The idea of making a living as a freelance writer appeals to many people and yet, they often don’t know where to begin. It can be overwhelming to figure out how to start freelance writing, which is why so many never get past the dreaming stage. However, it is possible to make a living as a freelance writer as I have done. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Set Goals And Have Realistic Expectations
First, you need to set some goals and know where you want to go. If you fail to do this step, you could end up getting nowhere. With so many avenues available to freelance writers, you may dabble here and there without succeeding in any area.
Is your goal to become a fiction writer or are you interested in writing nonfiction? Do you want to write for print magazines or for websites and online magazines? Based on your overall goals, you will determine what your next step should be.
You also must think about making money. The way to start freelance writing is different for someone who just wants to write and hopes to make a little money on the side versus someone who wants to make their living in this career.
If your goal is to make your sole living as a writer, you should set milestones along the way. For instance, you may create a list like the following:
- Make $100 a week for the first month.
- Make $1000 in a month.
- Increase to $2000 per month within six months.
When you have goals for your income, you have a way to measure your success. You’ll also need to be sure your goals are realistic. As with any other career path, you will need to start at the bottom and work your way up as you develop a reputation and grow your portfolio. New freelance writers also tend to take more time to finish tasks than freelance writers who have years of experience. As you progress along your career, you’ll learn some tricks on how to get things done faster without sacrificing quality.
Build Your Initial Portfolio
While you may be tempted to write first and find a place to accept what you wrote, a professional freelance writer does it the other way around. They find out what clients and potential clients want them to write and that is what they create.
You can enter a search term for “freelance writing jobs” to find many different options. However, the first place to begin is often by creating a portfolio. An effective and fun way to do that is to find sites that allow you to post your content online with your name attached. Even if you need to do this for free at first, it is worth being able to get some exposure and show proof of your skills.
One of the great places to start out is Hubpages. You can create a profile and write about anything you want. However, it is a good idea to read what others have written first and discover what is popular. Then, you can create something that others will want to read. It also gives you a chance to see your name and work in print, which is a fabulous feeling for beginning writers. Another similar site is Ezinearticles.com.
Another route you can take is by contacting blog owners and asking if you could write a free article for them and all you ask is for your name to be attached. It’s best to contact owners of smaller blogs vs. trying to go after larger companies or blogs that employ a dozen writers of their own. Let them know you’re trying to become a freelance writer and you simply want to use the article as a part of your portfolio. Very few bloggers would reject this idea. Plus, if the blog owner likes your article, you might just score a new client!
Create a Resume
Not every place will require a resume, but it is a good idea to have a good resume hand. Some corporate or business clients and content companies will ask for a resume. It is also a good point of reference when you are writing a cover letter to sell yourself and your writing. Even if your writing stands alone, you may need to prove that you have a background in certain categories.
Don’t forget to include any volunteer work or other special experience. If you are interested in writing on a subject, show why clients should hire you. Let them know that you are knowledgeable about the topic.
Find Your First Paying Jobs
If you really want to be taken seriously as a freelance writer, you have to start looking for work. You can send out queries or letters of introduction or submit writing tests, but you must search for places that will take your writing and actually pay you for it.
Many content sites are looking for new writers. One of the most popular and easiest to break into is Textbroker. You submit a few pieces of writing as a test, which are graded. If you pass, you are given a rating and you can find jobs that fall within your rating. Other content sites work differently, but they all have one thing in common. They are a good option for beginning writers who don’t know where else to start and need to begin earning money.
This topic is something that can’t be summed up in a few short paragraphs, so check out this article on how to find freelance writing opportunities when you’re just getting started.
Learn From the Pros
You don’t want to stay on the same beginning content sites forever. You want to work your way up in the world of freelance writing, which is why you want to follow those who have been successful. Find freelance writers with blogs that detail their experiences and read everything you can. Some of their methods will work for you and others won’t be a good fit. The key is to have a learning attitude and find your own path to success.
You can also join writers’ associations where you will receive support, advice and even education with special courses and online seminars. Writing is a solitary career, but you don’t have to go it alone. Find groups that can help you and offer advice and encouragement to help you get started. Entrepreneur groups and local business networking groups exist all over the country. There is likely one in your area. Once you have made it as a writer, you can return the favor with the next new writers.
Treat Writing Like a Business
Begin on the right foot with your writing by keeping track of your time and expenses. Open up a bank account or at least a PayPal account since that is how a lot of clients and companies pay writers today. Be organized with your paperwork to make filing taxes easier and to track how successful you are. It is much more difficult to go back later and find everything than if you start out on the right foot. While many people don’t want to spend the money to form a business such as an LLC., once you start earning a decent amount of income it is a very worthwhile investment both for tax and liability purposes.
Figuring out how to start freelance writing is not as difficult and mysterious as it once was now that more options are available on the internet. You still need to have good basic grammar skills and a talent for writing. However, true success comes more from hard work and being willing to learn than from being gifted. If it is your dream to become a writer, get out there and take the first step to realizing your dream.