As you all know, I got my start on the internet as a freelance writer. I remember my first paid project – it was about hairbrushes! This individual was a hair brush seller and needed articles for a website.
I was nervous because this kind of work was unlike anything I had done. Prior to that, I made my income by getting my articles and creative writing published in magazines and literary journals.
Yes, I struggled through that first assignment. Also, my fear led to procrastination and in the end, even though the client was happy with my writing, he was less than pleased with my lack of prompt action. I don’t want you to have this same difficulty so I thought I’d run you through my writing process.
1. Obtain content writing assignment.
There are so many ways to get assigned articles, it’s hard to keep track. You can get work from content sites like iWriter and Textbroker, by applying for jobs, by bidding for jobs on elance or odesk, or by contacting potential clients directly through cold calling or emailing.
2. Understand the assignment.
Before you get started writing, read over the assignment parameters thoroughly. Some clients want you to come up with the topics yourself. Others assign you the topics. Keywords may or may not be involved. Make sure you understand exactly what the client wants.
3. Typical article structure.
Unless otherwise instructed, most articles have an introduction, body (with several subheadings) and conclusion. For an example, look at this very post. I wrote it with that structure in mind. Your primary goal is for the article to not only be entertaining and readable, but to also be scannable. Most people don’t read full articles online but rather skim for information.
4. Incorporating keywords.
Clients have different rules for keywords. For my own writing, I like to put the main keyword in the title, first paragraph, in the body (optional), and in the conclusion. If the article is on the longer side, I definitely incorporate it into the body. If it is short, I may only put the keyword in the title and then once in the first paragraph. Use your judgement here. Search engines want your content to be readable and keywords sometimes get in the way of that.
5. Research for information.
Do a quick search online for the topic or keyword you will be writing about. Skim two or three articles on the topic and use the information contained in the article as inspiration for your own article. Don’t copy anyone’s articles. This is very important. It is unethical, illegal, and it will taint your reputation.
6. Write your article.
When I write, I often set my timer. But, I didn’t do this at first. For that first assignment, I would guess that each article took me around an hour to complete. Over time, I got faster and faster as this kind of writing became second nature. Now, I can write a typical 400-500 word article in thirty minutes or less depending on the amount of research involved.
7. Proofread your article.
Your goal is to write so consciously that you won’t need to proofread. However, for your first few articles, I would take a minute or two to look it over. Make sure spelling and grammar check are activated on your word processing program. This helps a lot.
8. Send the articles to your client.
That’s it! You’re finished. Now, all you need to do is wait for feedback. However, if you followed this advice, I am sure the client will be very happy. Please ask any questions you may have in the comments. I’ll answer, and it also may inspire me for additional posts.
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