The beauty of full-time freelance writing is the freedom of setting your schedule and time. But hold on! Even with freedom, hard work is mandatory. Like every career, you need to have a high understanding of discipline, time management, and the ability to search for high-quality gigs. With all that in harmony, you are on the right track to building a rewarding freelance writing career.
Moreover, it’s a career that keeps advancing with new tools and experience. With that in mind, a great freelancer ought to be alert to pick, adjust, and implement the changes available every step of the way. Besides, you don’t want clients passing you over because of your old style, do you?
Take a look below at 9 Skills You Should Hone To Succeed In The Freelance Writing Industry.
Skill 1: Learn SEO Writing
The first freelance writing skill that I’m going to discuss is SEO writing. Every high-end client requests the knowledge of SEO writing skills. Why?
To begin with, SEO means Search Engine Optimization. This is the technique to optimize content or articles so that people can find them easily on the internet. Of course, through a search engine.
After all, every business is trying to attract visitors to their website. So when a client asks about your knowledge of SEO skills, you should be able to do the following:
Keyword Research: To create helpful content, you need to do keyword research. This is the first and foremost important task you should perform before starting your writing. This way, you will be able to write on relevant topics that people are actually looking for on the web.
Keyword Optimization: This is another part of SEO writing. As a successful freelance writer, you have to develop this skill to know when, how, and where to use your keywords in the content. With this, you can maximize the searchability of your articles.
Content Formatting: The articles should be formatted properly so that people can find relevant information easily. Use of heading, subheadings, sections, images, infographics, everything falls in this category. Publishing quality articles is an art, and you must learn content formatting to level up your freelance writing game.
Content Promotion: By promoting your client, you increase the visibility of new content. You can post on social platforms or add internal and external links to your content. Though it is not directly linked to freelance writing, you should always help your clients achieve their goals.
What’s more? SEO skills should not be your only goal in winning writing gigs. You should also learn to create content that promotes conversions. Clicks and ranks are not relevant if they don’t blend with value. As a freelance writer, you should create content that is ranked by search engines and praised by readers.
Skill 2: Find a Profitable Niche
Indeed it’s important to project yourself as a niche writer, and not everyone is doing it. As a beginner, you will find yourself writing on many topics that you are clueless about. But as you advance and take more jobs, you are likely to develop an interest in specific topics.
Hone your niche. This means that you should not allow your interests to pass by but learn how to profit from them.
Some topics that interest you may be so common hence flooded with thousands of articles. Others might be very rare but not profitable. Do market research on the most profitable ones. See how broad and possible they are to write on and if you can develop your expertise. Sometimes you may even find an unexplored but profitable topic.
For example, we all are familiar with the pet niche. It’s a pretty popular niche, and many people write about their health and products. I once came across a site that deals with dog clothes for summer and winter. Well, I found that unique because it is not broad but straight to the point within the pet niche. Moreover, there are so many products that you can sell on your website. Of course, the website had so many followers, and I bet immensely profitable as well.
Once you project yourself as a niche writer, you automatically send a message about your expertise on that topic. Moreover, niche writers often charge double, sometimes triple for their quality writing.
Skill 3: Be Ready With Sample Materials
Most clients are as ready as you are. If you have ready samples to pitch, then they become prepared to begin hiring you. But, if you do not have such pieces, they will hardly respond to you. Therefore, you should have samples ready all times in different niches. Not just any examples but great pieces to convince a client of your expertise.
Nevertheless, you can have a portfolio ready. It would be unfortunate if a client needs your services and asks for samples, but you don’t have them ready. A sample article should be in-depth, broadly researched, and plagiarism free. Also, have samples that blend and flow with the niche, often on trending topics.
For instance, if last year lawn mowers were a great deal and this year the cutting saws are the gardening niche talk, then have great and unique samples on the cutting saws.
Clients want to hire a freelance writer that has excellent knowledge of what’s trending. Unless the client asks for the lawnmower samples, deliver the cutting saws samples. Do not forget to include testimonials in your portfolio. This will push you way ahead of the game in convincing a client that you are right for the job.
Skill 4: Develop a Thick Skin
You will experience high and low moments in this career, just like any other. And in the intense moments, you are likely to have pieces that are not pleasing to your clients. Definitely, negative criticism or correction will come through from them. In such times, you should develop a thick skin and learn how to handle the situation. Believe me; you have to develop this skill to survive in the freelance writing industry.
