One of the first mistakes that new freelance writers make is thinking it will be easy for them to be a freelance writer.
In fact, many people decide to be a freelance writer because they always did well writing essays and papers in school or college.
So they think it will be easy. That was me too, at first.
Writing for the internet is different
But writing to educate, entertain, or inform internet audiences is totally different than writing to show comprehension to your professor.
Even the formatting of online writing differs from print.
To be effective, grab your reader and hang on tight.
Use more white space, shorter paragraphs, and more visual content to write successfully online.
You have to hook readers fast, tell a story, and keep them engaged.
That’s not always easy to do.
And to get your writing found online, you first need to learn the basics of SEO to help get your work seen by more people and the right people.
Hook your reader quickly and keep them engaged or lose them
You have mere seconds to hook your reader. And that’s only if you can get them to click your headline or image first.
If your headline and image for your post are engaging, only then do they start reading your post or website copy.
There’s no time to waste. If readers do click through to your post and their first impression is that it will take too long to read, they will click away.
They make that decision in seconds and that’s it, you’ve lost them.
When you’re writing for potential clients, keeping readers engaged often means they read, comment, like, click through, buy, or share your piece.
You must draw readers in quickly, make them care about what comes next, keep them engaged from one sentence to the next.
Engaging content gets your client more eyes on his/her business.
When you can do this consistently as a freelance writer, you can demonstrate your value to your client and charge higher rates.
The goal is to keep readers on the site to the end of the post at least, or to keep them reading until they are persuaded to take some kind of action.
This is typically an action such as liking or following a profile, sharing the post, or clicking a link for a newsletter or opt-in.
Some people will skim your post first to determine if it’s worthy of a full read.
You must write for these readers too.
Use relevant subheadings, pull out quotes, and other visual content to capture the reader’s attention and pull them in.
Don’t use pull out quotes, italics, or bold font excessively and always make sure you are using it properly.
Match the tone and style of the website or publication
Every company blog, website, or magazine has its own tone and style. It pays to read the blog, site, or magazine which will be home to your future post.
Sending a pitch to an editor on a topic they just covered is the kiss of death for a writer.
Editors are busy. Show you understand and value their time by only sending them pitches you know are a good fit for their audience.
Most publications continue to publish pieces that resonate with their readers or potential customers.
If you don’t know who you’re writing for, it will be very difficult to match the tone and style of the publication.
If you’re writing for an audience of dog lovers and you use a cat example or metaphor, your post will not resonate and could even turn readers off.
It won’t perform well for the client. Poor performance of your content means they likely won’t hire you for future writing projects.
Use of images and other interactive content
Your posts or articles should also visually appeal to your audience.
A picture truly is worth a thousand words or in this case several minutes of read time.
The featured image you choose for your post IS your one opportunity to make a first impression on your reader.
You may only get seconds and you may not get a second chance to pull them in.
Choose photos carefully. Make sure they are relevant and tell the reader something about what they are going to read.
Featured images should be compelling, encouraging readers to click to find out more.
Always cite photos and when possible, give credit to the photographer, even if not required.
Make sure of interactive content such as infographics, charts, quizzes, and polls to keep your reader engaged.
But don’t overdo these elements. Infographics and charts should be used to enhance clarity of a topic, not simply repeat it.
Polls and quizzes should be relevant to your topic and questions or options should be well thought out and not lead the reader to a response.
Content structure can vary based on audience and user intent
Understanding user intent when writing online content is an important factor. In fact, this is a secret that experts use to increase their conversion rates.
Content can be structured in a variety of ways including how-to posts, list articles, product reviews, buyer guides, etc.
The type of post you choose, if you understand the buyer’s journey, can increase the likelihood that a potential customer will convert.
If a reader is in the research stage of the buying journey, a how-to post won’t be effective. Learning how to use something they haven’t even bought yet isn’t desirable.
A product review or comparison guide would be more likely to satisfy the user intent and move them toward the next stage of the buying process.
When you learn about the buyer journey and how to create content that moves potential customers from one stage to the next reliably, you become more valuable to your clients.
You can charge accordingly for that value because you have a skill and level of understanding many new freelance writers or content writers don’t have.
Keep learning, get to know your audience, explore new content techniques.
Monitor the engagement on your online posts and document it.
Use that documentation to show future clients you can get results.
It’s true that anyone has the ability to write on the internet.
But only those who realize writing for the internet is different and who demonstrate a mastery of engagement skills will be able to earn a reliable income from it.
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