Are you thinking about becoming a freelance writer, but worried that you won’t be able to make a living? Quitting your job tomorrow probably isn’t the best idea, but if you have excellent writing skills, a strong work ethic, and a computer, over time, you should be able to earn a decent living as a freelance writer.
Tips for becoming a successful freelance writer:
Write a lot.
Start here. Before you look for job websites. Whether you volunteer to take on writing responsibilities at work, start your own blog, or just keep a dream journal, writing takes practice. The more you write, the faster and better you will get at it. This will help working on different assignments once you start writing for money. Here is an article on the importance of practice.
Try different styles of writing.
Once you have made writing a habit in your life, get out of your comfort zone. Try writing an article in AP style one day, then write limericks about the people you see at the gym the next. Some of the writing assignments you get as a freelance writer may have demands you’re not used to. Learn how to work through this discomfort now. Here is a list of writing prompts to get you started.
Know your strengths.
Your hobbies, your lifestyle, and your interests will all make you a better writer. When you start looking for jobs, writing about the things that already interest you will be faster, easier, and more enjoyable than writing about things you find boring.
Study and read about writing.
Writing at home alone in your room and not letting anybody read it is fine to get started, but eventually, taking some writing classes will help you earn some credibility as a writer. If you do take a writing course make sure it is from a reputable school. If you can’t afford to enroll in a class immediately, head to the writing section of your local library or bookstore. You will find resources that will help you with your writing.
Find out who is hiring writers.
Once you are comfortable writing, it’s time to dive into the deep end. There are websites known as “content mills” that post writing jobs online. While you are not likely to get credit or a lot of money, working for these sites will help to build your confidence and teach you how to deal with clients. Textbroker is one example of a content mill where you’ll be able to apply and start getting paid for your writing within a week or two.
Start to aim for higher paying jobs.
While content mills are not bad to start out with, eventually you will want to start getting credit for your work. It would also be nice to actually make enough money to pay your rent, which is very hard to do on a content mill. There are a few different sites that have higher paying writing jobs. One of them is Upwork.
Learn how to promote yourself.
As you work your way to higher paying writing jobs, you will need to learn how to brand yourself as a writer. You can do this through social media for the general public, but you will also need to do this to apply to writing jobs. Yes, part of writing is selling yourself to clients. This means putting together a portfolio of writing samples and learning to write cover letters targeted at specific job and target. Fortunately, steps 1-5 of this list will help you build your portfolio and give you the confidence you need to sell yourself.
Don’t work for free.
At least, not by accident. Make sure that you have a clear contract with your clients with deadlines and payment plans before you get started If you work on a site like Upwork, they will guarantee payment in case someone tries to scam you as long as you have a contract. If you take care of payment yourself, there is no guarantee other than only working with people who you know to be trustworthy.
Charge a fair rate for your work.
It may be tempting to work for little to no money when you’re starting out, but it may make it harder for you to demand a higher rate later in your career. Here is a link to the Editorial Freelance Association’s fair rates for a variety of different writers.
Produce high quality writing.
Work hard to give your client what they want, every single time. There are going to be times that you work on projects that may not appeal to you. When this happens, complete the job by the deadline anyway, and then don’t turn to that client for more work. Try to finish all of your jobs as early as possible to give your client time to give you feedback before the deadline. Proofread everything. Also, don’t write about anything you don’t believe in. If you think you’re writing content that will be used to scam something or you are encouraged to supply false information, try not to take the job.
Never stop writing for fun!
Never forget to write for yourself. Did you want to become a writer so you could write articles for someone else’s blog? Be your own client on a regular basis, and work on your craft. This will help you to keep enjoying writing. It will also provide writing samples for your portfolio, and eventually you may end up with finished pieces to submit for publication, which will only help you to earn more money through writing.
It does take time and effort to start a writing career, but if it is something you have been dreaming about, it is definitely worth trying. The sooner you start, the sooner you will be able to start supporting yourself with your writing!