Are You Good Enough to Be a Freelance Writer?

If you’ve ever wondered if you’re good enough to be a freelance writer, here are two ways to tell. The advice dispensed here can be used by every wannabe or aspiring freelance writer who may have the “I wonder if I’m good enough” fears.

2 Ways to Tell if You’re Good Enough to Be a Freelance Writer

1. Is your writing “good enough”: Many wannabe freelancers wonder this. But, all you have to do is look at article directories, websites, ebooks and newsletters to see that writing ranges from very poor, to high quality pieces.

If you can string two grammatically correct sentences together, in most cases, your writing is good enough. Throw in some keen research skills and the ability to adhere to deadlines, and you can be a freelance writer.

Bottom line: You don’t have to be a genius or have some type of special writing ability. Simply the ability to write well (eg, structured, grammatically correct materials that flows and makes sense is all you need to know how to do).

2. Freelance Writing Experience: Don’t worry about this. Aspiring freelance writers should target niches they know well and/or or have a lot of experience in. That way, the only things you’ll have to learn are the general aspects of what a client wants, not the actual information itself.

Create Freelance Writing Samples: To get around the “I don’t have any freelance writing samples” problem, simply write up 3-5, 400-600 word articles and use them.

Nobody has to know that they haven’t been published. Most potential clients won’t ask if you’ve been published. They’ll just want to see proof that you can write. These “samples” will prove that.

If you determine that you’re good enough to be a freelance writer, here’s the first thing you need to do.

Get a Website: Publishing a simple, informational site is all you need. It doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, the simpler and more clean it is, the better. There are three pages every freelance writing website should start out with:

About Me Page: List your credentials and a professional profile (not a resume). Your professional profile can list things like memberships and associations, volunteer work, special interests, etc. It should not be a typical resume, because this sends a signal that you’re looking for a job. A professional profile signals that you’re a business looking to “partner with” a company.

Samples Page: This is where you would list all of your samples. If you don’t have any, as previously mentioned, create a few and list them here.

Service Offering Page: This is where you’d list all of your freelance writing services, and your rates if you wish. Some like to offer rates on their site, others don’t. By listing them though, you give clients all the information they need up front to make a decision.

The next time you question if you’re good enough to be a freelance writer, remember, if you can read and write, there’s a freelance writing niche out there that can use your services. And yes, you are good enough to conquer it.

Communication Tips – Why Written Communication is Not Enough

Ever had the situation where you read an email or a blog post and you quickly dash off a few words in response only to have the person at the other end explode with rage over what you said. The only trouble is that you didn’t mean it the way it was taken. You thought you were saying something very different and you had intended to be constructive… and then all of a sudden you are in the middle of World War 3.

It has happened to many of us at one time or another. But why? When we communicate in writing, we are missing a large percentage of the verbal and non-verbal clues that “flesh out” the message. These messages give richness and texture to what is being said and help provide additional meaning. These clues can totally change the meaning of words from a positive to a negative and visa versa.

Ever heard the saying “it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it”. This truism shows how embedded into our psyche the importance of all the other clues that go around words are. When we take out 75% of the clues, it is hard to get a clear and consistent message.

When you add in the challenge that not everyone is wired to respond to the written word, it can become complex to get your point across. Some people are wired to respond more to sound and others to feeling and movement rather than words on a page. You need to adjust your words to make your communication clearer for all preferences.

In business, how does this play out? I have seen CEOs send “messages to the troops” via email or newsletters, only to find that the words acted more as a demotivator than a motivator. I have seen people dismissed over something that started as a simple email. I have seen performance reviews spiral into disaster over a written comment from an employee or manager.

I have also seen websites with less traffic than they should have, marketing materials binned rather than acted on and product names the subject of laughter and internet jokes… all based on the words that had been selected by the company.

So here comes the heresy. Words on the page are not enough. You need to use the right words in the right circumstances, taking into account all the possible ways that the words could be interpreted. You need to have a clear intention and understanding of what you want to achieve from the communication before you say the first word.

In some situations you will need to ensure your words have extra clarifying features added -images or clear graphic design to illustrate the points you are trying to make. You may even need to explore the addition of video or audio to your message for greater clarity. A professional copywriter can also help you hone your words.

But, even if you do all of this, there will be times when you get “interesting” reactions. If you are caught in the situation where you are on the receiving end of something that seems a bit abrupt or rude, stop and breathe. Pick up the phone or go and see the person to gently let them know that you have interpreted their words one-way, and give them a chance to explain what they intended to say.

Ask for more clarification in a non-judgemental way along the lines of “can you tell me a bit more about why you feel that way”. Teach your team that it is fine to ask for more information and clarification rather than simply reacting.

This of course doesn’t extend to stinging explicit abuse or verbal attacks. In the internet world, this sort of behaviour is labelled as coming from a troll, and even the most perfectly chosen words will sometimes attract troll-like behaviour. Just know that good rarely comes from directly engaging a troll in an exchange of words. If the troll is in your workplace, do not respond but take it directly up with your HR Manager or CEO, as this is inappropriate workplace behaviour and they have a role in ensuring it is stopped.

The bottom line is that words are often not enough to communicate what you need. By taking into account the context, audience, communication preferences and intention then you will improve your written communication and get better results.