Many of us have dreams of making our living as writers and some of you already are living the dream. You get to ply your craft for people in need and make a good living off it.
Whatever kind of writing you want to be a success at — and whether you’ve already made successful inroads into the world of writing — it is a general rule that the better you become at writing, the better your prospects will be in whatever field you explore.
After all, who wants to keep earning the same amount of salary until they die?
As professional writers, you need to devise a way on how to increase your salary. And I’m not just talking about volume here.
Sure, you get to earn more if you have more writing gigs. However, you only have so much time on your hands. You can’t just keep accepting job after job.
Therefore, you need to find higher-paying writing jobs.
In this post, you will learn the different tips for improving your writing so you can attract better-paying clients and help you avoid a stressful freelance writing career.
P.S. As a summary of this rather long post, here’s a cool presentation made by the great people of Canva:
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Tips for improving your writing
It’s not common for some writers to get stuck with tried and true clients that pay them the same rate for years now. In fact, there’s nothing wrong with this. If writers are happy with their clients and the money they are making, then more power to them!
However, if you’re looking for a change of pace and want to boost your freelance writing career, then you need to learn tips for improving your writing!
The saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is far from the truth. You are only as good and youthful as your curiosity is! If you’re complacent and are content with your current standing as freelance writers (again, no wrong with that), then good for you. But don’t think for a second you’ve peaked as a writer and are set on your ways for life.
Think of it this way – if you bag higher-paying clients, you don’t have to work as hard as before. Since you’re focusing now on the quality of clients instead of quantity, you can work less and still earn the same amount of money as before, if not even more!Since you're focusing now on the QUALITY of clients instead of QUANTITY, you can work less and still earn the same amount of money as before, if not even more! #freelance #writing Click To Tweet
As a result, you have more time for yourself to do the things you love outside writing. It’s time to head on to your local gym and improve your fitness. Maybe hang out with your friend whom you’ve ignored before because of the pressing deadlines.
The things you can do are endless if you can find better clients in the long run. Your quality of life will improve and you’ll be happier because of it. And these will happen if you learn tips for improving your writing!
Without further ado, below are my personal tips for improving your writing:
1. Enhance your technical mastery of the language
While good writing involves a lot more than just a strong mastery of the technical side of writing — grammatical rules and so on — that technical mastery is an essential prerequisite in almost all cases, to being a successful writer.
If you’ want to make a living writing in the English language, but aren’t a native speaker and struggle coming to terms with some of the nuances of the language, a service such as Effortless English Club could make all the difference in your likelihood of success.
If you’re already a proficient writer, you will benefit from looking into an online course, or buying a good book, that explains the fundamental rules of grammar to you, so you’re able to supplement your intuitive grasp of the language with a more explicit knowledge of how to craft the written word in a correct sense.
When I started out, I bought “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. It’s still my favorite writing book of all time. To be fair, however, I haven’t read a lot of writing books in my life. I attribute my success to practice and constant writing (more on that later). But The Elements of Style laid the foundation for my writing skills. It helped me identify the best idioms, figures of speech, and words to use to convey the exact message I want to communicate. While this is an old book and some of the concepts here are probably outdated, it’s still a worthy read. Click on the link above or here to download your copy in HTML or Amazon Kindle.
It also helps if you practice speaking the language too. Whenever I’m alone driving the car or have time on my hands, I take a topic I want to discuss and try to say the words out as if I’m writing it. Take at least five minutes of your time doing this and breaking down the topic. It will be uncomfortable at first but once you can express yourself in English, it’ll be much easier for you to write your articles. This may be an oddball way of becoming more proficient in English but it worked wonders for me so it’s still worth sharing.
2. Get regular practice
Anyone who wants to run a marathon first needs to practice by getting in a lot of smaller runs, and building until they’re ready to take on the larger challenge.
In all areas of life, skills are developed through practice. Writing is a skill, and it, too, requires practice.
The more writing you do — especially, the more writing you do that is going to be seen and critiqued by others — the better you will become as a writer.
With regular practice, you’ll come to learn what makes the right impression on clients, what recurring mistakes you make that seem jarring to you on the re-read, and so on.
Set up a blog if necessary, but get plenty of writing practice in.
As a blogger, I recommend taking up blogging challenges to help you develop the habit of writing on your blog all the time. I suggest the 30-Day Blogging Challenge by Sark eMedia. The goal of the challenge is to help you generate traffic on your blog through the content you publish and promote.#Blogging is a good exercise to help you build adjacent skills to #writing you can offer to your clients. #freelance Click To Tweet
As mentioned, this challenge enables you to put your writing to the test. Blogging is more than just writing content – you also need to worry about building, designing, maintaining, and promoting your blog. The challenge is a good exercise to help you build adjacent skills to writing you can offer to your clients. For example, aside from writing content, you can offer to promote the published content on different only channels to help increase their traffic. Content promotions become an added cost to your client so you can earn more from your freelancing career while providing value to them.
