Generally speaking, freelance writers aren’t the best-paid bunch.
Shocking, I know.
Most high-earning freelance writers are either incredibly talented or they provide a ton of value to clients. Here’s the thing, though – anyone can hone their writing talents, but providing ‘value’ is a much vaguer proposition. For me, it all comes down to how much you can simplify your client’s lives.
In this article, we’ll go over five skills that will drastically increase your value as a freelance writer. Put them into use, and you’ll start getting high-paying freelance jobs in no time. Let’s get to it!
1. Basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Having a decent grasp of SEO basics is one of the best things you can do as a freelance writer. Improved SEO translates to more traffic and leads for your clients, particularly if you write for blogs.
If you take a look around freelance writing job boards, you’ll notice a lot of postings mention knowing a thing or two about SEO. Here’s a list of the skills I’d consider ‘basic knowledge’:
- Optimizing your use of keywords
- Writing engaging meta descriptions
- Writing great post titles
- Adding metadata to your content
Out of all those, optimizing your use of keywords is perhaps the most labor-intensive task. Some clients will expect you to use awkward keywords, which is always a bummer, but sometimes that’s what the job entails.
If you’re in a pinch and you have access to WordPress, I recommend you use the Yoast SEO plugin. The plugin provides you with a quick SEO analysis for your content, which covers keyword, link, and image use:
Keep in mind – Yoast SEO is great for a quick overview, but it’s not an infallible tool. You still need to read up on SEO basics on your own and keep up with new trends if you want to provide the most value.
Beyond that, basic keyword research is a powerful skill to add to your roster. Knowing how to research what people are looking for and determining which keywords have value can transform you from a freelance writer into a content strategist.
2. Finding and Formatting Images for Your Content
Whenever possible, adding images to your content can increase engagement with your readers. As a freelance writer, you shouldn’t be expected to create images, though, but you should know how to source them. That means:
- Knowing how to take a decent screenshot
- Knowing where to find stock images
- Understanding the basics of image attribution
Finding images and taking screenshots is relatively simple, but you have to keep formatting and style in mind. That means ensuring any images you use follow the same style as the rest of your client’s content and that they look good for visitors.
3. Not Missing Deadlines
This one is self-explanatory. You’re competing for work with dozens of thousands of freelance writers. Many of them may be more talented than you or have a higher level of expertise, which makes you expendable.
The best type of freelance writer is the one who never misses a deadline. As long as everything running’s smoothly and you deliver excellent work on time, few clients will think about replacing you.
That type of reliability is key if you’re looking for high-paying freelance work or long-term gigs. If you’re the kind of person who always struggles with deadlines, then you need to make some changes to your routine and fast.
4. Responding to Emails Promptly
As a freelance writer, most of your communications go through one channel, email. Now imagine you’re a client trying to reach a writer you’re working with, and you don’t get any reply for two, three, or four days:
My rule of thumb is always reply to emails within 24 hours. If I’m in front of the computer when an email gets in, here’s my thought process:
- Can I shoot a quick reply that wouldn’t take me more than a few minutes?
- Does this email require me to carry out some task that will take longer?
- Can I put off answering until later?
If I can take care of an email in a few minutes, then I do so. Anything that requires more effort gets sent to the back burner while I keep working on my to-do list.
As long as you get to emails within that 24-hour window, you’re golden. For anything that might take longer, it’s always good manners to send a quick response mentioning you’re on top of things, but you’ll need some extra time.
5. Delivering Work that Doesn’t Need Much Editing
A big part of being a freelance writer is being adept at self-editing. That means catching mistakes, correcting sources, fixing formatting issues, and more.
The problem is, you always miss something, and I include myself in that group. You can spend hours painstakingly editing an article, but in the end, you always overlook some tiny thing.
Most of the people you’ll work for aren’t editors, so you shouldn’t expect them to clean up your work. If your writing is good, but you make a lot of mistakes, those take away from the value you provide as a freelancer.
One thing that’s made a massive difference for me is trying out a broad assortment of writing and editing tools. These days, my favorite combo involves the Hemingway Editor and the Grammarly app.
With Hemingway, I get a heads up if I’m being too wordy, which is one of my biggest problems:
Grammarly, on the other hand, enables me to catch simple grammar mistakes I might’ve missed during a first pass:
The takeaway here is, there are a lot of tools you can use to help you shore up weak areas in your writing. Testing as many of them as possible until you find one that suits you and is worth the trouble.
Talented writers are a dime a dozen. Talented writers that aren’t a pain to work with are another matter entirely. As a freelance writer, you’re easily replaceable, so your goal is to become as critical as possible to your client’s operations.
Beyond being able to string two sentences together, some skills that will help you land high-paying writing jobs include:
- Basic SEO knowledge.
- Finding and formatting images for your content.
- Not missing deadlines.
- Responding to emails promptly.
- Delivering work that doesn’t need much editing.
Do you have any questions about how to get better-paying freelance writing gigs? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.
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