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10 Advanced Freelance Writing Skills To Take Your Career To The Next Level

You’ve been freelancing for a while, have steady clients, and are paying your bills but your business feels like it’s ready to level up. How do you know? Because you feel like you’ve mastered your freelance writing career – but you see others online who are doing (and earning) a boatload more than you. Chances are, the only difference is that those people have mastered a few advanced freelance writing skills—skills you can learn to take your career (and your income) to the next level.

It’s easy to get comfortable and hang out in the level you’re at – but soon enough you’ll feeling the tug to learn something new and take on a challenge. Which also means it’s time to implement these career-building strategies and level up your freelance writing career – using professional development.

 

10 advanced freelance writing skills that will take your career to the next level

#1 – Get SEO Smart

If you’re blogging you have no doubt researched setting up seo for your website, but if you’re a freelancer, do you know how to apply the best seo practices to the content you write for clients? Optimization can be a great selling-point with clients, assuring them that they’re getting the most bang for their buck and is absolute must-have knowledge if you’re building a writing career in digital content.

Level Up Your Freelance Writing

My go-to seo guy is Jim Stewart of BloggersSEO. His courses are pricey but you can take his Content Structure module a’la carte for under fifty bucks and he personally answers questions in his facebook group. (No affiliate here, this guy just goes above and beyond to help and I’ve seen a ton of his students rank first on google and reconfigure their site for https.) Another great resource is the Moz blog.

 

#2 – Do Your (Keyword) Research

I’m not talking about keyword stuffing, which destroys good writing. I’m talking about using keyword research to develop content that readers are INTERESTED in reading and implementing strategies to support seo. This ensures that your writing is targeted to your audience and that those people will also be able to find it.

Level Up Your Freelance Writing

There’s a wonderful keyword primer for freelance writers on the Writer and the Content Marketing Institute has both a guide to tools for finding related keywords and will show you how to create content people actually search for.

 

#3 – Learn To Interview Sources

Writing for big, glossy magazines, newspapers, creating case studies, and a number of other copywriting assignments involve interviewing real, live people – whether it’s on the phone, through an email, on a video chat, or live in person. Lining up credible sources for an article—before you pitch—let’s you use those sources as selling points in your query and direct quotes can bring life and depth to an article.

Level Up Your Freelance Writing

While you’ll want to read up on sourcing and interviewing, the best teacher here is experience. If you’re writing articles, start adding sources to your pitches. You can use Help A Reporter Out (HARO) to find people to interview and if you’re also a blogger, sign up as a subject expert. If you find you like interviewing, try your hand at case studies, which happen to be a highly lucrative writing niche.

 

#4 – Practice & Master New Formats

Case studies aren’t the only writing formats you can research, practice, publish, and (strive to) master while developing your freelance career. If you’re writing digital content, pitch a magazine-even if it’s regional or get your portfolio ready to approach a dream client. If you’re interested in copywriting (and there’s money to be made here) you can write sample advertorials, sales emails, press releases, autoresponders and funnels, landing pages, newsletters, scripts, and welcome pages for approaching clients.

Level Up Your Freelance Writing

Research the copywriting business and breaking in as a freelancer. Look at good examples of feature articlespromotional, and sales copy, then practice writing your own. Learn where to find potential clients and approach them with these samples. (That last link has like four pop-ups but the info is definitely worth it.) Then actively market your copywriting skills by updating your professional website and portfolio, sending cold emails, applying for freelance copy projects, and offering your new services to current clients.

 

 

#5 – Make Your Content Shareable

For content specialists, high shares and views are a must—but when working on a client’s site or blog, you only have so much power over their on-page marketing and shareability. In cases where the only thing you control is the content, make sure that your title is catchy and keyword-driven and that your post is optimized for search engines. As a freelancer, circulate your content to your own social media followers. You don’t want to flood your feeds, but boosting a popular (or unloved) post can improve views.

Level Up Your Freelance Writing

Having high shares and page views on your articles (and the samples you show to prospective clients) are a fantastic selling point for raising your rates and landing better paying clients. There are hacks to increasing shares of your content that you can and should implement, within the parameters of your client’s guidelines, of course.

But there’s another way to earn more and that’s to be shareable yourself and use your own reach as a sales feature for your writing services. If you have enough of a following on one or more social media platforms, you can negotiate a fee for sharing the content you write for them to your personal audience in your contract.

 

#6 – Become A Marketing Strategist

But social media is more than reach when leveling up your freelance writing business. There’s nothing stopping you from studying effective marketing techniques, learning to apply them, and offering your advice and creation services to clients. This not only means writing successful marketing content, but creating marketing plans that apply your strategic knowledge and get results for your clients.

