The Writing Process for Online Writers

Figuring out the writing process as a new online writer might be confusing.

The only teaching you had was in school or at work – writing essays, reports, opinion-based pieces, or full-out research papers where you conducted experiments and posited the results.

This writing process won’t attract writing jobs online. It might even scare away potential clients that need to hire a writer.

The Writing Process for Online Writers

And the books you are reading? Fiction, romance, YA fiction or sci-fi shows some awesome types of writing, but what you need to make it as a freelance writer is conversational + informative writing with a flair of copywriting.

Yes, that’s a lot to take in. You have to sort of change your mindset of what you learned at school and how you write online.

And I’m here to help you with that shift! In this post, I’ll walk you through writing tips for clients and the writing process steps to help you gain your first freelance writing job.

And, if you don’t have time to read the post, make sure to check out my video and subscribe to my YouTube channel! Thank you so much!

The Writing Process for Beginner Online Writers

One thing that is completely different from the writing you did at school or work with the writing you do online is that your online audience reads at an elementary grade level.

Many popular authors write at a lower reading level than we would assume. And this correlates nicely with the average reading level of Americans – most reading at around the 4th-grade level.

So, the writing you did in school probably wouldn’t register at a lower grade reading level, right? You wanted to impress your teacher with big words and complex ideas.

But, the writing process for online reading is different. You have to shed those big impressive words and use simpler words that the masses can relate to and understand easily.

Your ideas also need to be broken down into easy-to-digest ideas for your online audience.

That’s why I use subheadings, shorter sentence lengths and shorter paragraphs to make it easy for YOU – who are reading this right now – to understand what I’m saying 🙂

(getting very meta right now!)

Understanding how your audience will read your content can help you with your writing skill too because your writing will be more effective in delivering your point across.

Writing Process Steps

How do you start the writing process for your clients? Understanding the steps of the writing process will help you create that article for your first client.

1. Brainstorm Ideas

Your client may give you the topic to write about, but if they don’t it’s time to do some brainstorming or gain some content ideas for your client.

You can do this by researching online like Google Trends, Pinterest, or even on Google or you can do some social listening in Facebook groups. You might notice in one Facebook group, many people are having trouble with the new WordPress editor plugins.

If your client is in the WordPress niche, you can pitch a topic related to rounding up all the new plugins for Gutenberg.

2. Create an Outline

Every piece of content you create should start with a basic outline – especially for your freelance job. You are the professional now, and your writing process needs to show that.

Having a planner like the Productivity Planner for Freelance Writers makes it a cinch to jot down my ideas and make a quick outline.

My outline for Instagram Marketing

You can also use Google Sheets, a bullet journal, Trello, or a digital planner.

When thinking of your outline, think of it as a funnel. The beginning of your post is the wide part relating to the bigger picture/introducing your topic, and as it narrows down, the rest of your post is broken up into specific topics of what the whole post is about.

3. Conduct Research

The main difference between a personal blog post you write and a blog post or article for your freelance job is that you don’t need to back up your personal blog post with sources.

But, for your freelance clients, you need to link to credible sources in your content.

One thing to consider during this writing process step is to avoid linking to competitor sites. Your freelance client may mention these sites, or you may know them if you are writing for a huge brand.

You can also visit your client’s blog and see what sources they are currently linking to. This can give you a reference for when you start your writing.

Over time, you will also know certain credible sites and will link to them more than other sites. When this happens, you can create a swipe file using Evernote or your Google docs to refer to them over and over again.

4. Invest Time in Headline Generators

While many of my clients give me a working headline to go off of, some clients don’t.

We hash it out with the topic, and they leave it up to me to come up with an engaging headline. If you’re new to online writing, you will quickly see how headlines can be its own subject.

They are a strong tactic to hook a reader on social media or online. Within a few seconds, readers decide if the article is worth their time based on the headline.

A popular headline generator is the Emotional Advanced Marketing Headline Analyzer. This can give you an insight into how engaging your headline is to a reader.