3. Read a lot of what other people have written
Stephen King has claimed it’s impossible to become a successful writer unless you also read a lot.
There are various reasons for this, but one of the big reasons is that exposure to other people’s writing refined your sense of “taste” and fine-tuned your senses to pick up those tropes and linguistic devices that make a positive impact, compared to those that seem jarring.
Read a lot — particularly, read a lot of the kind of stuff you plan on writing.
Novels, blog posts, and print articles all count. Just do plenty of reading.You can't be the same #writer you are right now and expect different results. You need to improve your writing to get better clients and it starts with the writers you read on a regular basis. Click To Tweet
Also, if you’re not into reading books, at least find an online writer whose writing skills you’d like to emulate. It doesn’t matter what field they’re in – as long as you find their writing interesting and fascinating and helps inspire with your own writing.
For example, I like the MR. TITO STRIKES BACK column on Lordsofpain.net (one of the oldest pro wrestling “dirt sheets” that I frequent to when I was younger). I appreciate how Mr. Tito (a writing persona) presents arguments and supports them with facts and figure (he’s a financial analyst by trade). I don’t always have to agree with his reasons but he presents the other side of the coin well. There are parts of his writing I don’t like such as his propensity for controversy and his interactions with some of his readers. However, it doesn’t take away the fact entertainment value of his writing which I plan to take into my own writing.
You could come up with better examples of writers on the top of your head. But the point is you need to keep reading stuff you like and can emulate. You can’t be the same writer you are right now and expect different results. You need to improve your writing to get better clients and it starts with the writers you read on a regular basis.
4. Be receptive to criticism
Criticism plays a huge part in our growth as writers. At the same time, it‘s one of the difficult things to accept as professionals.
Criticism comes in different forms for a writer. There are criticisms from people you can ignore because they hurt your chances of improving as a writer. They don’t like your writing because of reasons that have nothing to do with writing. Instead of presenting arguments why they disagree with your points or the form of your writing, they attack you as a person. As terrible as these “criticisms” sound, it’s best to just take the high road and don’t mind them.
The other type of criticism is constructive ones. They are grounded in reason and present clear and valid arguments against your writing. There’s also a good chance they’re right and you’re wrong. This is also the worst and best kind of criticism you can get as a writer.Constructive criticism is the BEST and WORST kind of critique you can get as a #freelance #writer. Click To Tweet
It sucks when you are incorrect. At first, you’ll deny it and get angry at your accuser for making you look like a fool. However, there’s also a good chance that the criticism is warranted and that you’re in the wrong as a writer.
Last year, I was promoting my post “How to Write Blog Posts that Get You Clients” on Facebook. I went to different writing groups writing a short message with a link to the post. It was all going well – I was racking up likes and comments – until the next day when people commented on my post:
As you can see from the comments above, there was a misspelling in the cover photo of the post:
While this was happening, I was mortified.
There’s a place in hell reserved for writers who commit the simplest of spelling errors.
As the comments racked up, there’s no point in removing the post from the group since it’s still publicity in some shape or form. Some of the comments suck but I deserve it since I should have proofread the text in the image first. Therefore, all I can do at that point is to control the damage, own up to the mistake, and carry on.
And that’s all there is to it – after days since it caused a brouhaha in the group, it’s as if it didn’t happen at all.
The point is every criticism is like that. I won’t lie – it’ll suck and you need to take in the jabs and weather the storm. What’s important is how you take it all in. At the very least, the criticism should help strengthen your resolve as a writer.
If you’re truly serious about building a writing career, then these types of instances shouldn’t discourage you from writing more. Next thing you know, you’re a better writer now than you ever were before thanks to the criticisms you’ve endured and still are enduring up until now.
5. Learn how to organize
As a freelance writer, you need to learn how to juggle your responsibilities for your different clients. You need to organize the projects you need to prioritize and do them now. At the same time, you need to find them applying to different writing gigs hoping to get better jobs down the line.
I usually spend Friday evening plotting out what I need to do next week so that I have a good idea of the tasks I need to accomplish even before next week comes. It also lets me plan in advance and schedule time for non-writing tasks that’s related to my freelancing career.
I use Trello to create different boards for my clients and create cards for each task I have to do for them. Here’s a screenshot of one of my Trello boards:
A simple “To Do,” “Doing,” and “Done” columns should be enough to help you compartmentalize the tasks in your board. You can add more columns if you wish.
