What do graphic designers, web developers, writers, management consultants, accountants, and others have in common? First, many of them lend their skills to others as freelancers in their respective fields. In addition to this, they do much of their communication via writing.
Because the self-employed often complete their freelance work remotely, they rely on emails and texting to communicate quite frequently. Those are just two examples. Ultimately, a freelancer must be an excellent business writer, no matter what they do to earn a living.
Here are a few important business writing skills that freelancers should master.
If there’s one mistake that’s common among business writers, it’s a lack of brevity. Emails, memos, and blog posts that don’t get to the point turn readers off. The last thing you want is for clients or potential clients to dread reading what you’ve written.
To stay on track, define a single purpose for each piece of writing. In other words, ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish. Then eliminate everything that doesn’t contribute to that.
Paula Williams is a hiring manager at Top Australia Writers. She says:
“As the primary contact person for freelance writers I receive a lot of pitches. Honestly, if one goes on for more than a few paragraphs, I discard it. If a freelancer can’t get to the point with me, how will they manage a client?”
Using The Active Voice
There are a few problems with the passive voice. You’ll use more words to say the same thing. It’s also a bit insipid. Here’s an example:
- Passive: The project needs to be completed by the designer before I can write the code.
- Active: I need the designer to complete the project before I can write the code.
Here’s a great rule to remember. People do things. Objects do not. For example, someone completes a project. A project is not ‘completed’ by someone.
100% Accuracy, 100% Of The Time
As a freelancer, your writing can attract clients. If it isn’t accurate, your words lose their impact. Whether you are writing up a project update for a client, preparing a blog post for your website, or reaching out to a potential client, you have to avoid mistakes.
Always double check your work. Eliminate factual inaccuracies, and back your claims with solid proof.
Then, take steps to avoid spelling and grammatical errors. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources that can help. Take a look at these tools to help:
Consider The Screen
James Daily is a freelance content manager and the founder of the Brainished blog. He emphasizes that “people don’t focus on screen size enough. Remember, we aren’t writing novels. We’re communicating with busy professionals, many who are on mobile devices.”
When writing, keep small screens and short attention spans in mind. Don’t publish ‘walls of text’ and then expect a positive response. Break down content. Use bullet points to highlight the important stuff. Finally, read your content from your smartphone. If you can’t stand to look at it, it’s time to fix it.
The Call to Action
You may have heard the term ‘call to action’ in reference to marketing. Truthfully, everything you write should have a call to action.
Think like your readers. What is it that you want them to do when they have finished with your writing.
Do you want them to:
- Respond to your email
- Click on a link to your website
- Say yes or no to a meeting invitation
According to Amanda Sparks, a freelance marketing pro and author of Top Down Writer:
“So many people fail to write things that are persuasive, or clear. All too often, it’s because they don’t close with a clear call to action.”
Never assume that readers will ‘get it’. Spell it out.
What do you think are the most important business writing skills for freelancers to improve today? Let us know in the comments below!