Freelance Writing 101: Build A Successful Writing Career | Brad Merrill | Skillshare

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Freelance Writing 101: Build A Successful Writing Career

teacher avatar Brad Merrill, Media Entrepreneur

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      The Mindset Of A Successful Freelance Writer


    • 3.

      Freelance Writing Basics: Understanding The Business


    • 4.

      How Much Money Can You Make As.A Freelance Writer?


    • 5.

      [Niche] The Importance Of Choosing A Niche


    • 6.

      [Niche] Choosing A Topic


    • 7.

      [Niche] Choosing A Content Format


    • 8.

      [Portfolio] Breaking Out Of The Experience Loop


    • 9.

      [Portfolio] Why Every Freelance Writer Needs A Blog


    • 10.

      [Portfolio] Guest Posting The Right Way


    • 11.

      [Portfolio] How To Reach An Audience And Build Massive Social Proof For Free


    • 12.

      [Portfolio] How To Gain Real Client Experience As A Beginner


    • 13.

      [Clients] Where To Find Freelance Writing Clients


    • 14.

      [Clients] Crafting An Effective Pitch


    • 15.

      [Clients] Pitching Clients: It's A Numbers Game


    • 16.

      [Writing] The Importance Of Effective Writing


    • 17.

      [Writing] How To Write Effective Headlines


    • 18.

      [Writing] Optimizing Your Tone & Vocabulary


    • 19.

      [Writing] Maintaining Focus In Your Writing


    • 20.

      [Writing] How To Write An Effective Call-To-Action


    • 21.

      [Writing] How Grammatical Errors Can Cripple Your Writing


    • 22.

      [Writing] How to Become A Better Writer


    • 23.

      How to Stay Productive As A Freelance Writer


    • 24.

      Tools Of The Trade


    • 25.

      How To Handle Client Feedback


    • 26.

      Wrapping Up


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About This Class

Welcome to Freelance Writing 101, a step-by-step beginner's guide to building a successful freelance writing business from scratch.

In my career, I've found myself on both sides of the freelance writing table: I've made a living as a freelance writer, reaching millions of people with my work—but more recently, I've worked as a publisher who hires freelance writers. In this course, I use that experience to lay out a step-by-step roadmap that you can follow to start your business and get your first paid writing gig as soon as possible.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Brad Merrill

Media Entrepreneur


Brad Merrill is the CEO of Merrill Media, a modern holding company focused on building independent, scalable businesses at the intersection of technology and media. He is regarded as an expert in his field, teaching business and technology courses to more than 100,000 students and providing marketing training to a number of prominent startups and Fortune 500 companies.

Merrill considers himself a passionate creative: he loves creating articles, videos, websites, companies, workflows, and new ideas. He has been creating things on the web since 2007, working on dozens of projects and reaching tens of millions of people in the process.

