Today’s post is the first of three blog critiques. Today’s writer – Adarsh Thrampy of Sales Maximus – was the first ‘winner’ by default. I put two more free blog post critiques up for grabs in this post:
I’m pleased to announce that the winners of the other two blog post critiques (as chosen by my sons Freddie and Max) were:
1) Krista Stryker (chosen by Max)
2) Stan Faryna (chosen by Freddie)
(I’ll email Krista and Stan later to tell them how we proceed from here.)
How The Critiques Will Work
- Firstly I’ll publish the original piece of writing.
- Then point out 3 areas that could be improved, with some suggestions of how to do this.
- Finally I’ll either rewrite the post, or leave detailed thoughts as to how I would rewrite the post.
There’s some important information to note here. When you’re trying to improve at any skill or discipline, it’s impossible to do so if the instructions you are given are way above your current ability level.
For example, imagine that you were going for your second driving lesson and the instructor asked you to race down a dual carriageway at 50 MPH and execute a handbrake turn. That would be virtually impossible for such a newbie driver – because there are skill sets that need to be mastered before the newbie driver can think about executing a complex manoeuvre like a handbrake turn.
It’s the same with writing too.
So my goal for all these critiques is to give the writer being critiqued feedback on 3 areas of their writing that they can work on today. So they can read the critique and take immediate action to improve their writing.
With that goal in mind, the critiques will be pitched at the writer’s level – not my level, or your level. So if you see elements that could be improved that are not mentioned in the critique, don’t think that those elements have gone unnoticed – it’s more like that those writers are not ready for the writing equivalent of handbrake turns yet.
Before we critique our first post, let’s meet our first contestant!
Contestant #1 – Adarsh Thrampy
Adarsh Thrampy blogs at SalesMaximus.com and lives in India. This is highly relevant, because Adarsh speaks – and writes – English as a second language.
Here’s the post that Adarsh sent me, that I’ll be critiquing.
How to Get Started With a Career in Freelance Writing?
Freelance writing is one of the hottest work-at-home profession people around the world prefer.
There is a lot of valuable advice out there on how to get started with freelance writing career. Before you begin, you should definitely look at what others in this niche have to say.
But, most people still don’t get the basics. How do you prepare yourself to be a freelance writer? Can anyone become a freelance writer? Or is it just for native English speakers? How much can I make from writing? Is it stressful?
There are a lot of questions people have when it comes to venturing into an online business. Make no mistake, being an entrepreneur and running your online writing business is no easy task. It takes courage, determination, self discipline, and willingness to make customer the king.
“To err is human”. But, erring again and again is not a very good idea. Business never succeeds all of a sudden. It takes time, patience, and a hell lot of tweaks to get it right. Your freelance writing business is no different.
Here Are A Few Tips to Get Started With a Freelance Writing Career
Tip #1: You Are A Writer. Don’t Forget That
If you don’t write, I don’t think you ought to be called a writer. As a freelance writer, your job is to… well, write.
No amount of marketing or advertising will make you a great writer unless you write regularly. My #1 advice is to write, write more, and write even more.
That being said, I wouldn’t advise you to write blindly. Writing again and again is great. However, if you are not writing as you should by getting rid of your mistakes, you are going to end up making the same mistake again and again. So as much as you write, gather feedback. Ask your friends, family, and just about anyone who can help you write better.
Tip #2: Don’t Engage In Price Wars
It’s very tempting to offer low price just because someone bid for a lower rate. Stop competing on price. While you may end up with writing jobs, you’ll suffer getting quality clients in the long run.
When I started freelancing, what I have observed is, the clients who are reluctant to pay for quality, always ends up as a bigger problem. I have wished many times that I could go back in time and not take up this work.
Clients who respect your work and are willing to pay for quality are always better than people who try to get the work done for the lowest rates. You’ll find them leaving you as soon as you up your rates.
Rather than compromising on quality, compromise on quantity. Take less work. Charge more for each work. If you need that work, outsource it to a cheaper writer and keep the commissions.
Tip #3: Focus On Repeat business
The most money you are going to make is from your existing customers. There, I said it.
It’s a no brainer. The first timers never trust you with their money. It’s true especially on the internet. But, if they were willing to take out the credit card to pay you once, rest assured that they will feel comfortable paying you again and again. If you have not scammed them the first time, that is.
If your customers paid for your writing service, and you gave them a killer article, then without a doubt, they’ll come to you next time they want articles written.
Not everyone comes back. The best thing you can do to grab repeat business is to keep them on your mailing list and then send them a quick email once in a month or two with special offers or discounts. This not only gives them an incentive to order again, but also makes them aware of your existence.
Tip #4: Not Every Project Is Worth Pursuing
Sad but true. As a freelance writer, you need to choose which project is best suited for you. Writing gigs may seem inappropriate based on
1. The amount that is paid for the job
2. Inability to meet deadlines
3. Lack of experience in the project niche
4. Not meeting the requirements in the project
5. Inability to verify the authenticity of your clients and more
Not every project is worth taking in. If you are not an expert copywriter, you shouldn’t take up a sales page writing job. You are not only doing injustice to your customer, and other experienced copywriters. You are also doing injustice to the end user. If you can’t convince a person to buy a product, they may be missing out on a valuable resource.
