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I have been in the content writing business for nearly two decades already. I have already heard, seen, and experienced almost all of the daily ordeals of content writers and editors.
So I asked some writers and editors of iPresence Business Solutions about their challenges in their respective role. Here’s what I advised them when they told me their 17 daily concerns.
“Some writers do not follow the internal guidelines in writing.”
You are presented with a writing guideline in order to zero out the chances of getting a revision request.
Did you know that a revision request puts you in an undesirable situation wherein you’re re-doing the same job order instead of working on a new one?
You’re better off following your guidelines in writing than working on a revision request just because you failed to follow the basic rules in your writing guidelines.
Editors, I advise that you consistently send feedback to the outliers via email. CC your supervisors. They know what to do with the repeat offenders.
2. “Some writers do not review notes on their edited work so they keep repeating some of their previous mistakes.”
I understand how frustrating it is to encounter a de javu of the exact and same error when you know that you have already coached the writer about the same concern.
Are you an editor? Then you are the first one to know if the writer does not take your feedback seriously every time you proofread his work. You got to call it out in your email if and when they repeat the same mistake.
You can write him, “Hi, [writer’s name]. I was the one who proofread your articles. In several occasions, I mentioned that you need to [state what you told him in your previous coaching points]. Unfortunately, I noticed that you have kept on committing the same mistake. I ask you to let me know if there’s anything that is unclear with my feedback so I can help you help yourself. I look forward to an improved quality from you on your next job order.”
Send that to him together with your edited files with MS Word’s Track Changes enabled.
Email your supervisors if there’s still no improvement when you check his future articles.
3. “Ironic as it may seem, I don’t know how or what to write at this moment. Writer’s block hits me.”
Writer’s block is a condition of the mind wherein you do not know what to write or how to start writing. Oh yes, even if you’ve been writing for a living for more than a decade.
This happens to the best of us.
I can write a 500-word article about stock investing or internet marketing in 5 to 10 minutes.
I’ve been dabbling into these niches for nearly two decades already.
But there were days that I couldn’t even write the right word for my title.
It feels like waking up in the morning and the first thing I want to do is to go back to sleep.
What do I do when writer’s block hits me?
I divert my mind into something else.
I play the guitar.
I read a non-fiction book.
I listen to a mind conditioning music.
I watch Mr. Bean on YouTube with my son.
I converse with my wife about anything.
Often, my writer’s block for a specific topic vanishes after doing any of these diversion tactics.
There are cases when my writer’s block is only on one particular topic or niche. If I have to write articles on totally different topics, I work on those first.
4. “What else should I do if I only have limited resources?”
Are you sure it’s an issue on limited resource or resourcefulness?
How do you do your research?
Do you just rely on Google?
Check related videos on YouTube and read viewers’ comments. You can already get ideas on what to write by simply reading viewers’ comments. This is helpful, especially when writing product reviews.
Visit online forums related to your topic. People post their first-hand experience or second-hand information on discussion forums. Check out related Facebook Groups.
How about checking the latest related news from Google News? Highly opinionated people are normally found in the comments section of news articles.
Did you already check Google Trends and Google Alerts? Don’t you know what Google Trends and Google Alerts are? Okay, google them.
5. “I have some unforeseen situations (calamity, health issues, etc). How do I deal with these?”
Some things are outside of our area of control. Accept that. Don’t overthink it.
Notify your supervisors about your case so they can re-assign your work to your colleagues.
Be proactive in reaching out. Being reactive is a trust-destroyer and a deal-breaker.
Do not wait for HR to send you a Notice to Explain email.
6. “My eyes are hurting sometimes.”
Do not stare at your screen for an extended period of time.
Take a 10 to 15-minute break every 2 to 3 hours.
The day you decided to become a digital freelancer, you also made a commitment to discipline yourself.
Some of our health issues are not because of what we do but how we do them.
7. “It’s difficult to write multiple articles on similar topics and try to make each one of them unique.”
Use title or topic generators. There are lots of them online.
Here are some of the tools I use to generate blog ideas.
When you’re running out of ideas, answer the what, where, why, when, who, and how questions of people about your topic.
How do you know their questions?
Use storybase.com and answerthepublic.com.
8. “I have lots of ideas. I could have written a 2,000-word article but my job order only requires a 500-word article.”
Write down your ideas.
Pick the most interesting ones.
Write your outline.
Then, considering the word count requirement, determine how many words you’re going to allocate per subheading.
It is okay to write an additional of 50 to 100 words but do not stretch it too much so you’ll have more time to spend in writing another article.
Just as how you need to budget the word count requirement given to you, you also need to budget your time.
Be brief. Summarize your points. Avoid fillers. No fluff.
9. “I was given an unfamiliar topic. What do I do?”
Do you know how pearls are made?
It’s because of the dust that irritates the oyster. The irritation and the discomfort pave the way to the formation and development of the pearl.
