Becoming a Freelance Writer: Is Your Writing "Good Enough" for You to Succeed?
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You don’t have to be an exceptional writer to become a freelance writer. But, you do have to be a good writer.

I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I get a lot of questions from freelancers about what they may be doing "wrong"; why they're not landing jobs. And, this is one of the hardest things for me to tell them, ie, your writing is just not up to par.

And no, I’m not talking about the obvious horrible writing. That type of writing is easy to dismiss. I'm taking about the kind of writing that is not “bad, bad,” but it’s “just bad enough” that it keeps a freelancer from landing well-paying writing jobs.

3 Characteristics of "Not Good Enough" Writing

With the above being, following are three common missteps I see some aspiring freelance writers make.

(i) Not Delivering on the Headline: In this day and age, what draws most of us in; makes us want to read an article, blog post, click on a link? It's the headline, right? I hate it when I click on a headline – and the writer never delivers on it.

Headline writing is an art, for sure. But if you never deliver on it, it can make the reader feel like you wasted their time. They'll fell taken advantage of. When readers feel taken advantage of, they don't come back to your (your client's) website, blog, etc. This can lead to distrust of a brand.

No trust. No sales. So deliver on your headline – every time.

(ii) Choppy Copy: Have you ever been reading something, but found it hard to follow it because it seemed to jump from point to point for no apparent reason? This is what I mean by choppy copy.

Good writing has a flow to it. It easily moves the reader along from one related point to the next. If you must make 'hard turns' in your content, give the reader a 'heads up,' so they're not confused.

(iii) Common Spelling/Grammar Errors: You wouldn't believe the number of times I've fixed things like your (when it's supposed to be you're); or it's (when it's supposed to be its); or they're (when it's supposed to be (their). I could go on and on.

Many people just don't know the difference – and this is fine. There are plenty of words that still stump me that I have to look up, eg, "lay" and "lie" and "stationary" and "stationery."

My rule is, when in doubt -- research!

Grammar Tip: When a word has an apostrophe, use the word in a sentence and say the words that the contraction represents out loud to see if it fits. Doing this simple exercise will tell you if you're using the word right.

EXAMPLE: It's okay if you don't want to go. "It's" is the right word (not "its"), because you'd say, "It is [the two words that represent the contraction] okay if you don’t want to go."

When I change a series of errors like this to client copy, they wonder why it flows so much better. They can't put their finger on it, they just know it "sounds better," "flows better" and is "easier to understand."

FYI, these are all comments I've been received from clients over the years. And, all I had done to a large degree sometimes was fix a series of grammatical errors that the previous writer had made.

How to Tell If You're a Good (Enough) Writer

Ask a qualified writing professional. Let them know that you want complete honesty; to pull no punches. Then find a class that will help you improve your copywriting skills so you can succeed as a freelance writer. This is something that can be fixed, so don’t despair, ok.

About the Author: Yuwanda Black is the owner/operator of New Media Words, an SEO writing company. She's also the publisher of a niche blog on this type of technical writing – SeoWritingJobs.com. Ms. Black says, "With formalized SEO copywriter training, any motivated individual can start a high-earning, home-based career doing this type of web writing. Yuwanda has also authored over 50 ebooks, many of which cover some aspect of writing SEO content. They can be found on major outlets like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, in addition to her own website(s).

Keywords used in this article: freelance writing tips, copywriting tips, how to be a good writer, how to improve your writing skills

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