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6 simple freelance writing tips for beginners

by Jess Thistlethwaite on

Freelance writing can be one of the most rewarding jobs in the world if you love to write. The chance to truly make a difference with your words and the freedom to make your own schedule are just two of the many benefits, but this doesn't mean a career in this profession comes without sacrifice and hard work. Your first year as a freelance writer will really test you, so we've put together a list of six simple freelance writing tips for beginners to make the transition a little less daunting.

6 simple freelance writing tips for beginners

If you're looking to hone your craft and stay relevant in your industry, take a look at these tips for beginning freelance writing:

1. Stay organised: planning is everything

No matter how great you are at writing, if you don’t have good organisational skills you’re unlikely to succeed. After all, the more confused you become the more likely you are to start missing deadlines, which will make you look unprofessional. A lack of organisation can also lead to stress, so it’s important you don’t get too overwhelmed, especially if you want to maintain that elusive work-life balance. To ensure you don’t miss out on any opportunities, plan out your day, week and month as accurately as possible so you know exactly what needs doing and when.

Apps such as Google Calendar are excellent for giving you that extra helping hand. With tools to help edit and schedule events, create reminders for deadlines and the option to sync with other Google applications, it is one of the simplest and most effective tools for freelance writers available.

2. Invest in a course

Although you don’t need a degree to become a freelance writer, you will need the skills and passion for writing. As such, it could be very beneficial for you to invest in a copywriting course. Offering useful tips and valuable guides, these qualifications could save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run, especially as they cover a number of important factors, such as understanding briefs, pitching and submitting work, finding jobs, storytelling, editing and proofreading.

However, it’s important you pick the course that’s right for your specific goals, so take the time to research all the available options and decide whether you’d prefer to take an online course or attend classes in person.

3. Blog regularly

If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, you’ll need all the practice you can get. Starting your own blog is a great way to demonstrate your skills and improve your writing at the same time. If you’re new to the profession it’s likely you don’t have many samples under your belt, but blogging is an easy and quick way to create samples you can include in a pitch.

There are no limitations on what you can write about on your own blog, but if you’re looking to specialise in a certain niche, it’s a good idea to showcase your knowledge of the subject as much as possible. If you’re promoting your content well on social media and you’re consistent with posting, you’ll also find blogging regularly could help you land clients.

4. Learn basic SEO

If you plan on writing copy for the web, it’s a good idea to take the time to learn some basic search engine optimisation skills. Web copy that is written using SEO techniques and is enriched with keywords is in greater demand than ever before, so from a client’s point of view, having knowledge of anchor text, formatting, headings and basic SEO principles is a real plus point.

The algorithms that determine how search engines work are also updated regularly, so do your best to stay on top of any new changes to take advantage of them successfully. Online marketer Neil Patel offers some excellent tips on SEO copywriting, so be sure to check out his blog for expert advice and guidance.

5. Look for work every day

Don’t become complacent - just because one client approached you, it doesn’t mean they will all start flocking to you in their droves, especially if you’re a beginner. Freelance jobs can disappear without warning, and if you don’t send pitches or fill out applications regularly, your work could dry up. We’re not saying you should take on more work than you can handle, but there’s nothing wrong with looking for new opportunities. And with effective planning, you can easily schedule time to apply for more jobs when you’re not working on your current ones. Copywriter Elna Cain also has some great tips to help you land freelance writing jobs.

6. Always do your research

Everyone who aspires to write well will have heard the expression ‘to become a better writer, you must read often.’ Although this is true in terms of helping you to develop skills such as pace, structure and flow, this doesn’t always help if you’re writing about a topic that’s new to you. Content writing is about more than just words strung together coherently - it needs to offer value. This means if you don’t have a good understanding of the topic you’re covering, you need to take the time to conduct some research. After all, if you don’t understand it, how can you convey it clearly and confidently to someone else?

As well as researching the topic you're writing about, make sure you take a close look at the client you’re working for to determine their tone of voice, writing style and company values. If you're unsure, don't be afraid to ask for a style guide (if they haven't provided you with one already) to ensure you get it right the first time. If this information still isn't made available to you, the Guardian and Observer style guide is an excellent alternative.

Remember, you aren't alone!

Are you an aspiring freelance writer? If so, there are so many other writers out there who are willing to help. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask them for advice and tips as these could prove invaluable further down the road.

We also recommend finding a successful freelance writer to follow on social media who will help motivate and inspire you when you're working on a tough brief or a new pitch.

Main image credit: Andrew Neel