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Improving freelance writing skills: from novice to professional

We can all write, and some of us can write to a high enough standard to do it professionally. However, even if we are a good writer, and have succeeded in, for example, the academic world, we must recognize that freelance writing requires particular skills that need to be developed and maintained. Sometimes, we can overlook the obvious mistakes in our writing, but with a few simply hints we can avoid this.


There really is no substitute for practice. You need, in order to become professionally adept at anything, to do it many, many times, and this is true of writing. As you use language, in many various contexts, you will develop a richer vocabulary, and a greater confidence and ability to articulate your thoughts.

Think About Every Word

Every word that you write must earn its place in whatever project you are working on. I freelance writing you are paid for your words, and there can be no room for space-fillers. Always ask, ‘do I need this word, or will another meet the brief more effectively?’

Always Be Prepared to Change

A piece of writing should never simply be ‘good enough’: it must be the best way that you can conceive of writing the client’s brief. Therefore, if you are reading your work, and you think that you could modify the document to a more effective phrasing, then you must, however time-consuming, make those changes. This is the difference between competent and professional.

Always Be Versatile

When beginning, you may feel that you know what you are best at writing on. However, you will have been exposed to only very few genres and formats. You must begin by being open to as many kinds of brief as possible, and then begin narrowing down to a very specific set of preferences, at which you can confidently excel, knowing you have tried a good range of writing.

Read, Read, Read!

Read as much as you can. Stephen King, the author, was once asked ‘how do I become a great writer?’ He answered: ‘read, read, read’. Expose yourself to good writing, and this should serve as example in your work.

The only way to make the shift from novice to professional is with professional dedication; never settle for anything less than the best that you can do, and your reputation and work will increase in no time!

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