Jonathan Riley Freelance Writer Spotlight

Jonathan Riley: Freelance Writer Spotlight

nDash’s Managing Editor, Jenn Greenleaf, talks to Jonathan Riley about his background as a freelance writer, his approaches for different projects, his self-published work, and more!

Background: The Highlights

Jonathan Riley is a versatile and experienced writer with a diverse background in various writing disciplines. Since 2014, he has been actively engaged in essay writing, UX writing, blog writing, copywriting, and SEO writing. He covers an array of niches, including financial, entertainment, marketing strategies, news, politics, social sciences, gaming, and games guild.

Jonathan’s strength lies in his ability to possess in-depth knowledge of a wide range of subjects. But when necessary, he uses Google and online resources like JSTOR to access reliable academic journals for comprehensive research.

In addition to his writing prowess, Jonathan has a solid grasp of UX design. That includes creating Wireframes, conducting user experience research, and devising innovative solutions to enhance user experiences both online and offline. His writing career is characterized by dynamic shifts as he adapts to different contracts that may last anywhere from 24 hours to extended periods like 12 months.

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nDash’s Discussion with Jonathan Riley

Jenn: Thank you for your interest in participating in this writer spotlight! Can you tell our readers about your background as a freelance writer?

Jonathan: I’ve been working as a freelance writer doing social media and copywriting, which is sales by print and writing for magazines, since November 2020. I have been working full-time as a freelancer since December 2022.

The bread-and-butter of my work is mainly editorial content and writing copy for various websites. As a freelance writer, you need excellent research skills and adaptability when asked to do work you may have no previous experience with.

I started as a freelance writer in the cosmetics and mental health writing space. I created content for Oriflame Cosmetics and a start-up called Successful Mindset LTD. The content I was creating focused on how organizations can help people with hidden disabilities work effectively in the workforce. This content also addressed how organizations can tackle discrimination, improve work efficiency, and tackle depression and other mental health conditions.

Before starting the contract, I had zero experience with disabilities and cosmetics. But as a freelance writer, you are in continuous personal and professional development.

Jenn: Can you describe how your writing style has evolved since 2014?

Jonathan: In 2014, my writing style was primarily academic and in an essay format due to my previous experiences, primarily at college and university, where the writing style had to be tailored to academic and informed readers.

One significant change in my writing style was targeting my writing for a general audience to make it clear and straightforward. For example, within the United States, the average reading age is 12 to 14 years old. And in the United Kingdom, it is nine years. So, the language being used has to match the reader base of the magazine of the brand that is trying to market products to its consumer base. (Remember, all writing is a form of sale).

Naturally, if you are writing for a magazine like the Guardian UK, the average reading age of that magazine is 14 years old is essential to remember that most people stop learning after finishing High school or not proceeding to higher education. I have learned to keep writing simple, not overcomplicate anything, and always strive to get to the point.

Also, having too much information can be a bad thing because it can hamper the quality of your work. The goal is not to be an informative writer but to inform the correct audience. Finally, I recommend that all people wishing to become freelance writers read the brief if there is one. If not, read the magazine or website.

Jenn: How did nDash become part of your journey as a freelance writer?

Jonathan: As a freelance writer, you can never be sure how much you can earn from month to month. That’s why it’s a great idea to have either several contracts to work on for months or years, as well as access to various clients or earning opportunities on platforms like nDash. That way, if you ever lose one contract or payment is delayed, you will have more financial security and other work opportunities.

As a freelance writer, It’s recommended to make sure your income matches your expenses and preferably plenty of spare money in case of emergencies. The recommendation I follow is it’s best to have nine months of cash in your bank account to cushion yourself. Also, living in either a low-income area or a city can be best, depending upon available opportunities in your current geography. I chose nDash because of the available work with various clients on the platform, and the website is very user-friendly.

The Rest of nDash’s Discussion with Jonathan

Jonathan Riley Beyond writing, Jonathan is a self-published author with valuable skills in social media and Inbound marketing. He has also dabbled in podcast creation, displaying basic knowledge in recording and editing audio and video recordings.

Approachable and helpful, Jonathan is always open to questions and eager to offer advice to his colleagues and fellow writers. He has a sincere desire to support others in their writing endeavors.

Jenn: How do you approach different writing forms, like essays, blogs, copywriting, etc., differently?

Jonathan: It primarily depends on the client’s needs and whether they want a search engine optimization-friendly essay for Google or whether they want the essay to be far more academic. It’s about meeting the client’s needs with the relevant time constraints. An essay can take anything from four hours to five days to complete.

It’s also necessary to factor in any academic research that will be required, and whether the client or yourself has access to online peer-reviewed academic journals is very much dependent on how much detail and research they wish to go into the essay.

As for blogs, copywriting, and articles, they can usually take anything from one hour to four to eight hours, depending on the requirements for the content. For example, does it need to be tailored to have a product placement within the content?

Firstly, I must consider having the knowledge required for any writing work, such as a blog. Secondly, am I confident I can complete this work? Finally, the time constraints and how long this will take me. As a freelance writer, it’s essential to factor in how many hours you plan to work per week and whether or not you wish to work 35 hours or more over five to seven days to stretch the workout through an entire week.

I also think about economics. I would rather work on five articles of a thousand words each within one to two days than an essay that could, depending on the content, be completed within two to seven days.

Jenn: How do you incorporate SEO strategies into your writing?

