One of the biggest questions new freelance writers think about is how to be a good writer.
Learning how to become a better writer should always be something you are striving for, no matter how long you’ve landed freelance writing jobs.
But, what if you aren’t sure if your writing style you learned in school is what will help you learn how to be a writer?
Can you effectively learn to become a better writer if writing inspiration doesn’t always hit you or you know you need to hone your skills and improve our writing?
Yes! Of course!
I didn’t start freelance writing as the best writer out there. In fact, I know I’m not the best writer out there.
So, how could I make a living writing if I didn’t know how to write well?
Because I was a sponge. I learned from other writers on how to become a better writer and then I applied what I learned to my writing.
Great writers are constantly learning.
But, it isn’t all about reading books about writing, it’s about actually writing (or typing on the laptop like I do).
To become a better writer you need to write…EVERY DAY.
Since I started freelance writing many years ago, I can’t think of a time I didn’t write, even if I was moving, or it was summer and I was taking care of my twins’ summer schedule or I was going through a tough bout of writer’s block.
I would write outlines, introductions to article ideas, a shopping list, sentence prompts for my twins or a tweet on Twitter.
I also did things – these 15 things in this post – to help me become a better writer.
Do you want to learn how to write better? Follow this guide and practice every day!
How to Become a Better Writer (The Best Tips on the Internet)
Well, I feel they are the best tips on the Internet!
All kidding aside, bookmark this post, take notes and above all, make a plan to take action and USE these tips.
1. Make Your Headline Stand Out
Your headline needs to be your purple cow.
Wait, your purple what?
Termed by marketing guru Seth Godin in his book Purple Cow, the idea is based on the premise that when you are driving through the country, you stop noticing common black and white cows.
However, if you were to see a purple one, you would definitely pay attention and would be eager to check it out.
Your headline needs to elicit that same feeling of excitement in order to catch the reader’s attention!
For every article that you write, jot down at least five different headlines. Try to incorporate numbers, brackets or questions to make the article seem interesting while piquing the reader’s curiosity.
You can also type in your article’s topic into Google search and see what headlines are holding the top results. Just don’t copy them word-for-word! Use them as a gauge to see what kind of headlines are popular for that particular topic.
2. Write In-Depth Articles
Because readers don’t spend a whole lot of time actually reading articles, it makes sense to keep them short and sweet, right?
Well, actually, no.
Writing long-form in-depth articles benefits your writer in a number of ways. First, it gives you more credibility and positions you as an expert in your niche – which then increases your reader’s trust and loyalty.
Plus, Google likes long-form content so writing more in-depth articles will help your freelance clients (or you, if you have a blog) rank in Google and gain more traffic that way.
Long-form content also gets shared more.
So to flex your skills and become a better writer, try writing longer content. Just make sure you’re not stuffing it full of fluff – the content has to be valuable.
The method to ensure that you aren’t writing fluff, but highly valuable and in-depth content is to create an outline based on the search you are doing.
Use Google to find your information, but take it a step further by going offline. Find something in a newspaper about your topic? Oh, look! That news program is doing a feature on a business related to your topic!
Whenever I hear something on the radio or read an article in a magazine that is in my writing niche, I take notice.
I use these “special nuggets” in my article outline.
I also incorporate trends – if appropriate – and personal experience if necessary. Adding these elements can help make your writing project valuable and even unique.
3. Learn Copywriting Techniques
Copywriting is a form of writing that is persuasive used commonly for marketing or promoting products or services.
Even if you’re not writing to sell anything, you can still use copywriting techniques to motivate your readers to take some form of action, whether that is signing up for your email list, leaving a comment or sharing your blog on social media.
Learning how to use copywriting techniques can help you become a better writer. For more help, check out my Youtube video on copywriting formulas to help you you be a better writer.
There are two techniques I find super-helpful when it comes to copywriting:
The Four U’s
The Four U’s of copywriting are Useful, Unique, Urgent and Ultra-Specific. These can be a helpful guide when trying to write a compelling and catchy headline:
- Useful: Readers aren’t going to take the time to read an article if there’s nothing in it for them. Your article needs to offer them some sort of benefit (a solution to a problem or an answer to a question).
- Unique: There are probably thousands of other writers tackling the same topics as you, so you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. Try to find ways to inject your voice, personality and brand into your headlines and writing.
- Urgent: You need to convince your readers that they need to read your article RIGHT THIS MINUTE. Otherwise, they may simply gloss over your content.
