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writing tips for freelancers

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Writing Tips for Freelancers

This week, we had our second community edition of #ContentWritingChat! In case you aren’t familiar, that basically means we allowed our participants to be the guest hosts for the hour. After all, they’re a pretty smart bunch with some amazing advice to share! Our latest chat on Writing Tips for Freelancers was no exception!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Writing Tips for Freelancers

We asked our audience to vote on the topic for this week’s chat and Writing Tips for Freelancers won by just a few votes! Considering we have so many writers in our community, it’s no wonder this topic was chosen. Everyone who participated shared some helpful tips, which we’re sharing in this recap! Let’s dive in!

Q1: What are the first steps to creating high-quality content?

To kick things off, we asked everyone to share the first steps they take when it comes to creating high-quality content. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

Sarah has three steps she follows when it comes to content creation. Knowing your audience is the first step. Then, you plan it out by determining what, when, and where. And finally, it’s time to execute by writing and publishing your content.

Maureen knows it’s so important to understand your target market when creating content. You also need to have top-notch writers and designers that understand your brand. These are all essential elements to creating amazing content!

As mentioned, it’s crucial to know who your audience is and what they want. You should always create content with them in mind.

Not only do you want to know what your audience is interested in, but you should also determine how they prefer to receive content. What format resonates with them the most?

Susan offered some great advice for this question. She suggests conducting research to see what’s already been written and figure out what the gaps are. What can be added to the conversation that you are capable of writing?

As Sarah mentioned, it’s important to know your purpose. Why are you producing this piece of content? What is your end goal? When you’re creating, keep that purpose in mind.

Kristin suggests knowing your audience, what you want to say, how you want readers to feels and what you want them to do next.

For Lex, she starts with conducting SEO keyword and user intent research. This helps her figure out what her audience wants so she can create content for them.

Q2: How do you know when a piece is good enough to be published?

Too many people hold themselves back from hitting publish on a piece because they worry it’s not “good enough.” So, how exactly do you know when a piece is ready to go live? Here’s some advice:

Sarah said a piece of content is good enough to publish when it fulfills the goals you set out to achieve. Consider your purpose, the questions you’ve answered, your tone, etc.

Zala said to make sure your content: addresses the needs of your audience, is structured and well-researched, is optimized with the right keyword, and has a clear call to action.

For Danielle, she feels a post is ready to go after someone else has proofread it and made edits. If you don’t have someone to edit for you, wait a day after writing before editing it yourself. This allows you to review the content with fresh eyes.

Bruce also suggests having a second and third pair of eyes looking over your content if possible.

For some, you might have a team that a piece of content needs to go through prior to publication. If you do, make sure you’re respectful and take their feedback into consideration.

When you’re proud of the work you’ve created it, hit publish! Don’t stand in your own way.

Khulekani agrees. If you’ve impressed yourself with the work you’ve done and you love it, it’s good to go.

Q3: How much does spelling and grammar matter when writing? Any editing tips you can share?

Will those spelling and grammatical errors really turn off your audience? Find out what our chat participants had to say! Plus, you’ll want to implement the editing tips they chimed in with.

If your work hasn’t been edited and is littered with typos, it shows a lack of care. Try walking away from what you’ve written for at least one hour. Then, come back and proofread it with fresh eyes and a clear mind. You’ll be more likely to spot mistakes.

When you take the time to edit, it shows you pay attention to detail and that you truly care about the work you create.

Do you want your work to be taken seriously? Taylor says you better edit your content and use correct spelling and grammar!

Proper grammar is the soul of the language!

Jason feels correct spelling and grammar keep the integrity of the article. He won’t read something that has mistakes.

Both Leah and Megan won’t bother reading articles that are filled with mistakes. It’s worthwhile to take the time to proofread a couple of times before hitting publish. Don’t turn your readers off.

Khulekani relies on Grammarly to double-check for any errors in writing.

The Hemingway application is Danielle’s go-to tool!

We have another Grammarly fan! Not only is it great for spotting mistakes, but it’ll help enhance readability. Another suggestion is to have a friend or editor proofread for you.

Q4: What’s your biggest pet peeve when reading articles? What should freelancers avoid doing?

When discussing writing tips for freelancers, there’s no doubt that a few pet peeves are going to come up. We asked everyone to share their biggest pet peeves when reading articles so other freelancers can avoid the same mistakes. Check out these responses:

Content that isn’t original will get you nowhere! You need to make your content unique if you want to stand out online.

