1.Always Carry a Pen and a Pad
Ideas are fickle and you never know when inspiration will hit you. As a writer, you need to get this stream of ideas flowing so the next time you sit down to write an article all you’ll have a list of ideas to choose from. This is why you should always carry a pen and a pad, wherever you go. While you can use a mobile device to jot down ideas, a pen and a pad are much more reliable – their batteries never run out, nor do they break or reflect the sunlight.
2.Get ‘in the Zone’
Have you ever gotten so immersed in creativity that you almost went to a different dimension?
Being ‘in the zone’ is an almost meditative state where you are fully focused at the creative task at hand. It can take 15 minutes or more to reach that state, but a single minor interruption – like a phone call or a chat incoming call sound – to be throw you back into ‘reality.’ That is why you must remove all disruptions so you can be detached and focus on creating. For best results, work in power sessions of a couple of hours at a time, turning off your phone, social media, email etc.
3.Get Lots of RAM
You don’t need the top of the line computer in order to become a writer. However, you do need to stuck up on RAM (Random Access Memory). A lot of it! Here’s why: As a writer you will get most of your information online. You will often need to conduct online research and opening 20-40 browser tabs at a time is not a rare scenario. This is the fastest, most effective way to gather information today but it requires lots of RAM. Invest in 4GB RAM on your machine if you can, or even more if you can. You can never have too much RAM!
4.Back Up Constantly
The words you write are your asset. You spend a great deal of time on finding ideas, researching and putting it all together in writing. That is why you can’t afford any disasters! And disasters, unfortunately, do happen. Computers get stolen, hard disks fail and CDs are suddenly deemed unreadable. So constantly backing up your work is crucial. Try to have at least three backups at any given time. I back up my files to an external hard drive, a flash drive (which I take with me when I’m away) and to the cloud (I use Google Drive but there are various free and paid services you can use). To increase security, I use a different file name whenever I make significant document changes: [Filename] + version 1, [Filename] + version 2 etc. This way I can always go back to the original document should I need to and I eliminate the risk of deleting my entire project by mistake.
5.Create Article Series
If you have a long-term working agreement with a certain client, suggest to write article series for them. In many cases you’ll be required to write short articles of 500 words or so each time. With an article series you can develop a complex subject matter by breaking it down to a few separate articles. For example, you could write a series of four articles on: Relationship Tips for Couples:
- 7 Communication Tips for Couples
- How to Overcome Cheating in a Marriage
- How to Handle Arguments in a relationship
- 7 Tips for Getting Over Your Ex.
By writing article series you increase readers’ loyalty as they are intrigued to read the next article in line. You also increase the value of the publication you write for by turning it into a thorough, in-depth information source.
6.Never Underestimate Your Reader
Always remember that you write for people. Don’t write in a way you wouldn’t use to talk to your best friend. So be respectful, be helpful, don’t insult your reader’s intelligence, don’t go overboard with sarcasm and don’t waste your reader’s time with pointless waffle.
7.Get the Facts Right
Bad writers go to Wikipedia and to existing online articles and try to rephrase them. Good writers do their research, go right to the sources and put together a fresh, innovative new article. Be original, unique, creative, thorough. Instead of writing: “It is well known that…” or “I believe that…” check for the actual facts and bring up the numbers, referring to the sources. This will set you apart as a serious, authoritative writer.
8.Never Compromise on Quality
Your articles are your signature. Once online they are forever searchable alongside your name. Therefore you should never compromise on quality since your (and your client’s) reputation is at stake. Always think “What’s in it for my reader?” as you start crafting your article. If you can’t answer this question then find a better subject to write about. Before sending the article for review, always give it another view, making sure it reads well and double check the spelling.
9.Keep Your Own Records
As a freelance writer you will probably be working with various publishing clients. Some publishers are more organized than others, some pay on time while others need to be reminded. In any case, keeping your own records is key. Keep track of all the articles you write and organize them in folders on your hard drive. I also like to bookmark the browser tabs I work on and to organize them in folders according to the article’s title and the client’s name. When it comes to invoices, you can either create your own using a word processor or use an online tool like FreshBooks. Staying organized will make it easy to file your taxes and get paid on time.