If you want to become not only a freelance writer but a sought-after one, it is imperative you develop a strategic growth plan for your writing business.
Freelance writers who deliberately improve their marketability have a much higher chance of building long and profitable careers as on-demand content creators.
While learning the basics of effective writing is essential, for example, grammar, spelling, creativity, and conciseness, freelance writers also need to learn vital skills like how to develop a content strategy, investigate industry trends, and acquire new clients via market analysis.
If you want to build a thriving career as a knowledgeable content creation specialist, following are 23 freelance writing tips that will help you take your career to the next level.
1. Know your goals when building a freelance writing career.
It’s easy to get side-tracked or fall into less-than-profitable writing niches when you are starting.
- Understand where you want your writing career to lead you
- How much you want to earn on an annual/monthly basis
- Where you plan to find profitable clients
- Which marketing strategies you plan to use to accelerate your freelance writing business’ growth rate
Remember you’re building a business, not just honing your writing skills.
Freelance writers…Remember you’re building a business, not just honing your writing skills.Click To Tweet
The more detailed you are in setting your goals (make sure you can actively track your results), the higher your chances are of becoming a marketable freelance writer.
2. Add testimonials to your website or online bio.
Social proof is essential for increased content writing referrals.
Whether you are offering blog posts for sale on Constant Content or building your freelance writer portfolio, highlighting your expertise and experience is crucial for attracting clients to your writing talents.
3. Create a content calendar, so you know when content is due.
Organizing isn’t just about having a clean workspace; it’s about keeping on top of the writing jobs you’ve taken on.
Keep a calendar and know your deadlines. Most smartphones even have programs that will help you organize your time. Turning an assignment in late sends a bad message to your customers and often won’t give the editors as much time to proof your article. Prioritize your jobs, so you get them all done promptly.
To avoid overloading your schedule, you should make a weekly or monthly plan. When new work comes in, you can add assignments to your to-do list in order of priority.
This task list will help you set goals, ensuring you prioritize the most crucial writing tasks. And if a new assignment comes in, you can instantly see whether you can slot it into your schedule.
4. Develop a writing process to improve your odds of long-term writing success.
Freelance writers with an established writing routine tend to be more productive than those taking an ‘I write whenever I feel like it’ approach to content creation. Business owners don’t just open their shop whenever they feel like. If you want to build a long list of happy writing clients, developing your writing process is essential.
You need to be specific about the time you will commit to writing. When are you most productive? After breakfast, or in the evening? Once you know this, you can plan your days more effectively, setting aside time for family, rest, and recreation.
You might want to work hard, but you shouldn’t run yourself into the ground. Set aside time for small breaks and a more extended lunch break. If the weather’s nice, go for a ten-minute walk. Finding time to relax is vital for keeping your mind fresh.
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5. Learn how to manage your time if you want to become an in-demand freelance writer.
Understand when you should be building your writing business through marketing to acquire new clients and when you should be writing to keep current clients happy with your content contributions.
Managing your time effectively is one of the most significant prerequisites to becoming a successful freelance writer. You need to balance how much time they spend trying to land new freelance writing jobs, doing research and writing the copy. If you find that you’re spending too much time research and fact checking, check out our post on streamlining the fact-checking process.
That said, flexibility is one of the biggest advantages of being a freelancer, so be sure to make time for friends, family, and leisure. Research has found that people are more productive when they’re happy, so there’s nothing wrong with a little ‘you’ time.
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6. Set boundaries and avoid distractions
While you’re researching or writing, it’s essential to remove all distractions. Avoid social media and put your phone on silent. Have you ever clicked a link on the Internet and wasted 10 minutes reading about some famous actor? We’ve all done it. Try to keep your blinders up and avoid irrelevant distractions.
Friends and family need to understand that writing is your job; it’s not your hobby. Let them know when you usually work, and if you’re interrupted, you can say it’s your writing time. If you continuously let people infringe upon your time, they may think it’s okay, when it isn’t.
7. Optimize your work-space
Do you like to write in a quiet little room in your house, or do you find that words flow more easily when you’re in a busy cafe?
Find your comfort zone for writing, but be flexible. You may produce more work at your home office, but sometimes it can help to change your environment. When the sun’s shining, why not take your laptop to the local park? A change of scenery can improve your focus and spark your creativity.