Grammar mistakes and bad writing are just two things that irritate Sarah when it comes to writing.

For Carla, she hates when people go off topic.

A lack of fact checking and clarity can certainly spell disaster for your article.

Research is a must! Present facts and back them up with reliable sources.

Jason doesn’t like posts that are too long. He also suggests making sure key points are bulleted or bolded. You also want to quote sources and provide visuals. These are all essential writing tips for freelancers to use in their career.

No fact checking. No uniqueness in voice or content. No focus on detail. Natasha knows that all three of these things are mistakes you don’t want to make.

Clickbait titles are definitely a NO. They’re misleading and will quickly turn your readers off.

Q5: How can style and brand guidelines help freelancers become better writers?

When you’re a freelancer, you’re going to be writing for a variety of companies. How can style and brand guidelines help in this situation? Here’s some advice from our chat:

Maureen feels guidelines help establish standards and set expectations. It’s going to help produce consistent content in the long run.

As Leah said, style guidelines help you capture the brand’s voice. After all, they want to make sure the writers they hire are consistently on-brand.

For the company that’s hiring the writer, they’ll want guidelines in place to set expectations.

Clear guidelines are going to ensure both the brand and the writer are happy with the end result. It states what the brand wants so the writer can deliver.

Bruce feels that having structure can actually force you to be more creative in your writing.

Shannon said writers should think of guidelines as a challenge to meet and surpass, as opposed to viewing them as a burden.

Q6: Can you truly become a better writer? If so, what do you need to do?

Is it possible to become a better writer or is it just something you’re born with? If everyone can strengthen their skills, what should we all keep in mind? These writing tips for freelancers are important to consider:

If you want to become a better writer, you have to write more often. It also helps to get feedback by having others review your work.

Practice every day if possible! It doesn’t matter if no one will see what you write. Choose a topic and just get started.

Cheval also agrees that consistency is key here. If you want to strengthen your writing skills, you need to write regularly.

Missy knows you don’t become great at what you do that easily. It’s going to take time and effort.

Think of it like a muscle that you have to train. The more you practice writing, the better your skills become.

Don’t forget to learn from the mistakes you’ve made in the past so you don’t continue making them.

Danielle suggests seeking feedback from trusted editors. They’ll tell you where you can improve.

As Lauren said, you also need to be open to feedback. Listen to what others have to say and take it into consideration as you write.

Shelly’s advice is to spend time reading like a writer/editor.

You can even take classes or join a writing group if you’d like!

Maria said it’s important write, read, educate yourself, and stay curious to improve writing skills.

Q7: Which tools do you rely on for writing and managing your work?

There are plenty of tools that can make it easier for managing writing tasks, so why not use them? Take a look at these recommendations from the chat:

Lexie said the Netvantage team relies on Google Drive for their calendar and storing content ideas. They also use Yoast for SEO purposes, which is a handy WordPress plugin.

The go-to tools for the ThinkSEM team include: WordPress, Google Docs and Sheets, the Hemingway App, the web, their brains, and plenty of time.

Jasmine relies on Asana to manage her freelance writing tasks.

Hubspot, Buzzsumo, Grammarly, Google Analytics, and Buffer are all essential tools for Sabjan.

Sarah mostly relies on HubSpot, but she also uses Evernote for storing ideas. She also turns to Grammarly during the writing process and the Hemingway app afterwards.

John is also a fan of Grammarly.

Brain, creativity, pen, and paper are all essential tools for the freelance writer.

As for Jeff, you can find him speaking to the Notes app on his phone. Sometimes this is just the best and easiest way to record all those ideas!

Q8: What’s your final piece of advice freelancers can take away from this chat?

Last call on writing tips for freelancers! Here’s the final advice some of our participants had to share with everyone:

Be open to suggestions and constructive criticism. As Sarah said, you’re writing for someone else and you need to listen to their feedback.

Jeff’s advice is to know what you’re worth. Don’t let anyone devalue the work you can create.

The freelance life doesn’t have to be isolating. Danielle suggests making connections on Twitter and in real life to connect with follow writers.

Never stop learning!

To be a writer, you just have to get started. Don’t put it off!

And we’ll close on this inspirational note from Cristy because sometimes you just have to go for it.

Want to join #ContentWritingChat? Follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat, and be sure to join us live every Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time!

