Writing from home is not without its advantages. For one, almost nothing in your life changes in extraordinary circumstances like a pandemic, apart from a shift in subject matter. If you’re thinking about trying your luck as an online writer, here are some tips to get you started.
Choose topics that interest you
The best topics are those you are passionate about. It’s not that online writers can’t write about something that doesn’t interest them; it’s just that the outcome is better if you actually care about your subject matter.
Choose topics you have knowledge in
Admittedly, we can’t make a career or even money out of writing if we only choose subjects that are close to our heart. Work on topics you’re knowledgeable (if not passionate) about. Maybe you’ve worked for a furniture company and have expertise in the sector. At times when people are rushing to duplicate content, an expert voice will set your work apart.
In lieu of 1 and 2, choose resources wisely
If neither 1 nor 2 can be applied, choose subjects where you have a wealth of resources available to you. It is easier to find information on diet-related subjects than nuclear physics-related ones.
Consider the competition
In the past, only specific people worked from home, like disabled persons or mothers of small children. With time, more and more people began discovering the pros of working online, so competition increased. With the pandemic confining us to our homes, competition is only going up. You’ll always need to be on your toes. Polish your writing skills consistently.
Following from the previous tip: you can’t beat all this competition without being flexible with prices and deadlines.
Set a schedule
Or at least try. There’s always going to be something unplanned, like an article due in the next few hours, but when you can plan, do so. Plan in advance how long you’re going to work every day and in which time intervals and make every effort to stick to the plan. Leave a window for urgent projects open.
It’s tempting to waste time on social media or otherwise when we are our own boss. Online writing is a job like any other and it’s important to be as productive as possible. If you live with people who can be less than considerate, you need to make it clear to them that just because you’re working from home, you’re not always ready and willing to cook, do the dishes, or vacuum. Your writing should always come first if you want to make a career out of it.
It is a real job
Being an online writer is a job and there is very real money to be made. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I’ve come across quite a few ads along the lines of, “You should be available 24/7 as someone working from home can be expected to be.” Even online writers sleep and eat occasionally.
An acquaintance once compared working from home to selling car parts from your garage; implying it is somehow illicit. He wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but either way, be prepared to come across people with that archaic mentality.
The customer is (almost) always right
Not everyone is going to be ready to accept your work without “comments” and “suggestions” for improvement. You’re bound to disagree with at least one customer. Usually, writers either don’t agree with the suggestions or they do not want to do free revisions. Arguing with clients can be a harrowing experience. Accommodate your clients’ reasonable requests.
Set and communicate terms in advance
In line with my previous point: to avoid arguments down the line, set and communicate your terms in advance. This includes your rate, period of delivery, and policy on revisions – one free revision, etc.
Do research on rates
To establish the right rate, you might need to do some research. There is huge variation in writers’ rates, ranging from as little as a dollar per 100 words to as much as 10. The rate should depend on the amount of research needed, the type of subject matter, and the deadline. You can offer discounts on large orders. Be wise to tricks. Native speakers command higher rates for obvious reasons, but people will try to get you to lower your rate because “you’re writing in your own language, that’s not hard!”
Choose your employer wisely
As an online writer, you have the following choices: freelancing, working for an agency, working for a content farm, two of the above, or all of the above. Freelance writers typically work through profiles on platforms like Upwork, freelancer.com, and Fiverr. They reach out to clients or vice versa and work with them directly. The best clients are medium-size companies.
Content marketing agencies pay well and their standards for quality are high. Content farms, as they are disparagingly termed, can pay even less than a dollar per 100 words and won’t hesitate to demand original content in exchange. The quality of the output is appalling. A writer may decide to run an article through spinning software so it will be Copyscape unique, sending an unreadable text.
Words are a writer’s fuel. Reading is the best way to master words! Any reading material will be helpful: fiction, non-fiction, classic literature, e-books, and some magazines.
Learn to write catchy titles
If you don’t hook the reader with a catchy title, they can lose interest quickly. Write relatively short titles with powerful adjectives and try to include an odd number. A bold title can make the difference between a dud and a quality piece. The words should grab attention and encourage people to keep reading.
Examine writing styles
Read critically and examine the ways, in which authors convey their feelings and thoughts. If you are able to pay attention, any text can teach you something. Despite your preferences, read works in different genres. A fresh perspective is to be gained from this and the benefits are not to be underestimated.
A beginner needs to be in love with the idea of writing. Lacking this motivation will make it challenging to create compelling content.
Know your audience
Knowing your audience is one of the best writing tips for beginners I can offer. If you have no clue, ask your client what kind of audience they expect or want to attract. Niche content targets experienced professionals. If you don’t have specialized knowledge in the subject, you’ll need to do extensive research. Otherwise, you risk the piece being perceived as incompetently written. The client might be unhappy with the outcome.
A fashion piece aimed at teenage girls will have one voice. An academic text to be published in a scientific journal – quite another.
Find your unique voice
While we need to consider our readers, each writer has their very own unique voice. Balancing the two is a big challenge as we gain experience. Striking the perfect balance is what being a professional writer is all about.