Posts tagged freelance writers
With the increasing demand for writers in the Web 2.0 world, many people are getting enticed to join this field. If you have your way with words then writing can be a highly lucrative profession for you. But working as a freelance writer has its own set of challenges.
The first step: Do a regular job
If you are a new writer, then you must get into a regular content writing job. Try your luck in a company where there’s a team of writers and managers. This will give you exposure to different writing styles and also an opportunity for your work to get reviewed by experienced people. There are many fine points to writing that only a professional can point out. If you get those things right from the very beginning then you won’t face problems in future. You may switch a few jobs to learn writing for different mediums. Remember that this is the training you are going through to become successful.
Step two: Build a portfolio
You must have a powerful portfolio to show to your prospective clients in future. Showing is better than telling. You would be able to convince clients in a better way with real links and samples. Build a portfolio by creating your own website or blog and posting your articles there. An online presence is extremely important. Create a folder on your computer and categorize samples of brochures, articles, websites, press releases, advertisements, presentations, or anything else that you have written. If you do not have a laptop to carry with you during meetings, take colored print-outs of the good work that you’ve done. Take testimonials from whoever you work for and don’t forget to show then to your clients.
Step three: Create a network
Jumping into freelance writing without having a network of people who can give you work is quite risky; no matter how good you are. When you leave your regular job, make sure that there are at least two or three people willing to offer freelance writing assignments to you. Slowly build your network by asking for referrals, joining online business networks, being present on freelance writing sites, etc.
Step four: Market your services
Even if you have a few assignments in the beginning, you would need to market your services to the right people. Good friends of freelance writers are web development companies; send emails to them about yourself and your services. If you are good at travel writing, make a list of all travel websites and send emails about your services and writing samples. You can do the same for any field. Post your services on all freelance portals or websites.
Take freelance writing as a business
You must take freelance writing seriously. It requires dedication and self-education. Once you become a freelancer, you will find very few people who can actually review your work in the right way, so you have to learn and grow on your own. Learn client servicing and managing finances. Be absolutely professional in your approach or people will take you for granted. Most importantly, do not miss out on any of the steps given above.
As the title suggests, you are getting someone else to do your writing, typically a content writer or an agency who take on such assignments. And the reason that you are outsourcing your needs is either because you do not have the necessary skills available in-house to create professional material, or, you would like to give your collateral the business edge that will be of value in a sales situation.
Here’s how you could get the best out of your investment.
A clear brief is half the job done
As a first step, give her a clear brief on exactly what you would like to achieve out of the document. This will include all that you would like to convey and who it is targeted at.
Very often, a brief is mistaken for a dump, quite literally so. The hapless writer finds herself at the receiving end of tons of information – voluminous reports, PPT slides, newspaper clips, excerpts from sundry sources and such – most of it not relevant to the job on hand. And she is expected to wade through and make sense. This, in turn, leads to several iterations just to identify the gaps and get the facts in place. A waste of precious time.
Instead, do take some time and diligently complete the template calling for information or respond to the specific queries raised by the writer. This will entail culling out information from various internal sources and making it intelligible to the writer. This phase is critical and time well spent. After all, the quality of ingredients or raw material directly impact and determine the quality of the end product – be it in the kitchen or the manufacturing process.
It’s all in the background
Give adequate background, related information and samples that will serve as a benchmark and aid the writer in her efforts at arriving at a cohesive and concise piece of document or communication. Oftentimes, a document is disjointed and incomplete owing to missing pockets of information. This not only defeats the purpose of the exercise but also reflects adversely on the company.
One point contact as facilitator and go-between
It’s a good practice to have one person to whom the writer can address queries and that person in turn farms out the requests internally and collates the information. This works for two reasons: one, as an insider, he is familiar with the hierarchy and processes within the organization, and two, he is in a better position to coax and cajole his colleagues into submitting timely and meaningful responses.
Objective feedback is vital for improvement
Have a review mechanism in place that fosters honest and objective feedback, a healthy criticism of the writer’s output. To be sure, the writer is not infallible and is prone to errors of omission. This could happen either because the writer was not able to grasp certain nuances of the business or owing to some gaps in the information originally supplied. Remember, the writer is not the ‘subject matter expert’ and the onus is on the client to provide the relevant inputs.
One common refrain that one hears by way of feedback is that a given piece of documentation
‘lacks punch’. This kind of feedback is very generic and does not tell the writer which part of the document that needs to be rephrased or given the necessary gloss. It will be in both, the client and the writer’s interests to point out precise areas that call for improvement.
A little bit of praise never hurts anybody
Sure, the writer is being paid for the assignment but everybody craves for that little bit of praise, a pat on the back. If you genuinely find that the finished product is in keeping with your expectations, it will not be out of place to commend the writer and let her know as much. At the end of the day, everybody likes to be appreciated for a job well done. And this gesture will drive the writer to do an even better job in future.