Once my client and I have agreed on an idea, I start by outlining my subheads. Then I run a Google search for any statistics or resources I can use in the blog post. Then, I simply get to writing! I typically write in Microsoft Word and start at the beginning and work my way to the end. My writing process usually starts with an outline.
I write a bulleted list of the main points I want to cover, making sure the piece has a logical structure and flow. I have an idea of what my main subheadings will be, though they may change a little when I start writing. I kind of hate writing first drafts, so I try to write it as quickly as possible. I give it enough time so that I can forget what I wrote and be more objective when editing. It needs at least several hours, but if I can give it at least a day or two, I can be even more objective.
The editing stage is a lot easier for me. I take what I was trying to say, and rearrange it to make more sense and flow better. Grammar and spelling have always come pretty naturally to me, so the editing is more about structure and flow, and removing fluff and repetition.
I start by outlining a post. When I have the major points I want to cover and the sub-points mapped out within those, I start writing. There are times when the biggest challenge is the start — those times when I feel blank. But I have to start from the top. Once I start and get past the block it just flows from there. And with headings, sometimes the heading is the first thing I have down and other times I only think up the heading after the piece is done.
I realized that my writing process is as diverse as the pieces that I write. When I have pitched something I pretty much follow the outline I have set out and have most of the information to start with and it becomes more of a fill-in-the-blanks piece.
At first I wanted to highlight some of the lesser known techniques for writing, or tips that might get overlooked but then decided to include more generic information and tips as not everyone will be aware of the technical parts of making your website work for you.
For more involved pieces, I use, and may draw, the inverted pyramid to help structure my information in the best possible way, therefore usually from a bottom-up perspective. Generally, my writing begins with a post-it note that either came from my bathroom, bedroom, or Jeep. I can write from the comforts of two different couches in my home, my home office, or my mini office in my living room.
Once I get the basics down, I scour the internet for facts and stats to include. We all love those, right? Next to create headings 1, 2, and 3 as necessary, add italics, quotes, or even Click to Tweet content. Bulleted or numbered lists are super awesome so I usually throw one or the other in there. Proof once, twice, and maybe thrice before I add images and schedule the post or publish right away.
I used to be a really distracted writer, so now I use the Pomodoro productivity technique to stay focused and work more efficiently. It involves getting laser-focused and working toward completing just one task for 25 minutes straight, followed by a five-minute break.
I close every tab open in my browser that could distract me, put on my headphones to listen to some ambient music and use a Pomodoro timer app on my smartphone to get through each mini workflow chunk.
I pretty much swear by this technique! This might seem a little strange but this process works for me. I start with the topic I want to write about and give it a general title. Then I go back to the main part of the post. I give it a final review and schedule the post for publishing.
I rarely create a full outline, but work directly from rough notes. For longer, more detailed work, I like to use the sticky note method I learned from Pat Flynn. Basically, I write all of my points on sticky notes and arrange them in a way that makes sense. As I cover each point, I throw away the note. It kind of gives me a sense of accomplishment as the notes start to disappear! I start with my subheadings or a quick outline so I have a clear direction on where I want the piece to go and what information is most important to include.
I then move on to the sections that require little, if any, research. I save the most difficult sections until the end when I can focus on the details and get specific. And, I almost always create my introduction last as this is the most important part of your article. A poor introduction can turn a reader away before they even reach the meat of your content.
I study for word count, style, link numbers…etc. Then I write a draft first. Then I edit and proofread. I start by opening a blank Google Doc on my computer. I complete all of my freelance writing assignments and blog posts in Google Docs, even if my clients have a content management platform.
That way I always have a backup copy in the event the site is lost or deleted. Then I insert the title and start creating a brief outline of the points I plan on making. Then I write out a few thoughts about what each point will include, as well as any opening or closing notes.
Usually at this point I close the doc and come back to it within a day or two. This allows me time to completely flesh out any additional details or points, or insert quotes for interviews. Finally, I fill in the rest of the points, add an intro and complete everything with a simple closing. My process is spread out over several days but batching my work into idea generating, writing and editing segments allows me to be much more productive.
I usually keep the central theme that has to be followed as the main focus of the post and find keywords accordingly. Next is to try and research what has already been covered on other posts and try to make it as unique and relevant to the reader who is searching for specific answers.
In this context, I then pick the main points that will form a part of the blog post, convert them into headings and sub-headings and work on what should be covered in each of the sub-headings.
The idea while writing is to understand what the reader wants to read rather than what I would want to write in the blog post. This helps connect with the reader at some level. The middle portion of the post covers the topic in detail and is the juicy meaty part. The conclusion is usually brief in a sentence or two.
Instead of carefully planning every step of an article, I prefer to hammer out the key subheadings before I begin and then, let inspiration take control. My writing process actually varies from project to project, but what stays consistent is my compulsive need to create an outline before putting pen to paper. It allows me to map out my plan of attack more effectively and enables me to stay on task. For that reason, I save that part for last.
But that almost never happens. I have a habit of jumping around from topic to topic whenever I need a break from writing about one specific thing. As for my titles and subheadings, I usually jot down a few different ideas, throw them against the wall, and see which ones stick. As soon as I am assigned a topic for a post, my mind immediately begins to mull over ideas and possible angles.
Getting these down on paper is crucial for me so I usually scribble them down on the nearest piece of paper I can find! Then I head over to the computer to organize my ideas into an outline with subheadings and free write some of the content.
I usually write whatever pops into my mind, and then clean it up later. Next comes the research phase, where I look for all kinds of reference material to learn more about my assigned topic. I read a LOT of content so that I can flesh out the post with accurate and current information.
I strive to look for reputable sources that can be used as links or references to back up my claims. When my first draft is finished, I then review and edit it several times to clean up the structure, formatting, and language. And I almost always need to pare down the word count as I tend to write more words than are assigned.
As a final step, I have someone else read the post before I send it off for publishing since other people can often spot things that I may have missed. As you can see, each writer and blogger has a different way of structuring their writing process. Download this exclusive free guide on how to boost your income as a new freelance writer. Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer.
Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers.
Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer. Hey Elna Nice to go through your resourceful post. I like to develop my career as a freelancer. My writing skill is plain like train track.
I am confused how I can start. Please give an advice. Thanks for your effort for the new. I really liked the comment about how writing style can often be as diverse as the writing itself. Both ways have worked just fine for me. I think it really depends on the topic and the comfort level of the writer with that topic. Great post and some really great information.
Nice to get a sneak peak into how these fabulous writers think and organize! I like your expert round-up very much. I kinda relate with Deevra. I find it quite useful and productive to step away from the screen a while and write on paper — that way you are not tempted to start clicking and diving off all over the place. I have about a zillion notebooks on my desk, all half scribbled and torn.
With all those little mishaps, I still can write wicket pieces for my clients! My biggest hurdle is time management. Sorry about only including one male. I actually did have another one wanting to contribute, but they never submitted their piece. But, I think there are more women freelance writers than men? I love these kinds of posts! Being able to see the perspective and methods of multiple people really helps with trying out new ideas.
I have to have the subheadings down and then work my way through it as a way of staying on track and maintaining momentum. The Pomodoro technique is neat but I think I have too many distractions for that to work for me.
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