Your Writing ‘Unique Selling Point’
Today, we’re going to go through some essential knowledge and tools that every freelance writer should possess and excel at. Below is the course outline:
What You’ll Learn Today
- What is Expected of a Freelance Writer
- Tools a Freelance Writer Should have (software and hardware)
- Types of copy (writing) a Freelance Writing will do
As part of the course curriculum, and in order to receive a credit for this module, you’ll be required to complete a small task which I’ll outline at the end of this first lesson.
Until then, let’s get started with the first lesson! I’m excited for you to begin learning the ins and outs of Freelance Writing. I really hope you have as much fun learning from this course as I’ve had creating it!
Remember, my door is always open for any questions you have about this Freelance Writing e-course. Please feel free to email me at:
Ready to get started? So am I! Hang on for this exciting journey into the profitable world of Freelance Writing!
Freelance Writing eCourse Intro Section
1.1 What is expected of a Freelance Writer?
Freelance Writing is just as it implies – you’re free to work for whomever you like, where you like and when you like. You have no set employer or hours and no specific task to perform each day.
As a Freelance Writer, you must be very flexible in your work life and in your personal life. Each day will bring different writing tasks and assignments! One day you could be writing a blog post about “How to Make the Best Chicken Biryani ” and the next day writing a short ebook on “Vegetable Gardening”. This depends on the markets you choose to serve.
As a Freelance Writer, you are in charge of properly managing your time and the amount of work you take on. You’re also the one who will determine how much money you’ll make as a writer!
Freelance Writers do not make a set salary (not usually) each week or month. One week you could see yourself making $500 in one week and the next week taking home $2500. A Freelance Writer will have various writing projects on the go at any given time. Compensation for these projects will depend on the size and type of project – and how many projects you’ve completed in that week/month.
The greatest challenge that any Freelance Writer faces is time management. Not only is your work/life balance important, but the amount of work you’ll take on (and any other their deadlines) need to be factored in as well.
At some point in your writing career, you’ll likely find yourself in a situation where you’ve taken on too much work and are unable to meet a deadline. Don’t sweat it! I think all Freelance Writers find themselves at this point at one time or another. Fortunately, most clients are flexible and understanding. If you ever find yourself knee deep in work and unable to make deadlines, give your client a heads up at least 24 hours in advance – most will be very accommodating and forgiving.
1.2 Your Work Space is Important!
As a professional Freelance Writer, you’ll definitely want to have your own space where you can work away without any major interruptions. Having a separate room with a comfy office chair and desk is very important. You want to be as comfortable as possible as you’ll be sitting down for hours typing away on a keyboard.
Myself, I like to do some of my writing outside, too. I also have a balcony that overlooks my beautiful backyard that I use as my office on super nice days.
The bottom line is, create a space that is comfortable for you and where you’ll be most productive and creative. This space may be just a small corner in the living room, a space in the attic or at a small desk in your bedroom. Each writer has their own preference of where they’re most productive. I know of a few writers who spend a few hours per day at the coffee shop!
You decide what works best for you. If one space doesn’t work out, go ahead and try another. Who knows – maybe you’ll find that your best work is done by sitting at the kitchen table!
Also, you’ll want to have a dependable PC/Laptop with a stable internet connection. You’ll need the internet for the following purposes:
- Communicating via Skype or email with clients
- Emailing clients your completed work
- Researching information for writing topics
- Looking for more writing gigs
Aside from your internet connection, make sure you have a good quality PC/Laptop that has lots of internal memory – at least 2GB – preferably more. Your PC is your main tool as a Freelance Writer – invest in a good quality one!
You’ll want to back up all of your writing you do for yourself and your clients. Don’t just save your work on your PC thinking it’s safe. Your PC could crash or get lost or stolen – along with all of your hard work! Spend a few bucks and buy a jump drive (at least 4GB) and save all of your work to this drive – just in case!
Now that you have your workspace set up, a good internet connection and a reliable PC, let talk about some tools that you’ll need to have as a Freelance Writer.
2.1 Tools a Freelance Writer Should Have
We’ve already talked about the importance of having a good quality PC and the reasons for having a jump drive (external, or cloud based) to back up your work. Now that you have these two pieces of hardware (and don’t forget your mouse!), let’s talk about other tools that you’ll need as a writer.
Software are programs installed on your PC that allow you to perform specific functions.
