Good writing falls into the category of things that are easier said than done. When you’re first starting out, sitting with nothing but a brief, a blank page, and a blinking cursor in front of you can feel a bit daunting. However, our 8 tips for beginner writers will help you get started in the right way when it comes to freelance writing!
Our 8 tips for beginner writers are:
- Look to the pros
- Practice different writing styles
- Develop your grammar and spelling skills
- Learn basic SEO
- Take time to proofread your work
- Edit, edit and edit some more
- Learn how to research effectively
- Create a swipe file for inspiration
The main thing that will improve your writing skills is time. Like anything, the more you practice your writing, the more you will develop and improve. But as a beginner writer, there are a few other things you can do to make sure you’re writing well from the get-go. In this article, we look at 8 practical tips for beginner writers. Let’s get into them!
8 Beginner Writing Tips for Freelancers
1. Look to the Pros
When it comes to freelance writing, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Many freelance writers are willing to share their knowledge, insights, and experience for free. If you want to understand a specific writing style or term, a quick Google search will bring up numerous guides and templates.
Fellow freelance writers on Twitter and Instagram are fantastic sources for practical writing tricks and tips. Find the writers whose work or career path you admire and read anything and everything they’ve written. Learning from their work and experience is an excellent way to accelerate your own writing skills.
2. Practice Different Writing Styles
Most freelance writers eventually find a niche, both in terms of subject matter and writing style. As a beginner though, it’s useful to become familiar with using a wide range of writing styles – from short, snappy copy on a landing page to formal business writing in a white paper. “Writing” is an umbrella term encompassing a range of different writing styles, including:
- Technical writing
- Content writing
- B2B writing
- Email marketing
Familiarising yourself with different writing styles is beneficial for both your clients and your own professional development. The best way to do so is by reading. While reading examples of different writing styles, keep note of what you like, what you find effective, and even what you don’t like. Reading bad writing can help you learn what to avoid or do differently.
3. Develop Your Grammar and Spelling Skills
While we thankfully have AI to do a lot of the leg work, a good understanding of grammar and strong spelling skills are invaluable as a writer. With these, you reduce the risk of errors in your writing at an early stage and you can work faster. As a writer, you should be constantly building on your grammar and spelling skills.
It’s helpful to have one or two grammar reference books at hand when you get stuck on an Oxford comma or deciding whether you need a “who” or a “whom”. There are also loads of online resources available. For UK writers, The Guardian’s style guide is an excellent go-to for grammar and style queries.
Having solid spelling and grammar is essential for freelance writers. Clients will be quick to turn you away if your grammar is poor, so it’s absolutely essential that you don’t neglect this aspect of your writing.
4. Learn Basic SEO
If you’re doing any online writing, a working knowledge of basic SEO principles is essential. Search Engine Optimisation involves using keywords (among other techniques) to make sure your website or article appears in the top-ranked results when someone googles a topic or question.
Most online writing involves a marketing aspect, whether it’s selling more products or attracting more readers. A basic understanding of concepts such as technical SEO, keyword research, backlinks, and image optimisation adds another string to your bow and will broaden your writing opportunities.
Again, there’s lots of information and tutorials available online to help you learn some basic SEO principles to incorporate into your writing. If you plan to use your writing to make money, be it through your own blog or as a freelance writer, a basic understanding of SEO is key.
5. Take Time to Proofread Your Work
Proofreading is a crucial step in producing professionally written work. Proofreading involves checking for typos, missing words, inconsistencies, and spelling and punctuation errors. There are plenty of good proofreading tools available online to help you with this process.
But these programs are not always reliable, so you also need to proofread each piece of work carefully yourself. Reading your work aloud is a useful proofreading technique. It will help you notice errors you may otherwise miss when reading to yourself.
6. Edit, Edit, and Edit Some More
Getting a first draft on the page is just the first step. All good writers edit their work multiple times. Editing is a vital part of the writing process, and it doesn’t just involve checking for spelling mistakes. It involves removing, rewriting, and reorganising your words to improve the clarity and overall effectiveness of your writing.
During the editing process, remove any fluff that’s distracting from your key messages and doesn’t add any value for your readers. Although it may feel counterintuitive, one of the most useful editing tips is to not edit as soon as you finish writing. By stepping back from a piece of writing for a few hours, or even a few days, you can then reread it with fresh eyes and pick up on things you may not have previously noticed.
This is another of our tips for beginner writers that is essential for freelancers. Many clients expect you to edit your own work, so that they’re not left with more work to do when you submit a project. If you can’t take the time to edit your own work on your own terms, expect clients to send things back to you for time-consuming revisions in the future!
7. Learn How to Research Effectively
A good freelance writer can write accurately and in-depth on a broad range of topics. This doesn’t mean you need to be an expert in all the subjects you write about. In fact, you don’t need to be an expert in any of them! What you do need is an ability to research effectively.
Targeting your research, finding quality sources, interpreting and verifying information, and organising your research are all key skills good writers should have in their arsenal. By equipping yourself with these skills, you won’t have any trouble writing on any subject your clients request.
8. Create a Swipe File for Inspiration
Our best ideas often come to us while we’re sitting on the bus, cooking dinner, or going for a run – basically anywhere that isn’t our workspace! A good way to keep track of your ideas is to note them down and start compiling a swipe file. Originally a copywriting concept, a swipe file is a folder (virtual or physical) of inspiring advertising and marketing ideas.
It’s a concept that works for all kinds of writing. As well as your notes, include any examples of good writing or other inspiration you come across. The next time you draw a blank when it comes to writing, a quick flick through your swipe file should help get the creative juices flowing!
There you have it – a few tips for beginner writers to hopefully make the process a little less daunting! Starting really is the hardest part. Once you do that, you’re well and truly on track to building your writing career. If you want to learn more about becoming a freelance writer, check out this article. For more articles about freelancing in general, head over to the Sophical Blog.