If you have just started your career as a freelance writer, then you have probably had a few culture shocks already. The first is that nobody respects your job and assumes you are covering for the fact you are jobless. Secondly, the pay is below a pittance. The reason the pay is so low is because you are competing with every stay-at-home parent and around 40% of the students in the western world. You also have a lot of competition from the Middle East and the east where people from Bangladesh will undercut your prices down to 20c per 100 words.
Cut the fluff if you can
The problem with fluff and freelance writing is that the freelance industry almost chokes you into fluffing up your text. They pay you a pittance for a certain word count. You could fill that word count with genuinely good and concise text, or you can fluff it up and write it quicker. The quicker you write, then the more you earn in one day.
Add in some fluff that doesn’t hurt
There are also plenty of ways to add fluff that seem like they are genuinely part of your writer’s voice, but are actually word padding. The bad type of fluff involves sentences that hold no value. A line such as, “I recommend you use these tips to overcome your writing roadblocks” is fluff because it is useless.
If you want to fluff up your content and only “slightly” damage the readability and usability of your text, then try tricks such as checklists and “Key Takeaway” lists where you summarize the points you just made. You can also expand a few words. For example, instead of using “because” use “due to the fact that.” Also, the words, “With regard to the” is easy to slip into a sentence too. It can be used to expand the word “Regard” or “Regarding.” Instead of using the word, “Plus” use the words, “In addition.” The words “On the other hand” can often be slipped into a sentence easily to fluff up the wordage.
Research your topic
This tip is actually an example of how bad some web content is. There is another article on the Internet that is similar to this article. It explains how to create amazing web content, and one of the tips is “Research your topic.” What a pointless piece of advice, you may as well tell the writer that he or she has to breathe in and out when writing.
Yet, if you were to put this tip in your article, your client would probably accept it. As you become a veteran freelancer, you are going to notice thing such as this, and it is your job to figure out what you should and shouldn’t include in your articles. If you are truly trying to create “Amazing” web content, then try to leave out none-advice such as the “Research your topic” advice.
Consider your headline
The fact is that in many cases, it is your headline that sells your article. For example, there is a website called Reasons to Giggle, and whenever the writer puts the word “funny” or “jokes” into the title, then more people look at the post. When the writer has a post with a title that has no indication that the post is funny, then the post is ignored.
A good example is a post called, “Dating advice for dateless wonders.” It received around 20 views. In a similar post called, “48 funny reasons to stop dating,” The post received over 2000 views. The target audience for that blog expects funny things and jokes, which means hinting at a serious post usually scares off the viewers.
Do not use ratings and reviewing tools to pick your title. Use your own knowledge of your own target audience, and consider the reactions you have had in the past. It may be a good idea to ask your clients to come up with a title so that you are not assigned the blame for any failures with regards to viewership.
Ignore advice about suitable title sizes. There are very long titled articles that have done well, just as there are short titles that have done well too. In the past, you had to include a keyword, but it is not as important these days. Try not to use too many emotional superlatives because people are so used to seeing them that they are sick of them.
Can you cook up a hook?
A hook is not a trick or a gimmick. It is a reason why your target audience would want to look at your article. It is not a promise, and it is not supposed to intrigue people. It is supposed to attract your target audience like a moth to a flame.
For example, you may like a hook for your dating article. You could target men with your hook, but that is silly. Instead, you would target single men. Instead of a title that says, “How to date any woman you meet,” you could have, “Here is how single men are attracting new women into their lives.” Another example may be, “Here is how I went from single to married in six months.”
They have a hook because they appeal to their target audience, but they also have something new and interesting about them. The title that says, “Here is how single men are attracting new women into their lives” is actually making a promise because it is suggesting that some sort of technique is working for other men. The title that says, “Here is how I went from single to married in six months” suggests there is an unusual story attached to what may be dating advice.
Divide your content into digestible pieces
There are numerous ways of doing this. It is not suggested that you make your sentences shorter, unless you are writing for people that have very poor English comprehension skills. You can keep your paragraphs a little shorter. You may also create headings in the same way that this article has.
You can break up your text with bullet points and images too. You can create small parcels of information that you place into your text, in the same way that the books for Dummies place handy tips throughout their text. Do not use rating software of any description. For example, the Hemmingway tool is truly awful for writers because it doesn’t understand the concepts behind the text, it simply criticizes structure and that is both unfair and very short sighted.
Consider making your article more visual
You can add in images, videos, tools, graphics, links and buttons to make your article a little more visual. It also helps you to break up your text, as mentioned in the previous section, and your reader may be a little less inclined to skim read all of your text. You shouldn’t try to stop people from skim reading, but there are times when they will get more out of your content if they slow down a little, and making your article a little more visual will help do that.
If you are posting your content, previews of your content, or promotions for your content onto Google+, then GIF images are a great help. They make your content and links stand out and they do not work on Facebook, so it gives you an advantage over the people that are dominating Facebook but that are failing on Google+.
Think about adding a conclusion
Many times, a conclusion is just a way of repeating yourself and adding more word count. If you wish to do that, then feel free because it is more word count and will help you earn more.
If you are legitimately considering putting a conclusion on the end, then it has to be something useful. It has to actually conclude your work instead of just congratulating yourself. Do not thank the reader, and do not compliment your own work in any way. Do not tell them that they should follow your advice, nor should you wish them good luck. Your conclusion needs to conclude your work. It needs to tie up loose ends, and it needs to make a point.
Let’s say you have an article that discusses how rabbits communicate. You may have points such as:
- Stomping means they are horny or angry
- Grinding their teeth loudly means they are angry or in pain
- They sometimes look dead if they are truly relaxed
- They bump you with their nose to say hello
Your article may be filled with points and headers such as those. If you were to conclude poorly, you would say something such as “Look out for signals like those. Rabbits communicate in different ways as we saw in the article. Spend an evening watching your rabbits and you will see them do the stuff on my article. Take some time to play with them and enjoy your bunnies” or something like that. It is a poor quality conclusion.
If you want to conclude properly, then you could say, “Rabbits communicate instinctively on some levels, the same as how we instinctively cry out when we are hurt. Examine a rabbit’s actions and surroundings when judging what they are trying to communicate. For example, some rabbits stomp when let out of their cage. It could mean they are angry, but may also indicate they were frustrated being locked up and are finally happy to be out. Different rabbits have different personalities, which means their communication nuances will vary, but you may use this article as a rough guide to rabbit communication.”
Should you have a call to action?
This is an element of your text that asks the reader to do something. Usually it involves sharing on social media or asking them to buy something. You should never put in a call to action unless your client specially tells you to. You are just a freelancer; you are not their marketing department or their web master. You are not privy to their marketing plan or their promotional activities, so you cannot risk putting in a call to action.
If you are going to put one in, then seriously consider your target audience are they going to appreciate being told what to do or asked a question? They do not owe you anything, despite what your pride may say, which means they have no reason to answer your question or follow your calls to action. The best you can usually do is beg their kindness. For example, you could ask that if they like this article, then please pass on the favor and share the content on social media so other people may use and enjoy it too.
There is no trick to usable calls to action. There is no secret or golden rule. The best you can do is beg the reader based on the goodwill (if any) that your article has built up since the reader started reading it.