I have found the following ten guidelines to be helpful in the development of my skills as an academic freelancer. Do you agree?
1. Hone your style
The development of your own writing styles comes with practice and time. Yet there are exercises you can do in order to hone your style. The way you write a paper should be your own unique style and not an attempt to write like anyone else, no matter how skilled that person may be. The papers you write should always have a flow, and they should be both easy and interesting to read. Easy does not imply simplicity. It implies an effort to create a piece that provides all the necessary components of the essay in a style that makes it genuinely interesting for the reader.
2. Learn all the citation styles
There is no way to become an academic writer if you don't know the various citation styles. The most commonly used styles are; APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian. Some would suggest that the final two are the same but the Turabian style is modeled on the Chicago style with slight variations.
3. Develop your research skills
A good academic writer is first and foremost a good researcher. Research skills, like writing, take time to develop. It is worth the time and effort to avail yourself of the various databases available to you via the Internet, and in the libraries if necessary. Some of the more common ones are EBSCO, PSYCHMED, MEDNET, and QUESTIA. Spend some time with each one of them so that you can find materials quickly. Research for academic writing should also go fairly quickly, as one often doesn't have time for days of research, but rather only a few hours. This will depend on the project.
4. Develop an understanding of various essay forms
Ie. Research essay versus Argumentative essay. It is essential that one learns how to write the various types of essays. There is a different flow and the client will expect that you will understand how to develop a coherent academic argument, versus the development of an outline for a research project.
5. Become familiar with what constitutes plagiarism
There is no place for plagiarism in academic (or any type of) writing. It is imperative that you familiarize yourself with the rules and always pay very close attention to them in the writing process.
6. Learn how to re-write and edit your own work
It is often said that good writers are the best re-writers. A skilled writer will constantly review the paper throughout the writing process, and know when something needs to be edited or re-written.
7. Develop skills in customer service
Another skill you will benefit by is a little bit of customer service and communications. Clients, like everyone else, like to be spoken to with respect and kindness. It is your role to be professional at all times.
8. Learn to accept critiques of your work
Never assume that your work is perfect. If the client, or company advises you that edits or revisions required, the only thing you say in response to this is: "Please advise me what needs to be done."
9. Accept your limitations - Work in the field of your expertise
Another essential skill is to write only in the field of your expertise. It may be tempting to take on an interesting subject, but if it's not your area then don't attempt to do this.
10. Always check your work before you submit
Check the work, then submit. You'd be surprised how many mistakes you might have ommited ;-).