Good English writing skills is key to having a successful and thriving freelance career. And even if you don’t have any intention of being a freelance writer, you’ll still need to be good at this.
To illustrate my point, take a look at what you often do as a freelancer.
- You market your services. You put up a website, email prospect clients, and set up Twitter or LinkedIn profiles.
- You network with clients. You post in online groups and your own social media accounts.
- You talk with other online professionals. You chat with teammates, voice your concerns on freelance forums, and offer your own insights via blog comments.
And what do you do to express yourself in all these outlets? You write. And yes, in English, because it’s the language used and understood on the web in general.
It’s simply necessary for you to know how to write sensibly and clearly.
But the best reason I got for this was mentioned in a fellow freelancer’s email to me last April. He said, “I want to know more on how to write effectively so that I can level up.”
This freelancer understood exactly what good English writing skills will do for his career. And with that attitude, he has taken the first step to becoming better.
You might want to do the same. And it’s okay if you want to get results fast. So here are some easy actions you can take to write better in English as quickly as possible:
[Celine’s note: To learn more about the importance of good writing when applying for any position, check out this piece from 37Signals, and this piece on the high demand for English majors.You don’t have to be an English major - I’m not one myself - but a good command of the language will give you an edge.]
Read at least 2 pages a day
You’ve probably heard the advice “read a lot” very often and know what the benefits of reading are, especially in writing improvement.
But forming the habit is not easy as it sounds. This is why you can start with something simple, such as reading 2 pages a day. You can read any book you like but try to read fiction sometimes.
Aside from boosting the brain’s connectivity, fiction helps you capture the everyday English words the characters use, which you can adapt in your online conversations.
Immerse yourself in English
If reading is not attractive enough for you, then watching English shows and movies might be more inviting. But again, like in reading, when you watch American, British, or Australian shows, keep your ears alert to seize the common expressions used in the language. You might want to jot those new words down ASAP too.
Another way to build your English writing muscle is to talk to yourself in English. Just use English when you think about anything like when you contemplate on how your day was or what’s happening in your life. When you catch yourself thinking in Filipino or other native dialects, shut that voice down, and think, how will you say what you were saying in English?
Use those words
Now that you have some words to work with and your mind is more inclined to using the language, it’s time to try out your writing muscles. Journaling or keeping a personal blog can help with this. [Celine’s note: You can keep your writing exercise blog private, many writers both new and established, have private blogs just to get them in the habit of writing.]
To make sure you get your grammar right, you can use resources like Grammarly.com or LanguageTool.Org. To give more color to what you’re writing, rely on your thesaurus or handy dictionary.
Personally, I have 2 paperback thesauruses and 2 dictionaries + 1 in my Kindle which I got here, (thanks to Celine), and I still refer to ones online. But that’s just me. 1 of each could be okay for you.
You can also find writing templates and use those as guides or triggers for inspiration. Like this simple template for writing your “About Me” page or LinkedIn summary:
- Hello, I’m (Who are you?).
- I’m a (What do you do?)
- I help (Who do you help and add the benefits of what you do for others.)
- Because (Why do you do it? You could also add another benefit here.)
- If you need a (insert your offer/title here), (insert your call to action here e.g. email me, contact me, get in touch.)
When you look at the work of most successful freelancers, you’ll notice they do all the things you do too. But they stand out because they have a good way with their words. It may not be perfect but it’s good enough to show their professionalism and dexterity.
Now I’d love to hear from you. Which ones of these actions will you do today? Or if you’re already working on your English language and writing skills, what has helped you become better? I can’t wait to read your insightful comments.
Jovell Alingod is a freelance writer helping businesses create helpful content since 2010. Grab the free resources she created to help you improve your web writing skills.