5 Common Traits Writers Share (and More Importantly, Will You Be Happy as a Writer?)

love-writing

©iStock.com/aleksandr-mansurov-ru

People often ask me how they too can become a freelance writer.

How do I answer this question?

Usually, I give would-be freelance writers a skills-based answer–somewhat like what I share in this post, Can Anyone Be a Writer? 6 Basic Skills that Writers Need.

While that post gives a good answer, it overlooks the more important question of whether you will like freelance writing.

The longer I stay in this business, the more convinced I become that freelance writing success depends (at least partly) on job satisfaction. If you don’t like writing, you won’t stick with it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Freelance writing is not for everyone.

Although you may perfect the skills you need to become a writer, you’ll eventually move on if freelance writing makes you unhappy.

In this post I discuss five traits that most satisfied freelance writers share.

[Read more…]

What You Need to Know About Writing Certifications

©iStock.com/cacaroot

©iStock.com/cacaroot

Should freelance writers get a certification?

Will having a certification help you to get more jobs or higher pay?

There’s no question that in some industries a certification is a definite advantage.

In accounting, for example, being a Certified Public Accountant often means earning more money. In the IT fields, having a certification can also help with your career. And there are plenty of IT certifications to choose from.

If two similar candidates apply for the same position, a certification could provide the competitive edge needed to get the job.

Does it work the same way for freelance writers?

I wanted to find out, so I identified 11 certifications for writers. I also contacted two certified writers to find out whether certification helped them.

[Read more…]

Is Your Boss Terrible Even Though You’re a Freelance Writer?

Terrible-boss

©iStock.com/HASLOO

If you said “yes,” there’s a problem.

The problem is that if you’re a freelancer, you’re the boss.

And you’re messing that up or you wouldn’t be so unhappy.

Many writers start freelancing so they don’t have to work for a terrible boss. But they wind up hating freelancing because they don’t treat themselves well.

Some freelancers make bad bosses. They expect more from themselves than most managers would.

If you recently started freelance writing and you find it harder than traditional employment, it may be because you’re a terrible boss. Good news. You can learn to do better. This post is for you.

In this post I list four reasons why freelancers sometimes make terrible bosses. And I explain how you can do better.

[Read more…]

3 Questions You Must Ask Before You Begin to Blog

blog-questions

©Laura Spencer

Every year millions of blogs are started. And every year millions of blogs are abandoned.

Clearly blogging does not live up to expectations for a lot of people.

Something went wrong. It’s a shame, really.

Yet, if used properly, blogging can be a valuable tool. Unfortunately, many new bloggers do not know how to blog properly.

If you’re thinking about starting a blog, this post poses three questions you need to answer first.

If you liked this post, you’ll probably also like 6 Winning Blog Post Ideas for Your Small Business.

[Read more…]

How to Have a Better Blog, Starting Today

©iStock.com/Oko_SwanOmurphy

©iStock.com/Oko_SwanOmurphy

Whether you maintain a blog for your business or as a freelancer, there’s always room for improvement.

You can have a better blog. And you can start taking steps to make your blog better today.

This is especially true if your blog has been around for a few years. Mature blogs tend to develop problems that new blogs don’t have to worry about (yet).

Of course, some bloggers just abandon their mature blogs and start over from scratch. Once in a while, that approach is justified. But more often, a mature blog can and should be fixed.

If your blog has an established readership, it’s probably worth it to take the time to fix your existing blog.

The good news is that by making just a handful of changes you can increase traffic and engagement. In this post, I’ll show you five easy fixes to make your existing blog better.

[Read more…]

Why You Might Be Losing Gigs without Even Knowing It and What to Do to Fix It

©iStock.com/feedough

©iStock.com/feedough

Are you getting enough freelance writing work? Do you apply for gig after gig, but never receive an answer?

If you can relate, you could be alienating your prospective clients without realizing it. (Don’t worry. Most freelance writers face this problem sooner or later.)

The sad truth is that a prospect who passes you by generally won’t explain what turned them away. As a writer, you’re left scratching your head and trying to figure out what you’ve done wrong.

In this post, I address over seven reasons a prospective client might pass you by.

[Read more…]

How to Grab and Hold Your Reader’s Attention Online

Hold Attention

©iStock.com/michaklootwijk

Mere seconds. That’s all it takes to lose the attention of someone who comes to your website. Remember, your competitor is just a mouse click away.

You see, we online readers are a fickle bunch. And we’re in a hurry. It takes a lot to grab and hold our attention.

Reading something online is a lot different than picking up a book, magazine, or a newspaper.

Unlike with traditional media, the Internet literally puts a wealth of information at a reader’s fingertips. That’s why I stated earlier that your competitor is just a mouse click away.

It takes a special kind of writing to grab and hold your reader’s attention when you publish your information online. In this post, I share five elements that will help you keep your readers focused on your story.

[Read more…]

What Is Scannable Content and How to Write It If You Publish Online

scannable copy

©Laura Spencer

Do your posts and articles look like college term papers? If they do, you’re making a big mistake (and your web traffic probably shows it).

Not writing scannable content just may be the number one rookie writer mistake new writers make.

Don’t worry. If you’re making this mistake, you’re not alone. I made it myself years ago when I transitioned from technical writing to web writing.

Learning how to make your articles and posts scannable is not difficult.

In this post, I share ten elements that will help make your online posts and articles more scannable.

[Read more…]

Why You Should Get Out of Your Pajamas and Out of Your House Today

©iStock.com/erikreis

©iStock.com/erikreis

Ahh, the freelance writer.

Bleary eyed, day after day he or she sits at home staring at the computer, clad only in a pair of scruffy (and somewhat smelly) pajamas. Alone.

If the freelancer is a guy, it’s been at least a week since he shaved. And of course, a female freelancer wears no makeup.

That is the stereotype anyway. Everyone knows that freelance writers rarely leave home and have poor personal hygiene, right?

If truth be told, there have been days when I’ve worked in my pajamas. But I don’t do that often, do you know why?

I’ve found that I feel more professional and do better work when I dress for my workday–even when I work from home. My guess is that the same is true for you.

(By dressing for my day, I don’t mean formal attire. Most days I don a clean tee-shirt and a pair of jeans. I’m still all about comfort.)

In this post, I share three reasons why you should get out of your pajamas and out of your home office.

[Read more…]

What Is the Difference Between an Article and a Blog Post? (Revisited)

article-blog-posts

©iStock.com/marekuliasz

Do you write articles, blog posts, or both?

Many writers and their clients don’t know how to answer this question. That’s because the line between an article and a blog post has become blurry over the past decade.

Some online publications started as blogs and some publish blog posts and articles side by side. No wonder there’s such confusion.

If writers and publishers don’t fully understand the difference between the two, imagine the confusion in the mind of the average consumer.

As writers, we need to understand which type of piece we are being asked to write.

I first explored the difference between articles and blog posts four years ago. Since I first wrote about the topic, the line between the two types of writing has become even more blurry.

In this post, I’ll take another look at the differences between an article and a blog post. I’ll also share my opinion on what that difference means for writers and what writers should do about it.

[Read more…]