#Contentwritingchat

How To Find Your Best-Fit Freelance SEO Writing Solution

When you need a lot of content for your site and you need it done right, these three options usually come to mind:

  • You can do it yourself.
  • You can hire a writer.
  • You can hire a freelance SEO writing service.

Freelance SEO Writing: Finding the Best Option for You

Freelance SEO Writing

The problem with the first option, though, is that even if you are the best writer in the world, if you are running a business, you just don’t have time to consistently write that much and still make it quality.

However, you notice that I didn’t list ‘don’t worry about creating content’ as an option. If there is anything that we can all agree on in the world of marketing, it is that you need an online presence, and you need great content on that site. Brafton created an awesome infographic illustrating this.

This means your best option is often going to be paying someone else to do the writing for you.

Hiring a Writer

When you hire a writer, you can take on a fulltime employee, use an individual freelancer, or contract through a freelance SEO writing service.

With the first two options, you take a risk of hiring someone without as many credentials as you can find through full services. Not only that, but they may not have as full of a range as a freelance service.

With a service, you have a wide range of experience, knowledgeable writers who can specialize in whatever type of writing you want done.

When you are looking for a service, though, you do not want to just go with the first one you run across.

Five Things You Should Look for in Your Best-Fit Freelance SEO Writing Service

When you are looking for a freelance service, make sure they meet at least these five important qualities.

1. They can adapt your necessary voice to fit your audience.

Great writers come up with an interesting, unique voice that really resonates with their readers. However, great freelance SEO writing services – or writer – actually adapts yours. Your voice becomes theirs.

When hiring a freelance writer, you need to find one that, instead of having their own voice, has an easily adaptable voice.

They should be writing for your audience in the tone that you would use to talk to your clients. In order to ensure they have this capability, ask for a diverse portfolio.

If a portfolio contains amazing pieces, but they are all of one style, then you cannot be assured that they are adaptably or not.

A freelance SEO writing service is usually good at ensuring this because they can choose one of their varied writers who best fit your need. While a single author can have many voices, think about how many voices you can choose from when you have many authors who each have many voices.

2. They keep up to date with all of the latest writing trends.

The current content marketing structure is likely to look a lot different than the content marketing world of even next year. That is why good writing is not enough.

When you look for a writer or service, make sure they keep up with the growing trends. There are many ways they can show you they do this.

  • They can become certified.
  • They can take trainings.
  • They can demonstrate their knowledge and prowess through their own research. However, if this is the way they learn, you might need to periodically check to make sure they are staying up to date.

Services are usually good at doing this because they often require their writers to update their training as new issues arise. Therefore, when you use a service, you can be more assured that they are familiar with all new and emerging trends – it is after all their business – as well as know that it is likely easier to get proof of this knowledge.

3. They are talented writers.

This one should go without saying, but I am mentioning it anyway. You have to make sure you hire a freelance SEO writing provider that actually knows how to write.

While this alone does not make a good freelance writer, it is the most important. No matter how well rounded they are, a freelancer without writing talent is not a freelancer you want to use.

Here, it might not matter as much if you use a freelance SEO writing service or an individual. However, at least with a service, if you do not like the writer who is assigned to your project, you have the freedom to request someone else.

4. They are talented writers in the area that you need them to be talented in.

Just as important as hiring a talented writer is hiring a writer that is skilled in the areas that you need them to be. Creative writing versus professional or technical writing versus copywriting versus niche writing and on and on all are vastly different.

If you need a professional writer, it is probably not a great idea to use a fully creative writer – even if that creative writer is an incredible creative writer.

You can determine if a writer is good and if they are good at what you need them to be able to do in a lot of ways.

  • Ask for referrals.
  • Check their portfolio or website.
  • Read reviews and testimonials.
  • Ask for a test article in order to see their merits.

While you can find an individual that meets your needs, just remember that here to a service might be a good idea. They have all good writers, but they have writers of varied natures. This way, you are more likely to get the writer you need.

5. They are all-encompassing.

Writing services are good at offering you a wide variety of services. When you use one, they do all the work for you.

Look for a service that works with you start to finish.

  • They consult with you and brainstorm what you need.
  • They create an editorial calendar.
  • They can even do keyword research for good SEO content from the ground up.
  • They write and post the content.
  • They do the social media for the content.

Final Thoughts on Freelance SEO Writing Services

Using a freelance service can save you time and make you money, which makes it well worth the price you pay the service. However, if you don’t get the right service, you will be paying for service without reaping any of the potential benefits.

