Today’s article is brought to us by Christina Gillick of Wealthy Web Writer. If you want more resources to help you launch a freelance writing career, check out AWAI’s fantastic catalog of professional training programs.
It seems everyone these days is searching for a fast, easy route to success. It’s no surprise when the Internet is filled with so much information — it makes it seem like success is in easy reach if you just know what to focus on and what to ignore.
That’s where Wealthy Web Writer comes in. It includes the valuable stuff … the stuff it can be profitable to know. But even then, it can be difficult to learn — and remember — everything.
Over the past several years, I’ve saved all the success tips I’ve come across — both big and small. They’re scattered across my office, captured on screenshots, checklists, bookmarks, sticky notes, and more.
And, I’ve found there are a handful of these tips I use over and over again — some that I’ve come to rely on to keep my success growing at a steady pace.
What are those tips?
Well, I’m going to share them with you. But first, I think it’s important to point out that to be a successful web writer, you must know how to write, and know some crucial things about your specialty — web writing. Plus, you must be able to market your writing.
With that in mind, here are my best tips — broken down into the three categories I think you need to focus on to succeed:
If you want to succeed as a writer, then you have to write. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a novelist or direct-response copywriter (or both). So, first focus on the tips that will help you hone your fundamental craft.
Write every day.
You’ve probably heard this tip before — it’s a common one among writers, but only because it’s so powerful. If you are a writer — or looking to become one — you must write. There’s no getting around that.
No matter what’s going on in your life, make time to write every single day. Not only will you become a much better writer, but you’ll also reinforce what you’re learning and you’ll become more creative.
What should you write?
You can write articles for your own website or blog, guest posts for other websites, journal entries, or copy for paying clients. It doesn’t really matter what you’re writing — as long as you’re writing.
Need help coming up with content? Check out “10 Ways to Come Up With New Content for Your Blog.”
Keep an idea notebook.
If you’re like me, you get your best ideas when you’re away from the computer. I used to let these ideas get away and later, when it was time to write, I couldn’t think of anything to write about.
Now I do whatever it takes to capture and remember those ideas. I think this is one of my best tips for always having something to write about. When an idea strikes, I send myself a text message, store the idea in Evernote, or write it on a napkin. Whatever it takes.
Don’t edit while you write.
It seems like I’ve heard this tip a million times, but until recently, I couldn’t seem to follow the advice. No matter what, if I saw something I wanted to change as I was writing, I had to change it right then. I couldn’t leave it alone until I had the rough draft finished.
But, I kept hearing the same advice and — because of my commitment to always make steady progress — I decided it was time to make a goal to focus on writing and save the editing for later …
Well, after just a few weeks of committing to this, I can finally see why it’s such great advice. I can crank out rough drafts much faster if I’m not stopping every few minutes to edit. Plus, the final version comes together much faster because I’m not changing my mind about the direction before I see the end result.
Read — a lot!
Stephen King says, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
We’ve already covered “writing a lot” … you must do it every day. But, how much should you read?
I’ve heard some writers read a book a week! I’m nowhere near that level, but I do try to read something every day. I usually have a book I’m working on and I’ll squeeze 15 minutes in before bed most nights. I know I could read more, but there aren’t enough hours in the day. If you currently aren’t reading anything, I encourage you to pick out a good book and try to read a few pages per day. I figure some reading is better than no reading.
2. Web Writing
Practicing these basic writing tips is a crucial starting point for building your success as a web writer. But, as I said before, you also need to give extra attention to your specialty. I review the following tips regularly to keep my web-writing skills sharp:
Begin every piece with an attention-grabbing headline.
Your headline is always important, in all types of writing, but with all the distractions online, it’s even more important to grab people’s attention immediately.
Experts believe you have five seconds (or less) to capture your reader’s attention when they land on a web page. If you don’t grab their attention, you risk them leaving, wandering around the Internet, finding someone else, and completely forgetting about your website.
When a client hires you to write their web copy, one of the best things you can do is write a headline that captures the visitors’ attention and draws them into the copy so they read and take action. If you can do this, you’ll have more work than you can handle.
If you need help writing attention-grabbing headlines, check out this article: “Read This Article Now and Write Better Headlines Immediately!”
Write directly to your reader.
