Online Freelance Writing: Skills Needed to Land These Types of Gigs

Many have lost jobs over the last few years. As a new year is just getting under way, quite a few have turned their attention to finding new careers. And, one of the most popular type of work-from-home jobs is online freelance writing.

And, no wonder. It has a lot going for it, ie:

3 Reasons Online Freelance Writing Is Such a Popular Career Choice

It’s Easy to Start: Know how to read and write? Know how to conduct online research? Have access to a computer? This is just about all you need to get started as an online freelance writer.

It’s Cheap to Start: If you own a laptop or computer (or even just access to one), and you have access to the internet, you’re good to go. No office supplies, business license or certifications are needed.

It Can Be Started Quickly: You can literally be up and running a day. If you know how to design a simple website (and there are plenty of free tools on the web to show you how) and compose a few writing samples, you can literally be up and running in less than 24 hours – really!

I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993 and have received tons of email from newbies who’ve landed clients right out of the gate (eg, within a few days or a few weeks).

Now that you know why this work-from-home career appeals to so many, let’s take a look at some of the skills needed to be successful as an online writer.

Online Freelance Writing: Do You Have What It Takes to Succeed?

There’s a lot that goes into being successful in online freelance writing, eg, what to charge, how to market, SEO guidelines to follow, etc. But if you possess the following three skills, you’ll be well on your way to starting a successful career as a web writer.

Research Skills: As an online writer, you’ll be asked to write on a variety of topics. I’ve written on everything from ski resorts to wedding cake toppers, to how to make wire jewelry — all in one day. You must know how to write on topics you know nothing about. As long as you know how to conduct research, you’re good to go.

Organizational Skills: When you’re juggling 5, 10 or a dozen clients or more (which is entirely possible in online freelance writing, you must be super organized because you’ll have to keep track of things like deadlines, rates, client specs for each job – and a whole lot more.

Good Typing Skills: If your typing sucks (eg, you type less than 50 words/minute), it will slow you down and inhibit how much you can earn. So get, that speed up if this is a weak point for you. All it takes is practice.

Professional Writing – Four Tips to Get Hired

Want to become a professional writer? These days the online world offers you lots of opportunities, and the more expert you are in targeting those opportunities, the greater your chances of getting hired. Let’s look at four tips which will help you.

1. Rewrite the Ad to Which You’re Responding

If you’ve found a job ad online to which you want to respond, rewrite the ad. Why rewrite the ad? Because then you’ll know exactly what the advertiser wants, and you can tick off the points with which you’ve complied in your application. Editors and other buyers of writing won’t hire a writer who can’t follow instructions.

2. Choose a Specific Market, and Get Hired

The best writing jobs are never advertised, therefore if you want to get higher paying jobs, write proposals. If you’ve written for magazines, you know that you query magazine editors on an article you want to write. Your proposals are similar to query letters. You may be wondering: “What do I propose?”

That’s up to you. For example, consider that these days every website needs content. The web is huge, and growing. The environment is much more competitive than it was even six months ago. Therefore, if you can write an interesting proposal on writing content for a website, the chances are that you’ll get hired.

Many publications and sites need writers, but they’re too busy to advertise, and if you come to them with a fresh voice, you’ll get hired at best, and at worst, you’ll have made a useful contact.

3. Craft a Mission Statement, Brand, and Bio

Creating a mission statement sounds complex, but the statement you’ll create isn’t a jargon-filled, cynical mess of pointless verbiage as most businesses mission statements are. It’s your intention for your professional writing career.

Here’s how to create it. Write down in 250 words exactly what you intend with your writing career. Who do you want to write for? Why do you want to write for them? What skills and abilities do you have? Who can best use these skills and abilities? You create a mission statement so that you can get clear in your own mind on exactly what you offer. I promise you that if you devote half an hour to this it will do amazing things for you, simply because you’ll start targeting the appropriate markets for your writing.

Once you’ve written your mission statement, think about your brand. Do yourself a favor and “brand” your own name. I see many writers who think up cute names for their businesses and then attempt to brand that name. Or even worse, they brand themselves as an “article writer” or a “web writer” or whatever. Over time, the kinds of writing gigs you’ll accept will change. What happens to your “web writer” brand when you no longer do that? Once you’re known in an area, those kinds of jobs keep coming, even when you no longer want them.

Your own name never changes. Therefore brand your own name first, and then worry about creating other branding if and when you need to — most writers will never need to. Once you’ve completed your mission statement, and have considered branding, it’s time to create your bio. Your bio is simply 250 to 500 words about who you are and what you do. You can create a mini bio of around 25 words which you can use as part of your branding.

4. Brand You: Your Website Is Your Sales Person

Your website sells YOU 365 days a year. If you don’t have a site, create one. If you do have a site make sure it contains lots of information. If your site is currently a skimpy brochure-like site, it will be very difficult to get search engine traffic. Therefore, add more content and preferably add a blog as well.