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What skills does an online freelance writer need to succeed?

Dec 20, 2020
(updated: Feb 14, 2023)
Max 5 min read

The path to becoming a successful freelance writer begins by mastering the skills needed to attract potential clients and master the art of content writing. But if you've never operated a freelance writing business, it's not always easy to know which skills are the most important. Below is a look at the top five freelance writer skills needed as you move forward with your writing career.

1. Excellent time management skills

As you embark upon your freelance career, you will quickly discover that meeting deadlines is critical. The key to completing freelance writing jobs before the agreed upon promise date is establishing a schedule and sticking to it. After all, business owners depend on you for the content they need to attract potential clients and generate revenue. Here are some tips for improving your time management skills:

  • Establish clear boundaries: Creating your own workspace and avoiding distractions is a must if you plan to work from home.
  • Avoid overextending yourself: Learning how to say "No" when you receive requests is important - especially if you're short on time.
  • Use an online calendar: Keep your meetings, calls, and project deadlines organized in a central location, such as an online calendar.

2. Outstanding writing skills

When you ask yourself the question, "What skills does an online freelance writer need?", you can likely guess that you'll need stellar writing skills. Whether you are writing a short blog post or a lengthy white paper that challenges your research skills, you must know how to write well. At the same time, you must tailor your content writing to rank well with search engines. 

In addition to continually sharpening your writing skills, you should know how to proofread and edit existing pieces - including your own. If you consistently produce high quality work that is free of errors, you may even decide that becoming a freelance editor is your new career goal. 

3. Superb communication skills

Knowing how to communicate well with potential clients and business owners is just as important as writing well and maximizing your time. While some of the tips below may seem basic, they can prove to be a difference maker if your goal is starting a freelance writing business:

  • Be accessible to clients: Check your phone, email, and texts regularly. Respond quickly and professionally when clients contact you.
  • Don't forget your nonverbal skills: Listen actively by nodding and maintaining eye contact with clients if you meet in person or virtually.
  • Be mindful of client preferences: Always ask clients how they prefer to communicate with you. Then stick with that mode of communication.

4. Project management skills

A day in the life of a freelance writer is often filled with multiple different projects to complete. Whether you're a freelance editor or a blog post writer, it is important to learn how to juggle multiple projects without compromising the quality of content writing you produce. Here are some measures to ensure you stay on track with all of you project requests:

  • Track the time you spend on each project so you can better forecast time required for future projects
  • Be mindful of your budget from start to finish so you don't overspend or underdeliver
  • Use project management software to help you keep your projects well-organized and easily accessible

5. Cultural sensitivity

"Being unaware of the cultural differences could potentially cause some setbacks especially in your initial days of set up. For instance, content that is acceptable in one country might be a taboo or banned in another country." - Samar Verma, CEO and Founder of Fork Media

You might be scratching your head wondering how cultural sensitivity can impact content writing or your freelance career. In reality, learning how to work well with people from other cultures could be the key to prosperity for your freelance writing business.

As a growing number of businesses across the world "Go Global," your content marketing jobs may begin to change. For example, projects may require the use of Australian English or another English dialect. Here are some steps that will help you expand your global freelance writer skills:

  • Sign up for at least one cultural sensitivity or diversity training course or an ongoing series of training classes
  • Learn how to use LanguageTool's multilingual grammar and style checker so you can use the client's preferred English dialect
  • Be cognizant of time zone differences, greetings, and taboo phrases when working with international clients

In addition to these baby steps, ask all of your clients if you should include anything specific or avoid referencing any items in your content writing. They will be grateful for your attention to detail.

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