10 Ways to Improve Your Writing This Year

Whether writing serves as your bread and butter or something that you do to augment your income, upping your writing game this year can generate more clients for you. First off, if you've been writing on automatic pilot all this time, it's time to consider writing from your heart instead. Naturally, you will have to write content according to your client's specifications. However, if your content creation is more focused on the technical side of coming up with a grammatically correct article instead of tapping into your creative genius—which all true-blue writers are one way or another—you shouldn't be surprised if a request for a rewrite comes along.

With the exception of technical writing requests from clients (such as straightforward software descriptions and usage), tapping into your creativity will give you an edge over writers who create content focused solely on handing over a grammatically correct piece . Something creative is better than something that reads like it was written by a machine using a template.

Note: This isn't to say that good grammar doesn't play a role in the writing process. Submitting an article with grammar errors should be a big no-no for any writer, creative or otherwise, especially if you're expecting to receive remuneration for work submitted.

Write, edit, and proofread. Repeat.

It doesn't matter whatever type of article you're writing and for whichever client. Once you've completed your piece, it's important to go over it one more time. Consider this as your first draft, and you need to check it for facts and grammar. An article can easily come up short of what the client expected either because the article lacks certain bits of information that would have made it more appealing to target audiences or the facts were not as factual after all. For instance, if you're using statistical data to back a point in your article, make sure that these are based on the latest information, or at least the only one currently available publicly. (In which case, it's always best to state this little bit of information.)

After you've gone over the first draft and made the necessary changes, it's time to go over it once more; this time, to proofread. Check for grammatical errors. Be conscious about the singular and plural forms of your nouns and helping verbs. This is one of the most common areas that writers tend to overlook. Even with a grammar check app on your document writing program, manual checking is still the best way to make sure that all noun and verb agreements are consistent.

When you're done with the whole writing, editing, and proofreading process, it won't hurt to give your article just one last go over. Remember that a well-written piece reflects not only your talent, but also your professionalism. And professionalism is always on top of clients' lists when looking for a writer. In other words, the quality of your output will determine your chances of a repeat business with your clients.

To help you edit and proofread, as well as check the readability of your content, consider the following apps:

1. Hemingway Appis a proofreading tool that can help writers create output that's concise and easy to read. The app will highlight long and complex sentences, alerting you that audiences may find them hard to read and understand. This is your cue to break down the idea into smaller sentences, using simpler words.

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2. Grammarlyis a tool that, apart from finding grammatical errors and spelling mistakes in your article, also notifies you if a certain phrase or sentence (or groups of phrases and sentences) have already been used verbatim, which means it checks for plagiarized work as well.

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3. Juicy Studiois a free tool that you can use to check the readability of your content. This tool utilizes the following readability algorithms: Gunning Fog Index, Flesch Reading Ease, and Flesch-Kincaid Grade.

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4. Gingeris your all-in-one writing app. Apart from providing a tool to check for grammar errors, this app also helps you with sentence restructuring, content translation into several languages, and vocabulary enhancement. Plus, it has an analyzer that informs you which part of your writing techniques you should improve on. In other words, it also serves as your free virtual writing instructor.

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Come up with emotionally captivating titles.

As a reader, what's the first thing that catches your attention? The title, right? Whether it's a book or an article you came across on the Internet, the title will always be the one thing that will compel you to stop and look. With that said, coming up with a title that can stimulate an emotion is critical to the outcome of your entire article. This, after all, is the basis of your piece.

How many times have you come across an article whose title was so far off from the content? You probably felt, after reading the piece in its entirety, that it was a complete waste of time. The article simply didn't give justice to the title. Because usually, when you read the title, questions immediately come to mind and you expect the article to answer them—or at least some of them—for you. When this fails to happen, the reader may feel deceived. And if you are speaking for your clients, you should be careful about these things. More than yours, it's your client's reputation on the line here. And with online content, a mistake like this could go viral in a matter of seconds.

With that said, you should consider using a title generator or analyzer app. There are applications for title generation and analysis online and you can use these for free. No downloads necessary. You can use them immediately and get instant results.

5. CoSchedule Headline Analyzerhelps you create an emotionally powerful title. Simply input the title you have in mind and the app will rate the title based on word balance (common, uncommon, emotional, and power words), headline type, and length analysis (characters and word count). The analyzer gives your title an overall score, from 0 to 100%. Needless to say, the lower the score, the less effective the title is.

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6. Portent Title Makeron the other hand, can help you generate a title for your article. You just have to input the main keyword for your article in the subject box and the app will automatically create a title for you—which you may choose whether or not to use, of course. If you would like to generate another title for the same article, change the keyword or subject, but don't stray from the focus of your article so the title will still be relevant to your piece.

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Use visuals.

To make your article more interesting, visuals are always a plus. Including photos in your article will further emphasize the points that you wish to share with your readers. You can use your own photos—if the client allows it—and you could be compensated for it, or you can also use free photos available on the Internet. These are usually shared publicly under the Creative Commons license.

7. Flickrhas thousands of photos online that you can use for free.

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8. FreeImagesis also an online photo-sharing site where thousands of pictures are available for free.

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9. Canvaon the other hand, is a tool for creating your own visuals. There are layouts designed specifically for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. You can also create your own graphics for your blog posts, content marketing, and email headers. Whatever type of content you're creating, Canva has the right tools to help you come up with graphics applicable to the platform you'll be using.

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10. Eye Dropper for Google Chromeis a great tool for obtaining the hex color value of colors that you see on the Internet. This enables you to immediately get the exact hex value specification of the color that you wish to use on your graphics. Eye Dropper is a plug-in for Google Chrome.

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Note: Before you use your own images or photos, or those sourced from the Internet, double-check with your client first if they have their own sets of pictures that they wish to include in—or that you can use for— the article. Using your client's stock images can add a more personal touch to the article.

All of the tools mentioned here, from writing and editing tools to image creation apps, are meant to help you improve your writing game this year. With the freelance writing arena getting more and more competitive, learning new ways to enhance your writing skills and improve your content creation strategies is the best way to ensure that your clients will be happy with your output no matter what type of content they wish for you to write.

But as a gentle reminder, you should first love what you're doing. If you're passionate about writing, you will do all means necessary to ensure that each of your articles is up to par, not only with the standards of your clients, but more importantly, with your own personal standards. 

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