Learn how to become a better writer and why writing is vital to every role. Use our 10 writing tips to elevate your word.
No matter your line of work, you probably find yourself typing away for hours daily. Whether you're drafting emails, writing proposals, or creating content, you're likely racking up quite the word count.
The point? Writing is a part of nearly any independent's job, and building solid skills in this area can help your communication and content stand out.
Maybe you're thinking, “But I’m not a writer!” Don't worry — you don't have to enjoy it or have an innate talent to become a better writer. Here we'll walk you through a list of simple tips you can apply to your written work today. Soon, you might even consider your writing a strong point and take pride in the text you produce.
The importance of writing skills 📜
If you're not interested in writing and your freelance job doesn't require you to produce written content, you may think it's not that important to level up your skills. You can complete projects without worrying about well-written prose, right?
We would urge you to reconsider. Great writing can help professionals in any field have more productive interactions and connect with more clients. Here's why:
- Independent work is competitive. Even if you code or design graphics for a living, you can stand out and offer your clients added value by demonstrating your strong written communication skills.
- Good writing transmits ideas clearly. Independents often have direct contact with clients about sensitive and complex subjects, such as payment or project scope. Freelancers need to express themselves with clear and concise written communication to avoid any client misunderstandings.
What is good writing? 🏅
“Good” is a subjective term, so how can we fairly apply it to writing? This question is far harder to address if you're a literary critic. But in the context of practical writing to help your business thrive, there are clear markers of great text. Excellent writing is clear, logical, and structured.
If you want to show off your creative side in a text, your writing should capture your unique voice. Don't be afraid to take risks if you're producing original content. That said, you may want to stick to a more formal writing style when drafting an email about payment, for example.
How to improve writing skills: 10 tips 🏋️
Ready to master professional writing? Here are 10 actionable tips on how to write good text that any professional can apply.
- Read: Read articles and content from professional writers in your industry. Of course, reading literary novels can expand your vocabulary and improve your syntax. If your goal is to improve your practical writing skills, we recommend getting a feel for the voice, cadence, and key terms in your particular field.
- Get inspired: As you read, analyze what's appealing about the texts that stand out to you most. Do they have a fresh voice? Maybe they use specific examples to provide context for readers? Incorporate these elements into your style.
- Write every day: If drafting copy isn't a natural part of your daily work, keep a journal or launch a blog to foster a writing habit. Need help figuring out where to start? Look up writing prompts to help get the ink flowing. Enroll in a writing course if you want to go above and beyond.
- Set goals: If you find fault with specific areas of your writing, such as conciseness or syntax variety, set clear goals around them.
- Know your audience: If you're working for a trendy tech startup, go bold. But if your clients use more formal language, aim to stay within this tone, even in daily communication.
- Be clear and concise: You're an independent, so odds are you work with your clients virtually. Although we'd like to believe everyone carefully reads each word of an email, the fact is that many skim the text. Keep the writing in your business interactions concise. Breaking important language into bulleted lists is easier on the eyes than a block of text. Avoid distracting filler words (do you really need that adverb?) and avoid flowery language.
- Write an outline: Use an outline if you're communicating broad or complex ideas. Make sure there’s an intro, body, and conclusion. You can map out virtually any text this way, including emails. Use a greeting that gives the reader context before diving into details, and wrap up the email by highlighting key points.
- Read it aloud: The eyes can jump over minor errors during proofreading, even more so when editing your own work. You know what you're trying to say, so you tend to gloss over typos and misplaced commas. If you read your writing out loud before sending it, you're more likely to catch those errors before your clients.
- Use writing tools: Pay attention to your computer or email program's built-in spelling and grammar suggestions. Consider using a proofreading app to scan important texts before sending them to clients. Working with grammar and style correction tools will help you clean up your writing and allow you to learn over time. You'll notice any consistent errors or areas of improvement in your writing and learn how to tackle them.
- Ask others for feedback: If you have a particularly important text to send to a client, such as a proposal, get a second set of eyes on your draft. Head over to Contra’s Slack Community, where your peers can tell you what's unclear and suggest ways to improve your style and grammar.
Keep learning and improving 🎯
Independents take on many responsibilities, and one of the most important is continually educating themselves and sharpening their skills. Freelancers don't necessarily have a manager or mentor who can spot improvement areas the way traditional employees might.
So, independents need to do some introspection to level up. Improving your writing requires you to identify where you can improve and consistently apply the tips above.
If you want to continue to up your game, check out Contra's blog, The Contrarian. We create content that supports independents like you, so you'll find guidance on how to take other freelance skills to the next level. We'll also help you craft the best portfolio possible to connect with clients. Did we mention we can help get you paid commission-free, too?