In the same way, writing about an unfamiliar topic is an opportunity to hasten your ability to do sound research.
As an online writer, you will encounter cases when all of the available job orders are outside your topics of interest. Sometimes, two weeks have already passed and your favorite topics are still unavailable. In such case, you have two options. It’s either you let yourself become unproductive until your favorite topics arrive or teach yourself new things so you’ll remain productive while waiting for your favorite topics.
10. “I read too many British books so my writing sounds British sometimes.”
That’s not a bad thing.
Are you worried that you might accidentally use British English instead of American English?
First, just be conscious of your spelling. Second, you can set the language of your MS Word accordingly.
If you missed a few, your editor will surely give you feedback via email.
11. “I have a problem ‘Americanizing’ the tone.”
I totally understand your dilemma here. There are articles that compare Filipino English with American English. Go to Google.
If you’re a writer, I advise that you read your editor’s comments when he sends the edited files back to you.
I also advise that you read American idioms. Go to YouTube. You’ll find lots of them.
12. “I lack the interest in a particular topic.”
I suggest that you politely push it back to your supervisor if your heart is not really into the topic assigned to you. Your co-writers might grab it.
If it’s because of unfamiliarity on the topic, consider the advice I gave above.
13. “There are lots of jargons in my topic.”
You need to expand your vocabulary if you want to make more money or if you don’t want to be left behind.
You will be taken over by more aggressive writers sooner or later if you will not drag yourself into wanting to learn new domains.
You can’t be choosy when you know that there are many of you vying for new job orders. Otherwise, your bring-it-on colleagues may not leave any morsel for you.
Fastest fingers first.
14. “I got an intermittent internet connection.”
You should have said, “We got an intermittent internet connection!” I’m here in the Philippines, too!
Kidding aside, you have to have a backup source of internet connection.
Buy a pocket Wi-Fi that is not locked or reserved to just one network.
When worse comes to worst and all networks are acting up, I book a hotel in other places to get my business going. The show must go on for me.
Inform your supervisors if you think you can’t beat the deadline because of your internet.
15. “I got frequent power interruptions.”
If it’s not the internet, it’s the electricity. This is a common issue I’ve heard a countless number of times among freelancers. Some are just malingering. But for the sake of discussion, I’ll assume you’re genuinely having electrical problems.
Not only is it hard to continue your work when there is no electricity but it also almost impossible to work.
There are two logical solutions, however.
- Use your generator.
- Book in a hotel if you don’t have a generator.
If both options are expensive or impossible in your situation, notify your supervisor immediately via call or SMS. Being proactive is encouraged. Being reactive will only put you in a bad situation due to a missed commitment.
16. “I do not know when to stop the research. Oftentimes, I get too engaged in the topic and research too much. Before I knew it, I’ve run out of time already.”
Understand that you need to budget your time between researching and writing.
If you will spend most of your time researching, you might not meet your deadline.
If you will not do sound research, your article might return to you as a revision request.
The bottom line is you need to strike a good balance between researching and writing.
Being self-aware is the only remedy to this.
17. “Writing the first sentence is an ordeal sometimes not because I did not do a research but because I do not know which information I should pick for my introduction.”
I advise that you draft an outline of the flow of your content before you start writing. Build a skeleton first.
An engineer needs a blueprint to build a structure. In the same way, you need an outline to guide you in penning down your thoughts.
You do not have to worry about your word selection on your rough draft. Do not worry about grammar issues and missing punctuation marks when writing your draft. It’s called a “rough draft” for that reason. You can review your work later.
Humble, meticulous, patient, and enthusiastic writers and editors are often the ones who succeed in the home-based content writing and editing jobs.
You got to be a writer who’s receptive to feedback when your editor emails you her feedback.
You got to be a meticulous editor because it is not good to miss basic rules in English. You are THE editor. You are supposed to have the eagle’s eyes. Nothing can be more humiliating than receiving a revision request and finding out that the client pointed out subject-verb disagreements, missing commas, run-on sentences, etc. If you were a carpenter, that would feel like being taught on how to handle a hammer. Ouch! I’d never want to see myself in that kind of situation.
You got to be a patient writer especially when you’ve been assigned a meticulous editor. Just when you thought you’ve done good enough, your editor might send you an encouraging email that will help you understand how you could have done better. Be patient, not for your editor, but for yourself.
Both of you, writers and editors, must be enthusiastic in doing your duties. You wear your emotions on your sleeves.
If you’re a happy writer, a happy tone will illuminate in your tone in writing.
If you’re a happy editor, you won’t feel lazy in scrutinizing every word in the writer’s article. In fact, you won’t just check the writer’s work against English 101, you will also check if the writer fulfilled the client’s requirements.
Disclaimer: iPresence Business Solutions is my digital marketing firm. We specialize in writing content that readers share and search engines love. Contact us now to hire our writing services.