Experienced freelance writers make money by ghost-writing scores of articles for clients across the world. the following useful article writing and selling tips will help budding writers find a firm foothold in the world of content writing. You can plan and prepare your writing career and prevent a ‘trial and error’ approach.
The important fact to bear in mind is that in order to be able to sell your writing services, you must be able to first follow certain basic rules of online writing.
Article Writing Tips
1. Writing formats: Get familiar with different writing assignments that you could be asked to complete. For example, writers could be asked to work on grant submissions (requesting funds for upcoming projects, usually related to NGO and charitable organizations), press releases (information regarding the release of a new product or service), website content (landing page, ‘about us’ page and so on) or e-books.
The formats of each form of writing is different. There is plenty of information available on the Internet; invest time reading about different types of writing.
2. Choice of English style: Articles are generally written in American, UK or Australian English. Please understand that these are all different variants of the English language. Clients may request that articles be written for a local or international audience. There will be subtle differences in spelling as well as language.
For example, ‘neighbor’ is American English while ‘neighbour’ is British English. Similarly, the Americans say ‘counselor’ while other countries spell the same word as ‘counsellor’.
If you are not sure, ask your client for further clarification. Correct spelling is a crucial factor in getting good work assignments. One incorrectly spelled word can ruin the impression.
3. Research: Researching abilities are another vital contributing factor in crafting a top-notch article. As a budding freelance writer, you may be required to write articles on various genres and subjects. These could include finance, banking, gardening, cooking, health, business, home decor, parenting among several others.
Obviously, we cannot be experts on every subject under the sun. Hence, intensive research will help you find out salient facts and useful information.
For example, if you are asked to write an article about savings accounts in the UK, sit down and read through four or five credible websites for information. If you read about ‘CD ladders’ (bank deposits), look for more information about CD ladders and how they work.
Your article should be able to provide solid, useful and well-researched information to readers. Your aim is to put together information from various sources so that the reader has access to all the information in one place.
A word regarding choice of websites: Please bear in mind that there are excellent websites and several mediocre and unreliable ones at the same time. Avoid gathering information from ‘forums’ etc. Stick to government, educational or reputed websites. This way you can be sure of providing your clients with updated and factual information.
4. Work count and keyword insertion: Keywords are important words and phrases that help an article or website attract traffic. They are based on the factb that all readers begin a search with a word or phrase.
For example, readers looking to travel to Paris may type in ‘Paris holiday’ in the browser to begin seraching for good Paris holiday deals. Clients may often request the use of certain keywords in order to help their website gain visibility.
For instance, a client may ask you to write an article of 500 words and use a specific keyword say, three times in the article. You must be able to weave the keyword skilfully into the article without making it appear contrived. Avoid simply ‘stuffing’ it in. Use the keyword in a way that sounds sensible and logical.
Ideally, keywords should be used in the title, first line and last line (however, this is not a hard and fast rule). Pay attention to required keywords and keyword count.
Please do not ‘fill’ in the article with useless, shallow information. In the world of freelance writing, this is referred to as ‘fluff”. As the name suggests, ‘fluff’ refers to useless, irrelevant information that is merely written to complete the required word count.
Here is an example to illustrate the point:
a. Everybody needs a bank account to manage their money. Banks offer customers several options for saving their money. Services and quality varies across banks.
b. Opening a bank account is an excellent way to manage your money. banks offer several options including deposits, saving schemes and investment portfolios to help you build a consolidated fund pool.
Option (b) is more informative sentence compared to (a). Avoid scrimping on research. Shallow and inadequate research is tantamount to producing ‘fluffy’ content.
5. Plagiarism issues: While crafting content for clients, please do not copy-paste information. All information on the Internet is copyrighted and copying is illegal. Read up information and then write it in your own words. That’s exactly what you are getting paid for.
Images, diagrams and photographs are also associated with strict copyright. Please ensure that you use legitimate, copyright-free images that you are allowed to use.
Taking unscrupulous short cuts is likely to lead to a bad name and poor reputation. You can also consider buying credits from ‘Copyscape’; a website that helps you check your work for plagiarism.
6. Deadlines: Deadlines are sacrosanct and writers must respect them implicitly. Examine the amount of work that you need to do and allot yourself the required time duration. Avoid promises that you will find difficult to honor. If you need four days to complete a piece of work, communicate that to your client honestly.
Missed deadlines and delays should be avoided because you will ruin your reputation with your client. He will end up leaving a poor review for you out of pique and frustration.
7. Choose your clients carefully: Please remember that there are thousands of clients looking for writing services. As with other fields of work, there are excellent clients. But not all of them are professional. During the course of your writing career, you may come across stingy, demanding, rude and unreasonable clients.
In my humble opinion, looking for good clients is far more important compared to looking for good projects. The simple reason is that a good project will come to an end while a good client will provide regular work.
This is not to say that you should not consider any work from new clients. However, learn to be discerning in your choice of clients. You are here to sell valuable writing skills. Conduct yourself with dignity and treat your work with respect. Not everyone can write – that’s why your client wants your services in the first place. Avoid selling your work short – this also harms the prospects of other writers.
Clients get the false impression that they can always strike a bargain and pay cheap rates for good work.
8. Client-writer etiquette: The good news is that 96% of clients are really nice. They are here to look for good writers and will be happy to pay for competent services. Ask for feedback from your clients after you complete a piece of work. Be ready to incorporate any requested changes/revisions (within reasonable limits). Build a good rapport with clients. Make it a point to respond to all queries within 24 hours. They will be likely to contact you for further assignments.
9. Use your spare time to build credibility and a good reputation. Write to well-known websites that accept articles for submission. This will help you prove your abilities and reliability to your clients.
There are thousands (indeed millions) of websites that require content, images and articles and blogs to be written. Online writers can earn a decent income from writing for clients who want to build websites. Additionally, you can write for agents who sell your work to clients.
Freelance online writing is an interesting field that is pleasurable and lucrative at the same time. All it takes is effort, diligence and perseverance to make a successful career out of online writing.