write about.
There’s also another technique that you can use. With this, simply open a web browser like Google Chrome and type the topic in the search box. In this case, I wrote “What is content writing?”
Look for the “People also ask” section and you’ll see a bunch of related topics there. This is another way that you can generate topics that readers want to know.
You don’t need to use SEO tools and Keyword Research tools right away. You can get topics for free using these two methods. In the next articles, we’ll discuss other ways that you can determine what topics to write about that will surely help your readers.
Essentially, this is what content writing is. As a content writer, I provide my writing services to clients who need articles, web content, email marketing content, and other types of content.
Most of the time, the clients provide a list of topics and then I research and write about them. For my own websites, of course, I have full control over which topics to cover.
You can use the two techniques I’ve shared above to look for more specific topics you can write about. By doing so, you can practice being a content writer and produce some samples that you can show to potential clients. Good luck!