Here’s a screenshot of a card in my Trello board:
I include the title of the article as the card’s name or within the body of the card. If I don’t have time creating a personal outline for each of the articles, I copy the links to the articles I will use as references when writing the post. I also optimize the article for my target keyword. I use Keyword Revealer (affiliate link) to help me research for the keyword based on its search volume and competitiveness.
The process above is just my personal way of organizing my projects. You can have your own process using different tools and methods. The point is you need to establish a way to deal with your clients and manage your freelancing business you can still perform at optimum levels without feeling you’re drowning on different tasks at all time.
In relation to this, you may hire ghostwriting to write on your behalf. I have admitted before that I employ a ghostwriter to help me work on some of my projects. I don’t rely too much on them because I prefer having full control of the articles I send to clients. Nonetheless, this is something you need to consider. Assing the ghostwriting lower-paying jobs so you can focus on writing for the premium ones. To help you find the right writer for you, click here to tips and advice.
6. Find a mentor
One of the luxuries I didn’t have when starting out as a freelance writer was a mentor.
Years ago, the freelancing industry wasn’t as vibrant and active as it is nowadays. Therefore, I was left on my own devices to figure out what I should do. It cut the work out for me – I have to research for the right resources and guides to follow and get my writing career on the right track. It took a while before I found my footing as a freelance writer but I have no complaints because I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved as a freelancer so far (aside from my family).
I have documented my journey to becoming a freelance writer and the steps I took to get to where I am right now.
However, throughout the years, I have learned that you can’t succeed on your own. You can only achieve so much by yourself, which is why you need people who will help push you to become the best version of yourself.
I found that person in Chris Riddell who served as my business coach. We worked together in the middle of last year to help me find ways on how I can increase my profit as a freelance writer. We worked on improving the quality of clients I’ve been getting and doubling down on low-hanging fruits or writing services that are getting me the most money.
After months of working together, the results were astounding – I quadrupled my income in as short as three months!
My salary peaked in October, which is most I’ve earned as a freelance writer in a month. The screenshot was also taken on November 4th, which explains the drop in earnings.
To read my entire experience with Chris, CLICK HERE.
While Chris is more of a business coach than a mentor, he helped unlock my potential as a freelance writer. I didn’t imagine earning as much as I did back then, which goes to show the power of getting help from other people with your journey as a freelancer.
Lastly, getting help is not a sign of weakness! As mentioned, you are limited to what you can do by yourself. By asking for help from people who are better than you, you can learn things that will help you become better not only a freelancer but also as a person.
7. Learn how to write fast
Developing a failsafe and reliable writing system is easier said than done.
Writing efficiently is born out of habit. You need to learn how to focus on writing content and not getting distracted by other tasks.
The blogging challenge ought to help you develop this skill. While the challenge takes 30 days to complete, you need to build upon the habits you formed during the challenge.
Every week, I take one day off during the weekdays from writing for my clients to write on my blog. It’s a good break to have because I get to write for myself and not for someone else. More importantly, it allows me to write about the things I love and base it from my experiences, not from research using resource pages from Google search.
What I learned from this exercise is that writing efficiently boils down to experience. While you know the topic inside and out, you don’t have to research as much since you already know what you need to write. Much of your efficiency is related to the niche you’re targeting as a freelance writer which we will discuss later.#Writing efficiently is born out of HABIT and EXPERIENCE. You need to focus on writing content without getting distracted. You also need to be knowledgeable about the topic so you don't have to do lots of research. #freelance Click To Tweet
8. Get help from (premium) tools
Tools shouldn’t define you as a writer. It should be the other way around. The purpose of tools is to help make your job easier as a freelance writer. You should still be able to write without the tools in place. However, if you want to improve your writing process and get more articles done in less time, then certain tools are helpful in that regard.
I mentioned earlier that I use Keyword Revealer (affiliate link) to find low-hanging fruit keywords. The tool helps conduct the keyword research much easier because all the data I need to know about the keyword is there. I don’t have to cross-reference other tools to get the information I need. This happens when you use free tools like Google Keyword Planner. They help you brainstorm for keywords but they don’t tell you how easy it is to rank for those keywords and how many are searching for them every month.
When editing and reviewing the articles before I submit them to clients, I use Grammarly Premium (affiliate link). It helps make reviewing my posts easier because the tool highlights the errors and provides suggestions to correct and improve them. Granted, not all of the suggestions are correct so it requires me to discern which suggestions I should follow. However, Grammarly makes editing my content faster and more convenient.
