The world of writing, from the outside, looks like an incredibly exotic career. Anybody that's looking to cut their teeth in writing, whether it is blogging, scripts, or literature, needs to understand the world of writing. It is an amazing way to earn a living being creative, but many people look at a creative career with the wrong lens. What is the reality of writing within the world of content creation?

It's All About Content

From the budding blogger all the way through someone getting a commission to write for Netflix, content is the almighty term that overshadows everything. It's important to note that anybody looking at creating in terms of a career choice must recognize that the level of artistic freedom involved will depend on the type of content. 
Many amateur creatives fall down because the world of content creation is not as free-flowing as one would believe it is. It is an incredibly creative industry, but it's important to remember that it's so important to nail down the notion of structure first and foremost. Those that work as screenwriters writing for Hallmark have a very specific set of criteria, and those that work for Pixar have a strict set of guidelines. A lot of people make the mistake of thinking that the world of creation is so open. But as David Lynch, arguably someone who has always followed the beat of his own drum, said, the most creative time of his life was when he was in film school, with no limitations or people breathing down his neck, he could just follow his heart. 
The work of a writer is only one piece of the puzzle. In the world of content creation, such as blogs or online articles, you will need to follow a strict set of criteria, specifically in relation to SEO Search Engine Optimization, and remembering this can potentially spare a lot of confusion later on.

Understand the Rules of Online Content Creation

One of the biggest mistakes online content creators make at the outset is not understanding the rules of how to get to page one on Google. Search Engine Optimization is an essential function that amateurs don't consider, and those that start a blog looking for an outlet for their creativity or hoping for something to catch the zeitgeist discover that it’s about “playing the game.” The reality is that you will not be able to capture the imaginations of the people you want if you do not have an understanding of SEO. This is why every writer who is looking to enter the world of marketing needs to be well-versed in the world of creating content but using the search terms or keywords that people input into Google must inform the content they create. 
The thing that makes it tricky for amateur or beginner content writers is the fact that Google constantly changes its algorithms. What used to happen was that, as long as you followed a specific set of rules to make your site more appealing to search engines, that would be all you needed to rank higher in search engines. An appealing layout, using the right keywords, and making sure the website is optimized for mobile are just a few SEO staples.
This is where a number of “Black Hat” SEO techniques, like stuffing a piece of content with the same keyword over and over, became very popular. You can see pieces of content online and tell instantly if that is guilty of what is known as “keyword stuffing,” because you will see the same term crop up constantly throughout the course of an article. 
Now Google has clamped down on these cloak-and-dagger techniques and has worked hard to prioritize the trustworthiness and informativeness of the piece of content exemplified by its “Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness” rule, commonly abbreviated to E-E-A-T. If a writer has an understanding of the rules first, this can prevent them from making a number of costly mistakes, especially if they want to make a living doing it.

It is Not Just About Writing Anymore

It seems that more than ever we need to be a jack of all trades. We can think back to the Golden Age of Hollywood and screenwriters like Dalton Trumbo who sat behind their typewriters creating script after script. The reality is now that writing is only one skill; writers need to make themselves indispensable by adding more strings to their bow. This is not just in relation to making a living in marketing but in any aspect of the creative industry. 
There's a dilemma to be had here; if you were to dedicate yourself to one creative craft, whether it is painting, writing, or playing an instrument, you would have to make peace with the fact that your lack of skill in other areas means you won’t as much as someone who has a greater understanding of the big picture. 
Many writers like being behind a computer or typewriter, but those other people may have to figure out another way to keep their finances afloat. Even published authors can struggle because they are not getting the lucrative deals that were commonplace 20 years ago. The demand for content has meant that people find alternatives, like purchasing Kindles rather than a physical copy of a book. A common mistake looking from the outside in is thinking that as soon as they find their way in, they are made, and it becomes a lucrative profession. 
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Therefore it becomes essential to redefine yourself as a jack of all trades. You can prioritize one skill over the others, but if you want to be indispensable, you may have to think about complementary skills like videography, photography, social media, and podcasting as other strings to your bow.

The Two Letters on Everyone's Lips…

Ask any content writer what they think about AI and there are two distinct camps. One believes it is something to fear, that it's going to take over all writers as soon as it becomes advanced enough. AI is a threat to many people because those content writers that work for digital agencies can find that as soon as the machines create a piece of work equal to the content of the writer, they are out of a job. However, there is the other camp, where people are recognizing that AI is still in its infancy and is not able to replicate human righting. 
Any marketing copywriter can use AI, however, there have been clampdowns to ensure that people are creating human content. This is something any budding professional writer should bear in mind because while there have been cases of AI creating content in specific styles, is this really going to pass muster with the vast majority of consumers? It's more likely that AI is going to be used as a tool for research rather than anything else. People going into the writing industry need to be aware that they have a unique voice, with thoughts, feelings, and emotions that cannot necessarily be replicated by machine.

It is a Graft

Those writers who love to write for the sake of it and talk about intermittently sitting at their desk and spending weeks crafting a sentence or two will, frankly, find themselves left behind. It's a cliche to say that writing is a competitive industry, but any writer who is complaining that they're not getting their fair crack of the whip needs to recognize that it is all about that old-fashioned notion of hard work first and foremost. 
Writing can be a very exhausting experience because if you are using your brain constantly, you can find yourself running dry. You can find yourself prone to procrastination and avoid doing it until the last possible minute, but those people have the luxury of time. When you look at the writers who are on the coalface of content creation, who are having to create thousands upon thousands of words a day, need to get to the point where they are not even thinking about content creation but letting the words flow out without the internal editor. These are the people who know the right research skills and can create something of note in a matter of hours. 
There is the debate to be had that this type of content does not have the same depth as someone who has spent months crafting something that is note-perfect. However, as there are thousands of blogs being uploaded onto the internet every single day, most writers must get to the point where they are not necessarily writing for the sake of art, but for the sake of the content mill. 
As there is a greater demand for content, the writer or creator needs to make peace with the fact that it may, or may not, be consumed by the masses. There are those artists who spend years creating something and not leaving it till it's perfect. Whether it's painters like Picasso or filmmakers like Terrence Malick, these are people who are doing art for art's sake. If you want to make a living in the content creation industry, you can certainly utilize your creative capacity, but there is that balance between art and commerce that must be had.


Iman Oubou