Today is Lesson 1 in a new series here on Freelance Writing Jobs that will teach you How to Be a Paid Writer. If you’re just getting started in the world of writing to earn a living, then this series is for you!
Lesson 1 – Learn How to Write
It might seem obvious, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this series at the very beginning. Anyone who wants to become a freelance writer (or any kind of writer) who is paid for their words needs to know how to write. That doesn’t mean you need to know every little grammar rule, but you do need to know most of them. If you don’t know where to put that comma, stop writing and look it up. Keep tools like the Chicago Manual of Style or the Associated Press Stylebook handy while you write, but more importantly, educate yourself before you even start writing. Read the posts from the Freelance Writing Jobs Grammar Guide and take online courses such as the lessons provided from The Guide to Grammar and Writing.
Grammar is just the first step to learning how to write. You also need to be able to put words together to form interesting sentences and paragraphs. Read books like The Elements of Style and On Writing Well to learn some of the essentials. Also, take a course at a local community college and join a writing group in your area to get feedback from other writers. Joining a forum like the one offered at AbsoluteWrite.com can also help you hone your writing skills and learn from other writers.
Finally, before you start writing, you need to determine what type of writing you want to do. Writing for one medium is not necessarily the same as writing for another medium. For example, freelance writers who provide blog content are expected to write in a very conversational tone. On the other hand, freelance writers who provide content for financial magazines are expected to write in a highly professional tone complete with jargon and messaging a specific target audience would understand. Similarly, the structure of sentences and paragraphs on a blog differs greatly from what is used in magazines or newspapers. One style or structure is not better than the other. They’re just different, and you need to understand that difference so you can adjust your writing style and structure to match the medium in which your writing will be published.
Once you determine what type of writing you want to do, you need to start reading other writers’ works in that style. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on and dissect the tone and structure of those pieces to learn what works and what you need to import into your own writing to have a chance at successfully competing in the freelance writing market and see your content appear alongside of other seasoned writers’ content and articles.
Bottom-line, becoming a freelance writer takes time, patience, persistence and a willingness to continually learn and grow. Very few writers achieve overnight success and very few writers are rich thanks to their writing. However, you’ll never know what the future holds for you as a writer unless you learn to write first.
Stay tuned for Lesson 2 of the How to Be a Paid Writer series where you’ll learn more about setting expectations for your life as a writer.