The most important piece of software you’ll need as an online Freelance Writer is a word processor. You’ve likely heard of Microsoft Office and there’s a good chance you’ve used Microsoft Word at some point in the past. If your PC did not come pre-installed with Microsoft Office 2007 suite or later, it would be a good idea to invest in this piece of software. It’s a bit expensive, but once you buy it, you own it for life with free upgrades.
Here is a link to purchase Microsoft Office Suite on Amazon (download):
Alternatively, there is a free word processing program that is very similar to Microsoft Word but is not quite as popular (and sometimes conflicts with Microsoft programs, too). I do use it on occasion and it is a very easy to use word processing program (as well as many others within the suite – very useful!)
You can download Open Office Suite (free) through the link below:
There are a ton of other free tools online that I and other writers use on a regular basis. Here is a list of 10 that I use most often:
- ducklink.com – Take snapshots of any website by scrolling, selecting a region or a screenshot – awesome free tool!
- picmonkey.com – Really cool for creating image type reports, sales pages and infographics. You can also edit pictures too. No sign up required!
- openoffice.org – The best free office suite out there! As mentioned previously : )
- gmail.com – You’ve probably heard of Google’s email service. However, it has tons of add on features that are priceless!
- Skype.com – Another hugely popular tool for communicating. I use this to IM with clients and partners on a daily basis.
- MailChimp.com – Want to start building a subscriber list? Once you have a website, you can! Ever heard of email marketing or list building? This is a whole separate course in itself – and another great way to make money online!
- Trello.com – Organizing made easy! This nifty site allows you to organize everything from setting deadlines, creating to-do lists, etc. Essentially, it’s a very user friendly project management tool. Once you start taking on more clients, this will come in very handy!
- dropbox.com – Store and share photos, documents and file online – for free!
- GoogleDocs/Google Drive – Cloud hosted documentation sharing platform. Even better, your documents are accessible where ever you can access your gmail account!
- Hootsuite.com – Manage all of your social media accounts from one place – piece of cake! There are so many features within Hootsuite, you’ll have to check it out for yourself.
Now that you’re equipped with an arsenal of tools and software that any freelancer would be proud of, let’s have a look at what types of writing you’ll be getting paid to do.
3.1 Types of Writing (Copy) You’ll be Doing as a Freelance Writer
As a Freelance Writer, you’ll have the opportunity to make truckloads of money writing different types of copy for your clients.
While some types of writing pay more than others, the fact is, no matter what types of copy you choose to focus on, you’ll make very good money regardless!
Below are some examples of copy that you’ll want to focus your efforts on. While there may be other types of copy, we’ll focus on the more popular types that you’ll find yourself doing on a regular basis.
Probably the most popular type of writing you’ll be doing as a Freelance Writer. With millions of websites on the internet today, virtually every webmaster or website owner needs articles.
But, there’s just one problem. Most webmasters are not writers. And besides, they’re too busy running a business to write content for their websites.
As a writer, this is where you’ll come in.
Articles are written to give information to a website’s visitors about what the website is all about. For example, if you did a search in google for, let’s say, an iphone 5, you’d probably find that the top websites aren’t just about about the iphone 6. These websites would be focused on all different types of smartphones and other electronics.
So, in order for the website to separate these different products and provide information to the visitor about each product, an article must be written for each one (or service, eg. “iphone 6 repairs”). These articles can range from 200 words all the way up to 1000 words or more.
If you were to charge, let’s say, 5 cents per word as a writer to write an article about an iphone , you’d make $25 for writing a 500 word article.
How long does it take to write a 500 word article? Well, that depends on the difficulty of the subject, current knowledge of the writer and the research involved. In most cases, a 500 word article can be researched and written in 45 mins or less. If you’re an expert on the subject, you could expect to finish this 500 word article in less than 30 minutes.
Let’s have a look at an example article from a popular retailer:
This article was quite long – you can read the rest of this article here:
There are a few points to make about this article – mainly the reasons why I chose it.
Firstly, do you see how the article is almost conversational? Aside from the “Features” section, the author of this article has written this article as if he was explaining the features to a friend. This type of article writing is becoming more and more popular among readers these days.
It keeps readers engaged – and – it’s more interesting to read! Let’s put it this way, would you rather a scientist explain to you how the universe was formed, or your buddy who’s a hip, young, witty guy who knows just as much about space?
