What freelance writing skills do you need to succeed?

What Freelance Writing Skills Do You Need To Succeed?

AJ Saunders Profile Picture

Written by on 10 Nov 21

Filed under: Content Writing

If you’re trying to break into the world of freelance writing, I have some bad news for you. Sorry. You need to be more than just a good writer. There are several freelance writing skills you need to master.

 

A major decision you have to make is what kind of writer you want to be. Do you want to be a copywriter, content writer, social media writer, or blogger? Each of these types requires a different skill set.

 

Next, you’ll need to learn how to run a business, including marketing, sales, and finances. You can’t solely rely on luck or prayers!

 

Thankfully, if you know what freelance writing skills you’re missing, you can develop them. Doing so will improve your business and increase your income.

 

 

General skills every freelancer should develop

As a freelancer, you run a small business. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling copywriting services, SEO, or personal development training, you still need the same underlying skills.

 

Time Management

As a freelancer, you are the boss and in control. You’re only responsible to your clients, who want their projects delivered quickly. However, to make money, you need to manage your time effectively and ensure you can exceed your client’s expectations.

 

Organization

You need good organizational skills to ensure you submit work before the deadline. Also, you’ll need to keep records for tax and accounting purposes. As with time management, if you don’t have systems in place, you will needlessly waste time.

 

Business Management

As a small business owner, you need to keep records of your clients, invoices, and basic day-to-day business operations.

 

Marketing

As you want a steady stream of clients, you need to learn how to market your business. You could attend some networking events, start a blog, post on LinkedIn, ask clients for referrals or join Fiverr/Upwork.

 

One mistake most new freelancers make is they don’t consistently promote their business. They wait until they desperately need a new client or two, then promote their business like crazy.

 

 

Soft vs hard skills

 

 

Soft vs hard skills

We typically think of skills as either hard or soft. Hard skills are things you can learn. For example, knowing how to format a post in WordPress. On the other hand, soft skills are more personality-based and include good time management and the ability to clearly communicate.

 

Some skills are easier to develop than others. However, you can make an effort to improve both your hard skills and soft skills. If you haven’t uploaded and formatted a post on WordPress, it might take you a few hours to master this skill.

 

Similarly, you can work on improving your communication skills. If you struggle to reply to emails or don’t like giving bad news, you can with some concerted effort, improve both. You could aim to answer all emails the same day and track if you’re successful or not daily.

 

 

Hard skills you need as a freelance writer

As skills you can learn, if you’re dedicated and willing to practice, you can master these skills. Some skills will be easier to learn than others.

 

A few hard skills you need for freelance writing and copywriting include:

 

 

Soft Skills to develop as a freelancer

Most people rarely consider what soft skills they have or are missing. Yet soft skills are critical to your success as a freelancer and can be developed. However, unlike hard skills, which are typically task-based, soft skills are more like personality traits.

 

Soft skills you need as freelance writing include:

 

 

writing skills freelancer

 

 

Freelance writing skills you should develop

The better developed your skills are, the more valuable you become to the marketplace. So, it pays to invest in yourself and continue your personal and professional development. You might like to write down a list of hard and soft skills you wish to develop.

 

Bear in mind that you don’t want to try to develop a broad set of skills but master none. It’s far more lucrative to master a few skills or specialize in a certain niche.

 

Here are some writer-specific skills you could develop:

 

Storytelling

We react best to stories. It doesn’t matter if you’re a content writer or a copywriter, it’s worth spending time to develop your storytelling skills.

 

Proofreading and editing

Your first draft might be good, but it might need a few tweaks. Proofreading and editing are difficult skills to master as they are analytical, not creative. However, it’s your job as a writer to submit your best work every time that’s free from mistakes and errors.

 

Being a good editor is another way to differentiate yourself from the majority of content writers. Plus, you can always find better-paid work as a freelance editor.

 

Formatting

Most writers don’t know how to format an article for the web. Many write in essay form. Thankfully, with a few tweaks, your article can be formatted so that’s easy for people to read. In short, you want to use plenty of subheadings and paragraphs that are two or three sentences.

 

Meta descriptions

Most freelance writers forget to write a meta description for their article, leaving it up to the client. Yet these 160 characters are vital to getting people to read your article if they are coming from a search engine.

 

Social media

It’s worth staying up to date with creating social media content. Just like the meta description, you could offer clients two or three social media posts as an add-on to their article and be able to charge more.

 

Content management

Even if you never end up loading your article onto the client’s website, it’s worth understanding how WordPress and other content management systems (CMS) work. You could offer to upload articles as part of your service, making you even more valuable to your client.

 

SEO

Developing a better understanding of search engine optimization (SEO) will help you ensure your article performs well for the client. You should understand keywords, search intent, writing meta descriptions, and how to format articles.

 

Research

In days gone by, newspapers and magazines had large research and fact-checking departments. They had a depth of knowledge that’s sadly missing today. You must develop your research skills that move beyond the first page of Google.

 

Interview

There’s a real skill to getting a good interview. It’s more than just being able to get someone to talk, you need to draw information out that will help make your article more effective. Interviewing skills are important for freelance writers who write journalistic or comprehensive research pieces.

 

 

Mastering these freelance writing skills

Regardless of the type of writing you work on for clients, understanding what hard and soft skills you have and should develop is critical to your success.

 

By continually improving your skills, you ensure that you provide value to your clients that they can’t easily buy from another writer. But remember, developing your skills takes time, practice, and focus.

 

You probably won’t master any of these freelance writing skills overnight. However, over time, you can become better at any skill that you work on.

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