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Freelance Writing – How to Write Great Product Descriptions for a Website

Posted on : 14-04-2016 | By : admin | In : Freelance Writing

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One of the many freelance copywriter jobs available is to write product descriptions for a website.

Writing Tools by Pete O'Shea on Flickr CC

Writing Tools by Pete O’Shea on Flickr CC

This is a description for each product on an e-commerce site which describes the product, gives a potential customer information on the product, often including dimensions and colour choices as well as materials that it is manufactured from. There can be some scope for creative writing as you describe the product to enable the customer to make a buying choice. A product description will be required for each product on the website, so this job could potentially last a long time, especially if more products are added to the website.

The first product description writing job I got was in the early days of my freelancing career. I was required to write descriptions for a sports and workwear clothing company. The descriptions were written in an Excel spreadsheet which was useful to enable me to know if I had used the exact same description before. There were about 800 products to describe, so it was time-consuming and I had a deadline to keep. I managed to make the deadline, but only by getting up early in order to finish the writing. The vendor was pleased and I was glad that I had managed to finish, but it was hard work.

More commonly these days, product descriptions are written straight into a content management system or CMS. The person who hired you will tell you what they want in each field, so you should be given instructions as to what to write. The information can include a product number or SKU, a product name, manufacturer, and a description.

The description is usually what takes the time. Each description should be unique. It’s not enough just to copy and paste the same description over again. This product information is seen as updating information by Google – new content which encourages the search engine to search the website, so rewriting website product descriptions can be helpful to your search results. The descriptions should not match other similar websites so the more unique the content the better.

However customers need to be able to match the information to what they are looking for. As much information about the product as possible needs to be included such as dimensions and colour choices.

Using Photos

You might be asked to collect and upload photos. You need to make sure that the website owner has the right to use the photos as they may be copyrighted. You may need to own a copy of an image manipulation programme as many websites have been optimised to suit a particular size of photo. This may also mean always using a landscape-orientated photo as opposed to a portrait photo.

It takes time to get into writing and uploading product descriptions, but once it becomes second nature, it can be a great job. You will quickly find yourself becoming knowledgeable about the products that you are writing about. You will probably be asked to upload a few descriptions and have them checked out before continuing with the work. This is a good idea as you can check that you are doing things correctly before getting too far into the work.

It can take a little time for your boss to check over your work and let you know that you are good to go. They may have some suggestions for you to improve your work. Try and follow them as much as possible and if necessary, have them check over your work again. It is better to get it right from the start than find that you have been doing it wrong halfway through the work.

Pricing

Some companies are looking for a fixed price while others want to pay by the hour. Certainly by the hour will give you a more true idea of how long it will take. Some bosses will want you to achieve a certain target number of product descriptions an hour while others will want to negotiate a price for the whole project. Don’t undersell yourself. Writing product descriptions is hard work and slow going in the beginning while you are getting used to what is expected of you. Your hours will almost certainly be more than you expect.

So, DO

  • negotiate price before you begin
  • make sure that what you are doing is what the vendor wants
  • include the time it takes to resize photos and upload them
  • make every description different
  • act professional in your dealings with your boss

but DON’T

  • be late delivering your work. If a problem comes up then talk to your boss and let them know.
  • just plough ahead without checking that your work is ok
  • get upset if you don’t get things right straight away. Everyone needs to know whether what they are doing is right and this is particularly important in copywriting
  • expect it to be easy straight away
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Four More Qualities of Successful Freelance Writers

Posted on : 18-09-2015 | By : admin | In : Enjoying Writing, Freelance Writing, Help with Writing, Uncategorized

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Some people just find writing hard work. The physical effort of putting pen to paper or fingers to keypad just does not do it for them. They are unsure that what they are doing is correct and they find the very act of writing a chore. Other writers love it. They enjoy the physical act of writing, whether it’s on a computer or with a favourite pen and paper. They love the feeling of the words flowing out from the brain and onto the page.

