Writing Nonfiction

Best Practices for Writing Nonfiction Content for Clients

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

Unfortunately, I spend most of my day writing nonfiction material. I say this only because I would much rather be cracking out a new story on Wattpad or working on my novel to publish. However, the bills still need to be paid. At any rate, nonfictional work is what most freelance ghostwriters will be doing for their clients. So, what are some of the best practices you can implement to make sure these clients keep coming back to you?

How to Get More Out of Nonfiction Ghostwriting

Since 2012, the vast majority of my work for clients has been centered around facts and information. Rarely does someone want something that is purely creative.

Don’t get me wrong, some of them liked the artistic flare I added to the content. For example, I wrote a fun piece for a science client about why zombies could never truly exist for a Halloween themed blog post. But, the piece was still centered around facts and science.

How do you go about getting more out of nonfiction writing when clients are requesting certain materials?
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Step 1: Extensive Research

You want to give clients the most current and up-to-date information possible. After all, the client will be putting his or her name to the piece. It’s not just a person’s content you have to worry about. It’s also the reputation of the individual.

If a client looks good because of your content, then you can safely assume he or she will be back to buy more material from you. This is why it’s important to research the topic thoroughly while using quality resources.

At any given time, I have two computer monitors on with more than 20 tabs open when writing a piece for a client. Not only do I research the content, but I verify claims by finding credible sources of information.

Step 2: Cite Your Sources

Whether you’re writing for a client or blogging for yourself, it’s always important to cite your work. Anyone can throw up random facts and call it “truth.” Most Americans saw this during the 2016 election campaigns. Content becomes more credible when you can point out solid facts and not just hearsay.

When citing facts, try to avoid using wiki pages. I know that Wikipedia can be a great source of information, but it’s unfortunately wrong much of the time. This is because anyone can edit a page and alter its facts. If you cite a wiki, make sure it’s a page that references plenty of authoritative materials.

When establishing facts to post in the content, try to verify the numbers using two or more credible sources. This is why I normally have so many tabs open. I attempt to drill down to where the “facts” are coming from and whether or not they are true. I don’t want to cite something that is completely wrong for myself or my client.

Step 3: Providing Links

Linking To SourcesIt’s not enough to simply provide a fact. Don’t rely on the statement, “I hear” when giving information. Provide a direct action that will show the reader how you came up with the claim. As an online ghostwriter, most of your content is developed for blogging clients anyway. So, make sure you link the facts.

Linking doesn’t just help clients, either. If you’re running your own blog, it demonstrates your own professionalism as well. In a world filled with misinformation and fake news, many are comforted by the ability to gather facts. Besides, you don’t want to feed into obscuring the truth.

Personally, I use the “show in another tab” option when linking out from my blogs. This keeps my site open while readers can view the page I got the information from. Most clients love this aspect, and something as simple as linking the facts can make all the difference when the client decides to use you again.

Step 4: Deliver Data in a New Way

Like any other kind of writing, you want to deliver the information in a unique way. There are so many websites out there on the Internet that regurgitate the same data. In fact, many of them look just like each other because they come off as too clinical or feel cookie-cutter-ish.

However, this is also dependent on the type of piece you’re creating. For example, a news release doesn’t require a great deal of creative flare to be accepted by the masses. In reality, these clients will more than likely ask you for a revision if you stray from the facts even slightly.

One of my favorite examples is a piece I wrote for a client comparing website development to building a house. Another one of my favorite pieces the client absolutely loved was using part of the lyrics to “Every Step You Take” by Sting and the Police to demonstrate social marketing.

It’s all about a different way of presenting data other than pure facts alone.

Step 6: Value Proofreading

ProofreadingProofreading isn’t just about making sure words are spelled correctly. It also involves the correct way to use those words. The better your content reads, the more professional the work appears. This is why many people can say virtually anything and make it sound as fact even though it may not be.

Giving the nonfiction piece an authoritative tone should also promote a layer of confidence. You don’t want to sound conceited when writing the piece, but the reader should feel like he or she is gaining insight from someone who knows what the author is talking about.

One of the best methods when it comes to proofreading is saying the content out loud when reading it. Personally, I pretend the content is a script for a YouTube video and try to imagine someone reading it to the viewer. Sounds a bit corny, but it actually helps quite a bit.

Create the Best Content You Can

Whether you’re writing for a client or simply blogging nonfiction for yourself, there is a lot of oversight that goes into high-quality work. However, the process can pay off in spades as you keep clients coming back for more or engage your own audience if your site is monetized. Don’t assume sites like the Onion are going to be your best sources of information. Question everything and find the real truth behind your projects.

Michael Brockbank
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