Tip #5: Treat Your Work Professionally
Just because you are a freelancer and doesn’t work for a company, it does not mean that you can handle your business anyway you want. Be very professional in your dealing with clients. Your professionalism should reflect in your emails, your work, your billing, and your delivery.
If you can take forward your business professionally, you will gain more high paying customers. People are willing to pay more for convenience. Imagine if you save their time coming behind you reminding you about deadlines, payment methods, rewrites and so on. People will pay more for convenience.
Are you a freelance writer? If you have ever done freelancing, what’s the most valuable tip you want to share with others?
So, that’s Adarsh’s post. A good exercise might be for you to go back to the top of his post, read again. And then make some notes on how YOU could help him improve. Then you can compare your notes against mine.
Here are 3 areas that Adarsh could profitably work on to improve his writing.
1) His Familiarity With, And Use of English
This is the first area that I’d suggest Adarsh work on.
For the record the fact that he can blog in a second language is fantastic. I speak reasonable French, but there’s not a chance in the world that I’d try and blog in French!
But I’m guessing that the majority of his competitors speak English. And perhaps the majority of them are native speakers. Now that shouldn’t put Adarsh off – most people mangle the English language terribly – but he does need to express his ideas with more clarity, and more correctly.
There are two Action Steps I’d recommend to Adarsh for this area.
The first one is to read some great writers. As a rule of thumb – not mine, but NY Bestselling Author Steven Barnes! – you should aim to read between 10 and 50 times the amount that you write daily. And one level up form your current level.
The second Action Step I’d recommend is to spend 10-15 minutes a day copying out a piece of writing that he’s found and enjoyed. This will really help his brain absorb the ebb and flow of the English language, and in time he’ll find that his ability in expressing his ideas in English rises.
2) Improving Headlines
This is an area that just about every blogger in the world could improve!
Headlines are a vital part of every blog post – not only do they attract potential readers either by curiosity, or by promising that those readers will learn something specific, or by controversy – but they also tell the reader what to expect by reading the post.
Most people’s headlines (including mine 😉 ) often lack clarity and specificity.
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with Adarsh’s headline. But the topic of getting started in freelance writing is a massive topic – more suited to a book, or one of those 2K Guru super courses, rather than a blog post.
And Adarsh’s actual post doesn’t really follow the headline that he’s used.
So, here’s what Adarsh (and the rest of us) should do to work on our headlines. Firstly, go to this post on the One Spoon website:
And then scroll down to the section titled Phase 2. There are 4 great, free resources specifically devoted to Headlines linked in that post. You can probably absorb them in around 90 minutes – and that will be a world class introduction to headlines.
For this post, I’d suggest that the body of the text would be better served with a working heading of 5 Tips For Freelance Writers. And then – if it were me – I’d write the post. And then go back and rework the heading to give it some punch and oomph.
3) Writing For The Web
People read differently on their computer screens than they do from a printed book. So it’s vital that the layout of your writing – how it actually looks – helps them get through your content.
There’s no specific resource or guide to this – you need lots of bold headings, lots of bulleted lists, lots of white space, that kind of thing.
Copyblogger is as good a place as any to read the kind of content that’s well presented for the web.
So the Action Plan item for Adarsh would be to go to Copyblogger and find three or four posts that he found easy to read through. Then he needs to print those posts out on paper and reverse engineer the way that they’ve been laid out.
And take that learning into the presentation of his own posts.
Some General Thoughts
If Adarsh took these recommendations and ran with them, there’s no doubt in my mind that the overall quality of his writing would improve.
For sure there are other areas I could have looked at, but Adarsh needs to walk before he can run. And I chose the specific areas we’ve looked at today as I believe they’ll dramatically improve what Adarsh is putting out there and how it looks.
One Way Of Rewriting The Post
There are a million ways that you can rewrite any post – what I’m going to do for the rest of the critique is rework the headline, and provide an outline of an article derived from Adarsh’s original article that lives up to the promise of the headline.
As I said earlier I thought Adarsh’s original headline was too broad, and that I’d use a working headline of ‘5 Tips For Freelance Writers.’ Reading through Adarsh’s original article there are 5 good tips – those tips can be slanted towards a freelance writer who’s keen on gaining a professional advantage in the freelance writing business.
So I’d reword the headline like this:
5 Tips For Freelance Writers That Separate The Professional From The Amateur
And then Adarsh’s 5 original tips can be reworded to maintain the focus of the article – and they just need to be book ended with an introduction, a summary and a good call to action.
So the outline for the article would look like this:
Headline: 5 Tips For Freelance Writers That Separate The Professional From The Amateur
Tip 1- The Professional Writer Writes
Tip 2 – The Professional Writer Competes on Quality – Not Quantity
Tip 3 – The Professional Writer Nurtures Repeat Clients
Tip 4 – The Professional Writer Knows Which Projects Move His Business Forward – And Ignores Those That Don’t
Tip 5 – The Professional Writer Is….Professional
Call To Action
Each of those 5 Tips is identical to Adarsh’s original 5 tips – the sub-heads for those sections have been edited to be consistent with the promise of the revised heading.
Firstly I want to again commend Adarsh for having the cojones to have his work critiqued in public. I hope he got concrete suggestions that he can put to work immediately to improve his writing.
For the rest of the One Spoon audience, I hope that you folk got value out of this post too. What I’d really like you to do is share your learnings and thoughts in the comments section below.