Will I or will I not? Yamuna asked herself sitting before her desk. A freelance content writer, she is trying to write an article for a small business firm and wondering whether she will be able to write a fairly decent piece. So will she be able to finish her work on time? Will she succeed?
Type in “tips for content writing” in Google or Yahoo and hundreds of sites pop up in the search results giving information on what to do and what not to do. Here, we share with you a few of the most important points that we felt were necessary for a freelance content writer to know.
Set the mood (for work, not seduction). Give up on your negative emotions. Negativity affects your productivity. Keep in contact with other freelance writers. They can advice you, give you tips when you hit a writer’s block and share your work load.
Try to stay positive. Keep a journal or a private blog to write out your frustrations. Journal writing is a good form of catharsis (Keep the journal under lock and key if you have a curious pre-teen, teen or adult at home).
Your initial pay cheques may not be great. So be prepared for that mentally (Yes, that Renault Duster you were eyeing may have to wait a few more years).
Do not work for the money, but remember that you are doing it because you enjoy writing (Keeping telling it to your pesky relatives/friends who keep asking you to get a real job. Someday the point will get through their thick heads).
Take up topics and subjects that interest you. Otherwise your may not give your best to the writing at hand (After all you do not want to find yourself falling asleep in the middle of the day on your laptop. There is only so much the laptop can take). Have fun while writing and it will show in the end product.
Set out a work space for yourself. The biggest mistake freelance writers make is plopping down on the bed to begin writing. If you are in it for the long haul, we suggest you get an ergonomic chair and table and set it up in a comfortable niche in your home, studio, etc. You do not want to come down with wrist pain and back pain – the bane of IT professionals throughout the world.
Exercise before and in between writing. Again, we do not want to make the same mistake hundreds of IT professionals made initially and are still making.
Remember that what you are doing is ultimately marketing. So, examine your broad objective(s). Do some research on what the site is about, what else is already up and where your piece fits in the larger picture.
Understand your core reader or client.
Identify the most influential individual, companies, and organizations in the market. Understand their tone and the tactics they use. But do not plagiarize. These are to be used only as loose guidelines.
- Your execution of the content should be clear, precise and accurate.
- Get to the point in the beginning. You can expand later in another page or paragraph.
- Do not digress (Bringing up John Abraham, no matter how much of a fan you are, is a definite no-no).
- Use precise and hard-hitting title(s). The title should tell what the rest of the article is about.
- Be cheeky, humorous, use rhetorical questions (John Abraham is one handsome hunk, isn’t he? See what we mean?).
- Your reader wants to feel that it is journey that you are taking together. Connect with the reader from the beginning. Use ‘you’ as much as possible.
- Use lists instead of paragraphs. Research tells that online readers have short attention span.Keep your lists short.
- Include sub-headings, they make scanning the web page easier for the (what research tells us are utterly lazy) readers.
- Write short sentences as much as possible.
Some sites are meant to sell, and some are meant to be informative. So depending on your target audience modulate your sentences (so yes, the sentences do not have to be always short.) For e.g. if you are writing for Wikipedia, on existential philosophy, then you could use longer sentences, because your target audience is probably more educated and interested than, say, if you are writing for a baby products site.
If advertising is preaching, content marketing is teaching. While, your writing will showcase the product, also share your knowledge about the brand and deliver value. For e.g. the site of Fisher-Price not only showcases their toys, but also gives information on physical, emotional and social skills acquired by infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers, and age-appropriate activities for each segment.
If the site allows for it, make stories with time, place, characters, conflict, resolution – the works
So did Yamuna deliver a decent piece on time? We believe she did!