Your writer persona is crucial to your happiness in the industry. You could become deeply frustrated in your role if you don’t know whether you’re a Type 1 or Type 2 writer.
What’s a Type 1 writer persona?
Type 1 writers are comfortable writing about one main topic to improve their knowledge over time. Each content piece they produce is like a deposit in their mental bank account — compounding and making them richer.
Frequent demands to change the subject matter or format they’re used to can tank their productivity and slow their momentum, leading to delivery delays, shoddy work, and job dissatisfaction.
What’s a Type 2 writer persona?
Type 2 writers need constant stimulation from different topics and formats. They want to write a blog post about demand generation one day, pen a white paper on cybersecurity the next, and craft e-commerce social media posts thereafter.
Their brain *needs* to zig-zag from tall, medium, and short-length pieces to deep, wide, and grand topic scopes to remain stimulated and transfer learnings from one format or topic to another. Repetition dulls and depresses them quickly and can cause them to disengage from their work.
Career implications of your writer persona
As a writer, marketer, or social media manager, your core type has massive implications for your career satisfaction and progress.
You could be causing friction/slowing down momentum in your workplace if you’re working a role not suited to your Type.
For example, if you’re a Type 1 writer, it’s better to work in-house or niche down heavily as a freelancer. You’ll get to master one topic and create your best work over time, because your expertise compounds.
If you’re a Type 2 writer, you’re better off freelancing for different clients or working at an agency where you’ll get exposed to different projects.
This is because repeated exposure to new projects strengthens your inner writing and thinking muscles, and you apply learnings from one project to the next easily.
Alternatively, you can work in-house in a cross-functional role that, by definition, requires producing different types of assets and completing different tasks — such as product marketing.
How job descriptions can attract the wrong writer persona
Part of the problem confounding writers is hiring managers don’t always set honest expectations for the content or writing roles they hire for.
Many companies promise diverse writing in their job descriptions — “you’ll write whitepapers! blog posts! press releases!” — then end up shoehorning a Type 2 writer into just writing social media posts, or only blog posts, or only newsletters.
The result is a quickly depressed and disillusioned writer.
If a company *doesn’t* need 20 different types of content in the next year or so, it makes no sense to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the job description.
Merely copy-pasting some random online job description could attract the wrong kind of writers to the company, which sucks for everyone involved.
Another mistake is hiring a Type 1 writer to work on one topic or project — “come write content for our cybersecurity clients” — usually at an agency, then continuously requesting different content formats or topics the writer isn’t familiar with or has no interest in.
As a writer, it’s not uncommon to onboard with an agency and, within a few weeks or months, be asked, “Hey, can you quickly whip up a whitepaper for this climate change company? Also, Jan’s on leave, so we need some newsletters for this crypto company we just onboarded…”.
Agencies, by design, seek to do more with less — but this can affect your writing workflow considerably if you’re not set up mentally for that kind of work.
The result is frustration, resentment, and regret all around.
So, how can you prevent this?
As a writer, there are steps you can take to mitigate these issues and ensure you only work for companies or niches for which you can do your best work.
1. Assess and adjust your work portfolio
Do you prefer flexibility or singular focus in your content portfolio? Do you prefer writing about one niche (e.g., B2B SaaS), topic (e.g., product marketing), or industry (e.g., financial services) more often, or do you prefer topic flexibility?
An easy way to check the current answer is to scan your workflow and portfolio. If you notice content quality dropping beyond one or two core topics, then you might be a Type 1 writer and likely need to niche down.
If each of your pieces is a banger (no matter the niche), then you might be a Type 2 writer — but even then, there’s a caveat.
You might be able to write quality blogs for any topic but struggle to eke out 1,000 words a week for one topic yet have no problem banging out 3,000 words per day for another topic. In that case, niche down.
Of course, your portfolio may not tell the whole story. For instance, if you’re a new writer, you may not have much of a writing portfolio to speak of, and might only have a few pieces written for one long-term client. In that case, clarify any concerns with the following step:
2. Ask about the role’s content requirements during your interview
An experienced hiring manager will (hopefully) be self-aware enough to know their priorities over the next 6-12 months. Their priorities will largely depend on the company’s stage and its short to medium-term plans.
New companies may need to pivot quickly as they test different formats and channels. Writing roles at such companies are best for Type 2 writers who thrive on such uncertainty.
More established companies will have one or two main channels that drive their growth and only need extra writing from time to time. Type 1 writers would thrive in-house at larger companies, especially if the topic or niche is well-defined and aligned.
As a writer, you must clearly indicate what you’re good at and what you’re rather not work on — not because you’re bad at other topics or writing tasks, but because it won’t be as close to your domain of expertise as you’d both like.
Don’t just say whatever the hiring manager needs to hear to secure the gig. Take it from a seasoned writer; it’s not worth it. You’ll get frustrated pretty quickly if you take on a job not aligned with your core writing persona.
There are enough content writing jobs that you don’t have to compromise on your work happiness. Prioritize your happiness and productivity, and the money will follow.
Could I be both?
Human nature is not static or binary. You might find yourself leaning toward a Type 1 persona for a while, before craving something new to drive professional growth.
Similarly, you may have relished being a Type 2 writer for a long time, before seeking to slow down and get really good at one niche.
The key is to be honest about what stage you’re in right now so you can apply for the right jobs and work on projects that excite you.
Mohammed Shehu, Ph.D. writes on content and marketing for creators and brands. You can find him online @shehuphd everywhere.