Earlier this year, partly driven by selfish reasons – well, completely driven, as I was hunting hard for a new job – I put out a thinly-disguised grumble on Twitter.
‘Genuine Q,’ I started. ‘Would love some feedback. Seeing lots of great jobs at brilliant content agencies – but very few openings for content editors, managers, writers. Is there still value in written content? Should content editors retrain as SEO, PR, data?’
While I didn’t really get the response I was looking for – a post like that would probably have been better hosted on LinkedIn, rather than a personal Twitter account used 90% of the time to chat about football – it did act as a motivating purpose for me to actively pursue a content role at a brilliant agency and secure it within a few months (thanks, Honchō).
But the sentiment of my post stemmed from an observation I’d made over the course of many months of seeing fast-growing digital agencies expanding at rapid rates and embarking on bulk hiring sprees for what seemed like several different types of job role. From where I sat, there were opportunities in abundance if you specialised in SEO, PR, data, design, strategy – but content creation and writing? These seemed to be harder to find.
Maybe everyone was up to their eyeballs with good content writers, their workplaces packed to the rafters with talented wordsmiths, and no-one needed anybody new. Yet, I couldn’t help wondering whether the art of writing was gradually being downgraded and devalued, pushed down the priority wish list from recruiting companies. Perhaps writing content was no longer seen as a specialism worth investing in; something that could be delivered by other teams, as an extra, or a bolt-on. After all, anybody can write, right?
Obviously, I’m not unbiased in all of this. I’ve been writing, as a career, for nearly three decades, across multiple formats and types, and I know the value of creating content. For me, content is everything. It’s what we read, share, are inspired, entertained and informed by, talk about, laugh and cry at. Content should lie at the very heart of any agency, complementing the work of output from your SEO, strategy, data, insight and other in-house teams.
If you’re a creative agency with no specialist content writers, hire some. If you’re a brand reviewing your online strategy, hire a content writer – or turn to an agency that can support you on that (shameless plug, start talking to us). If you’re not yet convinced, here are just a few reasons why you need a content writer in your life…
The phrase ‘content is king’ has been doing the rounds for so long now that it’s become something of a throwaway phrase, and it’s easy to forget who originally said it. The point, made at the time and still true today, is that content really is pretty much everything, online.
You can have the very best strategy in the world, the sharpest cutting edge SEO analysis and the sparkliest digital PR campaigns, but if the content output from all these things is below par, what’s it all for? Content is what you present to the outside world. It’s what your customers sees and reads; it helps to convert to purchases; it inspires shoppers to share and recommend. Great content can make the world of difference, a genuine impact. On the flipside, poorly written material can have a negative effect.
Oh – it was Bill Gates, by the way. The content is king thing, back in 1996, in an essay published for Microsoft. Safe to say he knew his stuff.
A content writer can bring your brand to life. It’s a competitive jungle out there in the online world, so creating an identity and a tone of voice for your company can help to make it stand out from a very crowded field – whether that’s witty, warm, knowledgeable, trusted, cheeky, authoritative or otherwise. It’s not always easy for business owners to shape something like that, but it’s second nature to any decent content writer, who knows how to take your perception of your company and craft an online persona and identity for it. How do you think Innocent chatted and charmed its way into the limelight?
Jumbled, confused language on a page. A social media post littered with mistakes. These are easily done, especially if you don’t entrust the delivery of these tasks to a content expert. You probably wouldn’t cut corners in most other areas of your business, so why would you do so with something that does so much to act as the public face of it?
Content writers work with a genuine purpose. In today’s digital agency world, writers have a focus, and a plan. There may still be occasions when a writer has free rein to scribble away and have a bit of fun, but on the whole, we’ve got a brief in front of us to work with.
There’s a guide and a structure to what we do. We typically create articles based on data-led content strategies underpinned by SEO research, so that we know what we’re writing is going to achieve results. Taken in isolation, content can only deliver so much, but working side-by-side with a data-based strategy, it can be a very powerful tool.
Us content writers are a humble bunch; we’re confident in what we do, but we don’t charge a fortune. We’re affordable, flexible and provide good value. When we engage with a content brief, what you might see from the outset is a piece of work with, say, a suggested word count of 800 words.
You’ll probably be charged for the time it takes to write those 800 words, and that’s what you’ll receive when the content piece is complete. However, what is also typically included in that time is an understanding and interpretation of that brief; an analysis and introduction of relevant KW to use within the content; research time, on that particular subject; a diligent pair of eyes, to proof-read the copy before being shared, and editing afterwards to take on board feedback and to make all required amends and rewrites.
All in all, in my experience, you actually get more than you pay for. So, please – feel free to take advantage of our perfectionist, professional nature…
Us content writers have learned to be flexible and adaptable; we’re not constricted to focusing on specialisms in terms of subject matter or content type. We can write just about anything, given the time to get to know a little more about a brand or a business.
We’re equally at home writing an engaging blog article on the most popular holiday destinations of the year as we are crafting a series of category content pieces for a furniture website. We can pull together an extensive guide to the latest electric and hybrid cars or deliver a large batch of meta description content for a client in a completely different industry sector altogether. Trust me, that’s a real skill.
I could go on, and on, but I’m a content writer and hope I know the value of getting a message across without losing the audience. If your brand, or business, needs some advice on content strategy and creation, chat to us here at Honchō. We’d love to help.
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