Whether you’re just starting out on your writing career or are a seasoned veteran, there are certain skills you must have in order to be successful. Obviously, you need to be able to write well, but that’s table stakes. To make a good living as a business writer, you need a ton of other intangible skills. Often, these are overlooked.
In your career––and in life––you should aim to always be learning and improving. Look to the top professionals in any field and you’ll most likely find a serious commitment to lifelong learning. For writers, it’s no different. Mastering the craft takes years of hard work.
There are all sorts of skills to learn: some might come naturally, and some might take years of practice. Learning how to be good at them all takes time, but these skills are how you move past getting paid a few cents per word to work with interesting, well-paying clients who truly value what you bring to the table.
Read on to discover eight skills that all business writers should work on to improve their chances of success.
If you can’t sell, you’re not going to last very long as a professional writer. Whether you’re a freelancer working alone or an ambitious entrepreneur trying to build a content writing agency, the ability to attract new clients is vital to your success. If you don’t have any clients, you can’t pay the bills.
Sales isn’t really a skill you can learn out of a book (although there are some great sales books out there). It’s a skill mastered over years of repeated practice. And sales isn’t just one skill either: you need to be able to identify new prospects, craft a meaningful pitch, impress them in an introductory meeting, and close the deal. Being able to clearly and cogently explain the value you bring to your clients is key to your success.
Instead of blindly rattling off 1,000 words on a given topic, good writers take some time to think through the strategic implications of their writing. Who is the audience? Why are they reading this article? What problems do they have? How does my client solve these problems?
Appreciating the strategic goals of the businesses that you write for and including them in your work is one of the skills that can take you from just another writer to an indispensable partner. Developing the ability to infuse strategic thinking throughout your work takes a deep understanding of business trends and a commitment to learning about your clients and their audiences.
While generally speaking, it is a good idea for writers to specialize in a particular niche, developing the ability to quickly get up to speed with a new industry or client is a major value driver. When you land a new client, you want to hit the ground running, not spend weeks having them explain their business and industry to you.
Learn how to carry out your own research. Become a highly-proficient Googler. Ask smart questions when you get on a call with a subject matter expert. You can bet they’ll be thankful.
If you’re writing content for a business, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll expect it to rank on Google. To be successful, you need to incorporate SEO best practices in your writing.
You don’t need to be a true SEO expert, but at the very least, you need to understand concepts like how to structure a webpage, keyword strategy, and hyperlinking. Fortunately, the Hire A Writer blog has a whole section dedicated to explaining SEO skills for writers – check it out now.
While sales is important in getting clients in the first place, relationship building makes sure they stick around. As a writer, working with long-term clients makes your life so much easier. You don’t have to spend as much time selling, you know your client’s businesses well, and you’re in a regular flow of delivering work that brings real results.
Building relationships is easier said than done though, and it’s something you’ll need to invest in over time. Aim to surprise your clients with extra little pieces of value like an introduction to another professional or a piece of content that goes the extra mile. If they need help with something, dive in and do your best – they won’t forget it.
If you’re a professional writer, it might be just you. You don’t have a boss telling you what time to be at your desk, and theoretically, at least, you’re free to do whatever you want. After all, you are a FREElancer.
But if you’re going to be successful, you need discipline. That means working hard, not missing deadlines, and taking a professional approach to everything you do. There are no shortcuts on the road to success, and if you’re coasting along without putting the work in, you’ll get found out before long.
We all have egos––professional writers maybe more than most. We like to be told we’re doing a good job. When you get edits back from a client with red lines everywhere, it can sting.
But it’s not personal, and you shouldn’t take it as such. When you’re writing for clients, you need to leave your ego at the door. They’re paying, and what they say goes. Of course, it’s fine to push back a little when you think they’re wrong, just do it politely and in moderation. Take onboard the feedback they share and use it to make your next article better.
The ability to communicate effectively is vital to your success in any career, not just writing. As a writer, you have to communicate with a wide variety of people, through all kinds of different mediums. Obviously, your writing has to communicate with your readers, but that’s only a fraction of the communication skills you need to be successful.
You need to be able to handle everything from leading an interview with the CEO to quickly replying to Slack messages from your clients. It’s fine if you’re an introvert, but to climb the ladder, you need to develop the ability to clearly communicate complex ideas on demand.
Looking to hire a writer with all these skills (and more) to work with your business? You’re in the right place. At Hire a Writer, our team of expert writers and content strategists will help your business craft memorable content that cuts through the noise and delivers real value to your audience.
Interested in learning more about our services? Contact us today – we’d love to hear from you.
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