Working as a freelance writer is hard work and you’ve probably heard the same tips over and over again. Learn SEO, write concisely, use social networking to promote your work, readability is key. A freelance writer must follow that advice but those tips have been repeated ad nauseam. In my 15 years as a freelance writer, I have noticed five traits that truly separate the good freelance writers from the great ones who really make a living and experience continued success.
Writer’s Tip #1: Don’t Become Complacent
So, you land a gig doing copyediting, find a website constantly seeking content that meshes with your areas of expertise, or land a column in a magazine. What do you do? Don’t just enjoy the relatively stable income because that income could be gone tomorrow – actually, it will be so don’t count on it. As they say in sales, “always be closing.” If you want to make money for a rainy day and ensure that you don’t have dry spells, you must always be looking for new writing gigs.
Writer’s Tip #2: Learn to Read AND Write
You read that and said to yourself, “duh!” What I mean is that you should dedicate a few hours per week to reading the work of others. Writing is one thing but you need to expose yourself to what others are writing. Note their style, voice, and angle. Pay attention to successful writers, pay attention to what they are doing, and then compare and contrast that to how you approach your work.
Writer’s Tip #3: Hone Your Voice
Obviously, your work has to be well-written and the piece must reflect a strong knowledge base. You know what? We live in the information age and everyone has access to information. So, how do you separate yourself? Write with a unique voice. Make your pieces identifiable as your work and yours alone. Humor is one of many devices you can use to make your articles enjoyable and possibly turn a reader into a fan.
Writer’s Tip #4: Play Devil’s Advocate
When brainstorming ideas for articles, you should think of possible objections to the contentions you plan to make in your piece. This will help you develop stronger persuasion skills and also allow you to possibly build a series of articles around a single topic. Approach your editing phase as if you were a truly discerning reader and tear it apart. Heck, you could wind up developing a series of point and counterpoint articles that could potentially create a PV boom.
Writer’s Tip #5: Stay Ahead of the Trends
Be aware of the environment in which your content will be published. Big news events are one thing but the major media outlets already have writers staffed up to handle those events and, as a freelancer, it is often not easy to jump on those topics in a timely fashion. Anticipate big movie releases, gadget unveilings, or sports seasons, and then bring your own unique angle to those stories, an angle that suits your clients and readers.
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