When you write for the Web, you want to write conversationally. What does that mean? It means that you write like you speak. Forget how you learned to write in English class and write like you’re talking to a friend instead.
Don’t write like a corporation or lawyer. I’m sure you’ve been to sites written in corporate-speak or legalese. How long do you stick around to see what they have to say? It’s much more effective to write like you’re speaking to a single person whose well-being you care about.
Which is another important point … don’t talk to a group of people. Talk one-on-one to your readers. Use the word “you” a lot so they feel like the copy is personalized to them.
Find more tips on writing conversationally in “Tactics for Achieving Conversational Copy.”
Make your copy easy to read.
Remember, your web copy will have to compete with social media updates, email messages, and funny pictures with captions. The average online user is busier than ever, and if your copy isn’t easy to read, they’ll get distracted and leave.
To make your copy easy to read, keep it simple. Use easy-to-understand words and short sentences. Keep your paragraphs short — no more than a few sentences long. And, use subheads throughout your copy so your reader can easily skim to find the parts that are important to them.
Finally, to succeed as a web writer, you need to be able to market your web-writing services so you can find clients, land projects, and make money. These are my favorite success tips for making that happen:
Remember, everyone needs your services.
When it comes to writing for the Web, everyone who has a business is your prospect. Your dentist, your neighbor who sells baby bows from her kitchen, and your veterinarian. They all have a need for your web-writing skills.
If someone you know doesn’t have a business — or if they’re happy with their current copy — they still probably know someone else who could use your services.
So don’t be shy when it comes to talking about what you do for a living. The more people who know you can help them make more money online, the more clients you’ll get.
Come up with a good elevator speech you’re comfortable saying to your friends and family and then practice it often. If you need help writing your elevator speech, check out this article: “Roving Report: Your Business Plan in a Single Day.”
Ask for referrals.
Many web writers get their start by asking their friends, family, and acquaintances for referrals. Once they get those referrals, they turn them into clients, do a good job, and ask for referrals from those clients. Lather, rinse, repeat, and before you know it, you’re a successful web writer.
You could run a successful web-writing business without marketing — if you had enough referrals. Read “How to Get Your Clients to Give You Quality Referrals” to find even more helpful tips on asking for and getting the referrals you need.
Also, once you have satisfied clients, ask them for testimonials. People will trust you more if they know that other people have trusted you and been satisfied.
Make clients come to you.
My favorite method of marketing my business is to have clients come to me. I do this by writing articles that position me as an expert in web writing.
At AWAI’s Bootcamp and Job Fair last year, Bob Bly said, “I can’t think of a freelance copywriter in this room who would not benefit from writing articles.”
I think this goes double for people who specialize in web writing. Your clients need to see that you know what you’re talking about and article marketing is the perfect way to showcase your expertise, get the practice you need, and bring clients to you.
Plus, when clients come to you, you have the upper hand. They’re not looking for the cheapest price. They want to work with you because they like your writing. That’s a very good position to be in.
To learn more about article marketing, check out “Places to Publish Your Marketing Articles That Will Build Your Reputation and Help You Connect with Prospects.”
Marketing is never done.
When it comes to marketing your web-writing business, you’re never done. If you get busy with assignments and stop marketing, when your projects are complete, you’ll look up and have nothing else lined up. To keep this from happening, you must market consistently — even when you’re busy.
This might sound like a lot of work, but the key to successful marketing is to find what works for you and put a firm schedule in place.
If you hate cold calls, that’s okay. You might find that writing articles and asking for referrals brings you all the clients you need. Don’t overwhelm yourself with all the options. Find what works for you and stick to it.
I could go on for pages with tips about writing, web writing, and marketing, but I think the best tip I’ve ever heard is: Just do it.
None of these tips — or any tips — work without action.
I’ve found the fastest, easiest route to success is to just get started. Pick a few things — like writing every day, getting really good at writing headlines, and asking for referrals. With just those three tips alone, you could build a very successful business. Then, add more tips, techniques, and strategies as you go along. Don’t worry about knowing everything. Just do something.
What about you? What is your biggest writing, web writing, or marketing tip? Please share in the comments below.
This article appears courtesy of American Writers & Artists Inc.’s (AWAI) Wealthy Web Writer, a free newsletter for learning how to effectively write online copy and market products on the Web. For a complimentary subscription, visit http://www.awaionline.com/signup/web-writing/.