There has never been a better time for talented freelance writers. As the demand for quality content has exploded over the past decade due to the growth of the internet, companies are actively seeking professional creators in this field.
Both major corporations and start-ups with limited budgets frequently prefer freelancers over regular employees since they can be employed on-demand, which is more cost-efficient than traditional employment. However, this also increases the competition as you have to meet customer expectations in order to get new orders and build loyalty.
In order to stand out from the crowd and succeed as a professional freelance writer, you need to acquire these 5 critical skills.
1. Editing skills
While writing is the core skill required to succeed as a freelance writer, you must also possess decent editing skills. Companies expect freelancers to submit quality content that is free of errors. Many customers cannot afford a separate editor proof-reading the texts submitted by freelance writers, especially if you charge high rates for your writing services. Editing includes checking the written content for mistakes, complying with the style requirements of the client, removing tautology, etc.
In the case of freelance writing, self-editing is very important to constantly improve the quality of the produced content. The ability to distance oneself from the things written and edit them without being emotionally attached to your text is a key skill of a professional writer.
Polished pieces of content generated through multiple edits impress clients and allow you to develop long-term business relationships with them. However, good editing skills can only be developed through constant practice. Completing a course on freelance editing and proofreading can be a good start for understanding the intricacies involved in this profession. Additionally, these competencies may be valuable for a freelance writer as a way to get new gigs as an editor and proofreader and diversify your sources of income.
2. Marketing skills
Marketing is the ultimate growth driver for any business. Freelance writers need to be good marketers in order to successfully promote their services and consistently find new clients. Some of the marketing skills essential in this sphere are:
Multi-channel marketing communication via professional blogs, social media pages, and digital advertising media helps freelancers reach more prospective customers.
Finding the proper pricing is a fine art. While this may sound counter-intuitive, offering your services too cheap may avert prospective customers associating low rates with poor quality or fraud. To select the optimal price for your services, you need to study the marketing dynamics, client profiles, and competition levels in a specific market and point in time.
c. Customer Service
Establishing effective communication with your customers and helping them with their problems is highly relevant for developing long-term business relationships with them. A satisfied client is a loyal client returning with new orders time after time.
Marketing Tools for Freelance Writers
Successful freelance writers use the following marketing tools to promote their services:
A professional website making your portfolio easily accessible to clients
A well-managed blog that can showcase your writing skills
Social media profiles to interact with existing as well as prospective clients
An email marketing tool to automate follow-up messages and marketing communication.
3. Business management skills
Freelancing is similar to a one-person business. Freelance writers do not get a fixed salary. Their monthly earnings may vary radically depending upon the quantum of work they manage to complete and the price they charge for their services. Developing business management capabilities will help you maximise your earnings by working smart and making optimal use of the resources available. Below you will find some skills that may be invaluable to freelance writers:
a. Accounting skills
Basic accounting skills allow you to execute customer invoices, maintain a personal profit and loss account, and calculate your tax liabilities.
b. Team management skills
Hiring a small team of assistants will allow you to handle more customer orders. High-earning freelancers usually have several assistants helping them with preliminary drafts and basic customer communication.
c. Organisational skills
Organisational skills are useful for getting the best out of the time allotted for a specific project, meeting the deadlines set by your clients, and balancing multiple projects. The use of calendars, digital organisers and filing systems may help you rearrange the tasks you are currently working upon more efficiently.
Business management skills may also help freelancers develop their customer base and start their own copywriting companies in the future.
4. Stylistic flexibility
Different clients require different writing styles. Since freelancers need to work with clients from multiple industries, they should build the awareness necessary to execute such orders effectively. Some of the common writing styles requested by clients are formal, casual, academic, and lifestyle. As a freelancer, you need to understand the differences between these approaches.
However, some freelance writers just feel more comfortable when they are working on certain types of content. If this is your case, you may choose to adhere to a single format or style of writing. Since this decision may reduce your earning potential, you need to focus on your marketing skills and become a top performer in the selected niche in terms of content quality and productivity. The choice is up to you.
Freelance writers seeking diversification also need to learn how to create specialised content such as long-form articles, speeches, and press releases. These text formats usually need special attention due to highly specific customer requirements. For example, writing long-form articles requires maintaining a consistent voice throughout the text and keeping the readers interested by including quality information.
5. Personal development capabilities
Contrary to popular belief, the profession of a writer is not static. Freelance content creators need to constantly update their knowledge of the latest trends in their industry of choice. Since the growth of the internet has increased the global demand for written content, popular websites with international audiences usually require articles that are neutral in terms of tone and cultural references.
Internet users mostly share content they deem to be both entertaining and informative. Hence, freelancers need to develop the skills of creating such material in order to stay in demand. Following popular blogs and joining professional writing communities will help you keep up with the latest trends and update your skill set to match new customer requirements.
Freelancers also need to develop auxiliary skills to stay in demand. Basic digital marketing competencies are expected by many customers nowadays. These skills allow you to write Search-Engine-Optimised (SEO) articles, draft marketing emails, and publish engaging posts on social media. Other valuable competencies are the basic knowledge of web development and digital photo editing. Such skills could be learned by taking online courses or reading some quality books on those topics.
As the demand for quality content is expected to continue growing, the specialists developing multiple competencies in this field may capitalise on this trend. However, you need to constantly evolve as a professional and adapt to new market challenges in order to increase your earnings, build a sustainable online career, and ensure your long-term success as a freelance writer.
Steve is the owner behind the website Best Essay Writing Company. He is a retired Financial adviser who now helps students find the right support and tutoring services for them. He is passionate about education and learning.