What differentiates a great content writer from an average content writer?

Difference between a great and an average content writer

Difference between a great and an average content writer.

Someone asked this question on Quora but since I have already answered 2 questions (my daily target nowadays) I thought I’d provide the answer on my own blog.

What are the attributes of a great content writer?

I will use a politically correct pronoun “she”.

When someone talks about “great content writer” I assume what she means is, a content writer who does her job well. She may or may not be experienced, but she delivers.

She delivers on the front of quality and relevance. She expresses well through her writing. She can write forcefully without intimidating the reader.

Below I’m listing some attributes of a great content writer.

Takes initiative

A great content writer takes initiative. What do I mean by initiative?

She goes beyond the brief provided by the client. She uses her own brain to figure what may work and  what may not work for her client.

She does research independently. She finds data from credible sources. She uses her judgement instead of completely depending on her client’s input.

Takes a stand

She should be able to take a stand.

I will give you my example. Sometimes I disagree with my client.

My client knows her subject. For example, if my client is a lawyer, she knows more about law than I do. But I know more about content writing than she does. She has hired me not to write how she wants me to write, she has hired me because I can write the way she cannot, but she needs to.

Therefore, once she has given me the brief, I don’t want her to dictate every sentence I write. A great content writer knows when to take a stand or put her foot down.

She is not simply a stenographer. Above all, before a content writer, she is a writer.

Has a passionate writing voice

If you don’t feel excited, nor will your readers.

Whenever new writers approach me for work, this is the first trait I look for: the sample that they have sent me, have they written like a writer or like a content writer desperate to impress?

A great content writer gets emotionally invested in the project. You are passionate when you are emotionally invested.

I won’t go to the extent of calling myself a great content writer (I leave that conclusion to my clients), but when I’m writing, I’m writing with the good of my client in my heart. This makes me passionate. And this passion quite often resonates through my writing. I am not saying that it happens always, but most of the time, it does.

Knows why the client has hired her

Why does a client hire me?

The macro reason is that she wants to grow her business. This is the ultimate goal of every entrepreneur. By the end of the day, you need more buyers, you need more subscribers, you need more paid users.

The micro reasons might be that she wants to improve her search engine rankings, boost engagement on your social media profile, increase conversion rate on her website and improve user experience.

She may also want to improve the click-through-ratio on the web pages where she wants the visitors to download her e-book or subscribe to her newsletter updates.

My every sentence must contribute towards that. I don’t want to impress. I don’t want to prove what a great a writer I am. She is not paying me for that. She is paying me to write content that helps grow her business in whichever applicable manner.

Does it mean I don’t seek praises? I definitely do; I like it when a client says that I have done a great job. But every client knows that this “great job” doesn’t mean that I have written like Haruki Murakami or Tolstoy. It means I have written in a manner that contributes to her business.

Hence, a great content writer walks the extra mile and makes sure that she is writing content that serves the purpose.

Isn’t obsessed with money

I know money matters, but a great content writer, once she starts the work, isn’t bothered much about whether she is being paid for 200 words or 500 words. She is not insecure in that sense. She is more worried about writing what needs to be written.

This is something I have observed in many writers I have worked with. They are constantly worrying about how much they are writing and how much they are being paid.

I’m not saying that they should leave themselves open to exploitation, but it isn’t going to harm them if instead of 500 words (which they are being paid for) they’re writing 700 words and they are not being paid for the extra 200 words.

Just yesterday a client paid me supposedly for 800 words (I’m still in the process of moving from per word to value deliverability) but I wrote 1200 words because the subject demanded that, without expecting to be paid extra.

If a content writer constantly obsesses about money it becomes a vicious loop. Nobody pays you just for the heck of paying — people want value delivery and you cannot deliver value if your need to get paid for every word dominates your power of expression.

Am I saying that you should allow your clients to fleece you? No. When you focus more on value delivery, your clients can’t afford not to pay you.

Writes a lot, in fact, constantly

A great content writer, being a writer first, has this great desire to write continuously. She doesn’t just write when she is being paid for writing. She writes on different topics. She participates in discussions on social networking websites. She blogs regularly. She works at building her network not just for business purposes but also to expand her understanding.

Writing for her is not a chore, it’s an existential craving.

Learns constantly

Learning never stops for a great content writer. I have been writing professional content for 20 years and still I learn something new every day.

I learn new words. I practise using new expressions that I have never used before or have rarely used, or have forgotten.

I make a note of everything I come across. I do all my reading on Kindle reader and Google Play Books so that I can highlight the portions that I may like to use for my own writing.

Whenever I come across a word I don’t know, I make sure I do, and I don’t proceed without that.

I have a huge Word file where I save words, phrases, and sentence formations that I would like to use when writing. I have been updating this file since 1998. I have saved more than 200 phrases in one of my Google keep notes.

A great content writer is constantly learning and never believes that she has learned enough.

Has confidence

A constant desire to learn doesn’t mean that a content writer is low on confidence. Don’t take confidence with a negative connotation. That’s overconfidence.

In fact, just the fact that she knows that she constantly needs to learn more, shows that she is confident.

The more you learn, the more you practice, more confident you get.

Among average content writers I have observed that they are constantly scared of something. They hold themselves back. For them, writing is just a means to make money and if money is not there, writing is not there for them. It is just another occupation.

The problem with writing is that unless you have a passion for it, it doesn’t pay you much. Your lack of interest shows through every word you use, through every sentence you form. If you don’t want to write without getting paid, you are not going to be paid for writing.

This is true for every field except for manual work. In manual work, even if you’re not interested, somehow you can make a living. But when people pay you for your skill & expertise rather than your manual work, you need to have your soul into it.

To sum up, here’s how you can become a great content writer:

  • See beyond the client’s brief.
  • Be passionate about your client’s interests.
  • Learn to research.
  • Always know why you’re writing a particular piece.
  • Polish search engine friendly writing.
  • Learn constantly. On your own. From other writers.
  • Set your insecurities aside.
  • Don’t just write for money.
  • Deliver value more than the number of words.
  • Be passionate about what you are writing.

My personal favorites are, have a strong desire to write, and take pride in the fact that you are constantly improving yourself.

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