5 Tips for Being Productive as a Freelance Writer
by James Madeiros · September 26, 2011
The harsh truth is that in the age of the Internet, content writers are a dime a dozen and growing cheaper by the day. Good content writers, however, are becoming more valuable and great content writers are in demand.
One of the things that make a great content writer is the ability to be productive. Before the lightning speed of the Digital Age people were willing to wait for quality writing. Now, winning in the content-writing game is about quality and quantity.
These five tips will help content writers increase productivity without sacrificing quality.
1. No Distractions
Even if every other tip is forgotten, remembering and adhering to this is guaranteed to increase productivity. Distractions for the content writer are numerous, easily accessible and often very tempting.
The Internet is only a click away and is the very definition of distraction. The problem is often worsened by the fact that most content writers have to use the Internet to do research and interact with clients, so there is really no avoiding it. The temptation to surf simply must be overcome.
Other distractions include TV, phone calls, sunny days and basically all things that aren’t writing. Avoiding these is best done by building a work schedule and cultivating a habit of sticking to it.
2. Communicate with the Client
Every client is different, they all have different expectations and everyone communicates in a different way. Taking the time to fully understand the client’s needs and expectations before work begins will save hours of time in additional communications and perhaps even revisions.
Get it right the first time by asking a lot of questions, being explicit in describing the work, offering examples and asking for examples, and making sure clients understand what they are buying and what is being sold.
3. Superb Research and Writing
The importance of excellent research and writing skills cannot be denied. If a content writer is lacking in these skills it is critical that they be improved. There is no substitute and the day a client discovers a writer lacks these abilities, it is the day that client leaves for another writer.
Efficient research and error-free writing will greatly lessen the need for revisions and will engender a sense of confidence in the writing that will result in more work and better pay, which is how productivity is measured by content writers.
4. Do Not Spin/Plagiarize
Content writers may be tempted to spin old articles or outright steal them to turn a profit by saving time. This is not only unethical and unacceptable among reputable content writers; it is the quickest way to decrease productivity to zero by way of unemployment.
As technology improves, it is becoming easier for clients to scan content to detect plagiarism, and if discovered it is the quickest way to professional ruin. It also leaves less for a legitimate portfolio, which is another measure of productivity in the writing community.
5. Avoid Confusing Clients/Projects
Accepting challenges is how content writers expand knowledge, talent and their client lists, but taking on too much in terms of volume or complexity can lead to missed deadlines and disappointed clients.
The first step to avoiding this is being able to identify clients who do not know what they want or do not know how to describe what they want. This is the proverbial pig in a poke; even if the pay looks good up front, the view is likely to change in the end.
The next step is for writers to identify projects that are too far outside their realm of expertise and will require too much research to deliver a quality product.
Following these steps will help content writers increase time management and productivity as they develop their writing products.