By Larry Alton

If you majored in writing or English in college and were told time and again there’s nothing you could do with that degree but teach, it’s easier than ever to prove everyone wrong. Not everyone is cut out to be a New York Times bestseller, but that’s okay. The most lucrative writing careers are more often in niche markets such as creating search engine optimization (SEO)-rich content, website content or technical documents. In an age where technology is at the core of just about everything, content is crucial.

Every single business and celebrity personality requires the skills of an expert writer. From websites to email newsletters, social media management to professional blogs, writing (or “content creation”) is where it’s at. Likewise, this requires the skills of an editor who has the ability to not just grammar check, but help direct the writing to make it the best it can be. For those in the B2B industry, this is serious job security.

Writing skills you need to know

In order to remain a competitive writer, you need to master a few skills. Consider each new project a learning opportunity, whether it’s honing up on your SEO or learning how to perfectly craft meta tags. You probably won’t be writing about what you love, but you can dip into your passion for the word to create a masterpiece (even if it’s just for a company’s holiday newsletter). However, writing skills aren’t the only requirement.

You also need to learn time management skills, the basics of web design such as WordPress and HTML, and how to work in an increasingly virtual team. “Being a writer” and making a living at it in a technical world means more than having a knack for language. You’re an integral cog in a bigger machine, but enjoy peace of mind know that you’re still doing what you love even though you can’t always cherry pick the assignments. If you’re a true writer, this means it doesn’t feel like work 100 percent of the time.

How to hire a writer

If you’re a business owner who needs the skill of a writer, first ask yourself whether it’s better to outsource this job to a freelancer or hire a permanent writer. It’s always best to choose a candidate with the most diverse skill sets, but remember that no writer is going to be adept at everything. The Jack of all trades, master of none variety isn’t going to help your business, and it’s better to focus on candidates who excel at the skills you need most whether that’s blogging or SEO management.

Even in a virtual environment, don’t overlook the importance of meshing with the company culture. A great writer will have testimonials and a stunning online portfolio, but they’ll also naturally click when you interview them. Remember that writers often have to work with a number of other employees, from their editor to engineers whose tech jargon they need to “translate” into laymen’s terms. Someone with experience in your industry is crucial.

Larry Alton

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.