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How To Become A Good Freelance Writer (Hint: Be A Bad Writer First)

how to become a good freelance writerEveryone wants to become a good freelance writer and make a good living while working at home in underwear (or at the beach – hopefully in swimwear!).

They want the freedom to do whatever they want, whenever they want, however they want.

This is great.

However, many aspiring freelance writers also expect to be good, relatively quickly, without any pain or hassle.

And if it doesn’t happen fast or easily, they give up.

Here’s the thing:

If you want to become a well-paid freelance writer and live “the writer’s life”, you need to write a lot of BAD stuff.

Let me put it another way…


Before you can be a good writer, you need to be a bad writer.

Every successful freelance writer went through a stage where most (if not ALL) of what they wrote sucked. It didn’t flow… it took 3 days instead of 3 hours… the spelling and grammar didn’t work… and maybe the client even hated it.

What did they do next?

They kept writing…

…and writing…

…and writing.

And after they wrote enough bad stuff, they began writing good stuff.

This sounds simple, but unfortunately, far too many people give up on their goal of being a great writer and getting paid to write, because they think that since they’re not a good writer now, they’ll never be a good writer.

But it’s simply not true.

In Peak, the renowned scientist Anders Ericsson explains that the key to mastery in almost anything is simply practice. Deliberate, thoughtful, sometimes slow and frustrating… practice.

So, what constitutes practice?

Let me explain by telling a bit of my story.

How I Became A Well-Paid Freelance Copywriter

Hang on, what is a copywriter?

Copywriters are paid to write words that sell stuff. Ads, about pages, sales pages for products, emails, and lots more. They don’t generally write books (that would be a ghostwriter) or general content (aka. a content writer) or news articles (also known as a journalist).

Copywriters focus entirely on writing stuff that helps themselves or others sell products and services.

This makes them some of the highest paid writers on the planet, but that’s a story for another time.

The question here is…

How did I get good at copywriting, and how can you apply the same strategies to get better at whatever type of writing you prefer?

If I had to simplify it, I’d say there are 2 main steps:

Step 1: Hand write other people’s writing.

Grab a pen and paper, as well as your favorite book, ad, email, news article, or whatever you want to study.

Then simply start writing it out by hand. Aim for at least an hour a day.

This sounds simple, and maybe even stupid, but I can personally vouch for it’s ability to quite rapidly improve your writing skills. It has a way of helping you to understand what constitutes good writing, whether it’s the vocabulary and grammar, the general flow, the overall structure, or something else.

I used this to get good at copywriting, but you could use it to improve your journalistic writing skills (like Ben Franklin did), or any other type of writing.

Step 2: Write lots

The other trick to getting better at writing is to write lots.

Like I said earlier, lots of what you write will be bad, especially in the beginning. But over time, as you continue to practice, you will improve.

And if you’re also doing the handwriting exercise for at least an hour a day, you’ll improve much faster than someone else who only writes their own stuff.

Simple, but not easy.

There you have it.

2 simple steps to writing better.

Simple, but not easy.

Most people won’t do this. They’ll either think it’s stupid, or too simple to be effective. Those people won’t learn or improve.

But if you choose to do it, you will improve, and you will be amazed at the results.

Put to death any thought that you’re either a writer or you aren’t, and accept that the only thing stopping you from being a writer is YOU and whether you’re willing to invest the time and effort to become better.

For more information about copywriting (or me), check out this great article about The Boron Letters.

John McIntyreJohn McIntyreΒ has developed a method for learning copywriting. You can learn about it on his website, the McMethod.comΒ 



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