In 2010, Merrill founded VentureBreak, which became a leading source of news about innovation for forward-thinking entrepreneurs, investo... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Welcome!: Hello and welcome. My name's Brad Merrill, and I'm so excited that you're here with me toe. Learn about freelance writing. The goal here is simple. To give you all the tools you need to become a successful freelance writer, This course is designed as a step by step, actionable road map that you can follow to build a thriving freelance writing business from scratch. This comes from my experience building my own freelance writing business as well as my current experience as a publisher who hires freelance writers. So I'm drawing from both sides of the coin here, and I think you're gonna find a lot of value in that perspective. So just to give you a quick preview, here are some of the things will cover in this course. We'll start by taking a look at the mindset of a successful freelance writer and what you can do to prepare yourself mentally. We'll take a look at the business of freelance writing and answer the notorious question of how much money you can make as a writer. Then we'll discuss the importance of finding a niche for yourself, how you conduce that and how positioning yourself as an expert. Conjour a Matic Lee. Increase your earnings Next You're probably aware that there's kind of a chicken and egg problem when it comes to getting your first client. If you want to get hired, you need experience. But to get experience, you need to get hired. We'll talk about how to finally break out of that loop and build an impressive portfolio. Even if you've never had a paid writing gig in your life, then we'll get into the fun part, which is actually finding in pitching clients. You'll see the best places to look for paid writing gigs, and you'll learn how to craft an effective pitch that will help you stand out and get responses. And as a bonus, I'll give you an actual template that you can steal and customize for your needs. After that, we'll go into a few strategies you can use to improve your writing and become a more valuable asset for your clients. Toward the end, we'll talk about some habits and tools you can use to be more productive as a freelance writer, and we'll talk about dealing with client feedback in a way that's positive, healthy and constructive. If you put these strategies into action, you'll be well on your way to building a successful freelance writing business. With that in mind, I want to thank you again for joining me and without further ado, let's get started. 2. The Mindset Of A Successful Freelance Writer: before we get into the process of actually building a freelance writing business, I want to talk about the mindset of a successful freelance writer on important part of being successful at anything is preparing yourself mentally. So that's exactly what I want to do here. One of the most important tips I can offer you when you're starting a freelance writing business or really any new endeavor is to know your why. I know it sounds a little cliche, but it matters. Think about the overarching vision you have for your life and your career and determine how freelance writing fits into that long term vision. In other words, what drives you? Maybe you're dissatisfied with your 9 to 5 job and want toe. Earn a living doing something you actually care about. Maybe you're looking for a little more freedom and flexibility in your lifestyle. You want to travel or spend more time with your family or work in your pajamas, whatever it is, whatever. Get to you fired up and excited. That's what I mean when I talk about knowing your why that motivation that underlying drive is gonna help you to keep moving forward even when things get difficult. Whenever you run into an obstacle, you can give yourself a boost by thinking back to the reason you started in the first place . You can compound that internal motivation with a healthy dose of discipline, which is arguably more important than motivation. The reality is, as you set out on this journey to build a business and a career around you're writing. You're not gonna be super motivated all the time. Motivation often comes in waves. One day you're super excited and just ready to conquer the world. The next day you feel like you're not making any progress and you just want to stay in bed . That's normal. The solution again is discipline. Discipline is continuing toe work and continuing to make progress out of habit, even when you don't feel particularly motivated, Stephen King famously said. Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work. It's about making consistent, habitual progress every day, no matter what. If you Kansteiner art with a strong sense of internal motivation and follow through with discipline and habit in your execution, you will be very successful while we're on the topic of mindset. I also want to talk about fear When you first start freelancing, it's normal to experience doubt and uncertainty. Maybe you're worried that your writing isn't good enough or you're not prepared to run your own business. Or you think a client might invest money into your work and you'll let them down. But here's the thing. These are just excuses created by your mind to talk you out of doing something scary. Stepping out of your comfort zone is, by definition, uncomfortable. But that's precisely where great things are achieved. And, hey, let's indulge those fears for a second. Maybe you're not the best writer on the planet, Okay, but you don't have to be a Pulitzer Prize winner to provide value to your clients and get paid for it. Even if you're writing is straight up. Terrible. What's stopping you from improving? Nobody is born with skill, of good writing. It's something you have to practice and develop over time. The same thing applies to pitching clients and running a business thes air, not innate talents, their skills that you can and will develop as you get some experience under your belt and if you screw up. So what? Dust yourself off and keep moving. Failure is part of the process. So once again, no, your why execute with discipline and have it and be willing to put your fear aside and step out of your comfort zone. Doing these things will break down the mental barriers standing between you and a successful freelancing career. 3. Freelance Writing Basics: Understanding The Business: in this lecture, we're going to take a very quick look at the business of freelance writing and how the whole process generally works. So, first and foremost, what does it mean to be a freelance writer? Well, a freelance writer is a writer who works on a self employed basis. Instead of working as an employee of a company, you have your own business where you provide writing services toe one or more clients. This offers certain advantages to both parties. Freelance writers generally get to be location independent, meaning they can work from anywhere in the world. They have, ah, pretty good deal of freedom in terms of their work schedule and, of course, which clients and projects they're willing to take on and then on the other side of the table. Hiring a freelance writer is a good option for companies with short term projects that don't necessarily require a permanent employees or companies that don't have a fixed location. And then there's also the cost advantage of not having to provide additional employee benefits like health care. Freelance work comes in many forms. You could have one big client that provides a lot of steady, ongoing work, you could have a bunch of smaller clients that just need one off projects. Or, more likely, you could find yourself somewhere in between working with some ongoing clients and also doing one off projects alongside those, regardless of the scope of a particular contract. The job of a freelance writer is to provide a client with some sort of written content. This could include news articles, press releases, blawg posts, newsletters, scripts, instructions, technical documentation, sales copy. These are all things that are commonly delegated to freelance writers, and generally a writer will specialize in one of these areas so they can always do work that they're particularly skilled at and that they enjoy when it comes to getting paid. Every client kind of has their own process and method of payment, so some clients will want you to send them an invoice. Others will just pay. You sometimes will be paid upfront. Sometimes you'll be paid after the work is done. Ah, sometimes a client. I'll pay you half up front and half on delivery. It just depends. In many cases, PayPal is gonna be the standard for payment processing. It's just really simple and convenient. But You may also run into clients that prefer to send an old fashioned check or something like that. You can definitely do some research and figure out what works for you. But keep in mind, a lot of companies have established systems in place for how they deal with freelancers, so you'll kind of have to defer to them and be adaptable. 4. How Much Money Can You Make As.A Freelance Writer?: One of the questions that everybody wants to know as they're getting started is how much money can you make as a freelance writer? Is it going to be enough to generate a full time income if that's what you're after? And enough to build a sustainable business? Well, as you can imagine, there are quite a few variables. I'll start by saying that, yes, it's absolutely possible to make a full time living solely through freelance writing. I've done it myself, and many, many others are doing it as well. But I know what you're probably looking for. Here is a number. Unfortunately, there's no one size fits all answer here. Some writers air making as little as a few $100 a month or less. Others are making upwards of $250,000 a year. So clearly there's a wide range. And like I said, it depends on a few different variables. First and foremost, you will be paid in proportion to the value you bring to your clients. This is important to understand. A short news article that takes you 10 minutes to write is not gonna provide as much. Value is something like a long in depth blawg post or pdf report that helps a business reach new customers. I'm not saying you should never do the easier, lighter work, But understand that content that drives riel business results is gonna come with a substantially higher price tag. Your income is also gonna be impacted by your portfolio and the brand you've built for yourself. We're gonna talk a lot about that later in the course. But for now, just understand that as you accumulate a larger body of work and develop a reputation as the go to professional in your space, you're gonna have more leverage and you'll be able to command a higher rate simply because you've strategically positioned yourself as a more valuable asset than your competitors. Like I