Do you dream of having a thriving freelance writing career?
There are millions of wanna-be writers out there who dream of the work-at-home lifestyle, raking in the dollar bills, enjoying mid-day yoga classes, and sipping coffee with their cat sleeping peacefully on their laps. Most writers have wild imaginations, but they don’t have the skills or the knowledge to back up these dreams.
It takes more than a journalism degree and cold calling to make it in the freelance world. These five strategies will help you get started on your way to a thriving freelance career. By the way, I can tell you that sleeping cats on the lap are overrated – they never sit still and are known to send illegible emails without your knowledge but you can get cash loans speedy.
1. Don’t say no to anything (well, almost anything)
You may be very confident in your writing abilities, but that confidence doesn’t translate to making money. Many writers believe that because they have been writing stories since they were 3, they shouldn’t have to do anything for free. While there is definitely a debate in the writing world around writing to gain experience or exposure, and my opinion may not be appreciated by many experienced writers, doing anything you can for exposure and experience is an important first step in actually making it.
I started my current position as a writer making one cent a word and I’m now the Director of our company. I wasn’t afraid to say yes, but I also wasn’t afraid to ask for more when I felt I had proven my worth. Everyone has to start somewhere, and whether that’s by doing a free trial article or guest posting with various publications, building a beautiful portfolio of varied work is very important in the freelance world.
Even after 25 years of writing, I’m still writing for free when I need to. The article that you’re reading right now? Completely free. Why would I do that? Because by writing this guest post, I’m getting valuable backlinks to my website, I’m espousing my thought knowledge for a great audience, and I’m continuing to build my portfolio with worthy, relevant, and new content.
By giving the opportunities that are presented to you a chance, you might find that they flourish and so does your career. That said, know when to walk away if you are asked for too much or the potential client seems shady. Betting on yourself is a great way to get started.
2. Always do what you say you are going to
In the business and the freelance world, integrity is uber-important if you want a steady stream of freelance writing jobs. Doing what you say you are going to do should not only be your mantra, it should be painted on your wall in bright colors. In the harried world of content, deadlines are paramount and if you aren’t meeting them, you aren’t even doing the minimum expected of you. When you are assigned a project, be sure that the expectations are clear and that you can actually handle the workload before committing to it.
Most clients would rather hear that you need extra time from the start, then have you make an excuse when you aren’t done the work. Whatever you do, never copy and paste from another site without attributing the source. Plagiarism is rampant in the content world, and while you want to make a name for yourself, don’t let that name be ‘liar.’
If you are making excuses, contrived or not, don’t expect your career to flourish. Find a way to run those excuses out of your life and respect your commitments. The number of excuses I’ve heard throughout my career about why work is substandard or not complete is laughable, and those writers no longer work on my team. Everyone has a family, and medical emergencies, weather issues, and internet troubles, but if you can still persevere regardless, you’ll ensure that your career stays on the path that you intend.
When my son was born two weeks early, I took my laptop with me to the hospital so that I could finish a project I was almost ready to deliver on. As a freelancer, you don’t have the opportunities that traditional employees have to leave clients in the lurch. If you want to keep those clients, you have to do what you say you are going to do, regardless if a baby tries to derail those efforts.
3. Find a specialty
As I said above, there are millions of writers trying to make a name in this business. You can stand out by finding a niche and becoming a superhero in it. If you can prove yourself to be an expert real estate copywriter or know the ins and outs of digital marketing, you’ll be two steps ahead of all of those other writers I mentioned.
One word of advice is to find a niche that you love. Don’t become a technology writer if thinking about tech makes you want to have a nap on your desk. On the other hand, don’t choose a topic with an overly-saturated market of writers, unless you know that you have skills and expertise that will beat out most other writers in that niche. Choose something you believe in and feel you can write fluidly and with knowledge in a way that has your clients begging for more.
4. Build relationships
In almost any career, relationships are paramount. In a freelance writing career, your relationships are the lifeblood of what you do. Networking and soliciting clients should be a major part of your daily routine as a freelance writer. Don’t rely on your current clients to carry you through the winter. Be proactive and always be building relationships so you can take yourself to the next level.
You may feel like you are too busy to network, because you have too much work, but that work could drop off at anytime, leaving you with little-to-no income coming in. The best ways to build relationships as a freelancer is to just get yourself out there – on social media, commenting on blog posts, reaching out to influencers, and writing guest posts (see strategy number one!).
5. Create a portfolio
Whether you’re a working freelancer or not, you should be building a portfolio of work that you can show off and get yourself more work. Build yourself a website where you can showcase your best work or look into the many free options available online.
As well, you should have an active presence on social media, where you are publishing the links to your content regularly. You may just gain a client or two simply through a social media search that brings up your work. This is another task that should be on your weekly to-do list and shouldn’t be left for dead when your paid work piles up. Marketing yourself regularly is the best way to become successful as a freelance professional.
Build yourself a thriving freelance writing career.
A thriving freelance career is up for grabs for any writer who is willing to sacrifice their time and set aside their ill-conceived expectations. These five strategies should get you started on the right track towards becoming a successful writer.