9 Tips to be a Successful Freelance Writer
I've been writing as a full-time gig since September of 2013. It's not always an easy path, when you eat what you kill, so to speak, there are often times of feast and famine. Freelance writing while not high on security, does provide plenty of flexibility. For me the flexibilty more than pays off for what I may or may not put in the bank. As a sinlge parent I am able to take care of my kids when they are sick, pop over to the school for parties and be available in a way that I wasn't when I worked a 'day job.' My day job created a huge amount of stress for me, as the structure of the job often conflicted with my children's schedule. There was a year when my son was in pre-school, when he got out of school 15 minutes before I got off of work, I had to have him bussed to a daycare for 10 minutes at the cost $115 per week. That job was at a hospital and if there were times I had to leave because my son was sick (he had strep throat 3 times 1 winter), the stress of losing my job became a real issue. I knew something had to change and so I began to think of a making a living in a different way. I met a lady who was working from home making $10 an hour writing 'content', I asked her a few questions and started a new journey. Along the way I learned a few things that have made it possible for me to be modestly successful and I'm happy to share them with anyone who has aspirations to be a freelance writer.
Hone Your Craft
To be a successful writer, you have to know how to write. Might seem obvious, but it is actually quite tricky. The first job I took was writing a 1000 word article for $20, and it took me days. Practice writing listicles, product descriptions and short 500 word articles about topics and things that you know, this will help you to learn your craft and also give you some portfolio pieces when you are first starting out.
Know Your Niche
What is your niche or area of specialty? Start with topics that you know, as they will be easier to write about. You can use your education or experiences in life to promotoe your area of expertise and as you write more about your topics you will be able to build a good reputation. As you take on jobs with topics you aren't familiar with you'll quickly realize that the fastest way to learn about a topic is to write about it and you caneasily become a subject matter expert in areas you never imagined.
Write a Blog/Guest Blog
Start your own blog, write about your experiences writing, write about the topics you know. A blog is useful as you can direct clients to it to view your writing and let people know you are available for writing. Guest blogging also gets your name and writing on other sites and is more experience and recognition for you.
Create a Workspace
No matter what you think freelance writing is, I am going to tell you, it's work. You will need to have a workspace that is quiet and free from distraction. For you that could mean a quiet corner in the library or coffee shop or it could mean a room in your house. Don't short change yourself, if you are considering freelance writing as a profession, set yourself up for professionalism.
Keep a Schedule
While freelance writing is flexible, don't confuse that with erratic. Depending on the volume of work you have and when your deadlines are, set regualr work hours. On a regular basis, I set my work hours around my kids schedule and a yoga class I like to take, but I schedule uninterrupted work hours, which means I don't surf the interent or chat endlessly with folks at the coffee shop.
I spend time everyday applying for jobs. Typically I apply to 10 jobs for every 1 that I take. I have accounts on 2 online platforms: www.freelancer.com and www.upwork.com (if you want to hire me, my user name is biladaba). Finding work takes consistency and the ability to let people know that you want to work, for reference read the previous sentence. I have a writing specific resume that I send to local advertised jobs and to marketing agencies. I pitch advertised jobs and I also pitch ideas to publications that I'd like to write for.
Set Yourself Apart
This is harder than it seems, the online marketplace competition is tough and there are loads of talented people who will work for the same rate or less than you. Always use proper grammar and greetings in your interactions with clients, meet deadlines and answer messages. Deliver your projects on time and deliver content that is original and engaging. If you have an onlinework platform profile use a professional looking headshot, don't use a picture from a party or a bathroom selfie. Use a photo the client could use if they want to give author credit to your work
Know Your Worth
I'm still figuring this one out. I have written the same type of project for $50, $300 and $600. If work is slow and I like the project I will take it on for less than my usual rate, especially if I know I can turn it around quickly. I don't take jobs that offer a bait (write this 1000 word article for $5 and if you do a good job, I'll hire you again). You should have a good idea of how much work a project will take and know on average how much you need or want to make an hour. Sometimes I will accept a reasonable counter offer from a client, but I've found if a client haggles too much there will be other problems with the project.
Take Rejection, Feedback and be Resilient
You'll apply to countless jobs that wiill never reply to you, a few clients will give you scathing feedback and it can be depresssing. My best advice is to keep applying to jobs with professional pitches, and to take the feedback without judgement and to simply make the edits/revisions that the client wants. The easiest way to avoid negative feedback is to to have a clear outline of the work before you start the project, which involves asking your client for clear direction.
I hope these tips help you to become a successful and gainfully employed freelance writer. Remeber to enjoy the journey and your work. When you enjoy your work, it isn't work, and clients become partners in mutual success, while you get to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of working on your schedule and your terms