Last Updated on May 4, 2020 by Michael Brockbank
Every freelance writer develops a strategy for writing content as time goes on. It’s all about streamlining the process and getting a good flow going. Today, I’ll share my exact process for creating content for clients and myself.
However, what works for one person may not work for another. You may find methods that are more worthwhile according to your own experiences.
And that’s OK.
But if you’re new, perhaps this can help you develop your own strategies and planning processes for writing content clients love. In reality, everything is customizable.
Now, my plan below for writing content for private clients is a bit different than it is for Textbroker. I recently did a Textbroker writing video, so you can check that out if you’re working with content mills.
Create a Planning Process for Writing Content
I remember when I started freelance writing and working with Textbroker. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, and I was essentially shooting from the hip.
But as time went on, I found a groove that works extremely well for me and my clients. While each step is pretty standard, it’s the process within them that tends to change according to trends and technology.
For instance, no one was concerned with mobile devices and reading content from phones when I started. Now, you need to make sure content looks good on smaller devices.
In these steps, I’ll show you an example of the process and how I use different systems to get what I need.
1. Choose a Relevant Topic
First and foremost, you need to have an idea of what you’re writing. If you use content mills like Textbroker, most clients will give you a topic. But sometimes, you’ll need to do this yourself.
Especially if you’re getting into blogging or writing content for private clients.
If I have to choose a topic, I analyze the niche and industry. So if I was blogging for a gaming website, I would take a look at trends and news of anything “gaming” related.
Example: Writing Content About Fitness
Let’s say I had a client who wanted me to write something about fitness. I could choose the topic as long as the client didn’t already have it available. I would take a look at Google Trends or Google News to see if there was anything that piqued my interest.
For this article, I’ll decide on “ways to gamify fitness.”
2. Make Sure it Doesn’t Already Exist
After deciding on a topic, check the client’s website to make sure it’s not already an article. You don’t want to waste time writing something that has already been covered.
If you’re writing for content mills, you probably don’t have access to the client’s website thanks to anonymity clauses. This is why most people using content mills will assign a topic.
If that’s the case, then this step is pretty much moot.
Example: Checking the Client’s Website
You can check a website for content in two ways: 1) go through each article of the site to make sure your idea isn’t taken, or 2) use Google to search for the topic on the specific site.
To search Google, use the “site:” command and your topic.
3. Research the Best Keyphrase
Now comes the fun part; finding the best keyphrases to use when writing content.
There are several ways I do this, and it really depends on what I’m writing about. And sometimes, the keyphrase will change depending on the competition. They might have better phrases, and I’ll cover that in a moment.
Here are a few of the keyphrase tools I use and why:
Answer the Public has an ever-evolving database of questions people often ask in search. Using this can give you an idea of who to target and what content you can write. Keep in mind the free version only lets you perform about three searches per day.
Whichever process you use, you need to figure out what people are putting into search engines to find specific topics.
And I know it seems a bit time-consuming. But if you get into a good groove, it can take you less than five minutes to find high-quality terms. It just takes a bit of practice.
This is one of the reasons why I like blogging as a way to practice writing content for clients. It gives you a chance to smooth out the rough edges.
4. Analyze the Competition
So, there is a technique out there called, “skyscraping.” This is when you take a look at a reference article, see how it’s assembled, and then try to make it better and longer.
Taking a look at what the competition is doing is common for nearly every industry. The trick is to read through what the author created and ask yourself, “what can I do to make this better?”
After all, you don’t want to outright copy someone else’s work online. Not only will your client take a dim view of plagiarism, but Google will hit the piece as well. This often results in a lower page rank in search.
To search for the competition, simply put your search phrase in Google and see what comes up. Find an article that is closely related to your own and read through the content.
Take note of how the competition structured their content. Is there something missing? Are there additional facts you think your audience would benefit from reading?
Having access to Ahrefs is very helpful when analyzing the competition. Although it doesn’t show how headers and topics are laid out, it does give you insight into what phrases are associated with the piece.
5. Planning the Content to Stand Out
Once I have an idea about what I’m writing, it’s time to start planning it out. Usually, I’ll start with structuring headers and listing what sections of content I want to create.
Not only does this give me a skeleton for the content, but it also keeps me focused on each point. And sometimes when I’m writing, I’ll wind up thinking of a few others I want to add.
