The New Year is all about fresh perspectives and perhaps its time to find a new career for yourself. Have you considered becoming a business freelance writer?

Becoming a freelance writer
Photo: imagerymajestic

Answer these questions truthfully –

  • Have you always had a flair for writing?
  • Do you have the skills to present information in an informative, logical, and original manner?
  • Are you looking for a better work-life balance?
  • Are you a former professional, who wants to use continue to use her experience even as you handle the everyday challenges of managing home?

If you just nodded your head in agreement on more than one of these statements then freelance writing is a possible work-from-home option for you. Here are the basics of what is business freelance writing, the skills needed to become a freelance writer, and how to get started.

1. Who is a Business Freelance Writer?

Today all businesses must have an online presence – their own website, blogs and social media accounts. This means that businesses in India and abroad, businesses of all shapes and sizes, are in constant need for online content that they can publish to keep their websites fresh and their customers engaged. Most business owners either don’t have the skill to do a good job of writing content or don’t have the time to research and write relevant content themselves.

That’s where you as a business freelance writer can be of service. Having understood the business – its product/ service, customer target segment, competitors, content requirements, you will be responsible for creating the following types of content –

Types of internet content
Photo: Stuart Miles
  • Website content  – Content you read on various pages of a company’s website.
  • Blogs – Content on informative and current topics pertaining to the business and its customers.
  • Emails – Emails that the business will send to customers to promote its products / services; it could also be an email newsletter that is sent at defined frequency to all customers.
  • Social media updates– Posts and images to keep the content on the business Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest accounts.
  • Business proposals – You may also be asked to create a business proposal document.
  • Press releases – Draft online press releases for new products, campaigns, or major changes at the business that are newsworthy.

2. Skills Needed to Become a Business Freelance Writer

As a freelance writer you will be constantly learning ways to improve the quality of your writing. Also, every client/ writing assignment. will teach you new aspects of managing your business. But to begin with, you must have the following 10 skills to become a freelance writer.

  1. English language: Understanding of the differences between U.K and U.S. English.
  2. Grammar: Basic understanding of English grammar/ punctuation. With time you can build on your knowledge on this aspect
  3. Research: Ability to research information online,  pluck the most relevant bits, and present information in a concise/ logical manner.
  4. Copywriting skills:  Ultimately your writing has to be engaging to your target audience. Website content and emailers, for instance, require a level of ‘salesmanship’ in your writing; or the ability to sell the business without sounding like an outright commercial.
  5. Professionalism: As a the lone person representing your business, you need to be a thorough professional. This means asking the right questions to understand client needs,  delivering consistently high quality consistent, meeting agreed timelines, and being responsive to client messages/ calls.
  6. Multi-tasking: You will be responsible for marketing yourself, bidding for projects, delivering the content, and following up with clients for payments. Customer service will be a daily part of your job profile as a freelance writer.
  7. Positive attitude: Freelance writing is a highly competitive business. You are competing with writers from across the world – writers who are more experienced; who are ‘native’ English speakers and therefore given a preference; or writers who are willing to do the job for a lesser price. It can be difficult to get the first break and to find clients that offer regular paying work. A ‘never say die’ attitude that will keep you going through the tough initial days.
  8. Willingness to constantly improve:  There are as many writers tools and apps as there are writers.  New technologies and concepts are always being introduced, which your clients expect you to be familiar with. Therefore, you must spend a few hours a week researching and reading up on what’s new, and how you can add value to your clients.
  9. Originality: Your writing style is what sets you apart from others. You may not realize it, but you already have an existing style. Build on it, rather than trying to ape somebody’s style.
  10. Time management: With so much to do professionally, not to mention personal commitments, meeting deadlines can be challenging. Plan you monthly goals, and weekly and daily tasks to stay on track.

3. How is Internet Content Different from Content Written for a Magazine?

If you are a person of a few words, then internet content writing is just the thing for you. The internet audience is spoilt for choice – there is an abundance of information available on any topic. The average internet reader spends but a few seconds on any website, before deciding to read on or press the back button. This means that the content has to stand out and be easily grasped. In contrast, a person who picks up a magazine is more likely to be doing so at leisure and is therefore willing to spend more time reading what you have to say.

Content written for the internet must be clear and concise, while also being engaging. As Shakespeare himself remarked, ” Brevity is the soul of wit”. A relevant and succinct article headline, subheadings, bullet points, highlighted text and paragraphs that flow seamlessly are some of the skills that the business freelance writer must use to maximum effect.

4. Getting Started as a Business Freelance Writer

Start freelance writing
Photo: Stuart Miles

Different freelance writers will differ in their response to this question, simply because everyone has different strengths, skills, and opportunities.

In my opinion, a good place to find clients to work with are international freelancing websites such as Elance. Read these previously published blogs to understand how these sites work and what you need to do to reach potential clients.

5. Online Tools to Get Started as a Freelance Writer

Apart from creating your online freelancer profile on two or three job portals, there are several online tools to make your work look professional, help you collaborate with clients, and make it easier to get the job done. In fact every writer that you talk to has their favorite online tools. Here are 20 online tools that I regularly use for my writing business.

In addition, ensure that you have a blog/ website that showcases your work and your understanding of what it takes to write quality online content.

As a freelance writer, there is no end to your learning. All you need to do is make a beginning. If you think its too late in the day for you to switch careers, here is an inspiring infographic on how so many successful entrepreneurs started their business much later in life.

Are you a freelance writer with a story to share? Do you have a question on freelance writing opportunities in India? I would love to hear from you and maybe even have you guest post on my blog.