Jonathan: I primarily include SEO keywords in an article or blog with a keyword in the content’s title, mainly if the client is interested in using SEO. It just depends on what they want. Google’s ranking can also improve when incorporating photos, audio, or video content.

Also, using AI-generated content incorporating individual social media can show Google that human is creating this content. Creating video and audio and gathering photos takes much longer. Therefore, I would need to factor in increased costs for the article due to the work hours.

For SEO keywords, depending on the content size, I normally incorporate 5 to 10 keywords and also use a keyword checker to see if the keyword has been used enough in the blog.

Jenn: You’ve mentioned your work varies significantly month by month due to the contract nature. How do you manage your time and work to meet different client needs?

Jonathan: If I had ten blogs of 800 words to be completed within two days from my experience, providing I have chosen wisely, that work would be completed within two to three days. I usually try to do enough work that I know gives me plenty of extra time should anything unforeseen happen.

Again, regarding my workload, if I had to do four blogs per day, I would keep it to a minimum of 10 to 20 over seven days. This depends on the availability of work; if I know I’m getting £500 to  £1000 a week doing a particular task, I will stay with that task, potentially two pieces of content per day. It would take me between two to six hours, sometimes under and sometimes over; regard to article writing and blog writing, I’ve been doing that since I was 16 years old.

For my writing, I normally write 500 to 1000 words per hour, though I have in the past written a thousand words within 20 minutes. I factor in an average or below average to ensure my work is always delivered on time and that I don’t overwork myself or take on too much work.

It’s also vital to add to anybody who is reading this to remember your time zone because if you have to do your work late or you are low on energy, it is typically a bad idea to work within that frame of mind. Writing is best when you are energetic and have a clear mind. A sleepy or tired writer is just as bad as a drunk driver.

Jenn: Tell us more about your self-published work. What was it about, and what motivated you to self-publish?

Jonathan: I have always loved learning more about the world, but what first inspired me to start writing my content, including books, is that since 2020 I have been writing for other people’s benefit and watching others grow successful by being content creators. But that’s not my primary motivation. I genuinely love the written word and discovering more about the globe.

Furthermore, being a writer and constantly having to research and find and learn new information could provide ample opportunities to lead to either a book development or other content suitable for my Substack or Medium accounts. In the long run, I plan to become a self-sufficient author and combine that with my knowledge of inbound marketing strategies. I want to be an independent author in the marketing, business, historical, geopolitical, economic, and possibly fictional writing genres.

Finally, the part that keeps me motivated is that I enjoy reading. I enjoy understanding the world and individuals, and from these experiences, I love learning. I decided to apply this to a career in authorship. If it succeeds, I will be financially better off, but if it fails, I know I have tried. The love of writing also led me to pursue a career in writing.

In regards to freelance writing, I hope it provides me with the flexibility to have a good income and the flexibility to follow my pursuits in authorship as well as having time for friends and family and hopefully a family of my own someday. We all only have so much time, and it is best to spend that time doing the work we love and, even better, with the people we love.

Jenn: How do you use social media and Inbound marketing skills to promote your writing?

Jonathan: As writers, we are also required in this modern age to be social media influences or micro-influences to promote our skill sets and develop a network of connections. Simply put, I try to highlight my value and reliability to a client or an organization I’m working for or with. Suppose we wish to write for an organization.

In that case, if we have a solid following or even the potential to develop a strong social media presence, we can leverage our followers into a sales funnel for any organization or, at the very least, followers we can share the content we have written which could potentially lead to more views on a website or news organization we are writing for.

The key to the inbound marketing strategy is to develop trust and give meaning to our readers or online followers. In return, that trust in time, providing we keep offering true value, we can turn their support into revenue.

Jenn: Can you tell us about a podcast you’ve created and how you applied your audio and video editing skills?

Jonathan: The podcast I created is linked to my website, Renaissance Humanism. The content size ranges from Five minutes to one-hour videos. The editing software I use is called Movavi Screen Recorder and movie editor. From there, I edit and check the sound quality of my audio and video for streaming on YouTube and for the podcast Spotify.

I have used my audio and voice skills to do a voice-over for a piece of content I have written for OC87 Recovery Diaries. Ultimately, creating a podcast is all about consistency and creating a schedule. Or say to yourself that you will make five pieces of content per week or 52 episodes per year.

It is also imperative to research and understand or have a target audience you wish to select to create your content. Then, build an audience and monetize it.

Jenn: Can you discuss your approach to writing for different niches like entertainment, marketing strategies, political writing, etc.?

Jonathan: The first step is to understand the website, magazine, or target audience. Is there a target reading age? Does the content point to a particular ethnic or social group? For example, African-Americans, the French, LGBT, or some other micro-culture or national-focused website?

Generally, I read as much as possible on a wide range of subjects. I also follow several newsletters like Morning Brew and check multiple sources to ensure that the content I am creating is truthful and relevant to who I am writing for. If I know I’m writing on a particular subject for several months, I follow the relevant podcasts and read material to ensure I am more informed about the content.

If the work is something relatively simple, I can do a quick Google search. I can also check the content already on the client’s website. Then, from this, formulate an idea and send a written pitch. And should they accept it, it transforms into a blog or an article for the website. I would say freelance writing is about being Strategic about your work with the available time.

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your background as a freelance writer!

Work with Jonathan Riley on nDash Today!

Do you have a project that aligns with Jonathan’s background? Check out his writing portfolio to learn more about how his experience can level up your content strategy: Jonathan Riley.