Content Writer

What Does it Take to Be a Freelance Content Writer?

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

The Internet is a vast and open field of content. Virtually any topic you can think of is represented. Because of this, companies and private individual website owners are constantly looking for a content writer. But what does it take to be successful at creating this material?

Being Successful as a Freelance Content Writer

Freelance content writing can literally involve anything from a blog post to a printed magazine piece. Since 2012, I’ve done plenty of both. In the long run, it takes quite a bit to be successful when writing for others.

It’s not like you can just jump into it and expect to live a comfortable lifestyle.

Here are some of the important elements you’ll need to consider if you want to be an exceptional content writer.
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Spelling and Grammar

Learn Comma UseObviously you want to have a good handle of spelling and grammar. If you’re writing for a client, your words are representing the business or individual. If the writing looks unprofessional, it will make a negative impact on the reader.

However, you don’t need to be an English major to write good content. In fact, I consider myself quite successful and never attended a writing course. Well, not at the time of this blog post, anyway.

If you’re new to writing, I suggest starting with Textbroker. It’s a good way to get your feet wet in the world of content writing, and the editors are very detailed in critiques to help fine-tune your skill.

Knowledge of the Topic/Industry

Being knowledgeable in the area you want to write will be exceptionally useful. You can base this on past experience, personal strengths or even if you have a passing fancy. For me, I started with computers and networking as that was my background.

On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with diving into a subject you know nothing about. The trick is to become as fluent as you can for the particular piece you’re writing. Don’t fake the content, and research the topic thoroughly. Keep in mind you want the client’s reputation to shine with your words.

I suggest keeping your thumb on the pulse of your preferred niche. Use tools like Netvibes or other RSS readers to monitor the industry. The more you know about any one topic, the easier it will be to write and the more professional the content appears.

A Lot of Writing

Make A Living WritingBe prepared to create a lot of content. Most freelance content writers are paid per project or by word. This means you have to be fast and accurate if you want to make a living. Every moment you’re not writing material for a client is one you’re probably not being paid.

Hone your typing skills. While speed doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t attract clients, it does improve your turn-around. Most clients will want content back as soon as possible. Which means you don’t want to take 24 hours to write a 400-word blog post.

On any given day, I strive to go beyond 5,000 words whether they are paid or not. In many cases, this is still not enough to replace a full-time income.

Delivering an Excellent Client Experience

You’ll need to put effort into providing a good customer experience. This doesn’t mean just writing awesome content. It also entails treating the client with great respect and being easy to work with.

Some clients will need a regular content writer to complete large projects which could take years. By delivering a superior client experience, you greatly boost your chances of finding those “perfect” clients.

People love working with me because I am easy to get along with, I listen to their needs and I consider their projects of utmost importance. It’s my philosophy that a happy client is more likely to come back. Unfortunately, many writers don’t have the same mindset.

Proper Bookkeeping Skills

Freelance WritingWhat does bookkeeping have to do with being a content writer? More than you might realize. It’s not just pulling in money from clients. You need to save for things like taxes, vacations, sick days, insurance and more.

Being a freelancer is often stressful because of financial obligations. Instead of a traditional company pulling these expenses out for you before you see the paycheck, you’re responsible.

I know it’s difficult when you see cash come in from a client and not want to spend it on necessities or fun things around the house. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to cover a lot of different costs on your own without the HR department deducting things for you.

Always Looking for Opportunities

Because “content is king” on the Internet, millions of site owners are looking for competent creators. This means the opportunities are out there as long as you look for them.

I started with several paying websites simultaneously to ensure I had a constant flow of work. However, my most lucrative opportunity came to me thanks to having a profile on LinkedIn.

Market yourself as much as possible. Although brokerage sites for freelancers can easily help you make money, it pales to securing a retainer from something like a brand name web hosting company.

Diversifying Yourself

MarketingBeing diverse in what you offer helps land those high paying contracts. This means flexibility in the type of content, being able to switch quickly from one style to another and offering something more than just words.

Since 2012, I’ve completed jobs for product descriptions, fictional blog posts, tutorials and even product manuals. Each one of these has a completely different style and writing requirement. It’s sometimes difficult to move from one to another inside of an hour.

One of the biggest selling points to my current retainer is that I can do my own screenshots for tutorials through Photoshop. This means the client doesn’t have to spend extra money with a graphic designer and I receive a greater payout.

It’s Not Difficult to Be a Content Writer

It’s not necessarily hard to become a freelance writer. It just requires a lot more discipline and responsibility to be a success. Keep a professional mindset and put in the effort to set yourself apart from the competition.

Michael Brockbank
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