Top 5 Professional Qualifications for Freelance Writing

by Loolwa Khazzoom • January 5, 2009 • Writing and Editing Tips

To ensure your success as a freelance writer, make sure you are well-prepared. Here’s a check-list of professional qualifications for the job, along with information on where to turn for help strengthening your skills.

1. Strong Communication Skills

A successful writer is able to express ideas clearly and succinctly, in a way that is compelling to readers. Reflect on your personal life: When you communicate with others, how well do they understand and how interested do they seem in what you’re saying? If you might need help in this area, consider taking a communications class at your local university or enrolling in a group like Toastmasters. (Their informal, fun, and supportive gatherings are ideal for improving self-expression.)

2. Strong Writing Skills

Remember the computer program manual that was super easy to follow, even though you develop hives at the thought of anything technical? Know that book you couldn’t put down all night, even though you had to be up and out the door in four more hours? That’s how you want to write. If you’re not there yet, check out local community colleges for affordable writing programs; attend writing retreats tailored to improving your craft, search the web for online writing classes, and seek out local writing support groups.

3. Strong Research Skills

Whether you’re investigating a story for a magazine article, sifting through medical studies for a health pamphlet, or getting to know software for a technical manual, you’ll need to do background research before writing any content. If you were educated in one of those grueling universities with research-intensive papers assigned, like, nine times a day, it’s probably safe to say you’ve got research skills happily tucked under your belt. For the rest of you out there, take a peek at these basic research tips, and revisit resources listed in #2 — with a focus on honing your research skills.

4. Strong Inter-Personal Skills

Perhaps you’re all set to become an anti-social, cranky writer like me. Here’s the thing: You will have interact with humans. So make sure you’re up for a little face-to-face or ear-to-ear — most notably, with editors, organizational managers, and people you’re interviewing. Here are some quick tips for turning on your inner charm. If you need help overcoming shyness, consider the possibilities mentioned in #1.

5. Strong Organizational Skills

As a freelancer, you’ll need to organize your ideas, proposals, assignments, and a host of other things. If, like me, you’ve got that mad professor, disheveled thing going on, breathe easy: Not only can you get trained in developing organizational skills, but you can hire other people to keep it all together thing for you. Don’t have a big enough budget for hired help? I hire through the organized expatriate English-speaking community in Israel, where there are solid candidates, and $10/hour is decent salary for admin work. (Most work is virtual nowadays at any rate, so it’s all very 21c). Post on Taanglo and Janglo to find qualified English speakers.

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About Loolwa

Loolwa KhazzoomLoolwa Khazzoom has worked with leading media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, Rolling Stone, and ABC News. In addition, she has published two books and has lectured at prestigious venues including Barnard Center for Research on Women, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Harvard University. Loolwa is passionate about health, music, dance, multiculturalism, and Judaism.

Holistic Media, Marketing, PR

Loolwa Khazzoom is a a public relations manager specializing in holistic media, holistic marketing, holistic public relations, and holistic promotions. Her services include branding and messaging development, image and communications management, website content development and optimization, social media management, traditional media campaign management, book development, and in-house writing and editing.

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