10 Tips for Aspiring Professional Web Writers

by Tavis J. Hampton · 30 comments

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You all know I’m a writer by trade.  So when it comes to taking the leap into self-employment, writing has been my bread and butter.  Specifically writing for the web.

The bulk of my clients are people looking for digital content like articles, blog posts, ebooks, press releases, bios, web copy and more.

Tavis is joining us with a guest post on some tips for those of you aspiring to write for the web yourself.

Hopefully you find them useful and can apply them to achieve your own success. As always, make him feel welcome by dropping any thoughts in the comment section below this post.

It has taken many years of hard work for bloggers to get the respect they deserve, but if you are new to writing for the web, you have the opportunity to join a now well-established industry.

Part of the reason it has become well-established is that blogging is no longer just for hobbyists or fans of particular forms of entertainment. Even the world’s top corporations have blogs that news sources regularly depend on for PR information.

Furthermore, blogs tend to get news out quite a bit faster than traditional mass media, and many of them have proven to be reliable.

Having said that, you are also entering an industry that is filled with both successful and unsuccessful websites. It will not be easy for you to establish credibility or get paid for the content you write. It is possible, however, to become a full-time web writer and be very successful, but like anything else, it takes hard work and dedication.

The following are tips that helped me on the road to professional writing, and I hope they will help you take your writing to a professional level.

Build Your Portfolio

To be a professional writer, you have to write. That may sound silly, but I cannot even count how many people have told me they love to write, but they only do it occasionally. Get into the regular habit of writing, and do what you can to get your work published by a few good websites. Guest blogging is a great way to get your name out there and show off your writing skills. My Blog Guest is a fantastic tool for guest blogging. Once you have some good content to show others, you have a much better chance of being chosen for writing gigs.

The More You Know…

Be an expert in at least one field. A good writer can really research and write about any topic, but you are much more likely to get preliminary gigs in areas you know. There are two ways to accomplish this. One is to actually have credentials: a degree, certificate, or other proof of education. The second is to have published content in that area. Actually, even if it is not published, well-written samples can do wonders for beginning writers.

Search For Clients

You can be on LinkedIn, Twitter, and just about every other social site, but it is doubtful companies or major blogs are going to come knocking at your door unless you are already a well-known and highly-regarded writer. Search for writing gigs. The ProBlogger job board is a great place to start. (Cori’s note: I also recommend VirtualVocations.com as a good place to start.  There are quite a few gigs that pay very well.)

Start Small but Don’t Always Settle for Less

It is doubtful you are going to land your first gig writing for a site that gives you what you think you deserve. Accepting a low-paying gig to build your reputation is perfectly understandable, but do not let people take advantage of you either. If you find yourself doing work that takes you hours and only getting paid $10, you are being used.

Know Your Language

English is certainly not the easiest language in the world, but make sure you put at least some effort into learning it. Just because you are a native speaker does not mean you have writing skills. Have some knowledgeable people review your work and give you pointers. You may even need to take a class to brush up your skills. Also, try reading some style guides. If you plan to write news content, the AP style guide will help you tremendously.

Learn How the Web Works

You would not go to an office job without knowing how to work a stapler. Learn a little about how websites publish content. Knowledge of how to post content on WordPress will take you far. Some website owners want nothing else. You should get your own domain for your blog and use a web server host like 34SP.com, which offers automatic WordPress installation.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Do not expect to get rich over night, and do not blame me if you cannot pay your electric bill. You may need to start writing on the weekends, evenings, or during other free time first.  (Cori’s note: I’d also recommend not blaming your spouse, your parents, your dog or anyone else you’re inclined to blame!) 😉

Learn About Managing a Biz

If you do become a freelance writer, you will have new income. Many site owners and marketing companies will expect you to know how to make invoices, track payments, and handle your own taxes. Be prepared.

Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

When I really started getting committed to making writing my profession, I found myself receiving way more offers than I could accept. At some point, you may actually have to start rejecting offers and choosing the best ones. If you get to that point, you should pat yourself on the back.

Never Give Up

It will be hard at first, but keep writing. Do not neglect your own blog, and always share your writing with friends, family, and anyone else who will be supportive. If this is the profession you really want, you can make it happen.

Like this post? You can help me out a ton by sharing it with your friends via Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon or whatever social networks suit your fancy. 🙂  All love is appreciated.

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