Some clients will lash, scream, and shout at you. Do not yell back. Instead, control your emotions and handle the situation professionally.
You can also receive blames for things you never did, and only a thick skin will help you get through such situations. Ask around, and you will find that every successful freelance writer has evolved through such moments. They will also tell you that the best thing is to receive all feedback well and improve. In the case of any corrections, do them politely and hand over a better piece with an apology included. Besides, a human is to err.
Skill 5: Learn Blogging, WordPress Especially
The writing industry is full of blogs hence the need for freelance writers. Running and maintaining a blog needs regular content on the website. WordPress is probably the most popular CMS tool on the internet; hence a lot of bloggers use it.
As a freelance writer, it will give you an edge if you know WordPress well.
Writing is enough for blogging, but knowing your way around WordPress will put you on a higher level. Some high paying clients are busy with other stuff; hence would require a writer who can write and publish on their behalf. So, level up your freelance writing career with the knowledge of WordPress.
Skill 6: Expand Your Reach
Whether an amateur or experienced, it would be best if you can write on different topics as a freelance writer. I know I’m contradicting what I mentioned in the second point but focussing on one niche puts you on an expert level, while the flexibility to write on other topics is an excellent idea to expand your reach.
Imagine being able to write in different styles and subjects. You can guess the potential demand of you. Furthermore, new topics and styles will add more to your quality. For instance, a client sends you a white-paper task. This type of task usually requires a more in-depth, critical thinking, and well-researched approach. You will also bump into clients who want social media posts for their brand; thus, your expertise is in demand as well.
Take your time to learn different styles and skills as a freelance writer. Meeting other clients’ needs improves your skills, knowledge, and a smile to the bank.
Skill 7: Manage Your Time Judiciously
They say; time is money. This is indeed true in the writing industry because you can have tasks with both strict and flexible deadlines. Every client gives a deadline for their jobs. In fact, punctuality is a plus in your pitch and is sure to attract serious clients.
A piece delivered on time draws money and commitment from a client.
You will see writers maintaining one or more clients for a long time. Of course, it is because of their great content, but rest assured that keenness and time management are the roots of the result.
Let’s say you have a client who needs a 4000 words article in one week. You can have a daily timeline of all the tasks you have and include a few words each day. If you are free, you can write as much as you want. But offloading your burden daily helps you to beat the deadline and avoid the last-minute rush.
Skill 8: Improve Your Communication Skills
The etiquette of communication skills is essential when dealing with clients. Sometimes you can have new topics, and the instructions can be ‘shallow’ to your understanding. Rather than submitting a low-quality and flawed piece, ask your client to further clarify their needs and requirements.
Asking doesn’t show your incompetence but instead of your determination to understand more to deliver the best.
While talking and having contact with your clients is essential, remember to be formal. Develop the communication etiquette to write respectful messages to them when asking or passing any needful information. Also, be prompt to give them feedback when they expect it.
Replying after a long time is a sign of incompetence and even rudeness. Improve your communication skills to be a successful freelance writer.
Skill 9: Take Control of Your Finance
You don’t need to attend a management course to run your freelance writing business. Instead, develop necessary negotiation skills, tax filing, invoice payments systems, and contracts.
Every client will come up with their payment schedule; hence your need to understand how to deal with them. Others will have low payment for many tasks or a challenging and comprehensive task; therefore, you will require negotiating for better payment.
Is the monthly or POD (Payment on Delivery) good for you? It will help if you have some professional wisdom on running your business on terms that will benefit you first in terms of payment.
Also, you are likely to deal with international clients hence different payment modes. You need to set up a universal payment gateway for such clients and understand their billing systems.
Some billing systems deduct a lot and others a little amount once you receive your payment through them. Again, use the one that offers better conversion rates but is also convenient and trustworthy.
Lastly, you should pay tax just like every business.
Ignoring or lacking to pay tax attracts a tax fraud lawsuit that comes with heavy penalties. Having your name on the wrong side of the law is the worst thing you want for yourself and your career. Instead of paying people to file your tax, get to know the skill to pay your taxes. You can always enroll in a short business management course if you feel the need.
You thought to have a successful freelance writing career only needs you to be a great writer, right? Wrong!
A blend of your excellent writing skills and other qualities is what will push your freelance writing career up. Learn everyday and make sure to implement what works for you. And soon, we will have your name on the Forbes list of the most successful people. I’m not kidding. It’s possible with patience and hard work.
Carry on, write away!