Writing for money (or freelance writing) is surely an interesting idea, although not the most obvious one. However, since you have a blog then you apparently know how to write things. And since you know how to write things, you might as well make some money doing it…
The funny thing is that you don’t even need to be a freelancer for a long time to encounter some of the common challenges that most freelancers have to face on a daily or monthly basis (even people who have been doing this for years).
On the flip side, you also get the chance to solve those problems in whatever manner you wish (there’s no telling what you should or shouldn’t do when it comes to implementing certain methods).
If I were to point out just one main success factor in freelance writing, it would have to be good cooperation with clients. This may sound counterintuitive, but the fact is that if you misunderstand what your client actually expects you to write and even if you craft the most awesome piece of writing ever (from a writer’s perspective), it won’t matter.
To be honest, I’m compiling this post for two reasons. First, I want to share some of my insights with you. But also, I want to have a resource for myself that I can look at, just to make sure I don’t miss any important detail when working on some projects for my own clients. So I hope we can all win here!
- Read: How to start freelance writing career- Real-life case study
- 5 Tips to promote your freelance writing career
How to become an Effective Freelance writer:
Freelance writing is probably the most goal-centered type of writing out there.
Having a specific goal in mind is important for any project, but when you’re in the middle of a freelancing project then it literally becomes THE most important element.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s take a look at two scenarios: (1) writing a post as yourself and (2) writing the same post as a freelancer.
Let’s say the title of the post is “Best Methods to Launch a Blog on a Budget.”
- In scenario #1, you can easily list some of the best techniques and approaches, point out a number of tools, give equal “word real estate” to all of them, and finally name the best solution in your opinion.
- In scenario #2, you still can list the same techniques, tools and approaches (this doesn’t change because you are still honest), but the way you present them will have to change due to the fact that one of those tools is probably your client’s. And even though all the solutions you present have to look attractive (otherwise why would you show them?), the one from your client has to stand out the most.
This example illustrates the importance of the main goal: to make your client look good.
The only problem is that you can’t sound too promotional when doing this or else, the previously completed natural article becomes a pitch fest which no one will agree to publish.
In a nutshell, I advise you to always start your work by writing down the main goal and then sticking to it when writing.
2. Precise number of words
Usually, this depends on the way you’re handling the financial part of your business, but in most cases, freelance writers like to work using two models:
- Per article rate (e.g. $400 per article).
- Per word rate (e.g. 50c per word).
If most of your work ends up on the web (as blog posts) then the per article rate is likely to work for you. But if you’re doing many different kinds of writing online then the per word rate is much easier to manage. Either way, you have to learn how to keep your articles within given word limits.
If you’re billing your clients per article then you simply don’t want to spend half of your day writing a $150 word article, that’s why learning how to close an article at a 1000-word mark is a good skill.
If you’re billing per word then your clients will simply expect you to be able to send them, for example, an article of 780 words. And if you send a longer piece, they won’t pay for the additional words (had it happen, by the way).
All of the above means that sticking to the word limits is simply essential.
My trick is this:
- I list all the subheadings I want to use in an article.
- I take the overall word limit and divide it by the number of subheadings.
- The number I end up with is the number of words I can use under each subheading.
Breaking it down this way makes it easier to stay within the word limit.
3. Headline suggestions
If you’re delivering your writing to the client directly, it’s a really good idea to suggest 3-4 alternative headlines/titles for every article.
The main reason for this is that if the client plans to publish your work on their own then they can probably make a better decision than you regarding which headline is most likely to resonate with their audience the most.
If, on the other hand, you are the one doing the publishing (in a form of a guest post or something similar) and if you know where the article is going to be featured then you can safely propose just one headline.
4. Appropriate voice
You surely have your own voice that you use throughout all of your articles (just like me), but tweaking it a bit might be necessary to satisfy your client.
For instance, I’m not the most official sounding writer out there. I prefer to write my content in a conversational style and not use a lot of fancy words. But when I’m writing a press release, I know that going with “myself” won’t cut it. This is just not how press releases work.
In the end, the advice is simple. Don’t just think that you can somehow “write around” the standard tone used for specific kinds of writing using the tone you are most comfortable with. Sometimes, it’s just not possible and you certainly have to make adjustments here and there.
5. Typos and other ignorant errors
Ignorant errors are things that could have been prevented if you had only read your work after writing it.
All kinds of ignorant errors can be dealt with during the proofreading phase. Proofreading is absolutely essential for a freelance writer. I mean, if you’re writing for yourself then you can go by with a silly mistake here and there. But since your client will always expect quality work from you, submitting articles with errors is not good service.
Some examples of ignorant errors:
- wrong prepositions, like your instead of you’re,
- misspelled names,
- using specific word 4+ times in a single sentence, and so on.
Quite simply, everything that a first-time reader can notice is an ignorant error.
6. On-time delivery
The funny thing I’ve discovered about the freelancing world is that, in extreme cases, a half-baked article delivered on time is still way better than a perfect one delivered after the deadline.
At first, this was surprising.
As a writer I always want my articles to be perfect and if I need to, I will spend time trying to make them that way (at least by my standards). But then, one of my clients said that they need an article “today” and that “tomorrow” is out of the question no matter what masterpiece I manage to write.
Two lessons here:
- Deal with those clients. If a client wants something done on a given day then they are surely serious about their business. On the upside, they will also not mind paying you good dollar for the urgent work.
- Always set deadlines that are possible to achieve. Actually, set deadlines that give you some additional space in case an emergency happens and you can’t work according to your normal schedule.
I think that’s it for my six pieces of advice or crucial components for effective freelance writing, as I called it in the headline. I hope you’ll keep them in mind when freelance writing for your clients. By the way, how long have you been freelancing? Or maybe you’re just starting out and planning to give it a shot?
- Join the discussion: Freelance writing Vs. Blogging – Pros and cons