Writing Help for Newbies: Navigating the Waters of the Content World
If you are just getting into the freelance writing world, then you have many ropes to learn. Personally, I spent the first few months working from ground level and learning the dos and don’ts of the content world. Here are some of my freelance writer’s beginner’s tips:
Never Share Client Information
A cardinal rule in content writing is: mum’s the word. Your confidentiality is of utmost importance if you are going to be a successful ghostwriter. It requires thick skin to take criticism and rudeness in stride, as well as thicker skin to watch your work be posted as someone else’s.
Occasionally, a client might want to include your name in the byline. Some clients will order and post articles for you, creating a quasi-participatory site where writers like you are “contributors.” If your work has a byline, then you can add it to your resume and provide it as part of your casting calls for new jobs. If, however, you are not mentioned by the client (which is much more typical of freelancing work), then you cannot include the work as a part of your portfolio. This is simply a part of industry standard client confidentiality agreements.
Be Honest and Realistic
Trying to make yourself look better with false information can get you in a lot of trouble and will become apparent. Don’t sign up to take on assignments you can’t handle. It’s better for the client to realize you are unfamiliar with the subject and researching it online than to believe you are an expert on the subject. Your client will likely know more about the content than you do, but they are hiring you for your writing and researching skills. Be accurate and be honest with your clients.
Content Site Clients are not Personal Clients
There is a big difference between working for clients on a content site and working for your own private clients. If you get your own clients, then you do the work of attracting and retaining them. However, if you are working for a content site, you must understand that you work for a team. While you do compete for your own niche and client base within the company, you also represent the company with each interaction.
Just like you would never want administration to be rude and push away one of your clients, you can never have a bad moment with a client on a writing site, or you might find you are the one ousted. Joining a content community means you understand this and you are ready to participate in only the most uplifting and business-minded ways.
Service with a Smile
This means that no matter what kind of crap you face, excellent customer service is always required. Personally, I have faced clients who have given confusing instructions and then asked for multiple, absurd revisions. Other clients have expected insanely fast turnaround times or made snide, inaccurate comments about the amount of research put into an article.
You roll with it. Just like any service industry, it’s not about sticking up for yourself, it’s about the customer always being right, even when they’re not.
Warning: Client contact might frequently require you walk away from the computer and take a few minutes to cool off before typing a non-aggressive and professional response. That’s okay.
Browse the Boards
Many content writing websites have places where you can socialize with your peers and vent about your frustrations. Writer boards and forums are the place to get inspiration, vent and learn from the experiences of others. You might find that there are certain ways situations can be diffused or solved with approaches you have not considered before.
The writer’s forums are also typically the place you can learn answers to questions that have been asked before, like: “Should I file a ticket with the Help Desk?” or “Have you worked with company X before?” or (my personal favorite) “When do we get paid?”
Ask for Help
When in doubt, ask a fellow writer or file a ticket with the help desk for writing help. Most writing sites (especially WriterAccess) would prefer you ask before you just do. If you are having trouble with a client, are confused about the expectations or need help navigating, reach out and ask!
Alethea M is a freelance writer available for projects at WriterAccess.