Author: Elle Pollicot, Head of Content Strategy
Now we’ve headed into the New Year, you may well be thinking about kickstarting a new career, or exploring opportunities around how to progress professionally. Maybe you’re a graduate fresh out of university looking for your first full-time job, you might already work in digital marketing but want to make the transition to a full-time content writer, or perhaps you want to change your profession entirely.
Whatever your current situation, if your resolution for 2022 is to start a career in content, you’ve come to the right place! I’m going to talk through five tried-and-tested things (these are all the things me and my team did when we started out in content!) you can do to stand out in front of future employers, and land your dream content job.
1. Start your own blog
Sure, turning blogging into a career is long dead, but if you don’t have any previous professional experience of writing that you can showcase in a portfolio, starting your own blog can really help you when it comes to landing that content writing job.
Setting yourself up on WordPress is really simple, and having your own blog means you can write about things you’re truly passionate about. When I finished university, I set up my own blog that focused on fashion and travel, and as I taught myself more about optimising content for SEO (more on that later!), I started to utilise what I’d learned in my posts to get them to rank (my day was made when the blog I’d written on Danish fashion gained a featured snippet for ‘How to dress like a Dane’!).
If you have the time, I’d recommend creating a content calendar, so you can make sure you’re regularly posting content – like you would if you were working for a client. Then, when you send off your CV, you can include a link to your blog, and talk about it in your interview. Not only will it show off your passion and expertise, but it could be the deciding factor in getting that interview.
2. Offer your time for free at a charity
Interning and work experience isn’t feasible for lots of people if it’s unpaid, but ultimately, a lot of companies always ask for some sort of experience. However, what could work, if you have another job (whether you’re already in full-time work, or you’re working part-time at a coffee shop), is reaching out to charities and seeing if they need help with their digital marketing.
One of our content writers did exactly this – he rewrote the content for a local charity’s website, and ultimately that’s what got him the job at c3, as it was a great way of showcasing his expertise in content writing!
Once you’ve found the charity you’d like to work for, drop them an email and explain your reasons why you want to do this, and how you can help them – charities are always looking for volunteers, and content writing will only help build their digital presence, so it’ll be a huge bonus for them too!
Gaining experience this way will also mean you can tailor your hours around your other commitments, as opposed to if you were doing an internship. Plus, it’ll mean you’ll have real-world examples of writing content for a client, which means that you can even set up your own online portfolio to show to employers at job interviews.
3. Take advantage of free courses
Whilst being a content writer is fundamentally about, well… writing, you’ll only become a better writer once you understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Understanding how to optimise your content for SEO is a requirement for many copywriting jobs, and, if you have experience and knowledge of this, it’ll set you apart from other candidates who lack that.
There are plenty of free online resources that you can explore in your own time, to expand your knowledge - Google Digital Garage, Udemy and HubSpot in particular have lots of relevant content and SEO courses that are worth looking at, to give your CV a much-needed boost.
The other thing I’d recommend gaining an understanding of is what makes a piece of content ‘successful’, and understanding how to find those stats (e.g. keyword rankings, organic traffic, organic conversions). For this, I’d recommend Google’s Analytics Academy, as it means, during your interview, you can talk around the importance of content, and how it plays a part in the wider digital marketing sphere.
4. Brush up on your grammar skills
When working in a content writing role, it’s a given that every piece of content you produce is grammatically perfect. However, you’ll also likely be expected to be the designated proofreader for the rest of the business, so it’s important that you’re able to spot grammatical and spelling errors, as a lot of these documents will be going out to clients (Grammarly is a big help, but you can’t rely on it alone!).
If you feel you need a bit of a brush up, don’t be afraid to review grammar basics so you feel more confident in spotting errors. The other thing you can do to help – whether you’re writing articles for your own blog or offering your time for free at a charity – is to proofread your work out loud before you upload or send it off; this will help you to spot mistakes easier and ensure it reads well.
When we hire a content writer, we’ll always set a writing task so we can firstly see if someone has that SEO knowledge and able to hit the tone of voice – but most importantly, if they have excellent grammar. No matter the SEO knowledge, if a person’s grammar is poor, we can’t hire them, so I can’t emphasise how important this is if you’re looking to start a career in content.
5. Speak to industry experts about how they got started in content
Ultimately, everyone’s experiences of starting out in a content writing role will be different. Whilst someone may have built up a blog and landed a role that way, others may have a small portfolio of free work they’ve carried out for charities and local businesses.
Whilst you can be working on all of the above, it’s still worthwhile speaking with other industry experts to see how they did it. Connect with people who work in content on LinkedIn, join groups, or see if there are any free networking or job events near you (this is especially good if you’re still at university or a recent graduate).
Alternatively, if you’re already working in a digital marketing role and want to transition over to content, see if you can shadow a member of the team for an afternoon or book in a meeting where you can ask them about how they got started in content and what their advice would be.
Whether you’re fresh out of uni looking for a job or you want to take an entirely new path in your career, looking for a new role can feel like a full-time job in itself; and it can be very frustrating if you don’t have years of specific experience behind you to take to an interview.
Luckily, these are all actionable things you can do to jazz up your CV without needing any experience of copywriting professionally, to impress your potential future employee and land that job you’ve been dreaming about.