If you are in the market for a freelance SEO writing service, check out our online Content Shop.

freelance writing tips

Freelance Writer: 4 Tips to Maintain Professionalism

You quit the 9-to-5 job and have gone out on a limb to create your own career from your home office as a Freelance Writer. Sure, that means the suit and tie and 7 a.m. alarm can be tossed out the window. It means you can sit at the computer with your Avengers coffee mug and your college t-shirt and lounge pants to start writing. However, there are certain things professional content writers understand they need to continue practicing in order to be respected. Most of these are true in any field. However, the world of the freelancer is a bit different, simply because of the way work is done and contacts are made.
 

I’m a Freelance Writer, Now What?

 
This particular blog will look at certain areas of freelancing that require care and professionalism in order to enhance your career. Those areas are social media, client interaction and combating stereotypes. Without some focus on professionalism in these areas, other efforts will be undervalued or completely ignored. Therefore, remember professionalism in the following ways, and have confidence that your career will move forward at the rate and in the manner you hope to achieve.

 

Social Media Techniques as a Freelancer

The first thing to remember is your profile picture on Facebook. If you are utilizing Facebook as one of your self-marketing tools, it is best to appear professional in that profile photo. While you may love to kick back at a party on the weekend and do a keg stand, or you are proud of the black eye and broken nose you received last time you engaged in a bar brawl, these moments are best kept away from your professional persona.

Likewise, the status updates that chronicle those weekend free-for-alls or even your intense political views should be avoided, unless those aspects of your life contribute positively to your writing in some way. If you can’t refrain from those status updates, make sure your professional contacts are on one list and the friends you share those crazy moments with are the list you select to view that particular group of posts.

One final aspect of your Facebook persona that you should keep in mind is the option to separate the personal page from the professional one. In this manner, the photos and status updates meant for college buddies or your weekend crew can be posted freely, while your clients are seeing the image you want to present to enhance your career.

Facebook has made it simple to link a professional page to your personal one, so you can be an admin on the professional page and toggle between the two with a simple click or two. This provides the ease of access some feel would be lacking with separate professional and personal Facebook pages.

Things to Remember When Interacting with Clients

Interactions with clients, whether in the swank office of a Fortune 500 company or in your home office, should have some basic tenets that remain the same. For instance, do not have a television blaring or the radio overshadowing the client during a conference, even if that conference is taking place over Skype.

As a mother, I recognize that noise levels are not completely controllable with children living out their lives in the living room nearby. However, having spent years in a newsroom at a small morning paper, sometimes it is easier to get the television turned down at home and the kids to take it down a notch than it was to have co-workers reined in on a particularly stressful or exciting news day.

Also, for those video conferences, it is best to look semi-presentable. A three-piece suit is not in order, but combed hair and a work casual shirt would be a great way to let the client know you take their project – and them – seriously enough to prepare for those conferences instead of simply rolling out of bed and clicking the Skype button on the computer.

Combating Stereotypes As a Professional Freelancer

Being the creative element for a company where you may have no other contact can give them the entirely wrong impression. In general, freelancers are seen as unable to keep a “regular” schedule, unwilling to work full-time and even seen as filling time until they find a “real job.” This is the mindset that is held, rather than to see freelancers as an asset to be utilized when necessary that would otherwise be tied up at another company and out of the reach of that narrow-minded client.

Since that client is still the one handing out the paychecks, it is best to combat stereotypes in a manner that does not result in a confrontation or battle. Instead of fighting over these concepts, show them your value in other ways.

  1. Be prompt or even early on a deadline, if that is feasible.
  2. Be available for communication throughout the project. Let them know you aren’t sleeping or aren’t out on field trips. Instead, you are working hard in your work area, regardless of where that might be.
  3. Be firm with your expectations and reasonable in what changes are allowed. As a freelance writer, you still have the right to put your foot down when things have been adjusted a few too many times and your time is being wasted.
  4. Finally, be prepared to turn down the clients that don’t see your value and continue to attempt to get quality work at subpar rates. You are making a living and are as professional as the client regardless of work space. If that can’t be understood and valued by one client, it will be by the next one.

 

As professional content writers, sometimes we forget to present ourselves in the right light in a more public arena. If this area of your career is neglected, however, it can sorely affect the overall success. That isn’t to say you can never lounge in your pajamas at the computer, finishing up that project or putting ideas that suddenly hit you into fruition. However, remembering to be professional at the times it counts means those moments in your pajamas can be even sweeter.