The truth about being a writer in the digital age

by | Sep 21, 2015

What does it take to be a writer? You might think that all you need is an idea and the ability to put that idea into words. Well let me tell you, bloggers, writers and authors of today can’t survive if all they can do is write. We have to be so much more than that.

Is it ever too late to save a story? - Nikki Young Writes

  1. We’re researchers – coming up with an idea for something to write about isn’t enough. We need to back up our claims.
  2. We’re editors – everything we write must be proof read and checked for sense and mistakes.
  3. We’re SEO experts – we need to know about search engine optimisation, whether we write for ourselves or others. After all, we want our pieces to be read.
  4. We’re internet techies – whether we run our own blog or not, we can’t go through our writing lives without coming across a CMS (that stands for content management system). We need to familiarise ourselves with how websites work on the backend. That can include writing in html, adding links, images and any type of formatting.
  5. We need to know how to source images – if we don’t use our own, we need to find quality, usable images to go with everything we write. Then we must format these images and know how to properly credit them.
  6. We’re photographers – not all of us, but having a good camera and knowing how to produce high quality images is a real bonus in this job.
  7. We’re always on the lookout for ideas – reading, keeping up with social media and spotting trends is a part of our daily lives. When we find something of interest, we then need to come up with a new way to write about it.
  8. We’re social media savvy – keeping up to date with all our social media channels and making sure our work is constantly visible.

I don’t know any writer who doesn’t do at least some of these things. We’re writing for the digital age and it goes with the territory. If only it were as easy as just writing the words, but we wouldn’t survive as writers if that was the only thing we knew how to do.

I’ve learned so much during the last few years and it has enriched me as a freelance writer and copywriter. Every time I write a new article, I learn something new and I move on to the next article with added confidence. What I can promise you though, is that writing isn’t easy and to produce any form of written work for the Internet takes an incredible amount of time.

The start of the new school year brings with it the challenge of getting used to a new routine. This is particularly true for me this year, as I now have three children in three different schools. My eldest has to leave home at 7.30am and my middle daughter starts school earlier than my son and finishes later. Our day, therefore, is longer than it used to be. I’ve been busy writing articles and doing copywriting work and that’s left me with very little time for my blogs. Like I said, a lot of work goes in to publishing a post and finding that time when you have so much else going on, is tough.

Things will settle once we get used to a new way of doing things, but until then, I will blog when I can, in between everything else. Don’t be too hard on me if I don’t post regularly, but I will try to keep up as best I can.

Sharing this for What I’m Writing.

Writing Bubble


  1. Rebecca Ann Smith

    Great post, Nicola, this is so true! A couple of years ago I had no idea about WordPress, SEO, Twitter, Flickr HTML and so on and so on (not that I know much now…) It’s exciting, but all so flippin time consuming!

    • Nicola Young

      Yes it is! I spent two hours shooting images for an article yesterday. Quite pleased with the results though, but had to teach myself the techniques to get the shots good enough. Am I now a photographer?!!

  2. littlehouselea

    So true! Brilliant post and makes me realise just how hard we all work x

  3. maddy@writingbubble

    Oh, I can relate to the time pressure thing! And I think non-bloggers would be surprised to know how much time can go into a blog post – I keep trying to get quicker at writing them but, as you say, it’s not just the writing it’s the editing and image-sourcing and promoting – gah! I enjoyed seeing this list of skills in black and white though – made me realise how far I’ve come in the past few years! Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting. xx

    • Nicola Young

      Ironically, it didn’t take me long to write this post!

  4. Sara (@mumturnedmom)

    So, so true Nicola! I spend a huge amount of time on everything I publish, especially if it includes images. It does just go to show how many skills we have as bloggers/writers though, doesn’t it 🙂

    • Nicola Young

      I thought it was important that people should know this.

  5. sophieblovett

    Really interesting post. I’m still not convinced I’ve got the balance right with the amount of time I spend on the various different things that make up my ‘writing’ day, but I do sometimes marvel at all the new skills I’ve acquired since I wrote my first novel and started thinking about what it might take to actually turn this into a career! There’s a long way to go till I will have succeeded at that, but I’m certainly making my way through the things on this list! 🙂

  6. Emily Organ

    Very true, I like to think I’ve developed a fairly broad skillset in the past few years with the sitting down and writing bit just being a small part! It can be tough juggling it all with the demands of a family. Just imagine how much we could get done if we had someone to do the childcare for us. Part of me hates missing out on that side too though. Being an expert at time management is another skill we need in the digital age ; )


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