10 Commandments of Freelance Writing

Freelance Writing photo

1. Use active voice instead of passive as often as possible.

For non-technical writing, active voice delivers clear and concise sentences. Passive voice uses past tense words and commonly, “are” and “is.” If you do not practice this discipline, start. Trying to switch your mindset from passive to active takes work. In the end, your writing becomes more impactful to readers.

2. You have three minutes to capture and maintain a reader’s attention.

Think of a catchy title to draw readers in and have a strong opening. For SEO writing, you want to introduce the keywords in the first paragraph. Also, break up longer content with visuals like infographics, images, or quotes. You can place them in line with the body copy or text or wrap the words around them. Preview the work to ensure the visuals and words look neat and clean to attract readers

3. Learn to accept and appreciate criticism.

Negative feedback happens to every writer and naturally can be disheartening. Over time, you learn to accept it and use it to make your content better. Be open-minded as everyone has different visions. If you have a client, respect their decisions and do revisions as requested. Never voice or project any feelings of deflation. Stay positive even if you disagree because they have the final say. They may be learning their audience and testing different methods. Be open-minded instead of argumentative. Sometimes content strategy differs among people; just accept it and move on.

4. When writing professionally, avoid personal subjects.

If a client asks to write from a personal perspective, you may feel uncomfortable. Ask for another topic because the content may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Common ground is tough to find these days. Keep content professional, cheerful, and general. Direct your emotions and thoughts for personal content. Stick with the facts unless you have a heartwarming and endearing story. Always get approval before scheduling or publishing the work.

5. Have clear and concise expectations and ask questions.

Get a list of keywords that your client wants, the word count, and the tone for SEO content. You may write a fact-based professional blog when they want something more friendly. Sometimes, you can add a touch of humor, and other times content may be more technical. You need to know the exact expectations, so you do not have to do endless revisions. If you do not understand what a client wants, ask. If they reject a piece, stow it away to post on one of your personal platforms.

6. Share your work if you have permission and enthusiasm.

Sometimes, clients will ask you to share the content. Do your best to help them spread the word and showcase your work. If you feel enthusiastic about your content, ask them if you can share it. Let them know where you plan to post it and send them the link to see it. If you do not feel energetic about the topic, you do not have to share it. Once you write for a company, they own the content. You write, not run a PR or marketing firm.

7. Believe in yourself and have confidence.

Do not wait for work to find you; go out and seek new clients. Expand your skills by taking on projects for all different types of industries. Using freelance sites, you see the need for all kinds of writing skills. Give it a shot, and believe you can do it. If you like to research and get bored quickly, look for topics to challenge you. You also get to learn things that may be foreign to you as you expand your portfolio. Reply fast to requests and if you see a posting, apply quickly. The sooner you present yourself, the more likely you have to be considered. Also, if you see a website as you browse the internet that has terrible content, cold email the company. Let them know you can revamp their site with fresh words and improve their search ranking.

8. Smart Small and Know Your Limits.

Start with small projects until you build up a client base and feel more comfortable. Small writing jobs include product descriptions, optimizing content, or a 250-word blog. You have to start somewhere. Accept short, low-paying projects for experience and build a regular client base. Once you have established core clients, balance your workload. You will learn how much content you can produce and guarantee a reasonable deadline. If you do not think you can complete a job, be honest, and explain the reasons. Freelancing seems to be a feast or famine niche.

9. Before you go after a writing project, look into the company briefly.

Research the company’s reputation and look at their reviews to check their integrity. A frequent mistake, in the beginning, is being too trusting. When you write for a client, you often have to wait for payment. Freelance services have protection protocols in place should a dispute arise. You want to portray optimism and a willingness to help while having examples of your work. You’ll likely be involved in creative collaborations which can benefit you.

10. Keep a portfolio of linked content to showcase your work.

When going through the process of obtaining a new client, have a portfolio ready. Create a list of URLs where you have work posted to showcase your work to clients. Always personalize the introduction when writing to potential new clients and research them. Making it personal and mentioning what you love about their work earns points.

Whether you’re just starting your freelance career or are seasoned, I hope these suggestions are helpful! Do you have any tips, or have you encountered different circumstances? Here’s a post containing Writer’s Tools that help me.