Demand for writers has never been greater, and it’s increasing. Freelancers are exploiting this trend to the full. Whether you write a blog, web copy, ad copy, direct response, or whatever, freelancers are now an industry in their own right. It took a while, and the cut and paste epidemic of a few years back didn’t help much, but if you’re SEO friendly and a decent writer, you can start a good business.
The evolution of the freelance market arguably started when professional freelance sites like Elance started making headway. It was also no coincidence that freelancing suddenly became valuable to industries around the world. This type of outsourcing has a very strong economic basis. It wasn’t just cheaper to outsource, it was a search for quality, as well.
The “thou shalts” of freelance writing
1. Understand your client’s business needs and objectives. If necessary, ask for them in so many words. If you’re a freelance writer, you can find yourself working across multiple markets, and it’s absolutely critical to know what’s required. This is your client’s business, and you must keep that in mind at all times.
2. Be ruthless with yourself about your content quality. This is a true “portfolio profession”, and if you don’t want to use something you’ve written in your CV, it’s not good enough. Your published content is who you are, as far as a client knows. It also represents your capabilities, and dud material can keep you out of any number of contracts.
3. Establish a good writing discipline and stick to it. Stamina is important, particularly when you’re writing 4000 words of SEO copy a day. A routine can be developed where you can write effortlessly, and not even feel tired. It’s also good for maintaining focus and ensuring good work practices.
4. Quality checks must be done. You may be a great writer, but try and find a writer in history who hasn’t wound up with a mess in prose sitting in front of them at some point. Even the pen and ink writers had content issues, typos and incomprehensible sentences. Edit as you write, edit by sentence, edit by paragraph, but edit.
5. Market standard isn’t good enough. If you really, desperately, want to become anonymous as a writer, do the “market standard” type of copy. By definition, it’s hack stuff, reads like anything else, and is instantly forgettable. Nobody cares who wrote that rubbish, particularly clients. Have a look at the standard material that gets cranked out by the gigaton. Most of it is barely worth reading. Make sure your work is obviously better.
6. Don’t recycle material. The Search Engine Optimization bears and Copyscape may not get a rewrite, but your content quality is slipping, if you need to rehash your own material. You may also be getting stale with your work, if you’ve developed a default mode of repeating yourself. Get out of the rut, because you may get stuck there, and it’ll damage your writing.
7. Always be honest about your work with yourself. You’re the only person who can stop yourself submitting trash with your name on it to a client. Do that, and you’ll never be sorry.
Image Credit: Cescabum