Becoming a successful freelance writer is an intense challenge. Sure, it gets easier once you land a few long-term contracts, but the road to get there can be rocky. If you hope to succeed, you’ll need to find a way to stand out among the other writers and increase your hireability.
While there is a lot of competition out there, it isn’t always fierce! This means it doesn’t need to take much to differentiate yourself. When you commit to doing good work and focus on sharpening your talents, there’s no telling where your freelance career might take you.
In this article, I’ll reveal three vital skills that helped me grow my freelance writing career to the point where I no longer worry about finding new clients. For each of these skills, I’ll explain how to learn and use them as a competitive advantage. Let’s get down to business!
1. Becoming an Expert In a Particular Niche
Once you spend a lot of time around blogs, you come across the word ‘niche’ quite often. Simply put, a niche is a specialized market or field of knowledge. To succeed as a freelance writer, you’ll need to master at least one niche.
To put it another way, the freelance community is oversaturated with jack-of-all-trades writers. If you’re the kind of person who can write about a lot of subjects with authority, that’s excellent! However, you should focus on knowing at least one subject thoroughly if you want to stand out. Here are a few reasons why having a niche makes you more likely to find clients:
- The more experienced you are, the less competition there should be at your level.
- Knowing one topic in-depth gives you an edge in developing targeted content strategies for your clients.
- Marketing yourself as a professional in one particular subject makes you appealing because you are a clear expert.
When I first started writing online, I gravitated towards content mills, as many freelancers do. They provided me with a quick way to find jobs and I wrote about anything I was asked for, including ‘fun’ supplements, slot machines, and other diverse topics. Had I kept trudging along with similar jobs, I may have never found myself making a decent living from freelance writing.
Fortunately, I decided to take a chance once I had some experience under my belt. I started applying for more specialized jobs and to this date, I’ve had some excellent success writing about WordPress and web development. If you’re ready to take a chance like I did, check out the Paid to Blog jobs board, which is full of serious customers looking for a freelance writer to join their team.
2. Finding an Editing Quality Images
Once you have your first dedicated clients, they may expect you to source your own images for each article. Depending on the type of piece you’re working on, these can vary from featured images to graphics that illustrate the points you’re making.
As a writer, you are not typically expected to create these on your own (or at least you shouldn’t!) but you do need to know where to find suitable stock images. This skill can elevate the quality of your articles for three simple reasons:
- Articles without images come across as bare bones.
- Graphics are a powerful way to introduce breakpoints within long-form pieces.
- Well-chosen images can help you communicate your ideas more effectively.
Thankfully, this is a relatively simple skill to pick up, but it takes some writers by surprise. As a personal example during my dark content mill days, I was never expected to source images for my clients. When I landed my first serious gig, you can image what a shock it was when I was expected to find and even edit them in some cases!
I was lucky – after all, I already had some small experience using Photoshop so the editing part came easy. As for sourcing the graphics, it’s all a matter of getting to know the best stock image sites around. On the other hand, if you want to go further and include screenshots in your articles, be sure to learn how to take screenshots properly.
3. Developing Content Strategies for Your Clients
As you now know, being an expert on a topic can help you create content strategies for your clients. As it turns out, this is one of the most marketable skills you can have as a freelance writer.
Developing a content strategy from scratch takes time to research and plot out – something your client might wish to hire an expert for instead. This creates the opportunity to turn a short-term work relationship into a long-term one. The more ongoing clients you have, the less you need to run around looking for new clients and as you might imagine, a less stressed out writer is usually a better one.
Plus, knowing that you can be trusted with an entire strategy can take a load off your client’s shoulders. A while back, I was hired to write a few articles about a new app on a small blog. I thought that would be it. However, I decided to take a chance and pitch them the possibility of doing an entire series around that app: how to use it, and more.
Luckily for me, they went for it. I earned myself a few months of work and they came out on the other side with enough content to make their site look much more professional. Here’s a rough outline of my process:
- Come up with several topic ideas.
- Flesh each idea out and mention what ground each article would cover.
- Re-arrange your ideas, so they’ll be published in a coherent order.
- Propose a schedule for your content, so your client only has to worry about approving the work.
As a freelance writer, you need to prove to your customers that you can do more than just deliver articles on a set due date. Each skill you develop should make you a more valuable member of their team. That, in turn, will undoubtedly lead to longer contracts and better-paying jobs.
Being a professional freelance writer sounds like a dream come true, but the road there is more complicated than you might realize. However, if you’re committed to your work, you can get there by making an effort to improve your skills. The better you are at what you do and the more value you can deliver, the more attractive you’ll be to potential employers.
Let’s review three of the skills every writer should master if they hope to succeed as a freelancer:
- Honing expertise on a particular niche.
- Knowing how to source and edit images.
- Developing and pitching content strategies for clients.
What do you think is the number one skill every freelance writer should master? Let’s talk about it in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.