said, we'll talk about exactly how to do that later in the course. So don't worry too much about it just yet. The next factor comes in the form of a question. How bad do you want it from the outside? Looking in? Freelance writing is a sexy lifestyle. You get to be your own boss, set your own hours, work from anywhere and earn a living doing something that you love, but it's not all easy. You still have to put in the work pitch clients market yourself, deal with feedback and rejection. So the more comfortable you are with those things, the higher your earning potential will be. You also have to ask yourself how much money you want to make and what kind of life you're looking for. Freelance writing is a lifestyle business. The idea is to scale it up enough to reliably sustain your desired lifestyle, whatever that looks like for you. For some, it could be replacing the 9 to 5, earning an average income and just enjoying life. You know, spending more time with the family, picking up some hobbies, hanging out at the beach, that kind of thing. Others may have bigger financial goals, like making six figures. That's totally fine. But understand that to achieve that larger income, you're gonna have to work harder and build a bigger brand and take on more substantial projects than the person who just wants to make an average income and hang out on the beach . The point here is that your income is not limited to any particular number. It's only limited by your goals and what you're doing to get there 5. [Niche] The Importance Of Choosing A Niche: one of the most important parts of building a successful freelance writing business is finding a niche in other words, committing to a specific topic or a specific market of clients that you want to go after Now this could be scary. Most people, as they're starting out, kind of want to appeal to everyone. And that's understandable. If you can attract many different types of clients, it follows that you should be able to make a lot more money, right? But that's not exactly the case. Choosing an itch, of course limits the total number of clients you could potentially work with, but it enables you to earn a lot more money from the clients you do work with because you are a specialist. This applies equally to other professions as well. Doctors are a great example. Your general practitioner, who helps all kinds of patients with all kinds of cases, is usually not gonna make a much money as a surgeon because a surgeon specializes in surgery right and along the same lines. A general surgeon is not gonna make his much money as a neurosurgeon who only operates on the brain. When you have a specialized skill you can charge a premium for that skill. Going back to writing your specialized skill is gonna be writing about one particular topic and often in one particular format. So you have expertise in your topic because it's part of your job. You write about that topic all the time, and that makes your work more valuable than that of somebody who just writes about anything . That person may be great with words, but they don't bring any specialized knowledge or authority to the subject matter there covering size. An example. You may start out making, say, $30 an hour for your writing, Justin example. But over time, as you establish yourself as a credible and authoritative writer in your niche, you could start to ask for $50 an hour. Ah, $100 an hour, $300 an hour and so on. The sky's the limit. If you first establish yourself as an authority, there are plenty of companies out there that are willing to pay upwards of $1000 for a single article. If and only if the writer is a genuine expert on the topic, you want to be able to provide a level of value that your clients can't get from anyone else. And by the way, I'm not saying you have to write about one single topic for the rest of your life. One of the great things about freelance writing is that you can establish yourself in multiple niches. Over time, I would recommend starting with one and then branching out later if you want to. But don't feel overwhelmed like you have to make this big career defining decision. You can always change things up later. So with that in mind, this section is all about how to find a niche for yourself that's both profitable and interesting. 6. [Niche] Choosing A Topic: Okay, so let's talk about choosing a topic to write about. This is deceptively simple. A lot of people just don't know where to begin, and that's okay. We're gonna go over a couple of approaches that you can use to find your perfect niche. So first of all, start with things you're interested in or passionate about. So when I say that you may have one or two things that pop into your mind right away, which is great, or you may be totally blanking, which is fine as well. If that's the case, there's some really effective ways toe. Uncover what it is you're passionate about, and the 1st 1 is following the money. If you do a lot of online shopping, say on Amazon, for example, go to your order history and take a look at the kinds of things you're buying on a regular basis. Recreational things. Often these will point to a particular interest of yours that could potentially translate to a writing niche. If you like to read, take a look at the books you own. You may notice some patterns there if you watch a lot of videos on YouTube going to your YouTube history and look at what types of videos you're watching. You can also learn a lot by paying attention to how you spend your time specifically your free time when you don't have any set obligations, what do you do for fun? Maybe you take photos. Maybe you play video games. Maybe you go out to music events. All of these things photography, gaming, music could work as freelance writing niches. Take some time and write down as many interests and passions as you can think of. You can actually pause the course and do that now if you'd like. Once you've got some interests and passions in mind. It's also a good idea to take a look at your current skills and expertise, things you're already good at or knowledgeable about our excellent candidates for freelance writing niches, because these are the areas where you can provide additional value where the average person cannot. And that's especially helpful as you're just getting started, because if you have genuine knowledge about a topic that could very well outweigh your lack of paid writing experience and help you to land clients faster, so think about your professional background, your education any certifications. You have your hobbies, your experiences and try to hone in on your unique skills. It could be anything cooking, fitness, sewing management, customer service, painting. Just take a moment, pause the video and write down a list of things you're good at. As many as you can think of one of them may end up being your perfect niche. So hopefully by now you have a solid list of potential niches things you're interested in and things you're knowledgeable about. But of course, not all niches are going to be equally profitable. Some interest areas just don't have the kind of demand that you need to sustain a freelance writing business. So before you make any decisions, do some research and evaluate the potential upside for each of your options. You want to find a niche where people are doing business and making money. That's where your services air gonna be needed. And that's where people are gonna be able to afford you so you can start by looking for blog's that focus on your topic. Get a feel for how many there are and see if they're being updated regularly. If you find a lot of active blog's. That's a good sign. Then you want to do some window shopping, see how many products and services there are in the niche you're considering. Like I said, you want a niche where people are doing business. If nobody's selling anything, there's no budget or incentive to hire freelance writers. So make sure your niche has products or services of some kind along the same line. See if they're in a podcasts, YouTube channels or other media outlets where people are making a living talking about your topic. You can also look around for online communities focused on your niche like forums. Subreddit. It's Facebook groups. The best knishes will usually have people gathering and discussing and kind of bonding over their shared interest. So do some research determine which of your Nisha's maybe viable candidates, and then we'll continue on 7. [Niche] Choosing A Content Format: after you've decided on a topic, you may find it helpful to niche down one level deeper and specialize in a specific content format. Companies hire writers for a variety of purposes. They need content marketing stuff like blawg posts. They need product descriptions. They need sales copy. They need support articles and documentation thes air all different styles of content that arguably required different skills to produce. If you specialize in one of these formats, one that you enjoy and that your particularly good at you're going to see a greater upside financially and your work is gonna feel less like work and more like a fun, creative effort. And that's how it should be. So think about the type of writing you enjoy the most and what purpose you want your work to serve. Do you want your words to inform, entertain, persuade or sell? Do you like to write in a formal academic style? Where do you prefer to use a more casual, conversational tone? All of these factors can contribute to your niche. Now, of course, you don't have to limit yourself to a single format, but you'll likely find that you naturally gravitate to one or two types of content that you can sustainably produce at a high level over time. 8. [Portfolio] Breaking Out Of The Experience Loop: One of the most frustrating things about getting started as a freelancer is that you're kind of expected to have experience right. If you want to get hired, you need experience. But in order to get experience, you need to get hired. It's an infinite loop, and it could be incredibly discouraging. So in this section, we're gonna cover some ways to break out of that loop and build a portfolio of pieces that you can point to when you start pitching clients. Now, when potential clients ask to see your portfolio, they want to see not only that you're capable of doing the work, but that other companies have used and endorsed your work in the past. So your goal should be to build up a solid portfolio that showcases what you can do and provides that element of social proof before you ever approach your first paying client. And yes, that means doing some free work. Initially. Ah, lot of people have a bit of a negative attitude about offering free work, and I completely understand that perspective. But as you're just getting started, you kind of have to check your ego at the door and be willing to put in the work that's required to command those higher fees later on. It's a long term investment, and right now we're just planting the seeds. So in the next few lectures will talk about some of the best ways to put yourself out there and start building a portfolio that will get you hired. 