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How to Develop Freelance Academic Writing Skills

In This Article

Freelance academic writing is one of the best freelance ideas for people who enjoy writing. Freelancing allows you to establish your own working pace with no one commanding you what to do. And academic writing is a creative way to make money while exploring different educational topics. But doing this takes skill.

If you expect people to pay you for written dissertation assistance, you have to hone these skills. First, your writing skills, and then your ability to work efficiently as a freelancer. But if you have the desire, everything else is a matter of time. So, let’s discuss how to develop freelance academic writing skills.

How to Develop Freelance Academic Writing Skills

Practice writing on a regular basis

Writing is not unlike Kung Fu. You excel at it through discipline and regular practice. It doesn’t mean you should write every single day. But rather, you should establish a dedicated time for writing every week. For instance, write something every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for two hours a day. It may be an academic paper, an article, or a blog post. Regularity of this process will make you take it seriously. You will become a better writer with every written paper. And you even may find a client who’ll buy your paper written just for practice.

Read about writing

Of course, practice without knowledge is like groping in the dark. You want to broaden your understanding of the process of writing. For this, seek articles on the topic, like this one. Subscribe to a grammar blog. Find experts who share their experience in writing. Or join a community that strives to build each other’s writing skills. Especially, with academic incline.

Without new knowledge about the art of writing, you risk moving in circles. Most mistakes you make in writing come from a lack of understanding of a certain rule. Dig out that rule and make it your acquisition. With some dedication, you will cover all the gaps in your theoretical understanding of writing.

Collect feedback about your skill level

Trees know to grow up, but academic writers have to find out the direction of their growth first. In other words, you have to understand your writing problems. And the best way to do it is to ask for feedback. Also, this is the most uncomfortable way. But the pain is worth it because other people will be able to highlight problematic aspects of your writing. When you digest the blow of realizing that you have problems, you’ll be able to fix them. Feedback gives you a direction in which you should develop your skills.

Proofread other works

Another brilliant way to improve personally is by looking at the work of other beginners. It doesn’t take to be an expert in the trade to see flaws in someone’s writing. And while you may wear pink glasses in a matter of your personal written works, you’re more objective when it comes to estimating the work of others.

For example, you can offer assistance to your student friend. Help them to proofread their text. You’ll see their mistakes and come up with suggestions. You will collect the most common mistakes people do in writing, and it will be easier for you to avoid them.

Explore academic writing styles

When you’ll become a full-blown academic writer, people will ask you to write in different writing styles. That’s why you should comprehend them ahead of time. There are four main writing styles that educational systems use:

  • Expository – the most common writing style in the academic environment. It’s a plain explanation of a certain process or idea to a broad audience. Expository writing incorporates facts and statistics rather than opinions or arguments. The article you are reading is an example of expository writing.
  • Persuasive – Texts of this format have the goal of convincing their reader of a certain viewpoint. They include arguments and defend a certain theory or idea.
  • Narrative – this type of essay includes fiction, historical and other forms of writing that include characters and a narrative. For your freelance academic assignments, you will be often asked to write papers for historical subjects.
  • Descriptive – this style is less common in academic writing but still is a valuable tool to comprehend. This type of writing involves imagery, senses, and metaphors in the text. Its goal is to create a certain emotion in its readers. Poetry is the best example of descriptive writing.

Learn to research

Academic papers are not something that could be easily created from thin air. They provide scientific value and hence require a period of research in their preparation. Even when you’re confident in the subject you are writing on, it is best to research additional materials prior to writing. There will be always something new on the topic, and your knowledge could be incomplete or even wrong. It doesn’t hurt to always research first.

And when you will do your research, try to stay focused. The internet is full of things, and it’s tempting to diverge into something unrelated. To avoid losing your time, or bloating your paper above the norm, research only the items that your subject commands.

Create outlines first

A blank page is a terrifying sight. You look at it and realize, that nothing has been written yet. To combat this situation, throw an outline of your future text on it. This includes writing a plan, headings, and subheadings. When you’ll come up with names for your paragraphs, they will dictate to you what to write under them. It’s easier to fill in the premade sections than to write everything word after word. Here’s an example of a basic outline:

  • Table of contents
  • Introduction
  • Heading 1
  • Heading 2
  • Heading 3
  • Conclusions
  • List of sources

Do not make long pauses

When you begin to write, there will be a temptation to overthink certain moments. It’s good to strive for perfection, but not when it makes you sit on a sentence for hours. If you’re stuck trying to render a certain phrase perfectly, leave It be and move on. You’ll be able to return and polish it later with fresh ideas.

Don’t let your fingers rest, or else your productivity will drop to the ground. It’s better to write a placeholder text, than not produce anything in hours. And if you’re serious about keeping the pace in your writing, consider using a writing assistant that erases your text word by word if you are not writing for more than 5 seconds!

Learn citation styles

Citations are an important skill in academic writing. Explore the most common citation styles out there and be ready for any requirement a client throws at you. APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harward are the most common citation styles.

Become accountable

No person can self-motivate themselves forever. Accountability is something that creates additional reasons for you to go forward in terms of your academic writing growth. For this, you can involve a friend, a colleague, or another person who will be interested in checking up on you in your writing journey. Relationships are what motivate us in everything. And when there will be someone whom you don’t want to disappoint, you will feel an additional drive to improve yourself. Accountability is about you sharing your tasks, achievements, and failures with a person who cares about them. 

Establish a productive working environment

Freelance work sounds great on paper, but in reality, it has a lot of challenges. One of them is being constantly distracted by your roommates, house chores, noises, and simply a comfortable environment that demotivates your working spirit. To deal with this you want to establish a secure working space that doesn’t feel like your bed. And also, a specific routine that will make you and everyone around you respect your working hours.

Pay attention to clients’ requirements

You have to be careful to not overlook any minor detail in your client’s assignment. Just like with space rocket launching a divergence in one degree can cost you years, an overlooked requirement for an academic paper can make you start over after you’ve finished. Take a moment to meditate on the list of requirements your assignment prescribes. You can also put some effort to render them into concise points of what needs to be done and always keep this list near you.

Be mindful

And finally, you won’t be able to achieve much if you avoid a healthy way of life. Sleep 7 to 9 hours per day and go to bed at 11 p. m. or earlier. Eat enough vitamins. Work during your most productive hours of the day. Stretch between long sitting sessions.


After reading this guide you are equipped with the bulk of everything you need to become a great academic writer. What’s left is practice. Of course, you shouldn’t stop at this piece, and keep reading materials about writing and freelancing. But you are in the right direction already. Don’t be discouraged by any mistakes you make along the way, but use them as stepping stones to excellence! The best academic writers are people who stay true to their goals despite anything.

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Written by Millo Team

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Millo has been serving founders & freelancers since 2009. We are a team of experienced freelancers ourselves with over 30 years of combined freelancing experience. This piece was written by multiple members of our expert staff.

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