I’m going to assume your buddy – scientists are boring as heck to listen to. Even though they likely know more about the universe than your buddy, most of the jargon they use can’t be understood by the average person. And from my experience, they’re not very good conversationalists!
My point is…writing in a conversational, relaxed style is how you want to write. This keeps readers engaged longer as they tend to “browse” webpages and won’t sit and read for very long if they find the copy boring. When you write, bring passion and emotion into your copy! Readers love this and so will your clients.
Also, don’t write huge, drawn out paragraphs that are 100-200 words in length. Instead, write shorter sentences – each being 2-5 sentences long. It makes reading easier and more interesting and keeps the reader moving along. Ask questions in your articles, too. This also keeps readers engaged and keeps them reading – to hopefully find the answers at or near the end of the article!
A well rounded article will include the following attributes:
Each of these attributes do not have to stand alone in your article! Break each attribute up into small paragraphs. Include bullet points if you can also – readers love these! Also, make your article flow nicely from one point to the next.
You may find that you’re having a hard time (writers block!) putting your thoughts to paper (or screen in our case). The best way to solve this is to write down 5-10 different key points based around your main subject before you start writing. So, for example, if I was writing an article for a client about “The Best Day Spas in Miami” I would execute my writing plan as follows:
- Write an Engaging Title (eg. The Votes Are In! Top Rated Day Spas in Miami)
- Introduction (write a brief introduction about why these day spas were chosen as the best in the city. What makes a day spa a top rated day spa. Ask the reader if they have a favorite day spa and why. Tell reader to keep reading to find out why these select day spas were chosen as the best in Miami.)
- Body (Since we have a list of day spas to review, we’re going to create a list of 5-10 and write about what makes each one so special. Don’t number your list! Use bullets or subheadings.)
- Conclusion (End with a few closing sentences that review what the article was about.) Eg. “Miami is a hot, trendy city with world-class day spas that go to great lengths to soothe, relax and massage your worries away. These popular Miami day spas are among the best for a reason – they’re experts in creating a relaxed and soothing environment and go above and beyond to rejuvenate the mind, body and spirit. If you’re looking to relax and get pampered by Miami’s finest day spas, these popular day spas should definitely be among your top picks.”
Once you’re familiar and comfortable with this style of writing, writing articles quickly and effortlessly becomes second nature. You’ll notice that your ideas will start to flow easier – especially with topics that interest you.
A good place to research different types of articles and how they’re written is at ezinearticles.com. There are thousands of articles written by thousands of people on so many different topics. Browse around and search for articles on subjects that interest you – select a few that pique your interest the most.
Out of these few that you picked, why did you pick them? What qualities do you see within these articles that made you enjoy reading them?
Chances are, the articles that you picked would likely be picked as favorites by other readers as well. It’s likely not very technical in nature, and written in a way that the average reader can understand.
Remember, we’re not writing to prove that we’re intelligent writers! We’re writing to entertain and keep readers engaged – and getting them prepped to buy something, or take some sort of action! All the while providing the information they’ve been looking for.
Now that we know what an article is, and have a good grasp on how to write one, let’s scoot along to some other types of copy you’ll be writing.
- Blog Post
Blog posts are very similar to articles in how they’re written. The main difference being, a blog post is more informal and more often written in the first person (the author’s point of view). More ideas are shared in blog posts and a perspective is given by the author to promote discussion amongst the readers.
More than likely, a blog – just like a website – is trying to get its readers to take some sort of action (buy, subscribe, download, etc.) Let’s have a look at a well written blog post:
This blog post is quite long! You can have a look at the full blog post here via the link below:
See how the author shares her ideas and experiences in the first person? She uses the terms, “I think this is because…” and “I know this from experience…” She is relaying her own opinions and suggestions using her own experiences. Most blogs are written this way – they’re very informal in nature and structured how the writer feels it should be.
Just like an article, a blog post should have an introduction, body (where you share your ideas and experiences) and a conclusion. Usually, the author will ask a question at the end of the blog post to create discussion among their readers.
Personally, I think blog posts are more fun and easier to write. They give you the chance to write in a more relaxed tone – writing this way helps to get your point across much easier and creates a more relaxed environment for readers.
Now that we’ve touched base on two of the more popular types of copy you’ll be doing as a Freelance Writer, let’s have a look at a few more.
