It’s always nice to get a compliment on your writing, especially when you work hard on a piece.
These days, though, I see such kudos differently. Before, being a good writer meant producing a story that inspired and resonated with the audience. Now that I’m a freelance writer supporting various clients, I believe the expression “you’re a good writer” encompasses much more than one’s ability with words. In addition to writing chops, a good writer:
- Is punctual. This may seem obvious, but reliability speaks volumes. Good writers make their deadlines, because clients have newsletters, blogs, or publications to fill. A missed deadline could mean the client has to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Good writers also arrive on time to online meetings or phone calls.
- Offers good ideas. When a client asks me for feedback or suggestions, I give it. Oftentimes a client doesn’t have all the answers. They see me as a writing consultant.
- Is easy to work with. Nobody likes working with a prima donna. Good writers don’t complain or make excuses or blame the dog for a mistake. Instead, they handle situations with grace and tact.
- Treats others with respect. Good writers not only work with their clients, but also with subject matter experts, CEOs, admins, payroll, procurement departments, you name it. No matter who we deal with in an organization, we recognize that each person is an extension of the client, and therefore deserves our respect.
I’m not downplaying talent. Clearly a good writer knows how to structure a story, use quotes effectively, target the audience, choose the appropriate tone, and throw in SEO as needed.
But what separates really good writers from the just OK ones — at least in my industry as a freelancer — is professionalism and the desire to make every client/writer interaction a positive experience.
Bonnie Nicholls is a freelance writer specializing in thought leadership content: case studies, articles, white papers/ebooks and blog posts. She supports industries such as Agile/Scrum, defense, cybersecurity, and business services.