Tips and Resources for Launching Your Freelance Writing Career
By Miley Linden
Freelance writing is a pretty awesome career path. How many other jobs let you choose your own hours, work from home, and set your own pay rate? Not many! However, you can only consider freelance writing a career if you actually make money.
While there are many benefits of freelance writing, there are a few drawbacks too. Most work-from-home women and stay-at-home moms wear multiple hats. You are probably responsible for cooking, cleaning, laundry, and so much more. As a busy woman, you do not have time to rely on trial and error to find freelance success – you don’t have time to mess around with that nonsense! You need to be making money now! And you need a strategy that will make that happen.
Today, I’m going to help you launch your freelance writing career the right way. I won’t leave you floundering in the unknown. I will tell you exactly what you need to do. Don’t waste your time with low-paying content mills. Be proactive; learn as much as you can, establish a name for yourself, and then go looking for the high-paying jobs.
1. Establish a Support System
If you try to maintain a freelance writing career on your own, you are destined to waste time and make lots of mistakes. Plus, as a beginner, you won’t know much about the prevailing rates. Without tips from other freelancers, you are bound to undercharge clients.
Connect with other freelance writers. Ask questions, get advice, and learn from other writers’ mistakes. Once you have established quality relationships, other freelancers will probably refer you to projects they are too busy for.
There are lots of ways to meet and converse with other freelance writers. Check out these helpful networking opportunities. They offer online chat sessions, forums, mentor programs, e-courses and more:
2. Become Educated
Have you ever had an employer who didn’t offer some sort of on-the-job training or basic orientation? Probably not. And if you did, you probably didn’t stick around long!
Going into a new work environment is intimidating. As a freelance writer, you won’t have a boss to guide you through the first few harrowing months. However, you do have plenty of people who are willing to offer their “been-there, done that” advice. Check out these great resources for freelance writers.
- The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman
- The Wealthy Freelancer by Steve Slaunwhite, Peter Savage, and Ed Gandia
- An Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting, an online course from American Writers & Artists, Inc.
- The Urban Muse by Susan Johnston
3. Make Yourself Known
It may sound obvious, but you’ll never get jobs if no one knows you are interested and available. Put yourself out there in the freelancing world. Make a name for yourself.
- Create a Website
If you want to be taken seriously as a professional freelance writer, then you need to look the part. You absolutely must have a website. Without one, you will look like an amateur – especially if you are searching for online writing gigs.
Don’t hire a professional designer and spend a fortune. All you need is something simple; let your prospects get to know you, provide your contact information, and share samples of your writing capabilities. As your business grows, you can add client testimonials to your site.
Join the National Association of Independent Writers & Editors. Your membership includes a hosted WordPress blog with posts that appear in the association’s blogroll. Plus, NAIWE will retweet your post, offering an extra marketing outlet. On top of all that, you’ll get tons of useful tips and advice in this professional writer’s support organization.
- Claim Your Profile
ZoomInfo automatically accumulates information about everyone on the internet. In addition to the information they’ve acquired, you can add your resume, biography and any other information you think will be useful. Once your writing career is up and running, your posts will automatically be logged.
4. Create a Portfolio
Most paid jobs will require examples of your writing capabilities. So before you go looking for the big bucks, make sure your portfolio is in order. Then, when clients ask for writing samples, you’ll have plenty to offer.
Here are a few suggestions on where to begin.
- Think Alternative
Most alternative papers are eager to receive quality content from new writers. Before you go to the theater, attend a town meeting, or eat at a new restaurant, contact an alternative publication. See if they would be willing to accept a write-up of your experience. Check the Association of Alternative Newsmedia for contact information.
- Be More Than a Fan
Poke around your favorite online reading haunts. Do any of the blogs you subscribe to accept guest contributions?
- Check your Little Black Book
Consider every friend, family member, former business acquaintance, favorite colleague, and common acquaintance. Does anyone you know have a blog? Would they be interested in a few guest posts?
- Be Charitable
Nonprofits are always looking for volunteers. Contact some of your favorite local charities. Offer your writing expertise; see if you can help design flyers, brochures, blog posts, or any other forms of written communication.
5. Find Jobs
Now we are getting to the heart of the matter, right? Obviously, you want to find jobs!
Here are some places to look:
- The Writer’s Market shares information about online magazines, print magazines, trade publications, writing contests and book publishers. One of the most helpful features is the search criteria. Look through online jobs and sort by pay level or keyword.
- Look for both full-time and freelance writing employment opportunities on Journalism Jobs.
- Check out the job board at Media Bistro.
- If you would like to focus specifically on just one industry, look at trade publications.
6. Make Contact
There are various ways to contact a potential client. You can send query letters, letters of introduction or marketing emails. You can cold-call or meet at networking events. Other freelancers choose to use social media to reach out to clients. No matter what your strategy, you are probably interested in a few how-to tips. Here you go!
- The authors of The Renegade Writer offer a 10-pack of magazine query letters to blog subscribers.
- The Media Bistro site offers a listing of How-to-Pitch suggestions.
Good luck with your freelance writing career. Follow these tips and I have no doubt you’ll be a success!
Miley Linden is a full-time freelance writer for FreshEssays.com, an online company that provides college paper writing services. She likes to write on social media, freelancing and literature topics.