Got Freelance Writing Skills? Here are 11 Skills You Need to Succeed as a Freelance Writer

by Sarah Jo R L

There are as many different kinds of freelancing jobs as there are freelancers themselves. Each one has its own unique set of industry and market skills that a freelancer will need to be successful.  However, there some core traits and skills that all successful freelance writers have in common. Whether you want to be a blogger, copywriter, content writer, or SEO Google expert, you will need certain skills to further your freelance career. These are often described as ‘hard skills’ and ‘soft skills’.

Understanding Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills

So, what exactly is the difference between hard skills vs. soft skills? And why are they so important for a freelance writer?

Hard Skills

These generally are thought of as teachable or measurable abilities and skills. These are skills that are crucial for successfully performing a particular job. These skills can be described in a mission statement and are often things that need to be learned rather than natural or innate skills.

Examples of hard skills for freelance writing and copywriting include:

  • Expertise in programming and working with the coding for building websites
  • Ability to create, fill, and manage a WordPress page for a client or employer
  • Expertise using certain file-sharing and image sharing platforms and software
  • Knowledge of Search Engine Optimization and the use of keywords
  • Ability to keep, balance, and maintain accounting records and payroll records
  • Familiarity with computer programs and various hardware and software
  • Skills involving monitoring growth, customer reach, and return on investments
  • Talent for focusing on your freelance writing career above all else

Soft Skills

In most cases, soft skills are more like personality traits than learned skills. These are things that can help an individual perform a certain role easily. While these all may not be critical for every job, they are extremely helpful and are often desired traits clients look for in freelance writers.

Examples of soft skills for freelance writing can include:

  • Strong communication skills and ability to follow directions
  • Friendly and personable mood and ability to act in a professional manner
  • Critical thinking and reasoning especially under pressure
  • Ability to stay level headed and calm in stressful situations
  • Ability to take constructive criticism without taking it as a personal attack
  • Being self-motivated and able to self-monitor when needed
  • Reliability and the ability to deliver on promised deadlines and deliverables

General Hard and Soft Skills for Freelancers

While freelance writers need skills specific to writing, there are also some general skills that freelancers of every type need to have to be successful. Some of the general skills that freelance writers would benefit from learning include:

  • Business Management  Many freelancers operate as sole proprietors and business owners, so it is important that they have skills related to record-keeping, management, and basic day-to-day business operations.
  • Time Management –  Freelancing gives individuals the freedom to choose when, where, and how they will work, but with this freedom comes the absolute need to be able to manage time wisely and effectively.
  • Organization – All freelancers need to be organized, not just when it comes to their office and workspace but also when dealing with deadlines, records, tax papers, and other important aspects of their freelance business.
  • Networking – The best way to find clients and gain more experience, and thus more work and income, is to network and get to know other freelancers in your market niche as well as business owners in those industries that may need your services.
  • Marketing – Freelancers also need to learn how to market themselves and promote their services to businesses and potential clients who may benefit from the services that they have to offer through social media, email, and other marketing channels.

Writing-Specific Freelance Skills

Individuals who want to further their freelance writing business need different hard and soft skills depending on what services they provide and what specific industries they are focused on working with. It’s important to note that freelance writers need skills and traits that might not necessarily apply to a graphic designer, video editor, or accountant. For those perusing freelance writing jobs, there are some specific skills, both hard and soft that will prove to be invaluable to writers as they work to gain new clients and improve their writing careers.

Some of these writer-specific skill sets can include, but are not limited to the following:

1. Content Writing

If you are going to write content for clients then you need to always be finding ways to improve your content writing skills such as storytelling, organization, and formatting.


2. Proofreading and Editing

Freelance writers should aim to submit their best work every time, and this means proofreading and editing your content before you submit it.


3. Social Media

Staying up-to-date with the latest best practices for creating social media content allows you to offer this type of content as part of your freelance writing services.


4. Word Processing

While this may seem like a simple skill to master, being able to type quickly and accurately is an important part of the freelance writer’s job.


5. Content Management

Freelance writers should gain experience with content management systems (CMS) like WordPress if they want to offer content management services to their clients.


6. Advanced Writing Skills

If you want to be seen as an expert writer, you’ll need to hone advanced writing skills like tone, voice, concise language, analysis, and flow.


7. Grammar

Grammar skills are necessary for any writer, regardless of industry. Using tools like Grammarly can help you identify your most common grammar issues and learn how to fix them.


8. Research

Research is another skill that’s necessary regardless of industry. Learn to vary your sources beyond just what pops up on the first page of Google and work on developing advanced researching skills like interviewing.


9. SEO

Most successful freelance writers have a basic understanding of search engine optimization as it pertains to using keywords, developing meta descriptions, and formatting articles for SEO best practices.


10. Interviewing

Interviewing isn’t just about being able to talk to people; it’s about getting the information you need to make your article more effective. Interviewing skills are important for freelance writers who write journalistic or comprehensive research pieces.


11. Formatting

Knowing how to format your content so that it’s easy for people to read is a skill that can help you improve the quality and effectiveness of your articles.

Whether you want to get better at content writing, blogging, social media, article writing, or some other niche within the freelance writing market, these hard and soft skills are bound to be beneficial to you. They will help you establish yourself as an expert in your focused area and can help you find more clients and even more writing opportunities. The important thing to remember is that building these skills takes practice and focus. While you may not become an expert overnight, you can certainly become better at any skill that you put time and effort into.

Sarah Jo R LSarah Jo R L has over twelve years of experience writing about a range of topics across academic, professional, business, and creative fields. With a wide range of skills and experiences writing content, she enjoys working on a range of projects from creative and fun to serious and professional. Though she can write about nearly anything, Sarah Jo specializes in writing content for the Garden, Personal Finance, Marketing, and Home Living industries.


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