9. [Portfolio] Why Every Freelance Writer Needs A Blog: so we've discussed the importance of establishing yourself as an expert in your niche, and one of the easiest but most effective ways to do that is to start a blawg. I would argue that every freelance writer should have a blogger, and that's especially true if you're just getting started and have yet to develop a portfolio. Blogging is great because it gives you a platform that you owned, where you can put out content that showcases your abilities and your expertise without having to compete with anyone else. It's a great way to make a name for yourself and establish some credibility, which you can leverage to land those a list clients later on. There are a lot of different platforms you can use to start a blawg. My recommendation would be WordPress, specifically the self hosted version from wordpress dot org's, and that's for two reasons. First, WordPress is an extremely robust content management system that will enable you to do just about anything you want with your website. Ah, and second, WordPress is kind of the industry standard for publishing on the Web, so if you plan on doing any kind of blogging work, it will pay to be familiar with WordPress ahead of time. Now, WordPress itself is free, but you do need to pay for Web hosting and a domain name. Personally, I would recommend using site ground as your Web host. It's what I personally use. It's reliable, it's affordable, and you can use it to get a word press site up and running with just a couple of clicks. If you prefer to use a different service, or if you don't want to put any money into a blawg just yet, that's fine, too. But I strongly suggest you get some kind of website up and running where you can show off your expertise. Because, remember, the best clients are looking for experts. Blogging is a long term investment. You're not going to see instant results, but there's a cumulative effect when you're putting out content consistently. Over time, your best content is gonna rise to the top. It'll start to appear in search results, and eventually you'll start to build an audience, which can translate into business. But even before that happens, your blawg itself conserve as a portfolio, and you could show it to potential clients as a kind of selling point 10. [Portfolio] Guest Posting The Right Way: guest posting is one of the most effective ways to establish yourself as an authority figure in your niche. You write an article for an industry blawg or publication for free, they publish it and then you've got not only a portfolio piece, but visibility within the industry you're trying to break into. If I were starting today building ah, freelance writing business from scratch guest posting would be a key part of my strategy. Now, like anything else, there are good ways and bad ways to go about guest posting. So I'm gonna try to give you a head start here and make sure you're not wasting your time. So, first of all, the key to successful guest blogging is that any guest posts you write have to meet a pretty high standard of quality again. You do not have to be an award winning writer to be successful, but your guest posts should be some of your best work. That's gonna increase your chance of getting published, of course, but remember, this is also a portfolio piece. It's something you're gonna wanna point to in the future as a way of saying Here's what I can do So you wanted to be good now in terms of finding blog's and publications to write for, it's pretty straightforward. You can literally just go to Google, type in your niche and then something like guest posting right for US contributor guidelines and put those phrases in quotes that should give you a list of sites related to your industry that hopefully except guest posts. So go through the results, investigate a little further, and make a list of the ones that look like viable options for each site that you intend to reach out to spend some time actually reading their content, familiarizing yourself with their audience, their style and what types of content they like to publish. That way, you can tailor your approach to them specifically as far as actually getting published. It's all about the pitch. I cannot emphasize this enough. As an editor, I've gotten tens of thousands of guest post pitches over the years, and most of them go straight to the trash. So what is it that makes me actually pay attention? Well, here's what a perfect pitch looks like to me. Simple but descriptive. Tell me who you are and why I should care and then give me three specific post ideas to choose from with a simple outline or description for each one. Now you're gonna want to start with the smaller blog's in your industry because you're gonna have an easier time getting published on those. But as you get some published posts under your belt, you can start to graduate to larger blog's and publications using the posts from those smaller blog's a social proof. This is going to go a long way to building credibility with potential clients. 11. [Portfolio] How To Reach An Audience And Build Massive Social Proof For Free: another way to get your writing in front of people and start to establish yourself as an authority is by publishing on platforms that give you an audience without making you go through a gatekeeper. Medium and Cora are two really good examples of this. So Medium is a publishing platform that's geared largely toward writers. It kind of skips the bells and whistles and keeps the focus on the content with beautiful typography and lots of white space. But what makes medium unique is that it's social. You can start a blogger on medium, and in that regard it behaves just like any other blogging platform. But your content is also discoverable by other users. Readers can follow topics they're interested in and see a feat of content from many different writers on many different blog's. And there's an up vote system so the best content gets surfaced and promoted to more people . There are also publications on medium that pick up and distribute articles to a wider audience, just like a newspaper or magazine. So the real value of publishing on medium is that you can very quickly reach an audience that you wouldn't otherwise have access to and again. Having an audience can lead to business directly, but it also serves as social proof. Cora is actually one of my favorite sites on the Web. It's a Q and A service where people ask and answer questions on thousands of different topics, and the questions get answered by real people with riel experience. They've managed to create an incredible community where you have everyone from car mechanics toe astrophysicists answering questions about their expertise. If you consider yourself a curious person, it is a joy to use, and it's also a great place to share your writing. You can create a core account, follow some topics related to your industry and start writing answers to questions that you're knowledgeable about. I know more than a few successful freelance writers who got their start just by writing answers on Cora. Just like medium. There's an up vote system so the best content gets promoted to more people, and large publications will often ask Cory users to republish their answers as guest posts . For example, Business Insider Inc magazine and TechCrunch all republished Cora content regularly, so please take advantage of Medium and Cora in any other platforms you confined that allow you to reach a bigger audience than you could on your own. There are no gatekeepers. You don't have to go through an editor, just create an account and share your work with the world. 12. [Portfolio] How To Gain Real Client Experience As A Beginner: When you start pitching clients, they're gonna want to see that you have re Alexe piri ence. Helping businesses like there's and the best way to gain that experience when you're just getting started is to help businesses for free. Now, even if you're not charging anything, it can be hard to get your foot in the door of a large international company. So what I would suggest is reaching out to relevant businesses in your local area and offering to help them for free. So, for example, if you're interested in the music niche, you could go to Google and look for local bands, recording studios or concert venues, research them and determine how you might be able to help. So if there's a major event coming up a big concert or something, you could offer to draft a press release right up a block post, do their website copy or brochures something of that nature that would genuinely take some work off of their plate, so you would just send him an email, Introduce yourself, say you heard what they're up to and think you might be able to help let them know what you have in mind and that it wouldn't cost anything and see if they're interested. You may also find that you have small business owners in your network, friends, friends of friends, and you can reach out to those people is well to see if you might be able to help them. Now, just so you're prepared, people will be skeptical of your intentions in offering free work so nothing is guaranteed . But if you could get at least a couple of businesses onboard, you're gonna be in good shape because for each business you help, that's a portfolio piece, a person who is willing to vouch for you and the potential for paid referrals in the future . 