8 Must-have skills for freelance writers

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Gone are the days when being a freelance writing was a part-time job that many people did to supplement their income. It has grown to be a lucrative career option that gives you the freedom to work from anywhere and determine your work schedule. However, like any other career, you have to have the necessary skills and to improve them continually so as to be successful.

Here are 8 must-have skills for freelance writers.

  1. Research skills

You will not know everything about every task or topic you are given. And, even for topics that you are well conversant with, it is good to gather more information so that you are well updated and deliver relevant content to the audience.

As a writer, you must be able to gather accurate information from reliable sources. Some information is readily available while in some cases you will need to dig deep.

  1. Clarity about the message of your content

At the planning stages of your article, ask yourself what message do I want to relay in this post?

Often, a post may carry more than one message. In such a case, identify the primary and the secondary message. You can then weave the message of your content into an objective. Think about what you want your reader to feel, understand or what action you want them to take by the time they finish reading your post.

  1. Ability to suit your tone and writing style for your target audience and different content types

Your tone of voice and writing style will vary depending on the type of content you are writing and the target audience. For instance, blogs may adopt a friendly informal tone, while white papers and professional articles will use a formal tone.

With time you may develop your own voice. Nonetheless, your main focus should be on understanding the various types of content, writing styles and tones so that you can seamlessly switch between them to meet a particular project’s needs.

  1. Ability to write succinctly and clearly

No matter the niche, topic or target audience you are writing for, your primary goal is to communicate effectively. Organize your ideas in short paragraphs that flow well. Adhere to the rules of grammar and punctuation.

  1. Understand your target audience

Your target audience drives what you write about, your tone and style of writing. Before you begin to write anything, take some time to understand who you are writing your content for.

Some clients are keen to always provide you with a prompt for the target audience. If a client does not provide you with the details of your target audience, it is always prudent to inquire with them.

  1. Proofreading and editing

Spelling and grammatical errors are the number one reason to drive existing and potential clients away. You cannot afford to have such mistakes in your work. Carefully take time to proofread and edit every post before sending it to the client or publishing it.

While there are a number of proofreading software that help in identifying errors and rectifying them, nothing beats the human eye and mind. At times, it is difficult to see your own mistakes as you are accustomed to your writing style. Consider taking an editing and proofreading course that will serve as a pointer for what to look out for when editing and proofreading. Besides, if you are really good at editing and proofreading you could take up proofreading jobs too.

  1. Creativity

You will need to be able to brainstorm ideas for posts and to come up with ways to present old information in a way that is relevant and feels new to your target audience.

  1. An understanding of how content marketing works.

Most freelance writers either work for marketing agencies or small organizations that are in need of content for their content marketing campaigns. Therefore, you need to understand that you are not just writing for the sake of writing. You are writing with an end game of attracting a specific target audience to your client’s website, a percentage of whom is targeted to convert to customers.

When you understand the purpose content marketing you will pay attention to how you address the target audience; when and how to integrate call to action in your post; what type of content to create; and how to integrate keywords to increase the visibility of your content. Because you understand your ultimate goal – to serve the audience with quality and relevant content so that they can gain trust in your client’s business.

In the beginning you may not be perfect in all the above skills. That said, endeavor to keep practicing and improving. You will master them with time setting you up on the path for a high-flying career.

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