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How to Prepare for Freelance Writing Jobs

16 Jan

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Freelance-Writing

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One of our most popular blogs is 11 Websites to Find Freelance Writing Jobs.
It seems that more and more writers realize that:

  • they often can earn faster and more money with article writing
  • they can build their platform and author brand as well as a writing portfolio
  • they reach higher rankings on Google’s Search Engines with well-written content
  • they eventually can make a living with freelance writing

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Not a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme
Freelance Writing is hard work and it may take many months to make a full-time living. So, don’t quit your day-job right away. Start this business while you still have a pay-check. Diversify your approach to freelancing, e.g. write for small businesses who want stronger content on their websites or for short articles in local newspapers, and adapt with the market needs in order to succeed.
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Checklist How to Prepare for Freelance Writing

1. Learn to Write for the Web and Social Media
The demand for web content is higher than ever. The internet is growing FAST! Content is even more valuable than it was in previous years. More and more businesses are looking for web content writers. Many businesses don’t have the time to spend on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook and would rather outsource this part of their marketing. Get paid for Social Media updates and interacting with their following. Self-employed, artists, small companies – they all need a professional biography and they would rather have someone like you collect the facts and make them shine.

Learn how to write the “inverted pyramide” from most important on top to less further on. Is your text easy to read? Eye-tracking studies have shown that readers SCAN text (in an F-shaped pattern), rather than to READ it.  And: website visitors read more slowly on the screen than in print. So, how to you use this knowledge for your writing?

Use bullet lists, such as this one

  • Create lots of short paragraphs, and give them all a headline
  • Keep sentences short, they should never be longer than one line
  • Use spell check and a beta reader / software
  • Readers like to interact on the Web, so give them lots of links
  • Illustrate your text, use lots of images
  • Don’t let your readers scroll on the screen, keep it to one page
  • Except prepositions and the words “and” and “the”, all major words in a headline should
  • be capitalized

Online content is not just about words. When you write for the Internet, think “presentation”. Print content is formally written and a passively read. Online content is informally written, interactive and dynamic.
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2. Know How to Write Press Releases
Professional Press Release writers are in demand. Study and learn how to write these publicity pieces.
Journalists don’t read Press Releases! They only “scan” them and if they don’t catch their interest in less than 5 seconds… they will delete it. In this fast-paced world, no one reads the entire press release if the start of the article does not garner interest. What can you do to get journalists reading? Deal with actual facts, such as events, people, plans, projects. A simple method for writing an effective press release is to make a list of following points:  Who, what, when, where, why, and how.

The Content of the Press Release:
Beginning with the date and city of origin, should be typed in a clear, basic font (Times New Roman, Arial, etc.) and double-spaced. Keep your Press Release short, one page is enough. Start with the date and city in which the press release originates.

The Headline:
It should be brief, clear and to the point: an ultra-compact version of the press release’s key point. Headlines written in bold! A bold headline also typically uses a larger font size
than the body copy. First word capitalized. As are all proper nouns.
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The First Paragraph
(not more than three sentences) should sum up the press release, and the additional content must elaborate it.
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The Lead, or First Sentence,
should grab the reader and tell concisely what is happening. For example, if the headline is “Norton Publishing releases new legal thriller,” the first sentence might be something like, “Norton Publishing, Ltd., today released their first legal thriller by celebrated writer Cindy Smith.” It expands the headline enough to fill in some of the details, and brings the reader further into the story. The next one to two sentences should then expand upon the lead.
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The Press Release Body:
copy should be compact. Avoid using very long sentences and paragraphs. Avoid
repetition and overuse of fancy language and jargon. Strive for simplicity, and no wasted
words.
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The Conclusion
can summarize your news and be followed up with further information on your company, a paragraph known as the “boilerplate” which lists relevant information about your publishing company and includes the website for more information.
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Find Sample Press Releases Here:
http://www.publicityinsider.com/release.asp
http://www.lunareclipse.net/book-press-release-example.htm
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3. Study Potential Contract Givers’ Websites

This is an important point! The biggest pet peeve for freelance employers or media is, when they receive pitches from people who haven’t read their magazine or researched their company – or when they get a query for a topic that has just been published.
Before submitting anything to a major publication, make sure you read its guidelines. Plenty of good writing is rejected because the writer was too lazy to meet the guidelines. It goes without saying, but you should strive to avoid grammatical or spelling errors when contacting editors and freelance employers.
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4. Update your Writer Portfolio / Resume
If you’ve never freelanced before, your resume will be built from whatever past writing you have done. Pull out the writing-specific duties you ever have accomplished and describe them. Add your best blog posts or guest blogs or articles you have written for newspapers and magazines of all sizes – as more as better! Include sections that outline your education, professional affiliations and contact information. Check if you can use any of these points to add to your portfolio / resume:

Authority:
What’s your credibility?
What are your credentials?
What other articles or books, blogs or articles for newspapers or magazines have you
written previously?

Proven reach:
For example the size of your e-mail newsletter list
your website traffic and your Alexa.com ranking
number of blog comments
high-profile reviews,
testimonials or references for your writing from bestseller authors

Visibility:
What communities are you a part of?
Who knows you as a writer and who is aware of your work?
Where does your work regularly appear?
How many people see it?

Target audience:
Being visible to the right audience for the work you are trying to sell.
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5. Social Media Presence
Decision makers can also be found on social media sites, such as Google+ or Twitter. One more reason to keep your author appearance on Social Media professional, and post regularly links to the best of your writing. Being familiar with you and your writing can for sure improve your chances of getting more assignments. Find steady freelance writing jobs or even ongoing contracts. There are plenty of possibilities in both print media and online media. The best success is likely to come from pitching ideas in areas where you’re most familiar with the subject-matter. Treasure any suggestions from professional editors. They are the best writing teachers available.
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Jamee Rae, Coach and Freelance Writer explained in her blog: “Clients don’t come out of the woodwork. You have to find them, and they need to be able to find you. A website or a blog is an absolute necessity these days. You have to be able to present your work online and to establish SEO. But you’ll also need to create a package to send out to clients. When I started out, I sent my resume and writing samples to every advertising agency in the city. While most didn’t respond, I landed one client that I worked with for over 10 years. I also started networking and landed another agency client who I have been connected with for the last 15 years. Once you have established yourself with several clients, you can begin to count on word-of-mouth advertising to keep the money flowing in.”

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A Tip for Freelance Work Auctions
Don’t choose them as a first or only way of finding freelance writing assignments. Digital Trends writes about Guru.com, Elance.com, oDesk.com and Freelance.com, and their auction process, where
freelancers compete against each other for jobs – and, often, the most appealing bid has the lowest price. Those “low-ballers” might be in India, China or Brazil, but can come from anywhere. Not surprisingly, online freelancing has developed a reputation as a way for businesses find cheap – or easily-exploitable – workers.

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Read More:

Freelance Writing: A Rewarding Challenge

How to Get Freelance Writing Jobs for Airlines

7 Writing/Publishing Resources

Great Tips for Freelancers

How to Write a Press Release for Your Book

Become a Freelance Writer

About Careers in Copy Writing

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One response to “How to Prepare for Freelance Writing Jobs

  1. ernestortizwritesnow001

    January 16, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    I’d like to do some freelance writing, but I don’t know where to start. This should be helpful, thanks!

     

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