#5onFri: Five Types of Non-Fiction Freelancers Should Master

by Jennifer Xue
published in Writing

As a freelance writer, I have written for and on behalf of celebrities, CEOs, public companies, private businesses, newspapers, print magazines, online publications, startups, and regular Janes and Joes. One day my writing was voicing a C-level recruitment agency’s, the next I wrote for an online publication for professionals.

Being a Jill-of-All-Trades is an understatement, as I have to literally switch my thinking patterns and writing styles completely, often several times a day. Over the years, I’ve trained my brain to shift from being analytical to descriptive or, even, opinionated in a breeze.

If you’re a freelance writer like me, it would be beneficial to master several non-fiction writing types, so you can accept more clients and write for more publications. Here are the five types I’ve mastered, which I believe would be beneficial to all non-fiction writers.

1) Op-Ed

My first published article was an op-ed article. It’s an article written to voice an opinion that’s in opposition of the editorial, or to deliver a specific public message. It starts with a defined point and is written with clarity and strong voice. The Journalist Resource of Harvard Kennedy School covers this nicely.

2) Inverted Pyramid

This type of writing is mostly used for news writing, including in online publications that cover news. It primarily refers to a structure in which the most important and the heaviest information goes at the top of the story and the least important at the bottom. A good reference on writing inverted-pyramid news stories can be found here.

3) Personal Essay

Many top publications publish personal essays, so it’s something worth learning. While it’s “personal,” you’d need to focus on how the readers would perceive your personality based on the story. So, the focus is still the readers. Start with a strong hook, find an angle to show (not tell) the story, and conclude with a thought-provoking statement that readers can relate to. Grammarly has a good resource for writing personal essays.

4) Storytelling

When you’re working for a business client, most likely, you’d need to tell stories about the company, their products, or their customers. Success stories or case stories are today’s staple in increasing business or product value. It’s all about using the most suitable structure and wrapping a story around it. The Dummies Series has eleven strong story structures for business storytelling for you to start with.

5) Content Marketing

In this Internet era, writers should be familiar with content marketing writing, because almost every piece of writing you see online is some sort of “content marketing.” Why is it called “content marketing”? Because whatever your content is, it wouldn’t be read or, even, clicked without its “marketing element.” And without any traffic, there is no point in producing any piece of content or having an online presence or business. Here is a good source to answer what “content marketing” is.

Today’s freelance writers must equip themselves with several types of writing, so they can leverage their skills better by reaching more clients and audiences. You may, of course, specialize the topic or subject matter. However, you should be ready to deliver in various formats and structures.

Jennifer Xue is an award-winning author, columnist, digital strategist, and serial entrepreneur based in Northern California. Her byline has appeared in Forbes, Fortune, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Business.com, Business2Community, Good Men Project, Addicted2Success, Positively Positive, and others. Her blog is JenniferXue.com. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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