13. [Clients] Where To Find Freelance Writing Clients: Once you've established a portfolio, it's time to start looking for riel paid client work. The demand for content is higher than ever, so there's a lot of work out there that you could potentially pick up today. But you'll notice that not all clients are equal, and not all job sites are equal. There's a sort of hierarchy where, AH, higher barrier to entry means higher rewards for you. The ultimate goal is for your work to be so influential and so sought after that, potential clients are reaching out to you directly. That's where continually building your portfolio is gonna come in handy by working with more clients publishing more blawg posts, contributing more guest posts. You're eventually gonna hit a tipping point where the biggest brands in your industry are gonna wanna work with you specifically. But as you're just starting out before you have a reputation, you're gonna have to start a little lower on the totem pole and sell yourself. If you're brand new to the freelance writing game, I recommend starting your search on a general purpose freelancing site like up work or freelancer. There are tons of jobs on these platforms, and they're especially well suited for getting your first few paid projects under your belt as quickly as possible. Now I should mention that there's also a lot of competition on these sites, so the payment may not be as high as you'd like. But there's still a great place to get some riel hands on experience in a pretty low risk environment. And once you've completed a few projects, you'll have a bigger portfolio and hopefully more confidence to move on to bigger and better things. And by the way, freelancing platforms also serve as a middleman between you and the client. They track your work, handle the payment, provide support and protect the interests of both parties. So that's a nice benefit With that, said freelancing. Platforms are just a starting point. I don't recommend focusing your whole business there over the long term because you're gonna find better opportunities elsewhere. Which brings us to the next step on the ladder freelance writing job boards. Generally, this is where you're gonna find clients that are both more profitable and more enjoyable toe work with, and often these will be long term opportunities for most freelance writers. Job board clients are gonna be your bread and butter. Here's some examples of these sites. The pro Blogger Job Board is an industry standard for blogging jobs, so if you're interested in that type of work, you definitely want to look there for a wider variety of work. You can check out all freelance writing dot com and freelance writing gigs dot com. If you're interested in news journalism, editorial type stuff, you want to explore journalism jobs dot com. You can also just search the Web for things like freelance writing jobs, and you'll find plenty of opportunities. So at this point in the course, what I'd like you to do just for practice is head over to one of these job sites and spend some time reading through the listings, getting a feel for what kinds of opportunities there are. Which ones pique your interest and what clients tend to expect. A lot of times, they'll have very specific instructions to filter candidates out, so read each listing carefully. Spend an hour or so just getting familiar with the listings thin. Come back here and we'll talk about pitching 14. [Clients] Crafting An Effective Pitch: as you're just getting started with freelance writing, you may feel intimidated by the process of pitching clients and selling yourself. So I'd like to spend some time here to help you craft an effective pitch that articulates the value you have to offer and gets you responses. The first thing you need to understand about pitching, especially when it comes to freelance sites and job boards, is that you are one candidate among potentially hundreds of others. And let me tell you, as an editor, going through hundreds of pitches is exhausting because most of them are so bad, their long winded, they're in personal. They give me zero confidence that the person can actually help me, and in many cases they couldn't be bothered to follow the basic instructions in the job post itself. When I think about this from a hiring perspective, it gives me so much stress and anxiety. But from the perspective of a writer looking for work, this should ease your mind. Ah, lot. In fact, those other candidates are doing you a huge favor by sending in the same terrible pitches day in and day out. You couldn't ask for a better situation because just by doing a few things right, your pitch is going to stand out from the rest, and you're gonna have the ultimate competitive advantage. So what is it specifically that your pitch needs to convey? First, I need to see that you can help me solve the problem I'm hiring for Remember, different writing jobs required. Different skill sets. Sales copy is different from a blawg post, which is different from technical documentation and so on. You need to demonstrate that you understand that and that you're skilled in the type of work you're applying for. Next. I want to see that you're human being. Show some empathy, establish a connection, express a genuine interest in the company or their mission. I want to hire a person, not a robot. And by the way, being able to communicate authentically through the written word even in your initial pitch is an important testament to your writing ability. So that definitely gets factored into the final decision. Your pitch also needs to show that you're competent. This is where your portfolio comes into play. I want to see that you've done this type of work before and that other clients are willing to vouch for you. And finally, please show that you actually read the job. Post reference. Specific details were appropriate. And be sure to follow all the directions in the job listing. So if it asked for a sample, send in a sample. If it tells you to include a specific word in the subject line, make sure you do that. These super specific instructions are a way for companies to save time by quickly filtering out candidates that didn't read the entire post. And again, most people don't. So this gives you an advantage right out of the gate. Another important thing to understand is that the key to selling yourself is simply thinking, How can I help? You may not be a natural sales person. I'm not. I actually used to think of selling as a dirty word, but the reality is good. Selling is all about helping people and adding disproportionate value to their lives. So keep that in mind Every time you pitch your services. How can you add value to the business you're offering to help? What can you bring to the table that they couldn't do without you? So I've actually put together a basic template here that will help you to meet all the criteria we've defined for an effective pitch. You could just plug in your information and use this template as is, but I think you'll see better results by taking the time to personalize it and put your own spin on it. And that will be easy to do once you understand why it works. So let's break it down line by line. First we have Hey, and then the person's name. If you don't know the person's name, you could also use something more generic like, Hey, guys. Or if you're applying to work for Merrill Media, you could say, Hey, Meryl, Media team, something like that. Next, you're gonna briefly introduce yourself briefly. Tell him your name. Let him know. You're freelance writer, journalist, blogger, copywriter. Whatever it is you do specifically, and then let them know why you're writing. It could be about a job listing or if you're reaching out cold, you could say you're just curious if they have any opportunities available. Getting this out of the way at the top makes your intentions super clear and sets the tone for the rest of your message. Next, you're gonna build some credibility for yourself. I've been working in whatever industry for X number of years. Now, of course, if you're totally new to the industry, you may want to skip this part, but it can score you some points If you've got some experience, The next little phrase here is all about social proof, working with clients such as and then you list some of your most well known clients. If you haven't worked with any big names yet, you still want to list some clients here. But you may wanna link to their Web sites or something to provide a little context on the next line you're gonna name, drop any clients you're currently working with, especially if the person you're pitching is likely to know them big industry names or even just a friend of a friend. Again, this is all social proof, and it's gonna increase your odds of getting a response and getting hired. So right now I'm working for blank creating blank, and that's the type of work you're doing. Sales copy, product descriptions, blawg content, whatever it ISS. Then you're gonna provide some actual examples. Ideally, these will be live links to published work that you've written says you can see. I included three examples, which should be more than enough to show what you can do without going overboard. For each one. You want to include a link as well as any exceptional results that you generated, like traffic social shares on increased conversion rate. And you can also include a short synopsis or some other details about the project itself. After your examples, you want to share a couple of sentences to provide some background on you as a human being . You're not gonna share your whole life story, but just give him a glimpse of who you are. Then all you have to do is thank them for their time and sign your name. This template is something I've personally used in my writing career and as an editor. This tends to be exactly what I'm looking for. The reason it's so effective is because it provides all the necessary information without reading. Like a novel. It's short, but it says everything that needs to be said. So take this template, personalize it, make it your own and maybe run it by a friend or colleague and see what they think. When it comes time to start pitching clients, you're gonna make a great first impression. 15. [Clients] Pitching Clients: It's A Numbers Game: One thing that turns a lot of people off about pitching is that it feels like a lot of the process is outside of your control, right? You can spend all day sending out pitches, but that doesn't guarantee that you're gonna land a client and see in our ally on that time . And that's true to some extent. But over time, if you track what you're doing, you should find that pitching is a repeatable process with predictable results. It's a numbers game. As you pitch MAWR and more prospective clients, you'll start to see a surprisingly consistent ratio between the number of pitches you send , the number of responses you get, the number of clients who ultimately hire you and the revenue you generate. I strongly suggest tracking all of these metrics from day one. The more data points you have, the more accurate of a conversion rate you'll have, and then you can use that to determine exactly what you need to do to reach your financial goals. So, for example, let's say you find that on average, for every 10 prospects you pitch, you get three responses in one of those three becomes a client and pays you, we'll just say an average of X dollars. If your goal is to make 10 times that number or 10 X, that means you need to pitch 100 prospects, 30 of which will respond and 10 of which will hire you and pay an average of X dollars. Now, of course, this is a very rough calculation, and it's not gonna be 100% accurate. But once you get an idea of your numbers, you'll know roughly how much work translates into the revenue you're aiming for. And psychologically thinking in terms of numbers should give you a sense of control and keep you motivated to keep pursuing new gigs. You're not just blindly pitching and hoping someone hires you. You're doing exactly what you know you need to do to reach your goals, and every no or non response gets you one step closer to a yes 16. [Writing] The