Related Reading: 9 Ways to Balance Creativity and Productivity (Without Going Crazy)
8. Improve your interview skills.
Marketable freelance writers know how to conduct excellent interviews with SMEs (subject matter experts) and turn those interviews into polished articles and blog posts.
9. Understand which niches are likely to be profitable.
Hone your expertise in those niches. You want to be the best freelance writer specializing in your chosen subject matter, not just a freelance writer capable of covering a topic.
10. Be prepared to be flexible.
The most successful freelancers might regularly write on a niche subject, but they aren’t afraid to step outside their comfort zone.
If you’re mainly a marketing writer, a financial writer or health writer, it’s good to develop your knowledge in a specific industry and build your reputation. However, it doesn’t hurt to branch out. To earn a living, you need to be flexible enough to take on a variety of writing projects. This will add to your skills and knowledge, and give you a more wide-ranging portfolio of work.
11. Don’t underestimate the importance of communication
If you have a question about an assignment, let the customer know.
Writing is an area of communication, so there are no excuses for not getting in touch with your client if there is a problem. When you write to your client, treat it as an official communication: proofread your message. Your customer will remember your courtesy.
12. Acquire skills related to your target market you can leverage.
The more skills you can offer a potential client (infographics, slideshows, videos), the likelier it is clients will prefer you over another freelance writer.
13. Develop your proofreading skills
After your article is finished, read it over a couple of times and look for spelling and grammar errors.
If you find the error before an editor does, it will save everyone a lot of time and effort.
When re-reading your article, it’s generally a good practice to read it both forwards and backward. It sounds funny, but reading your article in reverse is an excellent way to find pesky spelling errors. Getting a friend or loved one to look at your article will help you with logic or flow problems, as well.
14. Become a data-tracking fiend.
The more data you have regarding the performance of your past content, the higher your chances are of convincing a potential client to engage your writing services. Something as simple as being able to offer social sharing details on an article you wrote can convince writing clients to hire you as their on-demand content writer.
15. Be extremely professional in the documentation you offer clients before working with them.
If you’re going to use a contract, be specific in the terms, for example, when payments are due, transfer of copyright, and release of the final project. The more explicit you are with your contract documents, the likelier it is clients will take you seriously as a freelance writer for hire.
16. Set deadlines and hit them.
If there is a cardinal rule to freelance writing, it is that you do not miss a deadline.
If there is a cardinal rule to freelance writing, it is that you do not miss a deadline.Click To Tweet
Don’t do it.
Your customer expects from you; your job is to cater to that expectation. If you are going to miss a deadline, communicate with the customer. Ask for the shortest possible deadline, and then make sure you get the work done.
17. Develop a thick skin
If you’re asked to rewrite an article or a piece gets rejected, don’t get disheartened. Successful writers don’t take it personally. Occasional criticism can improve your writing skills, so be resilient. The most successful people accept failures as a part of the journey to success.
You should also be assertive. If someone asks too much of you, you need to know how to say “no” politely. Maintaining good relationships is key to getting more work in the future. So if you know you can’t meet a deadline, be upfront about it. The client will appreciate your honesty and professional attitude.
Reacting poorly to criticism or feedback not only impacts your relationship with that clients but also your reputation as a freelance writer. Instead, take a moment to digest the feedback you receive and then write an articulate and courteous response.
While you don’t have to agree with the feedback, you do have to be respectful.
18. Develop a writing voice
First, an essential part of becoming a freelance writer is developing an effective writing voice. Just like how artists have a style that makes their work recognizable, writers should have a unique and authentic writing style. When done well, an strong writing voice not only makes your work stand out, but it helps readers connect with your message and simplifies the content creation process.
While developing an effective voice may sound like a challenge, it doesn’t have to be all that difficult. Finding the right voice is about speaking your reader’s language and talking to them in an engaging way. Not only do the specific words you choose impact your voice, but the overall cadence and rhythm of your sentences play a role too. For instance, while using long, complex and data-packed sentences may work well in a highly technical B2B industry, it’s probably going to bore B2C consumers.
One of the many benefits of developing a voice is that it can help you establish a writing niche. While most writers take a generalist approach, writing for a specific niche can be a tremendous opportunity for high quality, high paying projects. If you’re looking to establish a writing niche, check out our post on Why You Should Have a Niche (And How to Find One)
19. Improve your writing flow
One of the most significant differences between experienced and amateur writers is flow. Flow is simply how well your sentences fit together. It’s the cadence and rhythm of your copy. And It’s where writing becomes more art than science.
