Useful writing tips every blogger & freelancer should know
I’ve been a blogger and freelance writer for almost a year, now (gasp!). Along the way, I’ve picked up some useful tips for making the writing life a lot easier, and today I’m sharing them with you in the hope they’ll help you, too.
@@Are you a blogger or freelancer? Check out these useful writing tips@@
If you haven’t already spent a couple of hours playing around on answerthepublic.com, block out some time and go do it! Although I think you’d end up with lots of generic posts if you only took your ideas from Answer the Public, it’s the perfect tool to combat writer’s block or to get you started when you’re struggling to come up with ideas.
With Answer the Public, you can enter a word or phrase and choose a location (you’d probably want to choose the location of your target readers) and you’ll be presented with a fascinating graph full of the most-googled phrases for whatever you searched.
For example, my post What should you focus on when you’re proofreading? was based on an Answer the Public search.
Use Hubspot’s blog topic generator
Although similar to answerthepublic.com, Hubspot’s blog topic generator feels a *bit* more like cheating, because they pretty much come up with the blog post titles for you. It’s still cool, though, and definitely something worth checking out if you write blog posts regularly.
You enter three nouns and then the generator comes up with five possible topics/titles.
They’re obviously not perfect—‘The History Of Blogger’, lol. But still. Interesting and good for when you need that extra push to get something down on paper.
Use OneLook thesaurus
OneLook thesaurus is perfect for those days when you just lose your words. I’m sure you know what I mean. If you can think of the definition for the word you want, but you can’t for the life of you remember the actual word, use OneLook.
Get out of your house
I get stuck all the time. All. The. Time. Especially when I’m writing content that I’m not 100% passionate about or interested in, and I have no idea what I’m going to say to make it exciting.
The only thing that helps me to get it done—apart from a strict deadline and/or an anxious client—is getting out of my house.
My home office is a tiny space in the corner of the kitchen bench, which is fine. And usually, I can get stuff done there—but sometimes it’s so nice to get out of that space and into a different one. It helps that I usually end up at a café with some great coffee and cake, too.
Find ideas outside your industry
Can you look at what other people outside your industry are writing about to help you with your own ideas? For example, what are graphic designers writing blog posts about? Do your readers need to know about similar topics? Lots of graphic designers and web designers write about their client onboarding processes. Could you write about the same thing, except with writers or bloggers in mind?
This tip is also helpful if you do a lot of copywriting for clients’ websites—sometimes it’s best to look outside of the industry you’re writing for so you can create something that’s a bit different.
Figure out a good idea-tracking system
This is probably an obvious one, but it’s so important that I had to include it. Plus, it applies to all writers. If you’re blogging, you will probably find that you get ideas in the most random (and inconvenient) places. And if you’re a freelance writer, an idea-tracking system is even more important, because if you have a lightbulb moment for a client, you want to be 100% sure you don't lose it. Because that sucks.
I use Trello, because I love it to bits. I have a board called Ideas where I track all my ideas (duh). In that board, I have lists for blog post ideas, product ideas, marketing ideas, miscellaneous ideas, and so on. Whenever I have an idea, I jump into the Trello app (usually on my phone, because most of my ideas come on public transport or in bed, of course) and record the idea in a new card. I write down any related points either in the description of the card or just in a new comment.
Trello is definitely not the only tool out there for this—you could use Asana, Evernote, or even just the Notes app on your phone (to name just a few options!).
Nurture your voice
Once you’ve found your writing voice, writing—and being happy with the result—becomes so much easier. Want some tips on how to nurture your writing voice? I wrote a whole blog post all about it (with free worksheets!).
Get your planning process down to a fine art
If you’re going to be writing a lot, and particularly if you’re being paid for your time, you want to make sure your process is as efficient as it possibly can be. One of the best ways to nail efficiency is to make sure you’ve found the planning process that works best for you.
When I’m writing blog posts, that means thinking of a title first, then mapping out the basic ideas by adding subheadings, then filling in the gaps under the subheadings, then adding a short introduction and conclusion. For other writing types, it’s a fairly similar process, depending on what the structure needs to be.
The best way to figure out the planning process that works for you is just to road test different options—or, if you’ve never really thought about it before, to look at what your process is already and then become more deliberate about it.
Get to know yourself in general
There is nothing more useful as a writer than knowing who you are as a writer. If I could give new writers only one tip, it would be this one.
Get to know:
- when you work best
- when you really don’t work best (so important. Use that time to watch Suits or make your Pinterest graphics instead of forcing yourself to write through it)
- what your optimal proofreading/editing process is (I have several posts on proofreading and editing if you want more info, and I also have a free proofreading checklist in the library—link at the bottom of this post)
- your go-to topics of interest or expertise (for those on-the-spot blog posts, social media posts, or talks)
- your weaknesses (hello, Facebook)
- your strengths.
Figuring all this out (and more, I’m sure) will help you to become the best and most efficient writer you can be.
Those are my top writing tips for bloggers and freelancers. Have some of your own? Comment below!
@@Useful writing tips every blogger & freelancer should know@@