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9 Skills you need to be a successful freelance writer
In today's world, a lot of people think they can cut it as a freelance writer, but they are quick to figure out it's not all dollar signs and content. You will be faced with a lot of competition, and your skill sets will determine the prices you can get for the content you'd like to create. Every niche is different, and not every website will want your articles because they feel they can write the content.
If you want to be a freelance writer you will need to understand that you'll be running your own business and that means you'll handle all the calls, email, content writing, lead generation, website design, etc. You will likely be a jack of all trades once you are finished setting up and ready to bring on clients, unless you have someone set it up for you, in that case, you can focus on the content lol.
Below are the nine skills you will need to be a successful freelance writer
High Level of Writing Skills
This is a pretty obvious skill since companies will want the best content possible for what they are paying. If you're charging a premium and giving the customer content that looks like it was written by a five-year-old, you'll likely get rejected and have to brush up on your grammar and research techniques.
Writing skills doesn't just mean how well your spelling is. You will need to know proper grammar, how to use certain words well within a niche, and how to structure the content itself, so people read it instead of glossing over it until the end.
Determination to Meet Deadlines
Since you'll be a freelance writer, you will always need to meet deadlines if you want your customers to keep paying you top dollar. Someone late on every order will not get many chances to make it up to the customer.
If your customer puts an order in and you say it will take a week, then it should take no longer than seven days. It doesn't matter if you want to go to the club on Friday and Saturday because you want to hang out with your friends. You told the client when the content was going to grace their inbox or blog, and it should be there BEFORE the deadline hits.
Submitting final copies of content to the customer before the deadline will always keep them happy, even if there are some slight edits needed afterward because of their personal preference.
Can Work In a Solo Environment
The beauty of working as a freelance writer is that you can write content from your couch, basement, coffee house, or even a beach if it has wifi lol. You will be working for yourself, in solo environments, and that means you won't have much social interaction with coworkers or anyone else for that matter.
If you can't buckle down and write the content because your favorite television show is on, maybe you should leave the house and go to your "office" at Starbucks so you can focus better.
The ones who can focus more and get the work done in a solo environment will be the writers that are more successful down the road.
Learn From Mistakes and Criticism
You can never take it too harshly if someone says they don't like your content. You don't write for everyone, and maybe they're part of the select group that doesn't understand how you write or what you write about. If you submit some work to be reviewed and the customer comes back with some criticism, you need to take it lightly and not let it affect you. They paid for a product/service, and they expect it to be exactly how they imagined, but you're not a mind reader so you do as well as you can and revise when needed.
You need to learn from your mistakes and not let them define you. If you keep doing the same mistake over and over for years, you need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to unlearn it to fine-tune your skills even more. I tend to have a problem inserting simple commas into my articles sometimes, and Grammarly yells at me. My one flaw is that I don't use them as much as I should, and it's the one thing I'm worst at, but I'm lucky enough to have a Grammarly premium account and I run checks on all my content before submitted lol. I'm getting better with the commas, but some errors still slip through
- Understand Basic Marketing
Since you'll be a freelancer, you'll need to bring in your leads, and that means you'll need to understand at least a basic level of marketing. You can set up a website that revolves around your services and set up some PPC campaigns to bring people in to see what you offer.
- Facebook Ads
When you're trying to reach the most amount of people in a short amount of time, you will likely start with Facebook ads. You can get super targeted and put your ads in front of business owners who tend to purchase online for the best ROI possible. Don't let a large reach number persuade you that you'll make more money, try to get as low as possible while being targeted and you will have the best investment possible. Don't wast your money on bad clicks, get targeted, and start talking to potential clients
- Google Ads (Adwords)
One of the only competitors to Facebook ads is Adwords because it's run by Google and can bring in traffic just as quick. Instead of showing up on someone's news feed, you will bid on keywords and show up whenever someone types in content writer, freelance content writer, blog writer, etc. I would suggest you target locally and maybe do Los Angeles content writer, Chicago blog writer, Miami freelancer writer, etc. so you can still get in front of people looking for your services but not worry as much about the competition.
If you have high quality traffic coming to your website, then you'll want to set up retargeting. You can do this by using a Facebook pixel, or you can use a 3rd party service like Perfect Audience to get ads back in front of anyone who has already visited your website. Retargeting helps bring them back, get them to make a purchase, and usually has a good ROI in the long run.
Be Self Motivated
If you don't have the internal drive and are self-motivated to get the work done, then you likely won't cut it as a freelance writer. You need to hit deadlines like mentioned above, and you continuously need to push yourself to do another article or blog post.
Can Handle Rejection
It's a sad truth, but you will get rejected more times than you get accepted in this industry. Your content samples might not be on par with what the potential customer wants, you might not fit well within the company you're looking to work with, or the CEO might not like your attitude lol. There are a vast amount of reasons why you will get rejected, and if you can handle them all, then you'll be a good fit for this type of work.
Think of it this way, I've probably been rejected thousands of times, and it doesn't worry me. I just wasn't the perfect fit for the companies I was contacting, so I moved onto the ones that cherished my work.
Stay On Top Of Your Niche
No one wants to hire you for content, and you start talking about stuff that happened back in the 1980s. You need to stay on top of the technology, what's happening, and what's new with the industry you're writing in if you want to keep your freelance writing portfolio healthy.
If you get hired in an industry you're not familiar with then you'll need to do some basic research to understand current lingo and news about the work entailed and make sure you don't submit something old to the customer.
Be Great At MultiTasking
If you can't do this essential skill and can only focus on one thing at a time, you won't cut it for very long as a freelance writer. You need to be able to answer phone calls, respond to emails, work your live chat, write content, manage your ads, etc. If you can do all of that and also produce fantastic content for your customers, then you will be able to do well in this business. Most people think they can write 300 words for a client and call it a day. I wish it were like that, but it's not, and I have to focus on hours of work that isn't writing content lol.
I know some of these aren't necessarily skills, but they are something you need to be able to do if you want to cut it as a freelance writer. The above 9 "skills" will help you be the best you possibly can be as a freelance writer in today's world, so I hope you take them to heart if you plan on cracking into this industry. It's not an easy road, but it's one that can become a successful career if you stick with it and do everything right
Thanks for reading