I started working as a freelance writer online in 2012, and since then I have published hundreds of articles, amassed more than 1.5 million readers, received a few awards and learned a whole lot about the industry, about communicating in the digital age, and about myself. Here are four of the most important lessons I have learned as a freelance writer.
Readers long for an open, honest voice
Writing online, at least for me, is all about being open and honest with my readers. That doesn’t have to mean pouring my heart out or confessing to deep, dark secrets. Just like me, my readers want to hear real stories about real people who experienced real things.
One of my best received articles was about how people can help an infertile friend survive one of the most difficult days of the year – Mother’s Day. I was deeply moved by the women who wrote to thank me for sharing my own struggle with infertility and the added pain the holiday brought each year.
I just want to be heard, but sometimes I’m not
Being a freelance writer has given me an outlet to express many of the thoughts that might not otherwise make it past my friends and family. When I first started writing online, I thought that it was simply because I had things I wanted to say. But I learned that just expressing my thoughts was not enough. I wanted them to be heard.
Sometimes, an article gets so many page views and comments that I know without a doubt I’ve been heard. Sometimes, the views are so paltry, I might have done better yelling from my back porch. It’s frustrating to put a lot of effort into an article only to have it go largely unnoticed.
People connect with the strangest things
One of my most popular articles, one that consistently gets hits week after week, is a piece I knocked out in about 15 minutes with relatively no effort at all. After years of frustration over chipped and peeling nails, I came up with a solution that actually worked. For the first time, I had long lasting nail polish that looked great for days.
I’d written a lot of well-researched articles on topics I considered a lot more important than chipped and peeling nail polish, but that doesn’t matter. When a topic is relevant to a lot of people and gives them information they can use, they’ll keep on clicking.
The world of online writing is constantly evolving
In just the couple of years I’ve been writing online, I’ve seen so many changes it’s hard to keep up. As search engines redefine their parameters, companies cycle in and out of business, and advertisers change the way they operate, writers are often left scratching our heads just trying to make sense of it all.
My solution has been to just keep writing from the heart, producing content I feel is relevant and worthy of reading. I look for opportunities where I can find them, and try to write for companies where I feel good about seeing my byline. So far, that’s working pretty well.
More by Tavia:
Helping an infertile friend survive Mother’s Day
Busy mom’s trick for long lasting nail polish
I Bullied a Serial Killer