Importance Of Effective Writing: writing is the cornerstone of your business, right, and it's a great way to communicate ideas. But it comes with a certain handicap when compared to in person verbal communication. You've probably heard that body language accounts for a significant portion of human interaction facial expressions, posture, eye contact, gestures. When you're speaking, all of these things can either support or negate the words you're actually saying. We use body language often unconsciously, to connect with people to gauge character and trustworthiness, to understand how someone is feeling and so on. What you say is arguably less important than how you say it. But when it comes to writing all of those qualities air lost, there's no body language. There's no tone of voice. You're totally reliant on the words themselves, which makes effective writing that much more important. You want to be able to build trust, share ideas, educate people and persuade people all without relying on the help of body language. If you're taking this course, chances are you have at least somewhat of a natural inclination to write. You enjoy writing, and you probably have at least an above average skill level when it comes to writing This course is mainly focused on the business of freelance writing and how you can take your existing skill as a writer and turn that into an income source and ultimately, a successful business. With That said, it is important to understand that better writers are going to be able to land more clients and command higher fees. And that's true with any field in general. Your income is gonna increase along with your skill set. Now, Like I said earlier, you don't have to be the best writer in the world. I don't want you to start criticizing yourself or comparing yourself to others to see how you stack up. That's not what this is about. I just want you to make improvement a habit wherever you are in terms of your current skill level, you can always improve, and you owe it to yourself to improve. So in this section I want to go through a few tips that I've found particularly helpful for creating effective written content in today's world. At the end of this section will also take a look at some quick, actionable tips that you can use to become a better writer. Overall, 17. [Writing] How To Write Effective Headlines: one of the most important parts of good content is an effective headline. Whether it's a block post, a video of landing page and add or really anything else, the headline is your chance to nail the first impression this has the potential to make or break the entire post. When you're working on a piece of content, I recommend starting with a working title, just something simple toe. Identify what you're working on and guide the general idea of the peace. Then, once you're finished with the content itself, come back to the headline and refine it. Sometimes you may find that you ended up taking a slightly different approach to your content than you originally intended. So that's why I like to write the final headline after I've written the main content. And when it comes to that final headline, you want to take it pretty seriously. Don't just type out the first thing that comes to your mind and call it a day. Remember, the headline is your one chance to grab people's attention, so make sure you're spending enough time on it. I'd say 5 to 10 minutes. At the very least, what I like to do is come up with a list of potential headlines at least five, sometimes 10 or more, and then narrow them down until I'm left with the perfect title. So with that process in mind, what elements do you need to have in that perfect title? First of all, you want something unique. If your headline looks exactly the same as all the other content on your topic, what reason does your audience have to think you have any unique value to offer them? Show a little personality? And don't be afraid to be different. A good example of this that kind of takes it to the extreme is the hilarious viral video that put Dollar Shave Club on the Map Dollar Shave club dot com. Our blades are great. Yes, it's edgy. Yes, they took a bit of a risk dropping an F bomb in an official ad, but it got people's attention. It showed people right off the bat. That Dollar Shave Club was not just another razor brand like pick or Gillette. Now my advising you to be intentionally edgy and swear in your headlines. Not at all. In fact, I would advise against that unless you've got a client that specifically wants to go in that direction. All I'm really suggesting here is that you allow your writing in your headlines, in particular to show a little personality and employ a unique, authentic style. Whatever that happens to look like for you. Next, a good headline is specific. You want to be extremely clear about what you have to offer. So if I was writing a block post about how to grow a business with content marketing, ah, bad headline would be something super general like content, marketing or even how to grow your business. Instead, I'd want to be really specific and say, for example, how I increased my company's sales by 50% using content marketing. That way, the reader knows exactly what to expect, and if they're interested in what I have to offer, they'll click through and along the same lines. You want your headline to be useful. It should convey a clear benefit to the reader. In the example I just gave you how I increased my company's sales by 50%. Using content marketing, it's extremely clear what the reader is going toe learn same thing with the dollar shave Club video. Our blades air Great. If you're looking for a great razor blade, well, there you go. So to summarize, when you're writing headlines, make sure to always offer something unique, make it specific and make it useful. Come up with a list of potential headlines for every piece of content you create and narrow down the list to the best one. You may also want to run it by an editor or a friend or a colleague just to get a fresh perspective. In any case, always remember that your headline is your chance to make or break the first impression, which translates into the level of value you're providing to your clients. Because if people aren't clicking through, they're not reading, and if they're not reading your client is not getting a return on their investment. So if you're writing your own headline in the client isn't choosing it for you. Make sure you give it the attention it deserves 18. [Writing] Optimizing Your Tone & Vocabulary: in this lecture, I want to offer a quick tip about your words themselves. It's obviously important that you inspire trust in your audience, and one of the best ways to do that is with your tone and your vocabulary. Doing this properly comes down to knowing your clients audience and understanding what they're looking for. So with your tone, you generally want to match the attitude of your reader. You don't want to be perceived as too academic, for example, or on the other side of the spectrum to juvenile. You have to strike a balance between being conversational and being informative. And what that balance looks like is gonna vary from one topic or audience to another. But the best general advice I can give you here is to be human and authentic, because chances are you're not writing an encyclopedia. The same principles apply to your vocabulary, especially in content, marketing and sales copy. It's always a good idea to use the words and phrases that your audience uses to describe their problems and pain points. That's a great way to form a connection and show that you truly understand them right, because when someone reads your writing and seize their problem explained exactly the way they describe it. They know right away that you're gonna be able to help them for blogging and content marketing. There's also a more technical benefit when it comes to S e o or, ah, search engine optimization. If you use the words and phrases that your target audience is searching for, they're gonna be more likely to find your content when they type those keywords into Google . If you're unsure about any of this, as far as what words to use or how to best communicate with your reader, it's always a good idea to have a conversation with your client ahead of time and see if they have any pointers from their experience. 19. [Writing] Maintaining Focus In Your Writing: this tip may vary a bit from project to project client to client, but in general, every piece of content you create should serve a single purpose. It should have one core idea or solve one main problem. You never want to try to do too much with one piece of writing. If you try to be everything for everyone, you're going to dilute the value and ultimately put off the people who would otherwise be interested. So start with the problem you want to solve. Prepare the solution or the core idea, or whatever point you're trying to get across and keep that in mind throughout your writing process to keep you on course. It's okay to dive deep into certain aspects of the topic as long as they're relevant. What you don't want to do is go off on a tangent and start talking about something that doesn't actually contribute to the value of the piece. So whatever your main goal is whether that's teaching the reader something, arguing a viewpoint selling a product, keep that in mind and make sure everything you write supports that goal in some way 20. [Writing] How To Write An Effective Call-To-Action: If you're writing any kind of marketing or sales content, a key component will often be the call to action. This is where you take a casual reader and get them engaged with your client's brand or where you take somebody who's already engaged and turn them into a customer. Your call to action is your ask. After you've built a foundation of trust by providing lots of value, some new writers are a little uncomfortable with writing a call to action. But it's really nothing to stress over. And knowing how to do it effectively is gonna help you deliver substantially more value to your clients. Because generally the goal of, say, a blawg post is not just for people to read it. It's to turn some of those people into Leeds. We're customers, and the way to do that is with a call to action. Ah, call to action is just that you're calling on the reader to take some kind of action, and that action could be something as simple is leaving their thoughts and opinions in the comments section or sharing the post on social media. It could also be something like subscribing to a newsletter or downloading some kind of free resource. Always ask your clients what they're hoping to get out of a particular piece of content so you can plan accordingly. So how do you write a call to action? Well, it depends because you wanted to be a natural extension of the content itself, But here are a few quick tips. First, don't beat around the bush. If you want people to take action, you've gotta ask often This means beginning with a command verb like by order, subscribe, download, sign up and so on. So if your client has some kind of free resource, they want people to sign up for. You don't just want to say this free resource is available. Now you want to tell people exactly what to do. Download this free resource. Next. Your call. The action needs some kind of value proposition. What do people get out of whatever it is you're asking them to do? In the example I just gave you, they get a free resource. You could also ask people toe call for a free consultation or sign up for a weekly newsletter request a free quote. Whatever it is, the reader should know exactly what benefit they'll receive for taking action. It's also a good idea to use emotion to your advantage, and you can do this by using emotional words or simply showing that you're excited and enthusiastic about your offer. So when it comes to emotional words, let's say you're in the real estate industry. You could use phrases like home or dream house something to trigger that deep emotional desire that you know your audience has. And then when it comes to enthusiasm, just be excited. Use exclamation points show people that you are already sold on the offer, so they should be, too. In the marketing world, every piece of content should have a call to action because you always want to keep people engaged and moving in the right direction. But of course, you'll have to work out the specifics on a client by client basis. 