Content Writers! This is a Call to Responsibility!
Are you a content writer?
Or maybe you would like to be one?
Let’s talk about what it means to write for people.
I couldn’t judge you for wanting to be a content writer. After all, flexible hours, the supposedly high rates, and the ability to work from your local Starbucks are all tempting reasons to start your content writing business.
It is popular to be a writer today, right after an Instagram or TikTok celebrity. Try and google: “How to become a content writer”. You will see hundreds of search results all sharing advice on how to get your foot through the door and land your first client.
Here is the problem: None of those articles are talking about the responsibilities of a writer.
When I say responsibilities, I don’t mean what you would read as a part of a job description. I mean actual moral and ethical responsibilities that you should as a writer of any kind have.
Why? Because words influence people, and you are the one doing the influencing.
This goes way beyond just writers, all content creators should feel responsible for what they say and how they say it. And yet, at least for me, it seems everyone is just looking to take their piece of the money pie.
Where Did Content Writing Values Go?
The following is just my opinion, so I would advise you to create your own.
I have been around long enough to know that, on average, website content is quite bad. Bad as in, not fact-checked, boring, without a soul, or trying so hard to give you value that it either makes it up or pushes it so hard in your face you just want to leave.
And do you know why?
Because anyone can be a content writer and not everyone should.
Do a few blog posts for yourself or post on Medium and apply for work with a content mill. You will get paid pretty badly, but you will get paid to write content. And that content will get published somewhere.
Back in the day, content writing was either journalism or marketing, you could be a writer for a magazine or a newspaper or writing ads and posts in a marketing team for a larger company. Both would have their editor, a person responsible to check writing is up to grammatical, tone and voice, and ethical standards.
Is the information accurate? Is the tone too provocative? Does the text inspire people to do good? Is it educational? Or does it provide absolutely no value? If it didn’t give the reader anything useful, it wasn’t published.
Today, content is written to get ranked better on Google, because business owners need someone to stuff some keywords and shove the text on their website thinking this is what is going to increase their sales. It won’t.
Also, becoming a writer required higher education.
Now, I don’t think you need college or university to become a content writer. I am a self-taught writer as well. But you need to take some of their aspects and approaches to learning to become not just great but also an ethical writer.
Why do you think somebody goes to college for three years just to do the same job most people think they can do after writing blog posts for a few months?
Because learning how to influence properly takes time.
Content Writers, Let’s Take Responsibility!
I would like that everyone who publishes content takes responsibility for what they post. However, I will focus on writers. Because of the power words have.
I can honestly say there were some awesome movies, Netflix shows, YouTube videos, and even television ads that moved me. But none had the power a written word has.
Some books I read have literally changed my life, some blog posts affected the road I took. I am a decent content writer because of Brian Clark and posts he wrote for Coppyblogger (back when it was free to read). Maybe that is because of me, maybe for my love of reading, but I think great writing has greater power than a great video.
And with greater power comes greater responsibility
— Sorry uncle Ben for stealing your quote
So, I would like to finish with a call to responsibility. Let’s create a content writing code that takes into account the work we do and guides us to do it well.
Let’s take responsibility for what we write and decide that if it isn’t good, we won’t publish it. If the client asks something we don’t agree with, we don’t do it, if the sole purpose is SEO, we find a way to deliver real value or we leave.
Let’s start writing for people because that is our audience.
I encourage you to follow my content writing code of ethics or create yours, you are also free to suggest something in the comments, if it’s good, I will add it.
But I want you to take responsibility for what you write and do absolutely everything you can to make it the best piece of content on the internet.
And one last thing. I don’t expect everyone to stop what they are doing and only publish if their work is on par with the greatest writers. But I want that we try, that we give our best to improve the content quality all around the internet.
My Code of Content Writing
- Write for the people, not the search engine or the client.
Your clients will thank you later, even though they might be grumpy in the beginning.
- Use accurate information to improve or enrich people’s lives.
- Give credit, don’t steal content.
Do you want to write something someone already did? Write a different story on the same topic, give your view on it, twist it, or even mention the first one. But don’t copy and pretend it's yours.
- Keep your writing top-notch.
If a post only has 300 words because that is exactly how much it needs, keep it 300 words. Does a client want more? Write a different one where you can write 500 words and still make it great content.
- Always improve yourself.
Content writers have to touch people, move them and incite trust to increase sales. You cannot do that unless you listen to your audience and adjust accordingly.
- Be accountable and be honest.
Recommend a product only if you believe in it, take a stand for something because you believe in the goal. If you agree to a deadline, keep the promise.
- Don’t accept low rates for the sake of the job, set the standard and keep the standard. This will improve the whole industry.