If you envision earning a living from your writing and escaping the daily grind of a 9 to 5 job, the Internet presents an exciting and lucrative opportunity for you to realize your dream. Roughly 2.4 billion people worldwide used the Internet to find content online in 2012 alone, according to Pingdom. This ever-growing demand for content online ensures opportunities to earn a decent living as a content writer are plenty. Here are 10 tips to help you make a smooth transition from your day job into the wonderful world of web writing.
1. Don’t give up your day job just yet
No matter how attractive the idea of launching a freelance writing career is to you or how your day job makes you weary, don't give up your day job just yet. Ideally, make the transition from your day job to freelance web writing gradually. In the beginning you are likely to make mistakes freelancing and you might not make enough money to meet bills. This is where your steady pay check comes in handy. Hold on to your day job, at least until you have a reliable anchor client and a better grasp of how freelancing works.
2. Learn the basics first
Read and learn everything you can about writing for the web, from picking a writing niche, structuring web content to finding writing gigs and promoting your writing. Reading and learning the basics of online writing helps you get familiar with what it takes to succeed online, sharpens your online writing skills and prepares you for the demands of the career.
Read books on writing, writing blogs and websites, freelancing reports and any other relevant literature you can find to learn all you can about writing for the web. Also, join writing and freelancing networks and forums where possible to interact with people already in the career and get a feel for how much work you need to put in to succeed.
3. Play to your passions
The quickest way to let your dream of earning a living from your writing fall by the wayside, especially when starting out as a freelancer is to make writing feel like a drudge. Writing needs to be enjoyable so you are motivated to keep at it. Research and find out what kind of web content you enjoy writing.
Do you enjoy writing sales and marketing copy like brochures and ads? Maybe you enjoy compiling factual information together, such as reports and manuals. Whatever you like that makes your creative juices flow, find time to practice writing it. This will build impetus for writing and help you develop a writing habit and writing style that is vitally important to succeed as a professional writer.
4. Keep it simple in the way of infrastructure
Don’t be too concerned about buying a whole bunch of home office equipment initially. In most cases, you can do without fancy-looking business cards, invoice templates and an outbuilding to separate you professional life from your personal life when starting out.
An existing bedroom or study room with a desk, chair and personal computer connected to the Internet will suffice initially. You may later upgrade your computer and find an outbuilding for your business when your client-base and earnings grow and you find need for the change.
5. Prepare basic marketing materials
You will need some basic marketing materials to let the world know about your writing services. Prepare a professional freelance writing resume that details any relevant writing skills you have, a cover letter introducing yourself to clients and a menu of writing services you intend to offer.
You will also benefit from building your own writing website or blog to showcase sample pieces of your writings. If you don’t have a website, create a free online portfolio with sites like freelanceportfolios.com and refer prospects to it when marketing your services.
6. Be flexible about your rates
Clients pay different rates for writing services. Advertising agencies, for example, do not have the same pay rate/system for writing services as individual clients or ad revenue sharing sites. Be willing to vary your writing rates appropriately when starting out, depending on the work at hand, client’s needs and prevailing market rates.
A little research online will often reveal the typical rate for various writing services. If a client asks what rate you will accept for your services, give a range instead of a fixed price, such as a range of between $10 and $20 for a standard 300-word article. This creates room for negotiations and the impression that you are flexible to work with.
7. Find an anchor client
Find an anchor client(s) you can rely on to provide a steady stream of work while you are working your way up to bigger and better opportunities. This is important because it will ensure you have a reliable foothold in the freelance writing world. You may consider other clients besides your anchor clients icing on the cake.
Upfront pay writing sites can be a good source of regular income and quickly turn into reliable anchor clients. Apply for writing work with the sites to see what type of writing is required and how the websites systems work. Online magazines and private clients can also present regular opportunities to earn money writing online and turn into anchor clients.
8. Submit only your best work
It is important that you meet client deadlines and submit only your best work to build a strong writer reputation and establish yourself as a reliable writer. Set aside a specific time to write daily even if it’s only for a little while. Write for practice and to build a professional writing habit. A professional writing habit will allow you to approach and meet client’s expectations every time.
Generally, the more you write, the more experience you get and the better the quality of your writing becomes. Write every day to sharpen your skills, excite your muse and get your creative juices flowing. When you take client projects, give them your best effort and the rewards will eventually manifest.
9. Recognize all feedback is good feedback
One of your main goals as a writer should be to produce work that satisfies the needs of your audience and or clients fully. Any feedback you get from your audience, clients, whether it be good or bad, can only be good. Feedback lets you know how you are faring as a writer; it helps you identify your weak points and polish your strong points.
10. Hang in there
You will encounter knock-backs and rejections as writer. When rejections come early on, hang in there and refuse to give up on your writing dream. Eventually, you will develop the expertise, skill and stamina to deal with the bumps and potholes that lie on the road toward a successful writing career. Put in the hard work knowing that the qualitative rewards and freedom a web writing career offers are worth every effort.