6 Highly Valuable Habits of The "Unicorn" Content Writer
It's official. Content writers are the new rock star writers. They are copywriting savants who mix psychology, marketing, and technology to create compelling copy that closes deals. Content writers turn the art of content writing into a science. They command more money than any other writer on the block. Clients flock and throw money at them because they bring in the money. And they're here to stay.
Sounds surreal? No, it isn't just a pipe dream. These guys are the real deal and you can be one too. But why are they called "unicorn" writers?
My easy answer: it's because they are so rare.
What's a "unicorn" writer, you ask?
In the startup circles, a "unicorn" is a company that is valued at over a billion dollars. The idea behind the "unicorn" is really the metaphor - a unique or rare concept that makes something (or someone) a highly valuable asset.
But how is this relevant to freelance writers?
I use the term to identify a small number of highly-skilled, high-performing content writers whom I've encountered in my career - they are the 1% who have turned their life's work into successful businesses. And while they are so few and rare out there, it doesn't mean the search ends with them.
The search for unicorn writers
I've met, interviewed, and hired enough writers in the past five years to know that unicorn writers aren't born - they are made.
Unicorn writers are resourceful self-learners, which make picking up new skills really easy (important if you're working with online content!). Unlike regular writers, they go above and beyond expectations, and back it up with proven results and metrics.
Content writing (as a discipline) did not exist until 10 years ago, after the advent of the Internet. So we know it is not an ingrained talent, like playing music or making art. People had to learn and develop "writing content" as an extracurricular skill.
People like Sonia Simone (the world's first Chief Content Officer and founder of Copyblogger) and Seth Godin (author, entrepreneur and marketer) understood this and were one of the first few to teach "content writing" as a marketable skill.
So the good news is: any writer can learn how to write content. But the bad news is: not all writers know what "content" really is, or what it takes to create them - let alone to make them good.
The real question now is: How eager are you to learn? And how badly do you want to be a unicorn writer?
To become one, you'll need to know one. In my many years of working and dealing with writers, I've discovered the six habits and skills that set unicorn writers apart from the rest, leaving everyone else in the dust.
So I'm going to show you what these highly-paid, sought-after content writers do, that you're probably not doing!
(P.S. Use the slider to slide the images right to left, or vice versa)
1. They provide a value, not a service
Regular writers have a different idea altogether on what "work" is. They receive their tasks, they work, they send it back, and expect to get paid for it. The only real value they give is in the service.
Unicorn writers don't just read requirements and submit the bare minimum. Their idea of "work" is really how much value their service offers. Their thought process goes, "How is my service going to make my client's life better?"
These writers think:
- How can I save my clients' time?
- Can I help my clients be more efficient?
- How can I help them make more money?
Find out what your clients' values are and find out if your service can provide that for them.
2. They know keywords come with context
Regular writers take the keywords given to them and insert them as much as they can in their piece. Then their work ends there.
Unicorn writers go the extra mile by researching if the keywords are even relevant. Keywords aren't just inserted where it's convenient. Not only does this make their content more effective, but it also gives them an edge over the thousands of others with the same job title just typing away.
- Do keyword research before writing?
- Look for semantically-related keywords to use in your content?
3. They go into details
Regular writers are content in their ability to create grammatically correct sentences. They don't bother knowing that there's more to content writing than words.
Unicorn writers are always at the top of their game. New studies about content marketing? They're on it. New metrics on SERP's? Or optimizing for search engines? They know how it works! They will never be caught behind because they know that mastery helps achieve success.
So when clients ask for an SEO article, they don't just write an article around a keyword. They include every detail necessary to optimize the content like title tags, meta description, h1 (or others) tags, and semantically related keywords.
If you want to be on top of your SEO game, don't forget the little details!
4. They know how to make content perform
Clients don't hire writers because they need someone to do the work. They hire people to grow their business. But growth is just another buzzword unless there are clear returns on investment.
Regular writers just fulfill the word count, without a thought for how their content could perform.
Unicorn writers use proven techniques to reach their goals - either in likes, shares, conversions, or sales. They know their content works because they've studied it and made it work in the past. So the next time a client asks, "Can you help us to reach [goal]?" You should be able to say YES with confidence.
What you can do:
Look at contents you've created in the past and study how each one has performed. If any of them did well in certain areas, note it down and duplicate the success in future content.
5. They know headlines are no joke
A headline is a headline, right?
Regular writers might think so and don't give it much thought. They come up with headlines that are generic and overused.
Unicorn writers know that whether it's a title, or sub-heading, or the body copy itself, each word counts. They don't know how to be boring. If you want to be great, you have to be willing to create better headlines than everyone else.
- Do I use power words in my headline?
- Does my headline offer value to readers?
- Is my headline better than all others on the first page of Google's results?
6. They know the work doesn't end at 'Publish'
Regular writers submit their articles and move on to the next mindless task. They don't bother to learn whether their article was a success or not, and how they could improve their work.
Unicorn writers know that work doesn't end upon meeting the required minimum word count. After drafting, editing, and optimizing, comes marketing. They take responsibility for the success of their work and show initiative.
Here is where you take stock of your content and start to measure your content's performance.
- Are there 'Share' buttons in your content?
- Does it contain links to authority sites?
- Will you do email marketing to share your content?
- How are you measuring your content's performance?
Content is a constant cycle. When you've completed the full circle, you recycle and repeat.
So the next time you think about...
Being your own boss...
Getting five-figure cheques for your work...
Running your own writing business...
Traveling the world while you work...
Or never having to deal with pain-in-the-ass clients ever again...
Think of how these successful content writers devised a way to think and work like a rock star. Study their unique habits, and learn to apply them to your own. Because to achieve greatness, you've got to do things that no one else is willing to do. And remember - everyone has to start somewhere - including unicorn writers.
Now that the road has been paved, it's time for your turn to shine. Good luck!