How To Become A Freelance Writer When You Can’t Write Worth A Darn
You might think that there’s no way you could ever be a freelance writer. You’ve never had particularly good writing skills, and you hated English/Creative Writing classes, but you want the freedom that comes with running your own business.
So… you love writing, but you can’t write very well. News flash: you can still be a successful freelance writer. How, you ask? Well, the answer isn’t “easy”, but here are four ways to improve your writing skills so you can start writing for cash.
#1 – Read Great Literature
The best writers are the ones who are serial bookworms, but that doesn’t mean you have to devour ten books a week. One good novel every couple of weeks will do you just fine, but make sure it’s quality literature. 50 Shades of Gray doesn’t count as literature; try reading some of the classics instead, like Jane Austen or Stephen King or whatever it is you’re interested in.
Once you make reading a habit, the words will start to stick, and you’ll suddenly find your vocabulary expanded. Just keep in mind that the language in a lot of classic novels from a century ago doesn’t always fit into modern day writing.
#2 – Buy A Writer’s Guide
Writer’s guides are a godsend in my opinion. Even the best writers need a little help now and then, and I can guarantee that the dictionary doesn’t gather any dust in this household. However, the dictionary isn’t the writer’s guide I’m talking about.
A quick search on Amazon will show you dozens of results for writer’s guides that include just about every English rule in the book. There are several new editions that come out every year, but unless you’re writing in a field where a single mistake will get you fired, you don’t need the most up-to-date version.
Writer’s guides are more useful as references rather than actual “guides”. I use mine to review the basic rules of the English language because I tend to forget how commas work some days. It’s great for those moments when you doubt whether or not you used a word or punctuation mark correctly, but you can also use the guide for more extensive proofreading.
#3 – Use A Grammar Checker
If you’re a burgeoning writer who still struggles with proper grammar and sentence structure, programs like Grammarly can help a lot. There are several online proofreading tools to choose from, with Grammarly being my top personal pick, but I will warn you that none of these programs are perfect.
Grammarly has a reputation for missing common errors, as well as suggesting the wrong sentence structure or word choice. Overall, though, it’s an excellent tool for beginning writers. As you write and read more, you’ll learn writing rules on your own. Online proofreading tools are highly useful for simple mistakes like spelling errors and improper punctuation.
Once you start making money with your freelance writing business, you can hire a professional proofreader to go through your work. Sites like UpWork and Fiverr have excellent proofreaders hanging out there, and you can hire them for cheap. Just give them a tip once in awhile, please. They like to know they’re appreciated.
#4 – Blog!
There’s no better way to learn to write than to practice. Blogging is a great way to improve your writing through a casual routine. You can blog for fun, educational purposes or money. I first started blogging on Livejournal back in the day, but I eventually moved on to WordPress and started a blog called Eclectica.
You don’t have to blog about freelance writing to establish yourself. You can blog about whatever you want! Just have fun, make regular posts, and you’ll learn the ins and outs of blogging in no time. You should also make reading and commenting on other blogs a habit so you can start building a network. It will also help you see how others are blogging; you might just learn a few tricks!
Anyone can write!
I firmly believe that anybody can write when they put their mind to it. Sure, it may take you a little longer than others to get the hang of it, but anything is possible with enough hard work and perseverance. There’s a great writer inside of you, just waiting to emerge!
For tips on how to land your first freelance writing gig, check out Bids and Pitches: Two Ways of Winning a Freelancing Gig. You can also follow writing boards on Pinterest that pertain to your niche to get more ideas on how to market yourself to clients.
Happy writing, freelancers!