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How to Get Started as an Online Freelance Writer

It takes certain qualities to be a freelance writer, but if you’ve determined that you have what it takes, the next step is getting started. Here are a few practical and critical things to do as you break into a competitive, oversaturated field:

  • Don’t be too proud to ask for help
  • Constantly build your portfolio
  • Finding clients is a priority
  • Determine a niche and perfect it
  • Don’t expect overnight success

Ask for Help

Think about your writing preferences and expertise. Determine your style and niche and then reach out to individuals or clubs for guidance, tips, and even hookups to potential clients and gigs. A simple Google search will point you to such resources. Don’t forget to tap into your social media connections as well. Networking is an invaluable tool in business that you certainly should leverage in freelance writing.

How is Your Portfolio Looking?

So the big question is: How do you start a portfolio if you’ve never written professionally before? When you’re competing against established writers for work, your blank portfolio isn’t going to look to enticing to prospective clients. First, take a look at a few of these sites designed especially to host writers’ portfolios: portfolio sites.

Content pieces that are suitable for inclusion in your portfolio: press releases, web copy, marketing flyers, posters, blog posts, white papers, academia, even creative work. Imagine yourself as a website owner. What would you look for in a freelance writer? You want someone who can demonstrate an understanding of your field, writing skill, comprehension of grammar, and further than that, a proven ability to convert. Include any positive praise or feedback you have received. If you’re just starting out, that may be from professors, but it will still look good to prospective clients.

Next, work your way through this list to start accumulating your best work to put up on your portfolio:

  • Seek out opportunities to write for friends or colleagues
  • Compile your best academic or personal creative work
  • Write mock copy (content you’ve imagined for your client or a made up company)
  • Write guest blogs or opinion pieces to submit to online magazines (it doesn’t have to be published to include in your portfolio. It just has to be your original work.)
  • Google search pro bono writing jobs and volunteer your writing services

Time to Find Some Clients

Determining what you’re worth is important, and don’t sell yourself short. Heavily research freelance writing rates (definitely talk to your new mentor friends about this too), and establish your rate to start charging.

Get used to asking, “Do you know anyone in need of a good writer?” Also, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out exactly what you want to do and write. Now that you have a portfolio, you can reach out to a client you would love to write for and provide them a link to your portfolio. Even if they don’t respond, it was a worth a shot, and the more direct queries you send out, the more chances you’ll have at getting a positive response.

Don’t forget the usual haunts either. They’re worthwhile venues to check out: Craigslist, Idealist, freelancewritinggigs.com, LinkedIn, and eLance.

What’s Your Niche?

Eventually, as you take on more and more gigs, you’re going to start learning about yourself as a writer. You’ll become more and more familiar with the types of gigs you like most and which you do best at. Your portfolio is going to start showing a strong inclination toward a particular vein and you can start directing your search for new gigs in that direction as well. Before you know it, you’ll be a specialist in a particular kind of copy.

Raise your rates, advertise yourself as an expert, and start honing in on the advantages of having a specialty niche.

Overnight Success is a Fluke

Freelance writing isn’t going to be your full-time job right out of the chute. You may not even want it to be, but if you do, set realistic expectations for the income you will be making as you start out. Make plans to supplement and then with hard work, allow yourself to grow. Soon enough, your results will be commensurate with your efforts and you’ll find yourself juggling gigs.

In fact, here are a few tips to stay organized, since at this point in your journey, you’ll be an established freelance writer.

What has been your greatest hang-up in your freelance writing journey? Share in the comments!

Source

Hamill, Kate. “So you want to be a freelance writer.”https://www.freelancersunion.org/blog/2014/09/10/how-to-start-freelance-writer/. (January 23, 2015.)

How to Make a Living as a Freelance Writer

As a writer, being new to the online writing game is overwhelming. The Internet churns out content on a constant basis—bad, good, and great—and figuring how to insert our voices and where (and then get paid for it) seems like a colossal and intimidating task.

Finding success in writing online will require networking, contributing to and drawing from writing communities like Free Guest Post, and ultimately becoming prolific in what you do. Writers characteristically exist in their earliest stages within a shell of insecurities and inhibitions; we all need to undergo the process of de-shelling to begin contributing our art to the world.

To start, we have to detach our sensitivity from our art and let it become second nature. Writing must become to us what music is to the skilled musician: simply an outpouring of fluid notes, well-versed, well-practiced, and precise. It’s not just our art, but our marketable skill, as easily uncorked and accessible as a singer’s voice.

One way to learn how to do this is to listen to the stories of others who have done it, hear about their pitfalls and successes, and to mimic what worked for them.

Things to Remember as a Freelance Writer

Here are a few practical tips offered in a condensed version of a Q&A session with Billfold contributor, Nicole Dieker, who recently answered fan questions about freelancing processes and best practices.

  1. Your pitch should fit the publication. Smaller publications will have individual submission guidelines that you’ll simply follow. You’ll want to have your piece finished beforehand. Larger publications will require more formality. A query letter will be more appropriate in this situation.
  2. These days, finding the resources for work as an online freelance writer (blog writing, copy editing, and more) is a simple Google search away. Other writers are already doing exactly what you’re setting out to do, and they’re writing about how to do it. Just do some research and use the Internet for the purpose it was intended. To get you started, Dieker provides these two links: a.) Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing, b.) Make a Living Writing.
  3. Ghostwriting comes in two sets: long-form and short-form. Long-form encompasses pieces like book and speeches, and the ghostwriter is credited for the work in the fine print. Short-form covers blog posts and similar pieces for another person’s brand and is published on their name. In this situation, the ghostwriter receives no credit, only compensation for the work. Generally, short-form ghostwriting is not a desirable or lucrative final destination. It should always be thought of as temporary. Seek out situations that allow you to use your own byline and receive credit for your work.
  4. When trying to find a balance between writing for work and writing for pleasure, consider your bliss. Are you enjoying what you’re doing? What’s compelling you to write at all? Both sets will demand to be written in one way or another, and if you can seek out work-writing that you actually enjoy, even better!
  5. Be pleasant. I was about to write professional, but the connotations with that word can mean stiff or formal, so I redacted. You can be fun and engaging, witty and controversial, without being unpleasant to work with. Understanding that healthy networking is key to your success, don’t use social media irresponsibly. Watch your writer’s tongue, which we all know craves the taste of sarcasm, and don’t burn bridges.

To the Keyboard!

The main trick to making it as a writer is to write. A lot. Be prolific, hone your craft, and let the words flow.

What resources have you found that have helped you the most as a freelance writer?

Source

Dieker, Nicole. “Advice to New Freelance Writers: How a Freelance Writer Makes a Living.”http://thebillfold.com/2014/06/advice-to-new-freelance-writers-how-a-freelance-writer-makes-a-living/. (December 9, 2014.)