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Five Tips for New Freelance Writers

by Linda Jenkinson

dog detective

1. Write because you love writing.

If your goal in writing is monetary success, get ready for disappointment. Throughout history, writing hasn’t been a ‘get rich quick’ scheme for most writers. In fact, many famous writers, such as Edgar Allan Poe, died broke and broken. If you are writing for any other reason than you love writing, you are writing for the wrong reason.

Writing is not like learning to tie your shoes or learning to ride a bike. It is more than typing words on a page. Although you can learn the nuts and bolts of writing, you still need a blend of talent, passion, and skill to make writing a satisfying vocation. Speaking of the nuts and bolts ...

2. Learn the Nuts and Bolts

Even with the popularity of Indie publishing, writers are at the mercy of publishers, editors, and—most of all—their readers.

Technical writing and copywriting are very competitive fields. You must be capable of picture perfect work to succeed in either of them. You need to know the mechanics of writing. Still, the basics of punctuation, grammar, and spelling only begin what you need to know to be successful. You need to learn what your clients and readers expect from the documents you intend to write.

A good place to start is an article on 30 types of freelance writing jobs and how to get them. The article gives you the bare bones of what you need to know for each writing discipline and what you need to do to snag the writing jobs you want.

3. Choose Your Writing Specialty

Every writer doesn’t have a great novel lurking in his or her imagination, and that’s okay. Concentrate on writing what comes easiest for you. There is a whole world of writing outside of the great American novel, especially if you are not an American!

Choose your field. Then work to become proficient in it. There are many disciplines that can sate your appetite for writing. Here are a few of them.

  • poetry
  • technical writing
  • copywriting
  • essay writing
  • biographies
  • ghost writing
  • creative prose

4. Research, Research, and Research

Another reason to choose a writing specialty that interests you is writing well takes heaps of research.

Even good novels take hours of research. For instance, I once received a manuscript set in Ireland. It was obvious the author was unfamiliar with the country. She noted the housekeeper had a “thick Irish brogue” and wrote about the family going into the village for Godfather’s pizza.

First, a native Irish housekeeper would have a “thick Irish brogue” as would her employers. Second, Irish villages don’t have Godfather’s franchises.

5. Read, Read, and Read

To keep up to date with what your readers expect, read about your genre and read those written within your genre. Book review sites are good places to hear the latest buzz.

Learn what your readers like, what they don’t like, and what the current trends are.

When writing becomes more of a chore than a passion, it is very difficult to make progress. To write well, you must enjoy writing and all of its side jobs. Most of all, good writers are good readers, too.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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