- Ultra-Specific: Your content needs to be geared toward your audience. The more specific your headline and content are, the most strongly it will resonate with the right group of people.
The Bucket Brigade
Once you invite your readers in with a compelling headline, you need to keep them engaged with your content.
Bucket Brigades are used to connect two sentences together in a way that makes your reader want to continue, well, reading.
Here are some examples:
- “As if that’s not enough…”
- “What does this mean for you?”
- “Think about it:”
- “And the good news?”
- “Simply put…”
Bucket Brigades are great time-savers too since they keep you from having to take the time to think about how to connect two subjects.
Plus, they encourage your readers to pay attention by taking a brief pause to connect with them emotionally.
4. Include Examples and Tell a Story
Examples in your articles add relevancy to your content and help to connect your readers to what you have to say.
It also provides good references for your information, building trust with your readers.
For example, I use a lot of examples in my content – especially when I talk about tips and strategies that have worked for my writing and my business.
Apart from including examples, it’s also important to tell a story.
Just make sure your story ties in with your topic, as the writers at The Middle Finger Project do.
I highly recommend you check out those sites to get a feel for the different ways you can share examples and tell a story.
5. Conclude Your Writing
So when you’re done writing your amazing article, it’s time to give it a powerful ending!
You don’t want to leave your reader hanging so it’s important to indicate a conclusion. You can use a heading such as “Conclusion” or “TL:DR” (which stands for “Too Long Didn’t Read”) – or you can reiterate your article’s title.
In your conclusion, summarize your main points in a sentence or two. You just want to wrap up everything you had to say so that your reader walks away with your article’s main message.
And conclusions are the perfect place to throw in a Call-to-Action (CTA) such as inviting them to leave a comment, sign up for your email list or share your article on social media.
And if you want to be a freelance writer, I always say that clients want a complete post and that means having a conclusion paragraph!
6. Use Power Words to Add Detail
Now that you have an idea how to write good content, it’s time to give your article a boost using power words. These words are persuasive, descriptive words that trigger an emotional response with your reader.
Basically, you want to use key words or phrases to compel your reader to take action – without actually telling them to take action (unlike a CTA).
For example, words like “amazing,” “miracle,” and “unbeatable” imply that a fool-proof solution will be provided. Likewise, words such as “exposed,” “top secret” and, “controversial” can create a sense of mystery and curiosity.
While power words should definitely be used in your headline, sprinkling them throughout your content adds more detail and builds up emotion as your readers peruse your article.
7. Organize Your Writing
Writing content isn’t all it takes to become a better writer. You need to organize your content to ensure that it is clear and concise as well as posted in a timely manner.
Creating regular content is not only important if you are writing articles for clients but, if you are trying to drive traffic to your blog, Google loves fresh content (which will help with your SEO ranking).
The first thing you should do is come up with some topic ideas. No matter who you are writing for, look at the niche and what’s popular at the moment.
This is easy if you have one freelance writing niche you know inside and out. But if this is a new topic you are learning, reading the top blogs and publications in that topic can help you find the latest news about your industry.
Sometimes you may have to “try out” your niche to learn more about your niche. For me, I’m a digital marketing writer, so getting into Tik Tok or Clubhouse or any other latest social media craze is to my benefit as a writer.
I can learn how to use these platforms and get a feel of its benefits and challenges and this can spur content ideas for my digital marketing clients.
You can create a swipe file, which is a collection of writing samples by other writers that can provide a template for your own writing, inspire headline ideas or showcase different writing techniques.
Once you know what you are going to write about, it helps to draft an outline. This will help you figure out the flow of your content as well as what headings you will use.
An editorial calendar, or content calendar, is also a must for keeping your writing organized. Planning out your articles will keep you consistent and on track.
8. Invest in Editing Tools
Writers should be good at writing, right? Even the best writers make mistakes – especially when trying to create a lot of content in a short period of time.
To help you keep up with proper grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc., while trying to pump out content, you need a third-eye view.
Programs such as Grammarly and Hemingway are perfect for catching mistakes as well as keeping you on task!
9. Avoid Writer’s Block
While you can organize your ideas and writing until the cows come home, nothing is worse than sitting down to type and your fingers freezing on the keys.
One piece of advice I always turn to when facing writer’s block is to just start writing! Overthinking is usually the cause of writer’s block so, if you can get even a few words out, you’ll be able to get into the writing flow.
You can also write “out of order” to force your brain to write. For example, I’m a top-down writer – I write from the introduction to the conclusion in that order. But, if I am struggling with writer’s block, then I could try writing the conclusion first and then the “meat” of the post and then the introduction last.
