Part 3: How to start a freelance writing career
Thinking of starting a freelance writing career? One of the most popular and wide ranging jobs you can do as a freelancer, is writing. These days, more and more people can change their routine life to welcome in a new and exciting future. It’s time to think about freelance work. As well as working full-time, on contract and casually, I have always freelanced. It’s such a valuable way to keep your skills fresh and to work with a range of clients.
What are some typical freelance writing careers?
- Content writer
- Content strategist
- Media releases
- Web copy
- Social media copywriting
- Writing biographies
What are some of the advantages of freelance writing careers?
When you’re a freelancer, the chains are off and you can live and work anywhere in the world and bring in an income. Here are just some of the advantages to being a freelancer and gaining a new income stream. Accomplish new and diverse projects that allow you to develop and diversify your skills.
You will often have the ability to work remotely
Due to the rapid development of web platforms, the modern tendency to offer “distance work” is growing day by day. Around the world, we now have gadgets, apps and tools that make it possible to operate from any place in the city or the world. That is why the set office timetable and working from a single, fixed location is not so popular now.
You can set your own schedule
Make an individual timetable for your working process, or tackle the tasks when you want it. You don’t need to spend time and money to get to work. You can always operate from any place where it is possible to do the work.
You can set your own rates
You can often earn as you go and can bill for your salary right after you have finished a project and have already handed it into the customer’s hands. Use the opportunity to control your income and put effort into tracing money earned, and considering any tax implications. After you gain some confidence, you can properly assess your saleable skills to imagine your future income.
What writing skills do you need for a freelance writing career?
We can all write but what makes a great writer? In fact, writing professions like journalists, copywriters, content managers, and bloggers have many traits, one of which is the opportunity to execute projects free from office regulations and rules. It’s a freedom that many creative-types enjoy. As a freelancer, it is up to you decide when to begin and finish working, how many projects to do per day and how to spend the rest of your free time.
5 writing skills that matter
Anyone can learn to write, and anyone can learn the basic functions of writing well. Practice makes perfect. The more you write, the more you read and the more you edit other people’s stuff – the better you get at spotting good or shoddy text.
But not everything is important. Rules are there to be broken and language is not a set science – it is an evolving thing. Rules that were relevant five years ago are no longer important. Words are created every single year. Other words fall out of fashion or their meaning changes. To be a truly good writer you need to know the rules, so you can break the rules.
#1: Spelling conventions
As I mentioned – there are many ways to write correctly for English speakers. In my experience, people in the UK and Australia get very upset when they are told to analyse something instead of analyse it. Equally, and American reader would be quite bothered if someone was practising the violin next to them and not practicing it. You need to get this right or it will make you look like a shoddy writer. If writing for the web for a general audience, US spelling conventions are normally favoured (or in this case favored).
#2: Using evidence
So many freelancers out there write without any evidence or quotes at all. That’s fine for blogging, but if you’re submitting articles to websites and other publications, it’s important to do your research and back up your statements with quotes from experts, statistics and attributable facts. That’s what good writers do. Lazy writers just scan the web and re-hash. It always pays to get fresh quotes when you can. Do the work, especially if you’re being paid to write.
3#: Correct citation and attributed quotes
If you quote text or a person, you need to make this clear. Conventions differ, so do what is suggested for your type of publication. Never pass off someone else’s words as your own, and link to websites when you can (if appropriate) so the reader can go off and do their own research.
Readers judge how easy your article will be to read before they start reading it. Take this blog for example – my font totally sucks (as of October 2014) and I need to change it because it’s difficult to read and therefore affecting engagement of my posts. You need to make your paragraphs the right length, your text clear (please double space when submitting!) and use a common font. Here are some tips on formatting for readability. They’re about email but they relate well to writing for the web.
#5: Thinking about your audience
Who are you writing for? Really sit down and think about them, because your article is not about you, but them. A good writer uses short sentences, is succinct, uses plain English and gets to the point – while still maintaining clarity, a sense of personality and individuality. Read everything back to yourself the next day. Check your writing on different screens (tablet, smartphone and desktop) and see how different it may look.
5 writing skills that don’t matter
There are some skills that writers don’t need to worry about as much. I have worked with and managed many types of writers and many people become concerned with things that they actually don’t really need to worry about. Here are some of the writing skills
#1: Knowing all the rules
It’s OK. You can Google. I do it all day. Not sure if you should capitalise winter? Can’t remember the practise/practice rule? Not sure if you’re standing by a principle or principal? These days it’s easy to find the answers to these questions with a few key strokes. Always check two or three reliable sources.
#2: General spelling
Apart from international spelling conventions, Word should do lots of the work for you. However, if you’re a bad typist like me, you need to be careful. In one of my first jobs, I was tasked with writing a press release. I put the word ‘manger’ in there about seven times instead of ‘manager’. “Why didn’t you spellcheck it?” my direct report wanted to know. I quietly pointed out to her that manger is also a word, just not the one I was intending to use! Same with juts instead of just.
#3: Too many keywords
SEO – I love it but it should not be the be-all and end-all of your work. Yes, include keywords, yes think of your headings, yes do your research. But don’t make this the main focus of your piece. Focus instead on creating awesome content that is clear, fresh, informative, and provides value. Google is getting even better at recognising this type of content.
#4: Old-fashioned rules you learned in school
Capitalising every word in headings, not using ‘but’ at the start of a sentence, giving a capital to ‘internet’, capitalising job titles…all these things are falling out of fashion. But the main thing to note is to match the tone and style of the publication you are writing for. Do what they do and make your editor smile.
#5: Using big words
You do not have to have an amazing vocabulary to be a great writer. Truly great writers create content that is accessible and easily digested by their audience. Most editors can tell if someone is trying to sound more important than they are, or is being too verbose. Use short sentences, start a new sentence with every new thought if possible. Avoid lengthy lists in text and don’t try to use words that you or your readers will struggle with.
Ready to start a freelance writing career?
Since the world wide web launched, copywriting has exploded in popularity as a freelance profession. Now more than ever, people are searching for great writers to make their sites, products and programs interesting to their markets. Keep working on your stuff, use decent resources and ask plenty of questions.
Is it time to take the plunge and work for yourself? All these benefits will be suitable for a parent with a child and, especially, for people who are unable to get to the workplace because of personal reasons or physical conditions.
Enjoy doing your task in your bed in the morning, at your favourite café, or before you go to sleep. If you have a constant job at an office and need some extra money, you can always write in the evening to earn some cash for a holiday, an expensive purchase, or any other necessity. Don’t have enough time during work days? It is not a problem; take some tasks to accomplish at weekends. Control your workload and leave some time to rest a little.