Of course, this is where understanding the hierarchy of header tags and where keyphrases should go come into play. Because you don’t just want to write a good piece of content for your client.
You need to appease the Google algorithm.
The higher your client appears in search terms, the better your chances of them keeping you around longer.
6. Setting Up Yoast when Writing Content
One of my all-time favorite tools in WordPress is Yoast SEO. This plugin, even in its free version, comes with a slew of things that will help you write content clients think are amazing.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of Yoast is the Readability scanning. It will provide you with several analytical results that break down how easy it is to read your content.
And I can attest to how it’s helped me keep clients happy while driving traffic to everyone’s blogs.
Personally, I pay for the premium version as there are a lot of great features available. But in the free version, you still have access to a lot of awesome elements.
For one thing, I like the “Insights” portion of the premium plugin. It shows you the top 5 prominent phrases within your content. This is helpful in understanding how people are going to find your content and how Google will see it when crawling.
However, using Yoast isn’t a requirement, especially if you don’t use WordPress to write for your clients. So, think of this point as optional.
7. Write the Piece
Next comes the fun part; writing the content itself. With the headers in place, complete with subpoints if any exist, I begin typing out the topic.
This includes things like:
Researching the content
It’s quite common that I’ll have more than 20 tabs open when researching a client’s topic…even when writing for Textbroker.
Keeping an eye on Yoast
As I write, Yoast will continue to analyze. So, I keep an eye on the Readability score as I type and keep its color green, which indicates all is well.
Using the Grammarly Chrome extension
This is helpful in finding common mistakes as I type. Though, I’ll still proofread the content as no auto-scanning tool is absolutely perfect.
Uploading or creating screenshots and images
A great deal of what I write for clients are WordPress tutorials and WordCamp posts. These often come with a lot of imagery that I have to correctly size in Photoshop and upload.
Blocking off my time
Most importantly, I make sure I have sufficient time and remove distractions while I write. In fact, I’ll work on a client’s piece until it is done. I ignore the phone, social media, lock myself away and focus purely on the content.
Compare what it looks like on mobile devices
Another reason I use WordPress for writing content for clients is that it lets me see what the piece will look like on smartphones. Because WordPress is responsive, I can simply shrink the browser to simulate a mobile device.
Every writer will have his or her own plan for writing content. I can only share what makes me successful. You’ll undoubtedly come up with your own strategy for writing.
8. Proofread It!
And lastly, I proofread the content several times. What’s funny is that I’ll still find mistakes in the piece months down the road. Usually, I’ll log into the client’s WordPress and fix the mistake.
But, it’s still embarrassing to know that thousands of people have seen that particular error.
One of the hardest parts about being a freelance writer is that it’s easy to gloss over spelling and grammatical mistakes in what you write. This is because of how your brain is wired.
If the material is fresh, you’re more likely to skip over those issues because in your mind, it’s correct. But if you let it sit for a few days, you can easily find the things you missed.
The problem is that most clients want the post now, so you need to pay close attention when proofreading.
I’ll try to proofread two or three times before submitting the work. And it’s also another reason why I use Chrome. Not only do I have Grammarly running, which works in WordPress, but the new version of Chrome has an auto-correct feature when typing.
So far, I’ve only had to fix one word that auto-correct was trying to “fix.”
BONUS! Compare Your Work
OK, if you are skyscraping an existing article, or even rewriting a piece for a client, CopyScape has a nifty tool to compare your writing against another article. This will help you veer away from being too similar or plagiarising content.
In fact, I’ll use the CopyScape compare tool to scan my writing team’s articles. And yes, I’ve had to send a few back for revisions because I am anal when it comes to creating similar content.
Compare tools are all over the Internet if you don’t like CopyScape. I like it simply because it compares the text, shows what is identical, and then gives a percentage of the content that is similar.
This is also a great function for those who write on Textbroker as the clients have access to CopyScape directly from the dashboard in the system. It helps you prevent submitting plagiarised work.
Set Up Your Own Planning Process for Writing Content
In reality, each job is different. And the above steps are more of a guideline than a set method. That’s because sometimes there are changes or flows for specific pieces of content.
But in general, this is exactly how I handle about 80% of private client orders when writing content.
Perhaps it will help you develop your own successful flow.
Do you have a workflow planned out as a freelancer? Have you tried any of the tools I mentioned above, and did they work for you?