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Level Up Your Freelance Writing

Understanding digital marketing, marketing plans, and sales funnels may seem like overwhelming tasks but there are a number of resources out there that are dedicated to teaching what works. My favorites include Social Media Examiner, Neil Patel, Marketing Land, Content Marketing Institute, and Kissmetrics.

 

#7 – Choose A Specialty

Being a jack-of-all-trades is wonderful as a freelancer—you gain a lot of writing experience and you’re never bored. You learn about something new every day. But specializing and building a name for yourself as a specialty writer, that’s where you gain recognition in your field. And maybe you have a writing niche subject or maybe you specialize in a format, writing amazing landing pages or creating stunning newsletters. Setting your sites on becoming an expert allows you to focus your freelancing efforts and increase your rates as you become more and more in-demand.

Level Up Your Freelance Writing

Simply choose your niche(s)/specialty(ies) and update your profiles and website to market yourself as a specialist. Then target potential clients who might be in need of your specialty services. Market, market, market, and focus your professional development efforts on learning everything you can about your niche/specialty.

If you’ve chosen a subject niche, focus on targeting and pitching clients and publications within your market. You’ll also want to identify the big names within your niche, follow them, interact with them, and eventually approach them about working together.

 

 

#8 – Offer Image Or Graphic Design Services

Depending on your specialty, you might be able to better serve your clients (and stop leaving money on the table) by offering image or graphic design services. DIY, recipe, fashion, and decor writers can negotiate additional pay for providing images. Good at food photography? Pick up some side gigs around town shooting for restaurants and writing the accompanying menu descriptions. Add basic graphic design services and you have a one-stop menu-shop. The same goes for almost all print materials: brochures, guides, fliers, and newsletters. You can be that guy! (or girl!)

Level Up Your Freelance Writing

Study photography or graphic design in whatever capacity works best for you. Take a class at the local community college, find a professional course online, buy a textbook or guide, play around with the hardware and software, read blogs on the subject. There are a number of ways to learn.

 

#9 – Write A Book

To directly boost your professional status, write an ebook with your prospective clients as the audience or one that supports your position as an expert in your field. Or you can write a book about anything you darn well please. (It’ll still impress prospective clients that you’ve published a book, but it helps if it’s related.) You can build a few income streams from ebooks: sell your own on sites like Amazon for royalties, offer ebook writing services to your clients, or help other writers publish and format their ebooks.

Level Up Your Freelance Writing

Now publish that book on Amazon. Create an author page and everything. Market it and offer it on other ebook sites like Smashwords. Add a books tab to your professional writing website and link to your Amazon listings. Exchange free copies for reviews. Give it away as a list-building incentive. Sell it and test different launch and marketing strategies. Then write and publish another one. And another until you get good at the process. You can make a good living doing just these steps for others, but if you can effectively market (and sell) your books, you may have just found a new calling.

 

#10 – Know Your Worth

I saved it for last because I didn’t want this article to come off as fluffy right off the bat, but this really is the backbone to building a growing writing career. You have to move past your self-doubt and realize the value of your skills. Being self-employed means advocating for your own rates and publishing rights. Stop short-changing yourself. You’re an established freelance writer who invests in professional development and are constantly growing your knowledge. You meet your deadlines and exceed your client’s expectations. You fact-check and spell-check so your work rarely requires edits. You are damn good and it’s time you realized it.

Level Up Your Freelance Writing

When was the last time you raised your rates? Are you holding onto low-paying clients for longer than you should out of loyalty – or fear of asking for a raise? If you’re guilty of undercharging or getting comfortable with less-than-lucrative gigs, it’s time to level-up your client roster. See what’s on the job boards. Email high-paying, potential clients. These new clients will begin to replace your bottom clients and the cycle continues. Just be sure to give ample notice to your old client. Some may even offer a higher rate to keep you!

If you’ve made it to the end here, you’re awesome.

That was a lot, I know.

To thank you (and help you find even more freelance clients and markets) I want to offer you a free copy of my book, 50+ Writing Markets and Resources to Land More Clients and Skyrocket Your Income. This book currently for sale on Amazon but I’m giving it away for free to Paid Write readers.

Of course, if you find it valuable, I’m always appreciative of Amazon reviews.

 

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I spent years working low-paying jobs. I’ve been a cashier. A line cook. I unloaded trucks. These days I support myself and my children with my writing. It’s a new and exciting life – and I want the same for you!

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