By David Turnbull on Flickr CC

By David Turnbull on Flickr CC

Does that mean it’s always easy? No. Writers’ block is very real and it can sometimes be difficult to find just the right word for the sentence, or to work out exactly what it is that you want to say next, but the enjoyment of the physical act of writing just doesn’t go away, no matter how many words you write. If this is you, then you have the potential to be a freelance writer. Here are some more qualities that you will need:

  1. You enjoy learning about new and different things

If you want to write for a living and get paid for it, then you learn to write about many different things. Sometimes Writing Gurus suggest that the best way to get paid is to find a niche and become an expert writer in that niche. If in a previous life, you were an accountant or an insurance agent, then you might well have a niche if you can blog about your knowledge in an accessible way. Most of us do not have that background, however, so we need to discover what we enjoy writing about, and most importantly, what we can write well about. The ability to discover new, reliable sources as knowledge for what you have been asked to write is a very important part of being freelance writers. A future niche may grow out of that work, if you are engaged to write a lot of material in that area.

  1. You have confidence in Your Writing

Writing confidently is part of writing well. Knowing what you want to say and making sure that it reads well is important to a freelance writer. Offering your work through an editor can help you gain confidence in your writing. It is important that you let others read your work, as they can spot errors that you might not.

  1. You can Proofread Your Writing

On the subject of errors, it is important that you can spot simple grammatical and spelling errors. Spellcheck is a great tool and even those freelance writers who are confident in their writing, use it, but sometimes it will miss a homophone, or a word that sounds the same, but is spelled differently and has a different meaning.

  1. You can Take Criticism

Most freelance writers who have had any clients have not always produced every piece of work perfectly. Quite often a piece of work will be returned with requests for revisions. It’s how you take it which is important. Your client knows what they want, and if you are lucky, they will ask for it. It’s your job to write what they want so no matter whether you disagree with them or not, you should write to their specifications. Always be professional and polite because these clients are paying you to do a job. Always turn in the best work that you can do.

 

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Could You be a Good Freelance Writer? Part 1

Posted on : 04-09-2015 | By : admin | In : Freelance Writing

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If you think that you have to be a perfect writer to be a freelance writer, then think again. Many of the most successful freelance writers do not consider themselves to be perfect, just good at what they do. Many of them bring other skills to their work, such as the ability to network or to research quickly. So what skills do I think you need to become a freelance writer?

 

Writers' Block

Writers’ Block

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Persistence

Persistence is the number one attribute a freelance writer needs. You need persistence to finish a blog post, you need persistence to keep reaching out to people and companies who need your services and you need to be able to keep going when it seems that you are getting nowhere. You will never know where your next job is going to come from. Persist and you will eventually break through.

  1. Good sense of voice (or able to write consistently in one voice)

This is important if you are going to sell your work. Your ‘voice’ is the tone in which your work reads. Some books are very literary in tone – they use long descriptions, unusual words and it can take a long time for any action to happen. This is a style which some readers like and other readers don’t. Other books can seem easy to read: the action bounces along in quick succession, the characters are sketchily drawn and they do not always take the trouble to draw the characters thoroughly. Neither is right nor wrong and most of us fall in the middle. Both kinds of writing draw readers.

Where do you think you are?

Read a piece of your writing and see if you can discover where you are on this scale. The most important thing is that your voice is consistent – it’s no good starting out literary and ending up friendly and jolly. Developing a consistent voice will help you as a freelance writer.

  1. Grammar and Spelling

Contrary to popular opinion, your grammar and spelling does not have to be perfect, however it is useful to have an idea of how it works. Word processing can pick up most of the problems, but it is not always helpful if the spelling is right, but the word has the wrong meaning, or you don’t know which of the options to choose.

If you are very under-confident in using spelling and grammar, then make sure that you always have a link to a dictionary such as Merriam Webster. Don’t be afraid to google sentence structure to make sure that you are getting it right if you need to.

The best way to make sure that you are getting it right is to ask another pair of eyes to look over it. Even the best writers can make mistakes and we all need someone looking over our shoulder to check that what we are producing is right.

The best advice that I can give to a freelance writer starting out is to suggest that they undertake some writing assignments either on a website or real life which requires an editor to check over their work, before it is published. It is the best way to learn writing styles and to ensure that your writing will be polished and ready to sell when you start taking on clients.

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