Wednesday, October 24, 2018

3 Things I've Learned From Freelance Writing

If you've been writing for any length of time, you know that it has its ups and downs. One day your inbox might hold an acceptance letter for a magazine article query, the next, a rejection letter from that client you'd hoped to gain. One thing remains consistent; there's always something to learn. From sharpening our research or marketing skills to polishing our fiction writing, we can always improve. Every portion of this writing journey has value, for it brings us to where we are today and beyond.

Reflecting on my recent freelance work, it occurred to me how much I've gained. Three things stand out:

  • Greater Writing Efficiency - In the early days, I wrote copious amounts of beautiful prose. Or so I thought. Actually, much of it was okay, just sorely in need of tightening and prudent editing. It was hard to cut those precious words until I saw the value of crisp writing and editing. Practicing word economy yielded more efficient work, with less to edit. This means higher quality writing, faster results, and greater productivity.
  • An Expanded Skill Set - Freelancing has offered opportunities to write on various topics and in different formats. From lesson plans for K-adult to articles, ads, and web content, I've learned much. Recent freelance pursuits include the home improvement industry and drug addiction programs. This experience offers knowledge and skills I can offer to future students, clients, and publications.
  • People Skills - If we're writing for publication, we must deal with people, whether in person, by phone, or email. As writers, you'd think we'd be naturally good at communicating like this. But that's not always true. Even sales and other business experience didn't fully prepare me for the freelance world. What I've gained through freelancing provides valuable insight for communication in other areas of life as well.  

We all know how to cultivate these results - by doing what we're likely already doing, but perhaps with more focus, awareness, and purpose toward our goals. I've hardly arrived into the famous writers' arena, but here are the things that have facilitated my progress in these three areas.

Greater writing efficiency takes time and practice. This doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen in a writer who has a heart for gaining knowledge and growth. Keep learning, always. It's helped me to take classes, webinars, read books, blog posts, and articles, observe others' work, and utilize all the great resources available. Further pursuits include getting a few critique partners, learning to self edit, developing a sharp eye for flaws and cluttered prose.

Expanding a skill set comes in many forms, and ties in with writing efficiency above. I continue to stretch through reading, research, continuing education, and practice. Other things that have helped are writing in other genres, ones that aren't as comfortable. I started a blog and experimented with Blogger and Wordpress. Writing lessons for my teen students offers opportunities to write examples, like mock ads, fiction, and news stories. I keep an informal log of interesting words, phrases, and quotes. I'm often thinking about writing ideas, and am an observer of people, events, and good books, both fiction and nonfiction.

As time allows, it's also helped to stay current with marketing and freelancing trends. Though it's not essential to know all the practices and jargon, it can be an asset to your writing journey. For example, I learned recently what onboarding is and how it'll help with freelance clients. To better target customers and editors, it's also important to know your USP. And all freelancers can save time and money knowing how to avoid scope creep.

People skills are shaped and influenced by our background, experience, and personality type. Good interaction with clients, editors, publishers, and fellow writers is often contingent on how knowledgeable and confident we feel about our skills. How do we improve and stay sharp? Practice good etiquette and common sense. Observe others (what to and not to do). Talk to other writers and business owners.  Read. Research. Learn by doing.

As an introvert, public relations can be a stretch. You might recall this post that discusses things this shy writer has learned about social media interaction. Extroverts, too, experience their challenges building these skills, as I've observed those who've come on too strong or directed energy in the wrong direction. No matter where we might fall in that regard, it's important to enhance our skills and find a good balance that works for us.

Writing is a grand adventure, isn't it? It cultivates valuable growth and wonderful potential for all of life's future pursuits.

What stands out among the things you've learned on your writing journey? 

Time for a Change 

After more than nine years, I've decided to step away from my blog. This decision comes as I pursue new projects and commitments that require more time. I may return someday, and will still be out there writing guest posts and all that good stuff.

Blogging here has offered blessings beyond what I'd imagined. Thank you for offering your wisdom, kindness, and friendship. Will do my best to visit your blogs as I can. Love you all! :)

Happy writing,

Image credit: Pexels