A guest post By Shanon Lee
Peruse the latest Internet job boards and website job listings and you will notice that there is an increasing demand for writers who know much more than just writing. Skills that may seem advanced are now listed as basic skills that are required in order to apply to competitive writing gigs. Learning these 5 skills will make you sought-after in today’s writers market.
Content Management Systems
Content management systems (CMS), including web software like WordPress and Joomla!, are often used to create websites, e-zines and blogs. Knowing how to use a CMS will give you autonomy (i.e. you can learn to maintain your own author website), and help you qualify for more writing jobs. Many blogs and e-zines require their writers to submit articles through a CMS login profile, rather than by e-mail. You may also be required to do light editing (just as you would for a Word document), before submitting articles for publishing. Free online tutorials are available to help you learn to use the CMS of your choice.
Learning basic HTML and CSS will increase your chances of landing blogging, content writing, copywriting and editing gigs. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is used in the creation and maintenance of websites to design structural formatting, such as headings, paragraphs, links, lists, etc. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is a style language used to control the look of the content, by choosing colors, font style, borders, background style and other design elements. To gain proficiency of HTML and CSS, try a free online course on basic web design, online tutorials and cheat sheets.
Associated Press style is not only required for news writing, but it has also been adopted by many popular publishers in order to keep their content uniform. The AP Stylebook covers how to format everything from street addresses to dates. Knowledge of AP style is not a skill you can bluff, as it is easily detectable in your writing samples. However, the AP Stylebook is available for checkout at the public library. Eventually, you should purchase your own copy for easy reference, but you can also visit YouTube for online tutorials and download the iTunes U app for free audio courses.
Basic Photo Editing
Basic photography editing skills can encompass learning the basics of a photo editing program, such as Adobe Photoshop, or a basic internet photo-editing tool like Pixlr. Some writing jobs will require you to provide images along with your writing submissions and you should know how to make basic modifications. Often, the only editing required is resizing an image to meet submission guidelines. However, you can make your content stand out by creating collages, adding borders and using other design elements. Fortunately, many of these tools are online, free and easy to use.
Online Research Skills
There is no getting around it, to compete in today’s writers market you must acquire solid online research skills. Potential clients will often inquire about previous research experience. Whether you are tasked with finding resources for a complex article, or need to create content based on current research findings, it is essential to know how to locate credible data efficiently. If not, you run the risk of using obsolete or inaccurate data, or wasting valuable time trying to locate the information you need. Start utilizing resources like Google Scholar and electronic library databases in order to make your writing stronger.