September 7, 2016
If you like to write and think you are good at it, you might consider becoming a freelance writer. With content at the top of any digital marketer’s priority list, the number of job opportunities for online writers has never been better.
But, it also means that the competition is huge with many people competing for writing gigs. You need to stand out from the crowd and become an exceptionally good freelance writer, so you can be paid well for doing the most interesting projects.
So, let’s see how you get there.
1. Evaluate your personality
First of all, you should figure out if becoming a freelance is really for you. It sounds great when said, but the truth is that there are as many setbacks as in any other professions. So remember that:
- You will be working alone, so you will have to be your own motivator and companion;
- You will have to chase clients on a regular basis;
- You will have to deal with all the business aspects of your work, including accounting;
- You will have to be in charge of all your expenses and forget about benefits, such as paid holidays.
If these topics above are no big deal for you, then go ahead and get started. You can also create your own business plan, so you can more clearly see where are you going.
2. Improve your writing
The first aspect that you must improve to become an exceptionally good and successful writer is your writing, of course. Writing is what you sell, so it should be of high quality. To achieve your goal you should:
Ask an experienced freelance writer to evaluate your writing
Write something you would like to see published and ask an expert to tell you what you need to improve. Be prepared for some honesty — it is what you need. Write down all the tips and criticsms given and then get to work on improving your technique.
As suggested by many authors, the best way to be a better writer is to read more. It is when you read that you get to see the best way to craft sentences and grab readers’ attention. Reading can also inspire you with new content ideas and can help you to improve your vocabulary, grammar and spelling. You can read newspapers, magazines, fiction, blogs, etc. But read daily — no matter what.
Even if do not have a job, you should write regularly. It is like a muscle that you have to work out to keep it in shape, so write regardless. You can keep a journal, for example, or try some fiction. Or create your own blog. Whatever method you choose it is important to proofread your own writing to check for mistakes as well as grammar and style issues.
Build a portfolio
One thing that you might be missing is a portfolio. It can be very hard when you are just getting started as a freelance writer. But there isn’t anyone stopping you from building one. You can guest blog, for example, to get your name out there. Or start getting small writing jobs, those aimed at entry-level writers, to help you create the samples you need. This will also help you learn how the industry works.
3. Find the best online tools
Online tools will be your best friends when it comes to freelance writing. They will help you to write more efficiently so you can save time for the other aspects of your business, such as writing proposals and investing in personal branding.
Here are some online tools that you shouldn’t miss:
- For spelling and grammar: It will be very hard for you to review your own work, so you should make the most of the spelling and grammar-check tools, such as Grammarly and Ginger.
- For style improvement: There also apps and tools focused on improving your writing style. For vocabulary enhancements, check out Hemingway and OneLook Reverse Dictionary.
4. Invest in courses and certifications
Another thing that will help you to improve your writing is courses and certifications. They will also make a difference to some clients — some still care about degrees. In any case, they will give you the confidence that you might be lacking.
Several companies and individuals are offering online courses, and you will find them on Udemy, Lynda, and Coursera. You can also enrol in creative writing courses or look for something in your local community or colleges/universities.
- SEO Copywriting Certification, by SEO Content Institute
- Online Content Marketing Training and Certification, by Content Marketing Institute
- Content Marketing Certification, by Copyblogger
- Content Marketing Specialist, by Digital Marketer
They all require a good level of dedication, so make sure that you have the time to spare. Otherwise, you will be just wasting your money.
5. Work on your communication skills
As mentioned above, writing is just a half of being a freelancer writer. You will also have to work on skills related to being a freelancer. And one of the most important of them is your communication skills.
You will have to make clients believe that our work is good and your writing won’t be enough. You will also need to be able to write a profile, maybe a website, and create great e-mails.
Even after you close the deal, you still need to ensure that you kept your client up-to-date and connected to what you are doing. There will also be the need for Skype meetings, or even in person ones, to discuss strategies and goals.
You can invest in your communication skills with some simple practice. Talk to your camera and see how it goes. Then see what needs to be improved regarding your body language and tone of voice.
Also, find the best practices of e-mail marketing and create your own templates. It will make your life much easier.
6. Apply for jobs
When you feel confident enough, you should start applying for jobs. You will find gigs available in several freelancing platforms, such as Upwork, Guru, PeoplePerHour, and Freelancer, which allows you to negotiate gigs for a commission. You can also look for reviews of companies that hire high-skilled freelance writers to see if you match their requirements.
In any case, you will have to prepare a profile and a portfolio to showcase your skills. And it doesn’t have to include only work that you have done before, don’t worry. You can always create samples of your writing. When it comes to your services description, always remember that it is all about the client not about you.
Another thing that you should consider is creating a LinkedIn profile — if you don’t have one yet. And remember that you will be evaluated in everything that you write so do your best on your proposals.
If you want to become an exceptionally good freelance writer, get yourself prepared for some hard work. You will have to write a lot every day. You should also make the most of any resources that you can find to improve your skills and the quality of your work. So start putting this to-do list into practice right now. You won’t regret it.
Steven Mehler is an experienced writer, SEO specialist and social psychologist that works as an editor at a local newspaper and a freelance writer. Steven also runs his own content agency and is writing a book. He has a long-term experience in writing articles based on blogging, marketing, SEO and social psychology.