As a copywriter, it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of producing repetitive content that may end up feeling stale. For this reason, it’s important to continuously develop your skills. Not only will this help you become better at the more technical aspect of writing, but it can boost creativity, expand your dictionary and refine your writing style.
Even better? You’ll be on top of your game, acquiring many methods that will develop and hone your content writing, shining a light on current trends and successful ways of writing. For freelance writers, this is particularly important.
Below we take a look at how you can learn content writing skills for free, and in turn, increase the chances of securing higher paid work, new clients and exciting job opportunities. Read on to find out all you need to know.
Check out your competition
As a copywriter, having a refined tone of voice and recognisable style is the key to success. The best way to know how to direct your copywriting style is to research and get to know your competition.
When doing this, find a selection of freelance copywriters, marketing agencies or content creators who are leaders in your chosen field. This will give you a good understanding of what is currently attracting clients and readers, as well as what is achieving financial success. You can use their work as inspiration, with it giving you guidance on how to refine and develop your own copywriting skills and style.
Get up to scratch on your grammar
When you’re a freelance writer, are in a fast-paced agency environment or are in a senior position at work, it can be easy to slip up when it comes to grammar. Especially when you’re working to sudden deadlines or you’re juggling multiple jobs at once. Avoid easy mistakes with the help of writing assistants and websites that have been created to improve grammar and offer essential writing support.
Grammarly is an excellent writing assistant that you can use to write entire documents on, or simply copy and paste completed work into. It can even be installed as an add-on in your browser or in Microsoft Word. The free version of Grammarly will automatically check the spelling and grammar of your work, as well as offer synonyms. It is free, but you can upgrade it for additional support which includes advice and suggestions on sentence structure, as well as a plagiarism checker, that will compare your work to over 16 billion web pages.
Another useful writing assistant is Word Web. Similar to Grammarly, this online writing assistant can be linked to almost any Windows program, can be used for offline working and can be referenced to Wikipedia or other web references.
Finally, there are a number of online reading resources that will enable you to learn more content writing skills to benefit your career. Jack Lynch’s Guide to Grammar and Style is an extensive guide created by a lecturer. It takes an in-depth look at grammar and usage in writing, with plenty of links to further reading and additional resources.
For more in-depth guidance on your copy, the UseEnglish.com Text Content Analyser is a free text analysis tool. It provides useful statistics about your text that include the Gunning Fog readability index (a popular readability test that is applied to English writing), number of sentences, word count, unique words, average words per sentence and lexical density. This is an ideal resource for very specific briefs.
Get your creative juices flowing
When you’re locked into particular content work or a working environment, creativity can sometimes take a back-seat. However, did you know that creativity and imagination, even when they don’t seem relevant, can be applied to your content writing work? Creative outlooks are more likely to benefit companies with out-of-the-box-thinking and unique ideas.
A simple trick is to take 5 minutes out of work to listen to some music that will stimulate your mind and help drum up inspiration. One of the most common mistakes for copywriters is to continue writing and pushing through a ‘writer’s block’. If you ever feel like you’re losing your focus or train of thought, take a step back from your work and give your mind a moment to catch up.
There are also a number of great online creative writing prompt tools, that may be completely unrelated to your professional writing, but can be applied to benefit how you work. Writers Digest creative writing prompts is our go-to, with an extensive list of interesting, exciting prompts that will get the creative juices flowing and help you learn content writing skills. Poets and writers is another great one to use. They post a unique poetry prompt on Tuesdays, a fiction prompt on Wednesdays and for added creativity, a nonfiction prompt on Thursdays.
Break the cycle of linear thinking
Corporate copywriting causes linear thinking and can often seem impersonal or mundane. However, personality and creativity can be applied to these types of content too, to result in more engaging, interesting content that will benefit any company.
The best way to get out of a cycle of linear thinking is to start creating ‘word clouds’ and diagrams that encourage more abstract approaches to a brief. You can simply use a notepad to create spider diagrams to explore words and ideas, or you can use clever online tools such as Vocal Grabber. Vocal Grabber is a visual thesaurus that takes an in-depth look at your chosen word or sentence and its affiliations.
Gain access to in-depth and unusual resources
To learn content writing and give yourself an edge, create a useful database of resources that others may not have. This will help you create unique, interesting copy that sets you apart from the rest.
For example, if your copywriting speciality is in fashion or beauty, find leading data and news resources that will give you insider information on these industries.