Over the past few years, I have worked with hundreds of online writers at various stages of their career since I’ve always prided myself in helping others succeed. While the one thing in common all of these writers shared was a passion to write and make money online, their skill sets varied dramatically in terms of understanding how the Internet really works and what clients expect in terms of content. If you really want to be a writer online, then here are some traits that you have to master well before reaching out to your first client-
Understanding Search Engine Optimization
It’s kind of funny; every single time I place an ad online for help on a writing project, nearly 100% of the applicants reply by saying, “Hello. My name is <xxx> and I’m an SEO expert.” In most of those cases, I will reply to that writer by saying, “Okay, great! Please forward me all the keywords that you have ranked #1 on Google for your personal website and I’ll hire you immediately.”
There is a huge difference having basic knowledge of search engine optimization and claiming to be an actual authority, so expect for clients to call your bluff often when you say something like, “I’m an SEO expert.” Believe it or not, I’ve learned more from clients over the years than I ever picked up on my own or in college…so be humble when stating your talents and let the writing do the talking for you. Instead of making overstated claims, just send the client a custom sample to prove you know what you’re talking about.
Writing for Short Attention Spans
If you’re writing for a newspaper, magazine, or sending a business letter, then you should stick just with the facts and avoid embellishments. Audiences online are a completely different type of reader, however, and your writing style has to be a lot more relaxed in order to hold their attention. That’s why you see so many online articles that are formatted with subtitles, page breaks, bullet points, and photographs…it’s a way to keep readers engaged.
Likewise, the Internet is not a place to show off your vocabulary so keep those five-dollar words off the screen. Your readers will range from 8-90 in age and a good percentage of them will not even count English as their first language, so remember that online articles are written for a very broad audience. While you should absolutely have a unique voice and show off your writing styles as much as possible, just be sure that your wording is appropriate for your client’s entire reader-base.
Quotes from Reputable Sources
- It gives the client outbound links to quality sites
- It shows that you’re competent with research
- It shows the client that you know what you’re talking about
- It gives your readers faith that your advice is genuine
- It makes Google happy…which makes your client happy
Using Professionalism to Make Impressions
If you want to be a writer with a long career ahead of you, then understanding a client’s needs is only half of the battle. I can’t tell you how many times a writer has sounded great in the interview and then proved that they were a complete amateur by missing deadlines, sending poor quality work, making excuses, asking for payment advances, or complaining that I did not provide them sufficient details to complete the assignment. This is not how a professional operates.
It really doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger, a copy writer, or a freelance writer, dealing with clients is the most important aspect of your profession because it decides your eventual income. There is absolutely no substitute for great customer service so as a writer; you have to exceed your client’s expectations from the original proposal letter to after receiving your final payment.