How to be a Content Writer

Give up on being a regular writer. “Regular” writer in this case is a journalist, novelist, essayist, or the like. The high-minded types who are affiliated with “literary circles” and have at least one short story published in the New Yorker. Give that shit up. But it’s important to not to give up too quickly. Dawdle for 2-3 years after college writing clickbait so that you have work “samples” you can share and a blue checkmark on your Twitter profile.

Eventually, get tired of living in a major American city on $40k a year. Go out to drinks with your coworkers. Find out they live in the trendy part of town on the same salary because of family money. Go home and write a screed about how you hate everyone who works in media. Don’t publish it. Talk to your friend who works for a tech startup. Roll your eyes when he tells you about the free cold brew and kombucha. Go home and apply to tech startups. Go on interviews. Dazzle interviewers with your byline on websites they’re aware of. Get a job offer. Double your salary. Switch from writing “words” to writing “copy.” Ask yourself “who reads this stuff” while you’re writing it. Afford to go out for dinner on the weekends. Explain to your friends what you do. Watch them have no follow-up questions.

Agonize over the prose in your latest article, “How to Buy a Carwash in 5 Simple Steps.” Stay up till 2AM writing it. Complete it. It’s the best thing you’ve ever written. But the SEO sucks, so nobody reads it. Learn SEO. Learn social media. Learn email marketing. Start hanging out with the sales team. Learn why everyone used to be a college athlete. Start hanging out with the engineers. Get called a “wordcel.”

Watch the company raise a new round of funding. Do some simple math and discover your stock options make you a millionaire on paper. Start working on your brand. Tweet threads. Like, a lot of threads. Use the structure, “I used to be X, now I’m Y. Here’s 10 simple steps so you can be Y too.” Get a promotion. Be asked to do things outside your area of expertise. Do them badly. Then a little less badly. Hire a team of writers. Flood the zone with content. Fire the writers after the content doesn’t deliver any results. Sit down and write a content strategy. Solicit feedback internally. Receive conflicting feedback. Try to mitigate the irreconcilable differences of opinion. Fail. Press onward.

Re-hire the writers. Improve traffic to the website. Add lead magnets. Integrate conversion tracking. Launch a newsletter. Launch a podcast. Launch a YouTube channel. Post podcast episodes on YouTube. Turn the podcast transcripts into blog posts. Send the blog posts in the newsletter. Shutter the podcast because nobody listens to it. Launch a TikTok channel.

Celebrate when the company IPOs. Exercise your stock options. Liquidate your stock. Quit.

…launch a Substack newsletter. Share your knowledge from “scaling content operations at a leading startup.” Go back to posting tons of Twitter threads. Start angel investing. Attend Miami tech week. Get a vanity plate for your Tesla. Build a content writing course. Charge $4k for it.

Go back to “regular” writing. Post personal essays and short stories on your blog. Start introducing yourself as a “writer” instead of a “copywriter.” Finish your book manuscript. It’s about a talking cat who lives in Portugal. Pitch it to publishers. Learn that the odds of getting published are only 1-2%. Tell that to folks when they ask how the book is doing.

Give up again on being a regular writer.

Start making crypto content.

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