There are many types of writers that fit under the umbrella term “professional writer.” Some may have written novels, poems, screenplays, while others may write informational nonfiction, such as: instruction manuals, how to guides, copy-writing for products or research papers. The exceptionally gifted may use both their left and right brain and produce work in a combination of styles.
In any case, there are usually rules and guidelines that define the genre that a writer works in. I have never come across an instructional manual that begins: Once upon a time… or a news article that reads like a description of a state of the art toaster. The purpose of the project dictates the form the content takes.
Regardless of the type of content being created, there is a structured process that can be applied to most writing projects and per-piece freelance writing gigs, that yields effective end content. It can take a little getting used to, but once you have the process down, you can spend more time on crafting the content and less time figuring out how to get to the end result.
Keep in mind that the speed in which you can write content is only as good as the content you create. Both speed and quality affect your potential income; so finding the perfect harmony between the two may leave you a little richer than before.
How Does This Tie in with Quality Gal?
QG specializes in content largely related to content marketing efforts. This includes writing copy for products, blog posts for shy webmasters or understaffed websites, and research-heavy and informational articles for busy thinkers.
This process was designed specifically for QualityGal projects; it is not meant as a definitive guide for all writing gigs. The process will use examples on the topic of an article being written about cars.
1. Read through the instructions of the project carefully. Make note of any particular information that should be included in the end content and make sure this information is easily accessible. Following or overlooking the instructions, will affect your grade.
For example, say you accepted a freelance writing job about cars and the instructions call for a style 7 including 10 links with descriptions and different categories for car manufacturers, car parts, and classic cars. (This brief statement includes all of the very important information that needs to be followed in order to receive the highest possible grade.)
- Review the style (example: style 7) that you are required to write in. Information on styles can be accessed in your account under Writer Resources under Current Styles/Style Examples.
- Review the number of links required (example: 10 links)
- Review the need for link descriptions (example: Yes)
- Review specified categories (example: car manufacturers, car parts, and classic cars)
- Take note of other important factors like sites to avoid linking to, tone, etc. that are made available in the article instructions.
2. Do your research and read through your selected resources. Find as many authoritative websites/resources as you can that fit the requirements of the links detailed in the instructions. The sites should discuss the topic you are going to write about and should avoid advertisements. Utilizing search commands can greatly reduce the time spent looking for appropriate links and improve the quality of links; less work wading through the ‘made for adsense’ (MFA) and other less than authoritative sites! Google Support also has some good info that you may choose to reference. Browse through your research quickly and see what information is available – in many cases, the links you include in content can also provide good information to help write the content. Just like you would discard a lower quality link when including resources, you wouldn’t use that same lower quality link for information.
3. Based on the information collected, some writer’s find it helpful to construct an outline. In general it is good to follow the traditional article/paper organization of Introduction, Body, Conclusion. This may not be the case in every article, but it is a good jumping block to start from. Go through the relevant sites that you have selected and draw information that is relevant to your outline. Write notes in each section.
3a. Introduction: Introduce each concept that you will discuss in the article, tie the concepts together; keep the information general in this paragraph.
3b. Body: Elaborate on each of the topics you introduced in the previous paragraph. Don’t forget to discuss everything you introduced. Keep all the information relevant to the concept.
3c. Conclusion: Now that the reader has a better understanding of the topic, wrap up the ideas so as to create a cohesive, complete idea.
3d. Links: Include the links that you’ve collected for research. They will augment the article that you have written and will provide further information.
If the instructions call for descriptions, then write a brief sentence or two that sums up the ideas found on that site.
[Side Note] Another important thing to remember about links is that they should be hyperlinked. Hyperlinking is relatively easy to do, and if you don’t know how to do it, check this resource out and give it a shot. You won’t break your computer if you try it, but you will receive a lower grade if you don’t do it. It’s worth a try.
4. Expand on the ideas that you laid out in the outline. You will have a skeleton of information; fill out each section with relevant details. Smooth over the information so that the article is easy to read and is not stilted or just factual sentence after factual sentence. You want the information to flow together for optimal readability.
5. Proofread! The best thing to do once you have written your article is to save it and walk away from your computer for a bit; get a cup of coffee, go for a walk, make dinner, whatever you need to do. Then come back and read the article… out loud.
[Side Note] When we read in our heads we tend to correct any mistakes mentally and it can be easy to overlook a mistake. If there are any awkwardly worded sentences or something doesn’t flow properly, adjust the sentences and specific words for readability and accuracy. Next, check your links to make sure they are not broken and they are properly hyperlinked.
Other Important Information for Freelance Writers
Give yourself enough time to write an article. This is especially pertinent when completing writing projects with QG, as failing to complete content affects not only one’s standing with QG, but ultimately negatively affects the company’s ability to meet deadlines. As you write more articles, one may become more skilled at finding the information needed and may develop a system that will help move the writing process along more efficiently. Pay attention to what works for you, and please read the editor comments; they are meant to help you with future projects, saving you time and maybe a bit of frustration.
I would also suggest creating a browser bookmark folder with helpful sites for writing. My writing resources folder includes:
- Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Grammar
- The QG Writer Resources Page
- The Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) – A particularly good general writing resource.
I hope that this information helps you with all of your writing endeavors; it hasn’t let me down, yet. If you have any thoughts about this process, or if you have your own process that works for you please share in the comments!