- Press Release
A press release is a great tool that companies use to spread the word about an upcoming event or activity and newsworthy happenings within the company as well. An effective, well targeted press release has the ability to go viral online (and offline) through journalists, supporters and other people who show interest in the company or subject. A well written press release is able to relay important news that is easily understood by the reader and can generate a wealth of buzz around the company among websites, people and other companies.
Basically, a company issues a press release to get noticed by others. And, a press release that generates a lot of buzz and traffic back to their website is very valuable to them. Because of this, online and offline companies pay big bucks to have writers create a compelling press release to spread the news.
A press release has a specific format to follow. Have a look at the sample below to see what a press release looks like:
AMCRC Offers Proactive Business Solutions and Strategies with Innovation Management Training for Struggling Manufacturing Businesses
Australian manufacturers Need to Focus on Importance of IP and Its Role in the Development, Protection, and Commercialisation of Intellectual Property-AMCRC’s Innovativity Sets Sights on Improving Australian Innovation Skills on a Global Scale
Melbourne, Australia (PRWEB) August 17, 2011
AMCRC Steps In to Offer Change within Australian Manufacturing Sector
As Australian manufacturing firms look for answers to increase their stance in the global markets, AMCRC’s Innovativity Management Training program aims to provide the solutions. Recent studies show that Australian manufacturers rate well below average in OECD measures as it relates to investment in research and development. Most at AMCRC collectively agree that in order to reverse this downward trend and improve Australia’s economic performance, this trend needs to be reversed.
On a more promising note, the last 20 years has proven to be the most profitable and progressive for manufacturers involved in international trade. However, as Australia’s industry is structured around SMEs, the opportunity for Australian SMEs to thrive in the international trade industry has all but been apparent in recent years. AMCRC wants to reverse this trend with the introduction of the Innovative Management Training Program, which gives SMEs the tools and knowledge to systematically approach R&D expenditure to minimise risk.
A recent study performed by Deloitte in June had reinforced the idea that the competitive landscape for manufacturing is evolving as we speak. The key factor that forces competitiveness is obtaining workers who are fully capable of supporting and implementing innovation practices. This area of focus has the utmost potential for increased financial performance and productivity; Australian manufacturers should take these findings very seriously.
Innovation through Collaboration
“There is a link between innovation and collaboration. It’s essentially through collaboration that innovation is driven.” states Bruce Grey, Managing Director of Australia’s AMCRC. This statement stands true for all manufacturing companies looking for solutions to keep competitive in today’s market. “It’s through collaboration where a number of bodies in the organisation are working together to solve problems or foresee future problems which they attempt to pre-empt with solutions today.” Grey concluded.
As Australian manufacturing companies scramble to find the answers to future sustainment on a global level, the answer, however, may lay within the teachings of AMCRC’s Innovation Management Training. Thus far, this program has been a hit amongst those who have attended the previous Innovativity program held in June. The measurable success of Innovativity’s first training seminar in June has gained substantial attention from other manufacturers wishing to take advantage of this rare opportunity.
Innovativity Future Programs
To reach out to other parties interested in being involved with Innovativity’s training program, future programs are scheduled for the 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th of October. Additional training programs have since been announced for the month of December in Brisbane, and also January in Sydney. Those interested can register by visiting http://innovativity.com.au/program/. Those who register will also receive additional information such as detailed scheduling and pricing.
About Innovativity– Innovativity, conceived by the Advanced Manufacturing Co-Operative Research Centre (AMCRC), provides training as it relates to innovation management while focusing on key solutions to promote and sustain innovation. Innovativity also equips employees with proven skills, tools, and resources required to develop, protect, and commercialise new technology.
For more information about the Innovation Management Training Program, contact Dr Steven *******at *** *** ****or visit http://******.*** /.**
I wrote this press release for an Australian company back in 2011 and was paid $220 to write it. It generated a lot of buzz among businesses in Australia and around the world, so they hired me to write 5 more for them at $250 each.
They provided me with the details and I wrote the remainder of the press releases within just a few days. I made $1470 in just 2 days – not too bad! In fact, after writing them, I took the rest of the week off and relaxed : )
Writing press releases can be a lucrative business in itself. If you become an expert at writing press releases and generating a buzz (and traffic to their website!), companies will pay you big bucks to write these for them. Trust me – it’s not hard to do!
Below is an outline on how to approach, format and write a press release. Study this method along with my example I’ve given above, and try writing one for yourself! Once you get the hang of it, writing them can be quite fun!