21. [Writing] How Grammatical Errors Can Cripple Your Writing: If you want to inspire trust in your audience, your writing should be free of errors, and your spelling and grammar should be impeccable. Now look, nobody's perfect. We all make mistakes, and one of the beautiful things about the Internet is that you can usually go back and fix your mistakes even after you've published your content. But the fact of the matter is, people judge you based on your ability to communicate properly. And if your post is littered with grammatical errors, you're gonna face judgment. And it's gonna be harder to establish that trust because you're showing a lack of attention to detail. For example, if I'm reading a block post about taxes written by a leading accountant and tax expert, but throughout the Post, they're using your instead of your That's gonna cause me to think, whether consciously or unconsciously, how can I trust this person to give me tax advice when they can't even handle basic grammar ? And I don't say that to be a jerk. I know some people struggle with that stuff, but it's just the cold, honest truth. People will judge you for your spelling and grammar errors, so you need to take steps to ensure that those errors don't happen. First and foremost, if you haven't already, I would strongly urge you to invest the necessary time to learn and master all the grammatical rules of whatever language you're writing in. That's important. Educating yourself is one of the most effective things you can do and that education is going to continue to pay off for years to come second. And this is especially important if you know you're prone to errors in your writing. Have an editor proof. Read your content before you publish it. If you can catch errors in house before they ever reach your audience, you can have confidence that everything you publish is high quality and error free. Finally, please take advantage of the technology you have at your disposal to improve your writing. Your standards fell check is great for typos and some basic grammatical errors, But if you really want a comprehensive safety net, I recommend you check out Graham early, which gives you real time context based feedback on the mechanics, usage, grammar and spelling in your writing. It's basically like having an editor looking over your shoulder at all times, which is really helpful. So with all of that in mind, hopefully you see why error free writing is so important and what you can do to ensure your writing against those pesky grammar mistakes. 22. [Writing] How to Become A Better Writer: to close out this section. I want to talk about some things you can do to become a better writer. Overall, good writing isn't an ability you're just born with. It's a skill you have to practice and develop over time. So the number one thing you can do to improve your writing is to write and write often. Write in a journal, use different styles, cover different topics, even try your hand at fiction. What matters is that you're always improving your ability to communicate using the written word. The other thing you should be doing is reading, and this is the part that a lot of writers tend to neglect. Stephen King has a great book called on Writing A Memoir of the Craft Definitely worth the read if you haven't checked it out. But in that book he discusses how important it is for aspiring writers to dedicate time to reading. He writes. The rial importance of reading is that it creates an ease and intimacy with the process of writing. One comes to the country of the writer with one's papers and identification, pretty much in order. Constant reading will pull you into a place a mindset. If you like the phrase where you can write eagerly and without self consciousness, it also offers you a constantly growing knowledge of what has been done and what hasn't. What is trite and what is fresh, what works and what just lies there dying or dead on the page. The more you read, the less apt you are to make a full of yourself with your pen or word processor. Now, of course, you should be reading the type of stuff that you intend to write. But don't limit yourself. Read books, fiction, nonfiction, science, poetry, history, even social media posts. It's all helpful, and having that grand view of everything that's out there is really going to get your creative juices flowing and help you to produce better work. If you're looking for some quick, actionable ways to improve your writing here, a few tips. First of all, one of the best ways to strengthen your writing is to use the active voice as much as you can you see in English. There are two main voices you can use in your writing, the active voice and the passive voice. The distinction is pretty simple. Is the subject of the sentence doing the action, or is the subject having the action done to them? Here's an example. You could say Louise kicked the ball across the field or the ball was kicked across the field by Louise. Which one of these sounds better? Probably the 1st 1 And that's because it uses the active voice. The subject of the sentence. Louise is doing the action. Louise kicked the ball in the second case, the subject of the sentence. The ball is having an action done to it. The ball was kicked. There are some cases where the passive voice makes sense, but most of the time you're much better off using the active voice. Next, let's talk about contractions. If you've ever written an academic paper, you've probably been told not to use contractions. Words like your there don't aren't isn't and so on. In some client situations, you may be asked to follow that rule, but in most cases you'll want to be more casual and conversational. Like I said earlier, you're probably not writing an encyclopedia. You want to match the style and tone of your audience, and usually that includes using contractions on a similar note. You want your content to be approachable, even for people who may not be experts on your topic. Right after all, that's usually why people come to you in the first place because you're the expert. So I recommend simplifying your vocabulary and avoiding excessive jargon. A great litmus test for one's understanding of a topic is whether they can effectively explain it to a child. Keep that in mind and try to imagine you're writing for an audience that has little to no experience with your topic. Unless you know for sure that your audience has a certain baseline level of knowledge. Like if you write for an audience of physicians or something like that, one of the most important tasks you have to accomplish as a writer is keeping your reader's interest. And that's especially true in today's world, where assume if somebody gets bored, they're clicking on to something else. One of the best ways to keep people engaged is to make your content easy to skim short sentences and short paragraphs ideally broken up by subheadings and images. If your piece is just one giant wall of text, nobody's gonna want to read it try to break your writing up and make it easier to digest. The next thing we need to discuss is one of the most common pitfalls in writing, and that is an overuse of modifiers like adjectives and adverbs. Adverbs in particular, are often unnecessary, and I don't think I could explain it any better than Stephen King, he writes. Consider the sentence. He closed the door firmly. It's by no means a terrible sentence. At least it's got an active verb going for it. But ask yourself if firmly really has to be there. You can argue that it expresses a degree of difference between he closed the door and he slammed the door and you'll get no argument from me. But what about context? What about all the enlightening not to say emotionally moving prose, which came before he closed the door firmly. Shouldn't this tell us how he closed the door? If the foregoing pros does tell us isn't firmly an extra word, isn't it redundant? That's the end of the quote by Stephen King. I always reference that when I talk about over using adverbs, the idea here isn't to use zero adverbs just to use them sparingly and finally, editing. Is Justus important as writing? Some clients will have editors on staff who will proof reader work and give you feedback. But I think self editing is a valuable skill that people too often neglect. After you write your first draft, walk away for a bit, do something else and then come back when your mind is fresh. At this point, you want to start cutting your content down. Be merciless here. You want your writing to be as clear and concise as possible, so you have to remove the fluff. Remember, every piece of content should have one core idea or solve one main problem. Anything that doesn't contribute to that should be cut. And by the way, even if you're great at self editing, it's still a good idea to run your content by someone else before publication just to get another perspective. So that's it. Those air some of the most actionable pointers I can offer you if you want to improve your writing and create better content for your clients. Like I said, it does take time and effort to develop the skill of good writing. But these are all things you can start doing to become a more effective writer today, so I hope you put them into action 23. How to Stay Productive As A Freelance Writer: One of the great things about freelance writing is that it allows you to