Writing without flow is choppy, disjointed and, at times, awkward to read. It doesn’t matter how insightful your content is if it’s boring to read then nobody will enjoy it.
So how do you add flow to your writing? There are two things to keep in mind when it comes to flow: Varying sentence length and effective editing.
20. Create more exciting copy by varying sentence length.
Varying your sentence length and structure makes your writing more interesting.
For example, longer sentences are generally used to explain complicated topics or outline a series of events. But short sentences have their place too. You could even try a one-word sentence. Interesting.
And now with emoji’s earning their place in the dictionary, you could even get away with a single-emoji sentence.
21. Edit effectively
When it comes to content writing, editing is where the magic happens.
Few know this more than Justice Louis Brandeis who once said that “there is no great writing, only great rewriting.”
There is a lot that goes into effective editing, but here are a few simple tips to help you edit your writing.
1. Start by editing the content structure
Before you start looking at the individual words or sentences, step back for a moment and consider the structure of your content. It there a logical flow from one section to the next? Is your content packaged in the best way possible? Is there a clear introduction, body, and conclusion?
2. Then edit the content style
Next, take one step deeper by looking at the sentences and paragraphs you’re using. Now is time to fix awkward sentence structures and make sure your paragraphs transition well into each other.
3. Edit the copy last
Finally, it’s time to look at the individual words, spelling, and punctuation. Here you should be thinking about not only removing grammatical errors but also eliminating inconsistencies and checking facts. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, check out our 25 tips for editing your writing.
22. Add Clarity to Your Writing
There is an old saying in copywriting that “clarity trumps persuasion.” Rather than trying to convince your readers to agree with you through colorful metaphors or technical jargon, persuade them with a written and well-articulated arguments.
There are several things to consider when it comes to adding clarity to your writing. It’s not just about the words chosen. Even things like format and structure can impact the clarity of your writing.
Here are a few things to keep in mind while you edit for clarity:
1. Formatting has a significant impact. Consider how you can use bolding, bullet points or italics to emphasize a critical point.
2. Don’t use jargon. Unless you’re writing a blog post for doctors or lawyers, avoid using slang. Often, using unnecessarily complicated words turns readers off your work rather than impressing them.
3. Avoid a passive voice. Using a passive voice not only weakens your argument but can also detract from the clarity of your point.
23. Improve your productivity
As a freelance writer, time is money. Of course, you want to make sure that you dedicate the time to knock any project you take on out of the park, but you can’t spend 12 hours on a 500-word blog post.
It’s about finding a balance between giving projects the time they deserve without spending all day preparing instead of writing.
One standard piece of productivity-wisdom you’ll hear from experienced freelance writers is to separate the creation phase from the editing phase. Writing and editing are two entirely different processes that use different parts of the brain, so trying to do them both at once is going to slow you down.
Instead, try writing quickly and going back later and editing slowly. Writing quickly helps you get your ideas on the page and leaves the editing for another time. When you finish writing then step away from the piece for a while. That way you can back to edit with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.
Another favorite productivity technique that is popular among writers is the Pomodoro approach. Research has found that strategically timed breaks can help people be more efficient, and the Pomodoro technique aims to capitalize on that. The premise of the Pomodoro technique is straightforward: you break a project up into more focused intervals (called “Pomodoros”) separated by short breaks. The usual Pomodoro is around 25-30 minutes followed by a 5-minute break. Every 4th Pomodoro is followed by a more extended, 30-minute break.
Lastly, make sure you optimize your workspace for productivity. Working from home is both a blessing and a curse, so make sure you know the best way to arrange your home office.
One of the best parts of being a freelance writer is being your boss. It’s also one of the hardest parts of freelancing too.
One of the best parts of being a freelance writer is being your boss. It’s also one of the hardest parts of freelancing too.Click To Tweet
If you find yourself not being quite as productive as you’d like (it’s okay, we all do it), then try these techniques, and you’ll be crushing your writing projects in no time.
Grow your career
If you’re ready to take your freelance writing career to the next level, consider building your portfolio via the Constant Content platform.
On Constant Content, you can build a reputation as a dependable freelance writer while attracting global clients at the same time. Check out our freelance writing resources, and you’ll soon discover how powerful the Constant Content platform can be for growing your career as a marketable freelance writer.