Press Release Outline
Sub-headline (Can be 1 – 4 sentences)
City, Country and Date – The first paragraph consists of one or two sentences that state very directly the “who, what, where, when and why.” This is the bare essentials of your announcement.
(Another intriguing sub-title about next paragraph)
The second paragraph should explain your event in further detail. Share the most interesting or exciting details about your event in no more than three sentences.
(Another intriguing sub-title about next paragraph/s)
More paragraphs can be added to explain your event if necessary, but keep it brief. Again, share only the most attractive details. Try to limit each paragraph to three sentences.
After writing the main body of your press release, include a brief sentence that outlines the person to contact (name), phone number and email address or website.
You can end your press release right there, if you like. No “conclusion” is necessary. Use your best judgment and feel free to be creative, but make sure the primary details are up front and crystal clear!
The average press release is usually about 300-400 words (not including the headline and sub-headline). As a new writer, you’ll need to practice and build a solid portfolio and have a few of your press releases published online to gain credibility. You can expect to be paid about $25 – 50 for your first few paid press release gigs. As you become more proficient, feel free to charge more! Now, I don’t charge any less than $150 to write a press release.
Remember, practice makes perfect. Have a look at a few press releases by doing a search on google and look at ones you find on the first page. Study them to get a good idea of how to write and format your press release.
When you’re finished writing a few press releases, you can submit them to Press Release Submission websites to be published online. Here is a list of the top 50 (free) PR submission sites that can be found online today:
Press Releases are valuable when targeted – SEO specialists consume a lot of press releases because they can generate traffic when executed properly.
Top 50 Free PR Submission Websites (Free to Register and Submit)
We’ve now touched base on how to write an article, a blog post and a press release. These are 3 very popular types of content/copy you’ll be focused most on as a Freelance Writer for the web. Press releases are not quite as popular as a blog post or an article, but I added it for a few reasons…
Reason 1: Press releases pay very well! Get good at writing them and companies will pay you hundreds of dollars to do these – all day.
Reason 2: They help hone and crisp up your writing skills!
Reason 3: They don’t take very long to write, and all of the details are provided to you up front! (less research involved for you)
There are other types of content/copy you can write for online businesses for excellent pay. However, these could be a separate course in itself! They are:
- Sales Pages
- White Papers
- Technical manuals
We’ll be offering a separate course on these individual types of writing very soon – all of these pay extremely well but take time to master. In the meantime, let’s focus on mastering the art of article/blog post/press release writing – there’s lots of money to be made in these areas, too!
As your homework assignment, I want you to write one 500 – 600 word article on why you think freelance writing is for you. Email your completed article to firstname.lastname@example.org within 7 days of completing this course module for day one.
Your completed article will be marked and critiqued by me and returned to you. This will be one of your first pieces of copy to add to your growing portfolio – having a portfolio is going to get you work, so it is important you do this.
Tomorrow, we’ll put our focus on these areas:
- How to Create a Website (a free one)
- Where to Find Paid Work – Fast!
- How to Build a Professional Looking Portfolio (in mere hours!)
See you tomorrow! And remember to do your homework to receive a credit for module one. We are making good progress!
- – Just a few pointers about how to write and format your article:
- Write how you speak.
- Don’t try to write how you wrote in school. School essays? Don’t do it.
- Write fewer words. Chop all useless words out – seriously. All of them.
- Avoid clichés like the devil. (See what I did there?)
- Don’t try to write so darn fancy. Use common, everyday words. Remember, we’re trying to write how we speak, and we want people to understand what we’re saying. So no big fancy words just because you learned a new one!
- Put the most interesting information first.
- Write in the active voice, not the passive. It’s more exciting. (“She kicked his butt!” vs. “He got his butt kicked by her.”)
- Focus on benefits over features.
- Break things up into short paragraphs, because people have short attention spans (really, they do). Aim for three sentences per paragraph. Oh, and use headers (mini titles) to break things up, too.
- Don’t ever use the word “irregardless.” Why? Because it’s not a word!
- Don’t be afraid to break the rules. Good writing ain’t about being correct! It’s about evoking emotions and making people feel something!
You might think you are becoming a writer of ‘Bumpf’, but this is all about commercial writing, not serious academic essays – we all consume magazine and general journalism and this type of writing is what we get paid to do. You may very well get more serious assignments and develop a specialty – this is good, serving a ‘niche’ area is where the serious money is.
Got the idea? More Video & lessons to come in the modules – move on to the next…