So, you’re a talented writer who fancies taking the plunge and going freelance? You imagine blissful days tapping away at your keyboard at home, coffee on tap and the freedom to manage your time as you wish. Is it really that easy?
Let’s take a look at five things you must know and tips for turning this dream into reality today.
1. It requires practice, practice, practice
To be successful in this very competitive market, you need to perfect your writing skills by practicing your craft over and over again.
Maybe you have worked in-house for an agency or enjoy creative writing in your spare time. But this is only the first step to freelance success. However good you think you are, you can always brush up on your grammar skills and practice different genres of writing to make you as marketable as possible.
Try out some online courses or attend workshops where you get to stretch those writing muscles and challenge yourself to reach the next level of greatness. Remember, practicing writing is like a workout – do it regularly, and you’ll see amazing progress.
2. You need to learn how to market yourself
Once you’re confident about your abilities and can offer a range of writing styles, you need to get out there and let the world know about your abilities and services.
Many freelance writers start by signing up with copywriting agencies. This is a great way to start your career as they can offer regular work in a variety of subject areas, as well as the editorial support that you will need in the early days. When you register, you will have to submit a written test to check that your skills match their standards. This is a good test to see if you can handle deadlines and any feedback – positive or negative.
You may also know of businesses that require a freelance writer for their marketing materials, website or blogs. Don’t be afraid to approach them directly and inform them of your skills and how you can enhance their business.
And don’t forget about social media sites where you can easily promote your business and link with other professionals. This is an essential part of marketing today and getting your name - and writing – out there.
3. It’s more than just about writing
Even if you are the greatest writer in the world, this isn’t helpful unless you have sharp business skills as well, like how to deal with clients, manage expectations and deliver to deadline.
As you accept assignments, be mindful of how long you think they will take to submit and plan your time out accordingly. If you don’t think you can make a deadline, speak to your agency or client and negotiate an extension, stating plausible reasons why it’s necessary. For example, you can explain that the project needs more research. It’s all about communication.
Remember that your freelance writing is a business – so make a business plan and set achievable goals, for example earning a certain amount within a set time period or securing three new clients a month.
Think big and make some “stretch goals” as well. These take your ambitions to the next level, such as “I will make enough money to quit my full-time job” and really concentrate your energy.
Staying organized and focused will help your business grow alongside your writing abilities.
4. It’s important to diversify
Dare to diversify. Perhaps you have a background in writing about a niche area such as health? Don’t be too restricted to just one subject area because competence in one subject will mean an ability to branch out to related ones.
Many writing assignments are not in-depth academic articles but light-touch pieces for websites that the general public can easily understand. This calls for the ability to diversify by grasping new subject areas quickly and so responding to demand.
A competent health writer can easily make the leap to writing about beauty, wellness and lifestyle issues, and so on, for example. Even subject areas that may seem completely new to you can be conquered with a little research and imagination.
With so many websites and subject matters out there – and so many sources of work – the writer who is bold and confident enough to try new subjects will be the most successful.
5. You should be friends with technology
Once you’ve got your technology right, it will power every aspect of your business. If you have good home and mobile connections, for example, you’ll be able to work from any location – yes, even your local coffee shop - and keep up with queries when you’re on the go.
So, consider getting yourself a great broadband service and unlimited NBN plans. You’ll be good to go and able to keep all your mobile devices connected no matter where you are working.
To compare the cheapest packages we recommend to use some reputable online portal. This will save you a few bucks, which can be invested in other areas to get your freelancing business started.
While we’re on the subject of technology, consider how it can help promote your business website. Your website will be an all-important part of your marketing – the “shop front” to your business – so it needs to be designed and organized properly.
Ensure that your home page summarizes who you are and what services you offer. You can go into more detail on a dedicated “Services” page. Include some samples of your work on your site in a portfolio section – the more diverse the styles of writing and subjects, the better. And, of course, don’t forget the “Contact” page so clients can connect with you easily.
Take advantage of networking sites like LinkedIn, as well as Facebook groups that cater to your profession. And use online tools such as Trello and Google Sheets to keep a record of your assignments and ensure you are organized and professional.
But perhaps the most important piece of advice is to be brave, bold and enterprising. Believe in yourself and your abilities and simply get writing…now it’s over to you!