be location independent. There are no set hours. You don't have to show up to an office every day, and you can work from anywhere in the world. On the surface, it seems like a sexy lifestyle, and it is. Working as a freelance writer in building your own business gives you so much freedom and flexibility that you wouldn't have in a traditional 9 to 5 job. But that freedom could be a double edged sword. Because while it's great to not be sitting in a cubicle with a manager breathing down your neck, you also lose the inherent structure that comes along with that. So instead of a boss telling you what to do, you have to take the initiative, determine what needs to be done and then do it. If you're used to working in a traditional job environment, moving away from that could be a difficult transition. So in this lecture, I'd like to offer you a few tips to keep you productive and moving forward at all times. First of all, from a psychological standpoint, I'd encourage you to always keep in mind that you are building a business. That's what this is. You're not an employee, you're a business owner. So in addition to being a writer, you have to take on a bit of a CEO role as well. You always have to be thinking in terms of what is going to take your business to the next level. And don't forget when it comes to pitching, it's always a numbers game. You want to focus on reaching more people while also adjusting your pitch to increase your response rate in terms of working from home. If you've never done it before, you're gonna notice pretty quickly that there are distractions everywhere. How do you stay productive when you're not in a typical workplace setting? Well, first, I would strongly suggest creating a place for yourself where you can go to be reliably productive. Ideally, this is gonna be a place where you only work not somewhere where you also sleep or watch TV or hang out, and you want to optimize this environment by removing any potential triggers that could cause you to procrastinate. So keep things like TV's and game consuls. Things like that as far away as you can. Put your phone on, do not disturb and keep it out of sight and try to separate yourself from anyone who might walk in and interrupt you. If you're not able to create a place like that of your own, you can also go out to a coffee shop or a library or some other public place and treat that as your workspace. I actually do quite a bit of my work in those kinds of places, and it works very well for me, so I definitely recommend it. Now, of course, you're gonna be working on a computer. So even if you've perfectly optimized your surroundings, you've still got the entire Internet and literally millions of distractions at your fingertips. This is where strong discipline really pays off, but you can also put some restrictions in place to keep you on task. I use a browser extension called Waste No Time, which allows you to set up a list of sites that are off limits while you're working. For example, Facebook, Twitter, reddit, YouTube, Netflix, things of that nature. And during your predetermined work hours, you won't be able to visit those sites if you're the kind of person who prefers the rigid structure and routine of a 9 to 5 job. It may be worth approaching your freelance writing business in the same way following a schedule segmenting out blocks of time for specific tasks and beginning and ending your workday at the same times every day. Now, of course, if you prefer a more flexible schedule and you find that works better for you, that's fine, too. You really just have to know yourself in your preferences when it's time to get down to business. I recommend working on your most difficult projects first thing in the morning. Your willpower tends to be strongest at the beginning of the day, and on top of that, ah, big win early in the day is going to translate to even more progress in the afternoon. If you're like most writers, you may find yourself constantly stopping and editing your work before you've completed the first draft. One of the most important changes I've made, my workflow is saving all the proof reading and editing for the end. I've taught myself to be okay with an imperfecta first draft because I know I can always revisit things and make changes later. Doing this has made me dramatically more efficient, because now I feel like I could just right without overthinking every little detail. Another common mistake is spending too much time on research. Now for many projects, it's necessary to do some amount of research beforehand. But if you're spending hours researching a topic just to write a 500 word blawg post, you should probably reevaluate that as you gain more experience in your particular field, you should get a feel for how many stats, quotes and other data points you need to hit a particular word count. When you're producing work for clients, deadlines tend to come with the territory, but you can actually use your own self imposed deadlines to get more done. In less time. You see work is like a gas. It expands to fill its container. You could make it a lot smaller simply by putting it in a smaller container. So if you have a particular project that needs to be done in a week, it'll probably take you the whole week to get it done. But if you impose a strict deadline and say that task needs to be done two hours from now. Guess what? It'll take you two hours. Now, of course, there's a limit to this. You can't just set an arbitrary deadline for some huge project and magically get it done in five minutes. You have to be somewhat realistic, but I think there is value in limiting the amount of time you can spend on certain things because it forces you to take action. 24. Tools Of The Trade: in this lecture, I'd like to recommend a few tools that I've found to be helpful, both for writing in general and for growing your business. The first tool is called one look. You can find it at one look dot com, and it's basically a supercharged dictionary search engine. You could do all kinds of things with one look, from simple word lookups to synonyms, to finding a word that starts with a particular letter finding words that relate to a particular concept. It's an amazing tool toe have in your arsenal as a wordsmith. Next, I'm a big fan of Graham Early Graham Early takes the concept of spell check to the next level. It basically proof reads your work in real time, giving you context based suggestions to ensure your writing is clear and free of errors. It's a bit like having an editor looking over your shoulder at all times, which is super helpful. The Hemingway editor from Hemingway app dot com is also worth a try. Like Graham early, it provides real time feedback on your writing, scanning for things like technical jargon, passive voice, long convoluted sentences and so on. The nice thing about Hemingway is that it's not just a grammar checking app. It's actually a beautiful and functional text editor as well. So if you haven't tried it, I definitely recommend it for productivity. It could be really helpful to organize your work using a task manager. My go to recommendation is to do ist because the basic version is free and it's cross platform, so it works on just about any device. You can create a project for each of your clients and then organize your tasks, set deadlines and, most importantly, get all of your work out of your head and into a nice, cohesive interface for the purpose of invoicing clients accepting payments and keeping track of your business income for accounting purposes. You can't go wrong with fresh books. Accounting is not exciting, but it is necessary, and fresh books tends to be a top choice among freelancers and small business owners. 25. How To Handle Client Feedback: Often when you submit work to a client, they're gonna have feedback, and they may want you to make some revisions. This is the moment that every new writer dreads. So in this lecture, I'd like to give you a few pointers to help you deal with feedback in a way that's productive and positive, both for your mental health and your career. First of all, it's important that you start any new project with clear communication. The more you understand your clients vision and goals, the less likely it is you'll have to make major revisions later. When you do receive feedback, it's important not to take it personally. Now I know that's easier said than done, but the fact is, feedback is about the work, not you as a person, and it's an opportunity to grow and better serve your clients needs. They're not attacking you or trying to make you feel bad. They're just communicating openly and trying to solve a problem. Usually, the problem is simply a result of poor communication, so having that open dialogue is crucial to maintaining a productive long term relationship along the same lines, don't be afraid to follow up with questions. If the clients not happy, you need to understand why. So ask them what you need to change, clarify any important details and always focus on solutions. What needs to be done to solve the problem As you get more information, it's gonna be a lot easier to work with that client in the future because you'll be intimately familiar with their preferences. After receiving feedback, it's OK to step back and breathe before you fire off a response or start working on a revision. Think through any possible solutions. Makes him edits privately on your end, or just let it sit for a while. The idea is to not go into panic mode or get super defensive with that said. Sometimes you do want to defend your work. Say a client gives you some feedback that doesn't really make sense. Respectfully let them know why that's the case and walk them through your thought process and why you made the choices you did. You may still disagree afterwards, but that clear and open communication is gonna get you both on the same page and you'll be one step closer to finding a solution. Finally, pay special attention to any feedback you get repeatedly from multiple clients that could indicate a weak point that you may want to focus on improving. Or it could mean you're taking on clients that aren't really suited for your particular style or capabilities. In either case, there is a solution. Feedback can be painful, but it's ultimately gonna make you a better writer and a more valuable asset for your clients. If you follow these tips, you should be able to reframe client feedback as a force for good rather than a personal attack. 26. Wrapping Up: congratulations. You've made it to the end of the course, and you're ready to start building a successful freelance writing business. If anything is unclear or if you have any questions, please feel free to post them inside the course. And I'll do my best to help you out. In the meantime, I want to thank you for joining me. I really hope it's been valuable, and I wish nothing but success to you and your business.