Another headline tool is Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer.

Play around with using different headlines for your article and pay attention to your client’s needs. Some of your clients might be SEO driven, while others are focussed on brand building and social media.

This can change your headline from more informative for SEO purposes or more story-telling for a social media audience.

5. Flex Your Writing Skill

With your outline, research and headline out of the way, it’s time to flex your writing muscles and start writing your article.

Based on what type of writing you are doing – white paper writing, for example – you might write more formal or less formal.

All my clients hire me for conversational and informative writing with copywriting principles. Yes, that’s a mouthful. What this means is that my writing is easy to read and understand because of:

  • Thinking about the reader all the time
  • Typically talking using simple words, which helps me write more conversationally – hey, I have twins children, you know! 🙂
  • Understanding my audience’s problems and connecting with them through my writing
  • Using copywriting principles like grease-slide copy

When you start writing, start thinking about your audience and their problems. This can help you connect with them and help you understand them better, which makes your writing better.

And, by infusing copywriting techniques like a bucket brigade – a writing tactic to help a reader keep on reading your content until the end – it shows clients you know how to write engaging content and keeps their customers glued to their site.

And that can help you become their go-to writer and make you more money. Win-win!

You can also open your post with a question to make the reader nod their head in agreement.

Once you do this, it’s more likely the reader is invested in the content and will stay to keep on reading.

Check out these posts for more writing tips:

6. Edit Your Piece

The editing process is just as intense and detailed as your writing process. In my course, Write Your Way to Your First $1k, I go over how to edit your content piece properly.

If you feel you can’t self-edit, you can invest in an editing tool like Grammarly. I like Grammarly and use the desktop version for all my content writing.

Using Grammarly for Desktop

I like to self-edit, use Grammarly and use a proofreader for my client pieces. This way, I ensure it’s error-free.

7. Make it a Routine

Finally, your writing process should become a routine every time you sit down to write. This should be innate and come naturally to you every time you write a client piece.

Of course, in the beginning, it won’t be, but if you have a strong writing process then it can help you form a routine much faster.

I always have to have my water nearby and chapstick. I also always listen to music to get me in the writing mood.

The Best Writing Tips for Your Writing Process

There ya go!

A look at the writing process for new online writers. As a freelance writer, you need to become strong in your writing skill and process. You are the expert after all!

Over to you – what is your writing process? Please share in the comments!

Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.

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12 Comments

Helpful piece with great links – thanks!Reply to Michael
Hi Michael, Thank you so much! I hope you found this writing process helpful for you!Reply to Elna
Great content Elna! Writing for clients is nerve wracking but you make me feel so much better about it. I’d never heard of a headline generator before, great tip!Reply to Savannah
Hi Savannah, Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed the tops for the writing process 🙂 Yes the headline generator tip is a nine one eh? 🙂Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, Test-driving my Gravatar because I’m following your WriteTo1K-course. I also saved this article because it looks really interesting! Thanks for sharing all your knowledge online! JustineReply to Justine
Hey Justine, Looks great! Glad you commented and have a Gravatar!Reply to Elna
Hey Elna, about how many words should each of my samples be?Reply to Anthony
Hi Anthony, It depends on what type of writing sample you are writing. Go ahead and check out this post where I talk about that! https://elnacain.com/blog/writing-sample/Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, These are great tips for a renewed (took a sabbatical) blogger who needs to knock off the rust. I started a mom blog (how original..lol), but at some point I want to return to freelance writing. It’s so different than 5-6 years ago. I like all the tools you provide here.. Grammerly keeps me in check when I forget to edit! Thanks!Reply to Julie
Hi Julie, That’s great you want to become a freelance writer again! And yes, it has changed in the last 5 years or so! That’s when I started out. Glad you enjoyed the freelance tools!Reply to Elna
Great post as usual Elna. I had never heard of headline generators before, I’ll be sureto check those out. Thank you! 🙂Reply to Andreia
Hi Andreia, That’s awesome! So glad you found my post on the writing process helpful!Reply to Elna