A Career In Freelance Writing: Where Do I Start?

You want to be a full-time freelance writer? Live that best life and use your laptop on the beach to make that money pour in?

Don’t we all.

But starting out can be a bit tough. “How do I start?” “Where do I get writing jobs?” “Do I need examples?” “What do I do to stand out from the competition!?”

I hear this all the time and my best answer is: calm down. These are all valid questions and the answers only really come from trial, error, and experience.

Walk with me.

There are many things you can do to make building your freelance brand and business a lot easier on yourself and much more effective in the long-run:

1) HAVE A PORTFOLIO OF WORK: People want to know that you know what you are doing and can help them without a lot of waiting and uncertainty. If you don’t have a portfolio, build one. Jump into a mock writing project, show you can write, and put it on a platform that allows you to easily share. I use behance: https://www.behance.net/MichaelBTerry, but there are so many to choose from out there. Go with what is comfortable for you.

2) KNOW WHAT TO CHARGE: By the page? By the project? By the word (not recommended)? Having a set price ready to go is truly important as cuts through the bullshit so you can get down to what’s most important to both you and your client: writing and getting paid.

Additionally, STICK…TO…YOUR PRICING.

Clients don’t care if you eat. They only care about getting what they want for the lowest price possible. Unless you are starving, and freelance is your full-time gig, let them know firmly that the price is the price. It can be tough, and they are welcome to get it done cheaper, but the quality of the results (that aren’t yours) may suffer.

3) HAVE A WEBSITE (if you can swing it): When a brand or a business has a fresh, modern, professional website – that both looks great and tells people what they’re all about – it drastically reduces any “fishing” questions (Do you do this kind of writing? Do you have experience?). It’s also essential for building confidence between author and potential client, and again for getting to the heart of the matter: agreeing on a price for a job.

GETTING WRITING JOBS
Now, in terms of getting new clients, there are some networks out there that hire writers and line up jobs for them. These include:

  • WriterAccess
  • Fivr
  • Upwork
  • And others…

These are OK for navigating the waters post-initial launch, but I have found that, more often than not, you’re going to be doing a TON of work, and they don’t really pay you all that much. Remember, your time is just as precious as their cash.

My advice: skip these altogether unless you REALLY need the writing experience.

The one exception I have to this rule is SkyWord. I wrote for them before and they are awesome. However, THEY have to choose YOU as their preferred author, which can leave you a bit hungry if, again, you’re looking to go full-time and will be relying on your writing to eat.

YOUR BEST WRITING GIG RESOURCE
The best resource you can have for this type of gig is Facebook.

Yes, there are groups upon groups that you can sign up with to find people that need authors. There are literally millions of interconnected people, companies, brands, and businesses out there, world-wide, who need reliable, talented writers to create compelling content they can use to further their commercial interests.

This is my favorite so far: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CopywritingJobHub/, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

You can also start doing Facebook Ads for your writing business (they’re not free) that will allow you to watch the leads come rolling in (if your ad is dynamic enough, but you’re a writer, right?).

Be careful though! If you’re not looking to go full-time, if you’re just using writing as a side-hustle, creating Facebook Ads can be a pretty time-consuming (and expensive) process, and can get downright overwhelming at times.

BE READY TO BE HUMAN
By this, I mean be prepared to chat with customers via email and phone and don’t sweat their edits to your work.

Customers have a vision of what they want, and they will make sure your words match that vision, even if that means that they have to drag you kicking and screaming along the way.

It’s best to take your ego out of it, too. Being a writer, even a good one, is a thankless job  – 99% of the time. Don’t expect heaps of praise or even a “thank you.” You’ll never be disappointed.

And, though your customer do trust you as an expert, they ultimately know their business better than you and know what is important to their customers. Let them steer the ship. As long as their check clears, and they’ve had a good run with you, professionally, that’s all you can really ask for.

I hope that this has been helpful for you. I’m really excited you’re starting on the journey towards freelance freedom!

If any of you need someone to help you out, look over some stuff, or just to vent, let me know! As someone who’s been doing this for more than 10 years, I’m always down to help my fellow authors break the 9-5 grind and do things they really love.

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