How One Freelance Writer Earned More With Better English

Carol Tice

Freelance writer improves her incomeBy Jovell Alingod

“Am I good enough?”

I don’t know how many times this question has run through my head since the day I decided to become a freelance writer. This self-doubt stems from the fact that English is my second language and my first writing jobs mostly involved article spinning and rewriting.

But my desire to make a living writing was greater than this limiting belief.

I realized I had to make a choice. I could be happy with the kind of writing projects coming my way — mostly, original articles for $5. Or I could improve my English writing skills and earn more.

I chose the latter. Even though I knew it wouldn’t be easy.

Turns out that’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made for my career.

My results include:

Here’s how you can do it, too.

Go back to basics

This may sound boring, but the fact remains that the basics our English teachers taught us — grammar, proper word usage, vocabulary improvement, and spelling — are the first technical elements of good English writing.

For starters, review your grammar books. If you don’t have them anymore, I recommend “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White.

To improve your vocabulary, spelling, and word usage, you can learn A.W.A.D (a word a day). If you do this, you’ll have 365 more English words added to your personal word bank!

Have eagle eyes and bat ears

Another way to improve your English language skills is by closely examining it. You can keep tabs by reading and listening to how native speakers talk. If you get the chance to interact with them in person, do so. If not, take the time to watch English movies and TV shows.

If you can get an editor’s feedback about your work, then listen to their advice. Most of them have read and revised hundreds of articles, and they know what works and what doesn’t.

You might have heard this before, but I’ll say it again — read widely in English. Take note of expressions or unfamiliar phrases and find out their meanings.

You need to be sharp to notice the nuances in the English language.

Think in English

Becoming a good writer takes practice. And a great way to take your practice further is to think in English. This way your brain gets accustomed to using the language more.

My English isn’t perfect, but it’s much better now. One client was so happy with the content I wrote for him, he gave me a position with a four-fold pay increase!

I haven’t stopped learning yet, though, because there’s still so much to learn about writing.

How have you improved your writing skills? Tell us in the comments.

Jovell Alingod is a freelance writer helping businesses create helpful content for the web.

Related: How to make money writing

 

22 Comments

  1. Crissie

    Hi, Carol:

    You have an indisputably valid point that concise statements in correct grammatical format will probably never become “dead letter” English language.

    However, as the Neilson-Norman Group research report link below reveals, some modification is indicated for Web-based English text. See:

    “Break Grammar Rules on Websites for Clarity”

    by HOA LORANGER on March 23, 2014

    Summary: Web writing differs from print writing to emphasize scannability. Some grammar rules are worth breaking if they improve fast comprehension.

    http://www.nngroup.com/articles/break-grammar-rules/.

    What’s your “take” on the new scoop about this emergent school of English literary thought?

    • Carol Tice

      Crissie, blogging more resembles copywriting, which breaks grammar rules. Hope that clarifies.

  2. Tanya

    Its so important to keep learning new things. Grammar included! I could use some help in that area myself 🙂

    • Jovell

      Learning new things is addictive.Good thing great resources are easier to access now because of the internet. Try out the book I mentioned in the post Tanya. 🙂

  3. Peter D. Mallett

    Hi Jovell (and Carol),
    I haven’t been reading this blog as much in the last month and I am catching up on posts. I had to leave a comment because this post was so encouraging.

    I’ve seen posts where the English is not correct in a few places. It may be in only 4 or 5 places in an entire post that is well done otherwise. It does stick out though. I hesitate sometimes to share a post with good information, but several mistakes I wonder if someone will think I didn’t notice them.

    I admire your desire to improve. And also for being willing to write about your experiences to encourage others.

    • Jovell

      Thank you Peter. And your comment means a lot to me. Appreciation is one thing that’s not that abundant in the freelance industry so receiving even a tiny bit is a cause for celebration.

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