Probably one of the most common remote jobs out there, online content writing has been around since people realized it was necessary to make $$.
Much like customer service and IT, writing is one of those fields that has translated quite well into the digital world. In fact, a lot of content nowadays is primarily produced through the medium of the Internet. Other channels are often seen as “secondary”: radio, television, billboards (although, not in all cases).
With countless online shops, landing pages trying to push lead generation, social media managers trying to expand their reach… Online content writing is actually at the core of it. Some digital marketers will craft their own content – but for the most part, many will defer to someone who can actually write.
That’s where the job of the content writer/online copywriter comes into play.
Being hobby writer as a teenager, I soon fell into a career “writing for the Internet” (Note: I was desperate, needed money and this was the best way of making some quick cash). I actually really enjoyed it but back in those days, I wrote a lot.
A lot of the texts I wrote were simple, keyword-optimized pieces of content. In fact, I can actually still remember the very first SEO text I wrote. The only instructions I had to go by was the keyword itself: “steampunk buttons”. To this day, I still have no idea where that text ended up. Probably on an eCommerce sit. Or maybe a fetish site (you honestly never know…).
I continued that way for the next year or two. My client list grew, as did my assignments. I went beyond simple SEO texts to things like landing pages, ad copy, press releases and more. At the very beginning though, I earned mere pennies (my clients were too cheap even to pay me in steampunk buttons).
Naturally, I had to explain my job to people. How was I sitting at home most days, but still able to pay my rent? What sort of job title was I supposed to give myself? Admittedly I was quite young then and didn’t fully understand how a lot of things worked. I could’ve given myself any kind of title.
For a while, I stuck to “content writer”. The problem was, that particularly description didn’t fully express what I was doing.Why? Because the truth is…
’Content writing’ is an astoundingly broad and varied field.
Online Content Writers – Copywriting for the new age
The Internet is powered by content. Articles, videos, images, blog posts, product descriptions, forums, rude words, keyboard warriors, trolls… Much of that content is informative with an eye to either educating or selling (in many cases, both) or simply annoying people. Online content writers literally just do that: they can write on a wide range of different topics (YES, some people are literally paid to be annoying).
When talking about the “types” of content written, it can come in a range of styles. For example, here’s a list of the types of content I’ve written over the years:
- In-depth reviews of products. Some of these were for ecommerce, others were for informative purposes with an eye to generating leads (reviews of online dating sites, for example).
- Advertising copy across a wide range of paid advertising networks (Facebook, Gemini, Taboola, Outbrain).
- Press releases for different companies.
- Product descriptions
- Blog posts like this one for others, of course (in these cases, I was essentially a ghostwriter).
- Content for landing pages, the majority of which needed to be optimized with keywords. Interestingly, there are many cases where clients often don’t want keyword-optimized texts. These are often for paid landing pages.
As a content writer or a copywriter, you’re literally selling your skills. You may “specialize” in writing online content. It’s still possible to write more than just online content.
Simply being a “copywriter”
A copywriter in the truest sense of the word is someone who simply writes copy. Plenty of media is online now, so most writers are “online” copywriters in some form. BUT… even in the early stages of my writing career, I wrote print advertising copy for some place in Texas. Seriously. Just because a client of mine had them as tasks. I’ve never even been to Texas. Or the States, for that matter.
Copywriting, expertise and specialization
Any literate person can do basic online content writing jobs. From then on, you can simply build up your skill and branch out into different areas. The mark of a truly skilled copywriter is not just someone who can write. It is someone who can adapt and change their writing style depending on what the client wants. In this sense, it’s essentially what a commercial copywriter will do. They’ll want to sharpen their skills with an eye to improve their personal profitability.
But it’s also possible to specialize and become known as an expert writer in a specific niche. Journalists are of course a classic example: they also research and report, both online and in real life. Financial writers may be heavily involved in investment strategies or banking. The list goes on.
What does it lead to?
Online content writing isn’t a job you have to do forever. For many, it’s a foot in the door. When I originally began freelancing, writing was the only real “skill” I had in this field. I soon learned a lot about online marketing, from what my clients wanted to simply doing a lot of research myself. My freelancing led me to a job in online marketing which involved far more than writing.
These days, copywriting remains one of my core skills. But they’ve expanded beyond that: I’ve been a press manager, a content manager, a SEO and am now one of the main creatives brains working for a profitable online advertising agency.
So, if you’ve got ambition and are willing to learn, there is a whole host of different things it can lead to!