If you’re thinking of tentatively placing one foot into the vast ocean of freelance writing, but find yourself quickly withdrawing your toes out of fear of being swamped or even worse – drowning, in the world of information there is on this subject then you need to take a simple step back and assess what your primary motives are for pursuing this career goal.
Will writing for a living make you happy, fulfill you in some way, or do you just like the idea of being your own boss and working from home?
Chances are it’s probably both. But the truth is that like any other job in the world, you have to work for it in order to achieve it. If you want the results, then you need to put the effort in for maximum returns. This means understanding where you’re currently at and what freelance writing can do for you.
Set yourself clearly defined goals
Visualise what kind of writer you want to be. Do you want to be a six figure copywriter or would you rather write a few blog posts in exchange for a steady monthly paycheck? Both are possible, it just depends what you’re looking for and what your goals are in tandem with your beliefs and how freelance writing can slot into your lifestyle.
Assess your current skill set
Are you a specialist in a certain subject? Do you love writing about medicine, alternative therapies, health and fitness? Perhaps you’re a DIY expert or have knowledge on a plethora of topics. Look at what you enjoy doing, your current skill set and learn how to improve and expand on that knowledge where necessary. If you’re the go to expert on a particular subject then you’ll already have a head start because your knowledge and experience will set you apart from the rest.
Do what you enjoy
That being said, it’s very important that you write about what you enjoy. Don’t just write for profit (although of course that will inevitably be the end goal if you want to make a living from freelance writing). Ultimately, if you want to commit to writing in the long term then you need to write from a place of enjoyment. So write about what you enjoy and it makes sense that writing on these topics will soon become a permanent habit that you look forward to engaging in every day.
Stephen King once eloquently said:
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
There is definitely something to be said for reading widely, not just on your chosen subject but in general too. Reading on a daily basis, whether it be educational, non-fiction or fiction is an important tool that will stand you in good stead when it comes to knowing what to write about and most importantly, understanding what makes people tick. It doesn’t necessarily have to be books either – articles, studies, even audiobooks can help to ‘fire up’ your mind’s neural networks and get the creative juices flowing – inspiring your writing in the process.
Being on social media is pretty much imperative. There are more than one billion people active on Facebook and more than 100 million people use Instagram every month. If you’re not actively promoting yourself on social media, you’re missing out on attracting new clients or potential leads who could read your writing, enjoy what you have to say and promote you to their audiences in return. They may well be so impressed that they will then want you to do the same for them. At the very least, have a facebook or twitter account and share your blog posts on there regularly, using hashtags to get yourself discovered.
Half the battle with freelance writing is having a consistent income. In the very beginning stages you will need to market yourself frequently to ensure that your name gets out there, whether this be on social media; Linkedin, facebook, twitter or even arranging to meet a potential client on Skype or in person. Go along to your local Chamber of Commerce, get business cards or leaflets printed, promote yourself to trades people and start seeing how quickly in demand your writing services become. If all else fails, get yourself a ‘cold calling’ checklist of businesses you’d like to write for and start emailing or calling the list on a daily basis.
Manage your time
It’s all too easy to spend too much time at your desk, writing the hours away at the expense of having a social or home life. Whatever happens, the best plan of action is to stay calm and learn how to schedule your time efficiently. There will be times when you may want to cry when a client comes back to you for the twelfth time asking for changes on a writing project you’re working on, but don’t despair – it happens to the best of us.
Remember not to take it personally, clients simply have certain requirements and sometimes getting to know what they’re after can take some time and strategizing to get right. Stay consistent (and caffeinated if needs be!) and you’ll get there, no matter how long it takes to reach project completion.
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