Remember that it’s okay to produce a terrible first draft! You can always go back and edit it later.
10. Improve Your Typing
Being a successful freelance writer often comes down to how much content you can produce during the day. While organizing yourself is a great way to reduce the time it takes to write an article, improving your typing speed can help with this too!
But typing is so much more than just tapping away at your keyboard and the speed at which you do so. There are also shortcuts you can learn:
- CTRL+A: Select All
- CTRL+B: Bold
- CTRL+C: Copy
- CTRL+V: Paste
- CTRL+S: Save
These may seem insignificant but the more you get used to using them, the less time you’ll spend navigating your mouse around the screen.
Posture and placement also have a lot to do with improving your typing and becoming a better writer.
Yes, curling up on your couch with your laptop may seem like a dream come true, but the proper placement of your equipment and posture can help avoid issues such as back and neck pain.
11. Find Your Writing Voice
What kind of personality do you want to convey in your writing? Cheeky? Inspirational?
This is your writing voice and it can take some time to develop, but it’s one of the best ways to help you become a better writer.
And don’t worry about “stealing” someone else’s voice. Sometimes mimicking other writers can help you figure out what your writing voice is – perhaps there is a blogger that uses unique sentence structures. Try it out!
You can also try ghostwriting for other sites to flex your writing voice. When you write as someone else, you have to adopt their voice and style of writing.
By being a chameleon, and adapting your writing style, you will become a better writer in your voice.
12. Be Unique
One of the 4 U’s of copywriting I mentioned before is to be unique but this is especially important when you are trying to stand out in oversaturated niches.
In order to be unique in a market that is overrun by like-minded people, it’s important to “fill the gap.” This means looking at your niche from different angles until you find one that hasn’t been explored yet.
For example, you’ll find millions of articles and blogs pertaining to entrepreneurs and online businesses. However, Emilie of Puttylike thought outside of the box and uses the term “multipotentialites” to describe a group of people with multiple passions who don’t want to do just one thing.
Her site focuses on individuals with a diverse range of interests that want to do all the things! This is such a unique perspective on entrepreneurship.
14. Use the WIIFM Factor
WIIFM stands for “What’s In It For Me” and is a way to look at your content from the perspective of your readers. Writing is not about you, it’s about what attracts and helps your readers.
That’s not to say that you can’t personalize your content and talk about yourself. There are many successful lifestyle blogs that do just that.
It simply means that you have to keep your readers in mind when producing content – you have to show how you intend on helping them and communicate that you understand their needs.
The internet is a fast-paced entity and many readers aren’t going to take the time to read an article unless there’s something in it for them. Yes, a freebie may help but they are reading your content to find an answer or a solution.
WIIFM simply means taking into consideration the benefits and value you are offering your readers as you write your content.
15. Learn from the Best
You’re here, right? Step complete!
I’m kidding – because there are many great writers and entrepreneurs out there who have so much knowledge and wisdom to share!
They’re writing books and blogs that will help you through the journey to becoming a better writer, whether they are straight-up sharing information on how to do so or they are doing it successfully.
Seth Godin, for example (who coined the Purple Cow metaphor I mentioned before), is a highly successful entrepreneur who has lots of knowledge to share when it comes to running a business and marketing.
Alternatively, you can seek out successful writers in your niche to see what works for them. Michelle Gardner of Making Sense of Cents is a successful blogger in the frugal lifestyle and savings niche while Lindsay Ostrum of Pinch of Yum banks good coin blogging about food and cooking.
They’re out there and you can learn so much from them!
16. Start a Blog…And Another…And Another
Not all freelance writers are bloggers, and not all bloggers are freelance writers. However, having a blog can definitely help you become a better writer.
And, the more blogs you start, the more niches and audiences you can practice writing for. This will help you learn how to adapt and mold your writing.
Which kind of ties in to a lot of what I’ve mentioned in this article – being unique, finding your voice, overcoming writer’s block, improving your typing, etc.!
Want to start a blog…or two, or three? Check out my post here on Twins Mommy – it will walk you through the entire process!
There are many strategies you can use to become a better writer – and most of them involve just writing!
If the passion is there, I promise that the skills will follow. You don’t need to be Shakespeare or Stephen King to make a living from writing.
So go out there and be a sponge! Learn what you can, write everyday and you will find yourself becoming a better writer.
How do you work to improve yourself as a writer? Let us know in the comments!