08 April 2015

The Write Way to Earn : Why Some Freelancers Do Better Than Others

I make my living with words, and most of them are written in English. It is not my country's first language, but it has always been mine. While growing up there were a number of languages that bounced around me. English, Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, just to mention a few. Although I could understand what was being said to me in all of these languages, the responses I framed would be either in English or Hindi. And if I had to express myself in writing, English was definitely the language of choice. 

Perhaps it was to do with the fact that the devnagri script was too tough for me to handle, or the natural reluctance of most “educated” Indians to write in anything but the Queen’s English. I don’t know why, but English has been the medium of expression for me since childhood. I would read books in the language, watch movies and television series and even ensure that I had the latest Grammy award winning songs on my walkman. Yes, a walkman, I grew up in ancient times.

It is because of this consistent exposure to the English language in more areas than merely my school textbooks that I developed a love for it, and indeed excelled in it. Grammar was always my friend, and spellings would automatically look wrong on the page if I ever spelt a word incorrectly, without conscious thought. The dictionary was my constant companion and was instantly accessed whenever I came across a new word.

What I am trying to say is that I put in a lot of effort in learning the English language, without even realizing I did so because I enjoyed it. This stood me in good stead later on in life when I decided to make my living as a freelance writer. Needless to say the life experience that I had gained as a travel agent, an HR trainer, and a Spoken English teacher really came in handy in my new calling. Each time I crafted a proposal to take on a new project I was able to relate to the prospective employer in a better manner thanks to the fluency of my language and the grasp of their requirements.

I never thought that I was doing anything great till I had friends come over and ask me to teach them how to work from home. It was only after the sixth or seventh person I dealt with that I realized that not everyone is made to be a good writer. You may know the language and you could speak it beautifully well, but the art of written expression often eludes many.

The lack of a decent sized vocabulary, the inattention to spelling mistakes, the inability to string together a grammatically correct sentence, and a disdain for current affairs and global news, could all spell doom for a fledgling writing career. A conscientious writer ensures that the work that is submitted is timely and correct.
Missing deadlines is not a good idea when you are trying to make a reputation for yourself online, but at the same time neither is submitting shoddy work.

There are a number of tools available to help you ensure that you do not make grammatical errors, or spelling mistakes. Making sure that you submit good quality writing along with actually relevant information gives you a reputation that allows you to pick the projects you want to work on. In a recent study conducted by Grammarly, they have a number of tools that writers can use, it was discovered that freelance writers do better than many other freelancers. 

Here is an infographic of the study that they conducted on profiles on Elance, which is an online freelance marketplace. The team at Grammarly checked 400+ freelancer profiles from all eight categories of the Elance platform for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. To adjust for the quality of work, they only selected freelancers with an average rating of four stars or above. They then looked at the correlation between earnings and number of mistakes. Here is what they found.

If you are looking to kick start your career as a freelancer, this is the best advice you can follow. Write, read, edit, repeat. No matter how well you think you have written an article or a blog post, trust me, there is a way to edit it to make it read better. By the time you have refined it for the third of fourth time, you will have finally reached a level of perfection which the simple first draft would never have. And in case you are unsure of the correct spelling or grammar, use the online tools available to help you improve your writing. This really is the "Write Way" to Earn!