Nineteenth-century futurist and electro-genius, Nikola Tesla, predicted in 1926 that “when wireless would be perfectly applied the whole earth would be converted into a huge brain…we would be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance.” We have to wonder what Tesla would think of our phone-glued-to-hand existence now and the digital society we’ve built for ourselves. And just like any society, the nature of work and the worker in this digital age is in a state of constant flux.
Consider the ‘gig economy’ – a freelancer gets hired on-demand, usually on a temporary basis, to provide a particular service. Often, these are part-time remote jobs that can be carried out on a sofa at home or in a bustling coffee shop: pyjamas optional.
To say that the gig economy is growing is a bit of an understatement. By the end of 2021, there were expected to be more than 60 million freelance workers in the United States of America alone. But what does this have to do with Tesla and freelance writers?
Earth’s digital realm, or Tesla’s “huge brain” (aka the internet), is constantly expanding its real estate and everybody seems to have, or be in search of, a great idea. Companies, both big and small, compete to “communicate … instantly, irrespective of distance” for the attention of the digital citizen. And their money.
Does the following sound like you?: You know everything there is to know in your field, your expertise is sought after and you’ve got some really great ideas that are ready to disrupt your industry. Plus, everyone at the office thinks you’re funny – well, almost everyone. “You know, you should really write a book,” they keep telling you. That’s not a bad idea, except you’re not a writer. You’ve got great ideas, and you really do know a lot about your industry, but you just can’t seem to shape those ideas into sentences on the page – that’s when most people or companies hire writers.
Great Writers Love Great Ideas
The best writers understand what it means to take an idea and translate it into the written word. They know just the right phrase to capture and hold the attention of the audience, and most of them are working in the gig economy. The demand for content writers keeps on growing and professional writers from all walks of life can be found on various freelancing websites.
Companies and small businesses are constantly looking for ways to showcase their brand and stand out from the competition. In the over-saturated digital landscape, your brand might look like a sardine in a tin of, well, sardines – you get the point. This is where gig economy platforms focused on freelance writing are able to meet the publicity needs of these companies and entrepreneurs. The ability to look up whatever they want is now literally at the fingertips of almost every single person on the planet. Content writers understand that to market a company in the most human way possible, they have to build a digital bridge between the target market and the company. Long gone are the days of rolling the dice on the search algorithm and going with the digital flow. The average netizen can usually tell when some AI, working for giga-peanuts, has assembled an article and when a real live person has poured some thought and feeling into a piece of writing. Companies that want to stand out need to ask themselves “what makes a great writer?”
For the sake of keeping it simple (and not wanting to stir up the ire of all the wannabe Hemingways and Austens out there), let’s single out that highly-caffeinated creature – the content writer. A great writer will work hard to stick to three fundamental principles:
- BE A GREAT STORYTELLER. To quote Robert McKee, author and lecturer: “Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” Successful companies know this and good writers know how to do it. They will be able to conjure up some major PR buzz for the company’s brand with writing that makes a product or service intriguing to potential clients.
- BE A GREAT COMMUNICATOR. This goes hand-in-hand with being a good storyteller. The best writers know exactly how to take a good idea and choose the best words to communicate that idea to the audience in a way that gets them interested in the brand. A sort of alphabet alchemist in digital ideas and concepts.
- BE A GREAT TIME MANAGER. A great writer will understand that time management is integral to their job. With most remote gig work, professional writers will find that they’re juggling multiple projects and all of them with deadlines that need to be met. Time means money and companies will continue to provide work for content writers who understand that.
But what if you are the writer drifting between freelance jobs in a growing gig economy? You need to be able to have some business know-how to set yourself apart from the competition, but also a love of the writing process and its relationship to making ideas come to life.
The steps on how to become a great writer are varied depending on who you ask, but with content writing there are some definite foundations to build on:
- DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Learn as much as you can about the company. What is its ‘personality’? How can you convey that in your writing? How does the company want to come across to the audience? You can show that in the tone and choice of words you use when writing. What about the brand? What is the aesthetic? How is the target market currently responding to it? What are the industry trends? When you sit with company representatives, really listen to what they’re looking for and hoping to get from you; take notes and ask as many questions as possible until you feel you know enough to be authentic and engaging when writing.
- HAVE THE TARGET AUDIENCE CLEARLY IN MIND. Who are you writing for? Keep the audience in mind when you write. What other brands would they be following? What social media content related to the company or similar brands would they be engaging with? Ask yourself, “If I was part of the target market, how would I want the company to relate to me through their writing?” Can the audience come away learning something? In other words, your target audience should feel enriched after reading your post.
- RESEARCH. We are living in the age of fake news and the internet is the local hangout for every liar, con artist and snake oil salesman out there. A good writer always does their research. Make sure to consult a wide range of sources and cross-check any content that might seem outdated or you feel unsure of. Don’t assume the audience is ignorant. Netizens have sharp eyes and incorrect information can do serious damage to a company’s image.
- EDIT, EDIT, AND THEN EDIT SOME MORE. A poorlee writen artikle is is a big noNO. See what I mean? Most companies won’t hire an editor to proofread and check your work. They expect you to be able to do that on top of writing the article.
Once you finish writing, set the piece aside for a while; revisiting your writing with a fresh pair of eyes can help you spot those grammar gremlins hiding in plain sight. Read the work out loud, this helps to work out any flaws in pace and sentence structure. Take careful note of spelling by looking at each word individually; don’t only rely on a spellchecker. And on that note, make good use of a dictionary.
- READ. Great writers are great readers. Read articles on the niche you’re focusing on. Read fiction books, non-fiction, magazine articles, cookbooks, your sister’s diary (maybe not that last one), but read as much as you can. Seeing how other professional writers put the English language together can be a fantastic education in the art of scribbling.
Great Ideas Will Never Run Out
The gig economy is growing and content writers are now considered a vital part of this digital phenomena. The freelancer is a key player in establishing the ever-evolving framework of remote gig work, and freelance writing, now more than ever, is in high demand. A variety of great writers with different educational and social backgrounds are offering their talents, creating an interesting and illuminating tapestry of information across the digital terrain.
Companies want and need to get noticed. They understand that competition for the valuable currency of human attention is relentless. They also know that great ideas need to find their way to people and the best writers know just how to do that.
Article by Nastassia Da Silva