Six steps to operating more professionally as a freelance writer
Posted: Mon 11th Mar 2013
Good content is essential in the modern business environment - and that means there's a growing need for writers to provide it. But if freelance writing is a route you're interested in going down, it pays to be professional in your approach.Â Here are some tips from Rachael Oku, author of the newly-published Become a Freelance Writer.
To establish yourself as a credible freelance writer, there are a few things you'll need to do, writes Rachael (left). It's particularly important to ensure you're viewed in the best possible light. It's a big part of how you win work. To woo the big boys and give your competition a run for their money, you need to create a brand and identity that is both memorable and identifiable with your area of expertise. Follow these steps to get started"¦
1. Build a brand
Perhaps the most important aspect of building your freelance operation is to approach it like a business - and, as with any other business, reputation and word-of-mouth marketing are key. If you can get into this mindset, it becomes easier to separate yourself and your personal views from your work. A good way of doing so may even be to create a pen name and treat that as your brand. At the very least you will need to come up with a name for your freelance services.
2. Create a catchy name for your business
You'll want something that's catchy, relevant to the work you do, easy to remember and easy to spell. Think about what online keywords you'd like to hit. For example, should the word 'writer' be in there somewhere? Do you want to use your full name or opt for something that expresses your writing style or focus? One of my favourite names for a freelance writing business is ABC Copywriting, run by Tom Albrighton. Everything he could possibly want to convey is summed up in that name. Also, consider your potential URL. Really long domain names can be confusing, as can ones with unorthodox spellings. The aim is to make it as easy as possible for people to find you.
3. Position yourself as an expert
To ensure you stand out, think about what areas of expertise you have that will make you more valuable than your competition. When many think of an 'expert', they think of an academic who has been working in his or her field for decades. Alternatively, people figure an expert is someone who makes a lot of money or is a household name. Thankfully, these days anyone who is good at what he or she does and boasts insider knowledge can position themselves as a voice of authority in their field. If you work in a niche industry or have good knowledge of a specialist or emerging subject, you can capitalise on it by, for example, developing realtionships with journalists, speaking at events and using social media to engage with influencers.
4. Create a platform
If you can't be Googled you don't exist. There's no excuse for not having an online home. When it comes to building your online base, there are a few key things you'll need to include:
a brief introduction, such as a biography or 'about' page.
an outline of your service
examples of your work
The rest is up to you. Once you've set your site up, you should think about search engine optimisation and even monetising your online home.
Choosing your online platform
If you're thinking of starting a blog or website to support your writing, WordPress is by far the most user-friendly platform out there. Whether you want a slick and professional site with your own domain name or are happy for it to be hosted by WordPress (and therefore have '.wordpress.com' at the end of your URL), this platform comes highly recommended. Other platforms that have enjoyed success are Google's Blogger, Blog.com and Tumblr. All of these platforms offer a basic package free of charge. Whichever service you use to build your site, you should include a blog. Unless you're working on new projects every week, your blog is the only part of your site that is likely to be updated regularly. It's also a great place to get personal with your audience and express your thoughts without a hard sell.
5. Create and display a portfolio
While using a portfolio-building site won't be as expressive as a personalised website, it'll allow you to link to your portfolio in everything from your CV and job applications to guest posts and social media. Here are three portfolio-building websites to explore:
6. Perfect your copy
With the internet revolutionising the way we communicate, these days you don't have to be great at spelling or even grammar to be a successful writer. There are tools for that. These eight programs that will help eliminate typos, plagiarism and repetition from your work:
Three quick tips for improving your copy
1. Step back and get some distance. 2. Chop. Don't use more words than you need to. 3. Keep your sentences short and punchy. 4. Triple check all facts, stats and quotes.
Get the complete guide to the business of writing for just Â£5
Rachael's new book Become a Freelance Writer: Your complete guide to the business of writing is available as an ebook for just Â£5 from the Enterprise Nation shop. Click on the link below to find out more and buy your copy! [product id="72220"]