Both tools are just some of the many I use to write high-quality content for my clients. I’ve listed most in this post (you must unlock that section of the post to reveal what those tools are, though). Not to mention, I have to pay for these tools so I can use them. However, I consider tools as I would an investment. Since they help make my job easier and help me earn more as a writer, the results and client satisfaction is worth the price I paid for these tools.
If there’s one writing tool you need to try at the very least, I can’t recommend Grammarly Premium enough. Since your writing skills serve as the base of your freelance career, Grammarly is more than capable to improve your writing process and provide your clients with top-notch content. CLICK HERE to read my full-blown review of Grammarly Premium.
9. Refine your audience
Let’s be clear on one thing – you can’t make everybody happy in the world. There will always be a group of people who will be unhappy with what you’re doing even though you’re not doing anything else.
The same thing applies to freelance writers: you can’t be a writer for everybody and expect them to be happy.If you know the kind of #writer you are, who your target clients are, the kind of content they're looking for, and the right price tag for your services, then you can attract clients willing to pay for your fee! Click To Tweet
For starters, there are different writing disciplines out there. Content writing differs from copywriting which is also different from technical writing. If you’re a content writer, you can’t just jump ship to being a copywriter or a technical writer and expect to do an excellent job. The skills necessary for each writing disciple differ from each other.
Also, clients require a specific tone and voice for their writing. If you specialize in business writing, then you’d probably find writing for sites like Buzzfeed difficult since they’re written in a conversational style.
These are just some of the nuances involved in being a writer which is why you need to identify the exact client you want to write for!
Throughout the years, I have written about topics under the digital marketing umbrella (SEO, social media, email marketing, etc.). The hours of research I put into composing articles I have written for sites like NicheHacks, Monitor Backlinks, and other marketing sites have made me knowledgeable in this field. In fact, I can write 1,000 words about an SEO topic in an hour with little research.
It’s not about the number of words I can write in this case. Rather, it’s more about figuring out the writer I am – a digital marketing writer.
If you know the kind of writer you are, who your target clients are, the kind of content they’re looking for, and the right price tag for your services, then you can attract clients willing to pay your actual fee without lowballing you. At the same time, you are writing within your comfort zone. You’re not forced to write something you’re comfortable writing. It’s a win-win for you and your client!
Appeal to the senses
Whether you are writing a book, content for a website, a news article, or a story, you want it to be engaging and compelling. One way to do this is to appeal to your readers’ senses. Transform your writing into something beyond the words that your readers are seeing by immersing them in imagery. Describe vivid scenes and use words that relate to their senses of sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste.
To be more adept at ‘sensual’ writing, don’t forget to apply the practice tip above. You don’t have to always put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) – you can simply describe scenes around you by composing the sentences in your head. Choose a specific scenario, people, or thing around you and come up with words to describe it that appeals to each of the five senses.
Try to do this regularly and you’ll be able to instinctively write in a style that awakens the senses.
Originally from the U.S., Rana Tarakji is the founder of One SEO – a link building company – and a web content specialist who now lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon. Rana’s work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including Life Hacker, Upwork, Christian Today, Newswire, and many other outlets.
10. Love writing
I have been writing professionally for over twelve years. I spent my first few years working for The Man until I became a freelancer in 2013. I only profited as a freelance writer in 2014 and I’ve been working diligently to find better ways to make money as a writer.
My freelance writing journey has been far from smooth sailing but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my professional career.
Do I regret being a freelance writer? Not at all!
If I can do everything the same way, will I do it again? You bet your ass I will.
Loving something can’t be taught. It goes beyond logic and explanation – you just know it!
I know I love freelance writing. I write not just for my clients but for myself. It is my way of telling the world that I exist and writing is my way of showing to the world I am. It sounds dramatic and philosophical but damn me if it isn’t the truth!
If you feel the same way about freelance writing, then you’ve already won half the battle! Your passion for writing will help carry you during the lull moments in your freelancing journey.
If you’re still new to the world of freelance writing, it’s hard to say if writing as a profession is for you. Therefore, you have to give it your all as a freelancer and see if you feel like doing this your whole life. You must experience the ups and downs as a writer – finding clients, getting paid, expanding your skills, etc. – for you to determine if it is for you.
Are the tips for improving your writing above helpful?
Whew! I didn’t expect this post to be this long but that’s what happens when you enjoy what you’re doing and get lost in the process.
I think I’ve covered all the essentials on how you can improve your clients writing and help you bag better-paying clients in the process. Word of warning: it‘s not going to be easy. However, if it were, then everybody would be doing it!
Being a successful freelance writer is a class on its own. And if you follow the tips mentioned above in this post, you are a couple of steps nearer to becoming the freelance writer you ought to be!