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Many people dream of becoming a freelancer. Whether it be writing, graphic design, marketing or social media management, the idea of working from an exotic location somewhere whilst wearing flip flops and sipping a (virgin) cocktail is very appealing. Sure, anyone can do it, but there are some important skills that a freelance writer has to have to be successful.
1. Writing and editing skills
Duh, right? The first and most obvious is that you have to at least be able to construct sentences. You don’t need to be an award-winning author, but having some grasp on grammar and basic punctuation will go a long way. There are some free online tools like Grammarly and Hemingway that makes writing a whole lot easier. Writing for different clients, you also need to be able to change the tone of your posts to suit their websites or blogs. The only way to get better at writing is by practicing as much as you can. Write sample pieces for your website when you don’t have any work to keep your skills sharp and grow your portfolio.
Most clients don’t want to pay for a freelance writer and an editor, so you need to be able to edit your work before sending it off. Freelance writers should really be all-rounders to be successful. Once you’ve hit the big leagues you can hire your own editor if you don’t want to edit. But especially in the beginning, you will have to learn to edit your work. Once again, the Hemingway App can help a lot in this area. A good tip I read somewhere is to save your post as a draft, go and do something else, and come back later and read it a few times. Proofreading is very important. Never submit a post or article that you did not proofread. If you can get a friend or relative to read it at least once, even better.
Any good writer needs to be able to do some basic research on the content that your client requires you to write. You may need to write about something that you know nothing about, but you need to sound like an expert in the field. So you need to be able to research thoroughly. Hitting up Wikipedia will not be enough. A freelance writer needs to be able to dig deeper. Invariably someone has probably already written content about the same topic that you are writing, so you need to put a fresh perspective on it in order to wow the client and hopefully, land continuos work with them.
3. Planning and time management
One of the biggest perks of freelance work is that you can do it any time and anywhere you want to. But this also means you need to be disciplined. You need to set time to write every day. It is easy to become a little bit lazy and spend an entire day on a Netflix binge, then that one day turns into two and three… Get the picture?
You are not just writing, you are running your own small business. You need to hustle. If you are a stay-at-home mom then you need to set times that are convenient for everyone and that you can stick to. Nap-times or early morning before the kids wake up are good options. If your writing is a side hustle you need to schedule time in your day to write, whether it is early morning or late at night after work or during your lunch hour. You need to be consistent.
Organizational skills are also very important. As a business owner, you need to know that you are responsible for all the grown-up stuff as well. You need to do invoices, keep records, do your taxes… All those fun things.
4. Freelance Networking and Marketing skills
Marketing is essential for any kind of business. As a freelance writer, you run a business and you need to make sure people know who you are. There are many useful tools to help you market yourself and it is important that you use as many of them as you can. Set up a professional writer’s website. This is your “home” as a freelance writer. Most potential clients will visit you here and you can display links to your published articles and sample pieces. A blog is also a good way to get your name out there.
One very important marketing tool is social media. You should at least have some social media accounts. LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are all huge platforms where you can display your work and advertise yourself. People know where to find you easily. You need to also network with other freelance writers and build a community around yourself. This is not crucial, but it will make life much easier.
5. Learn from those who came before you
Follow a few freelance writers on Pinterest or Twitter and read their blogs. They often give valuable advise to newbies about the industry. I have learned so much from people like Elna Cain. Her blog is all about freelance writing, with loads of wonderful tips and secrets. She has an excellent course on how to make money from freelance writing. I highly recommend to any new freelance writer to go and have a look at her blog. Another blog that is extremely helpful is The Write Life. These Blogs are filled with tips and tools to help writers of all levels. I follow these blogs and have learned so much from them.
If you want to learn more about blogging and even making some extra cash using affiliate marketing, I highly recommend you enroll in the e-course by House of Brazen here (affiliate link). I have learned so much from Elise in this course. As a freelance writer, you need a blog to showcase your work, and making some money on the side never hurt anyone. She also shares some valuable tips on how to promote your work. Have a look.
There are many more skills that will make a freelance writer successful, but for me, these 5 stand out. What else do you think makes for a successful business owner? I think we tend to forget that we are business owners, it sounds so grown-up. The pitching process is a whole other skill that you have to learn. I have started ramping up my pitching and hoping to see some great results soon.