Content writers that work on a freelance basis often get started because they’re driven and creative individuals. Many started writing as children, and as they grew into adulthood, found an entrepreneurial way to make money from that skill. Some find themselves gravitating toward freelance content writing because of friends in the industry or their own past experience in a similar field.
Whatever your reason for breaking into freelance content writing, you’ve probably already found that it’s a competitive industry. Sometimes it’s tough to communicate the value of your skill to prospective clients. You’ll come across clients who grossly undervalue good content and want you to work for less than you’re worth.
In this competitive area, you need to have an essential set of skills in order to stand out and get the best clients.
5 Essential Skills Freelance Content Writers Should Possess
If you want to become a respected freelance content writer, you’ll need to work on some skills that will improve your writing style and voice. Take a look at the list of 5 essential skills that every content writer should possess.
An ability to handle different writing styles
Instead of focusing on finding your unique writing voice, take the requirements of your clients and the audience into consideration. A content writer might work on blogs, news, informational articles, website content, white papers, academic content, and many other projects distinguished by different requirements.
To stand out and get selected for the best projects, you need to be able to seamlessly slip into a variety of writing styles. Be prepared to show examples of each type of writing work you’ve completed in the past to give the client a better idea of what to expect.
Some people seem to be more creative than others, and if you’re a freelance content writer, we hope you’re one of them. You need to have a relatively endless supply of content topics and ideas to draw from at any time; you need to know how to find creative, new angles to approach old subjects from; you need to be able to brainstorm new ways to reach the audience you’re targeting.
If you’re a freelance content writer, it’s essential that you be an inherently creative individual who has no trouble brainstorming and writing about a list of ideas and topics on subjects across industries. Content writers who aren’t creative tend to burn out quickly.
Content marketing knowledge
You need to know how to write content that will motivate people to take a specific action. But before you can do that, you have to know how to put your content in front of the right audience. Content writers that don’t take an interest in marketing may be inadvertently setting themselves up to fail.
If you’ve been skimping on the marketing aspect of your content duties, try these simple tips:
a) Headlines are important – readers will never have a chance to see your content if the headline doesn’t entice them to click. CoSchedule has a cool tool for rating your headlines from 1-100 according to SEO best practices if you need some extra help.
b) Write more effective calls to action – The content your clients are paying you to write serves an important purpose. It should help convert visitors into customers or subscribers. You can boost subscriber numbers and sales by working on improving your calls to action and making them prominent in the content you write.
c) Know about social media content and marketing – By knowing about social media marketing, you expand the number of clients you can potentially work with. Many companies are looking for social media marketers who manage the content, scheduling, and analytics side of social media marketing. This is a skill you can develop in your spare time or with a willing client.
Basic design ability
Freelance content writers with the ability to create simple images, infographics, logos, etc. can earn more work than those who don’t. A basic design ability is an important skill to have in the competitive world of freelance content writing.
If you can not only write a great blog post, but also supply a branded image to go along with it, you’ll easily stand out from other freelancers. Have an expert help you learn the basics or take a webinar or course in your spare time to develop this important skill.
Simplicity and clarity in writing
You should be able to write with simplicity and clarity, no matter the topic or industry. While technical and B2B writing may require an even more stringent approach when it comes to clarity and simplicity, working on writing succinctly and in an organized manner will improve the quality of your work in any industry.
Proofreading your work is the best way to ensure you’re providing great content that doesn’t wander off course, but unless you’re working from a coworking center, you may not have anyone appropriate to proofread your content. In that case, there are tons of reliable online tools that can help under Resources below.
PolishMyWriting – Automated software that underlines all issues in terms of spelling and grammar. What makes it different than your usual word processor? This tool also offers style suggestions.
EssayMama – Collaborate with expert authors in different niches. This website is a valuable resource on academic writing. Explore the blog, glossary of essay writing terms, and the awesome essay writing guide that describes every step of the process.
EditMinion – This copy editor helps you refine your text by fixing the most common mistakes. Although it’s only a robotic copy editor, it does offer useful hints that will reveal the weaknesses in your writing.
Become a better writer
The 5 essential skills a freelance content writer should ideally possess are:
- An ability to handle different content styles
- Endless creativity
- Content marketing knowledge
- Basic design ability
- Simplicity and clarity in writing
By focusing on honing and building these skills, you can stand out as a freelance content writer and deliver the best work possible. Branching out into related areas, like design, marketing, and social media, can be smart decisions for freelance writers that plan on expanding their business in the future.
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