If you’re thinking of getting into freelance writing but are just a little worried about how you take that first step, then take some time to read our useful guide for newbie freelancers.
Working as a freelance writer can be a rewarding job for anybody who enjoys crafting content and it’s a flexible work option, as you get to choose where and when you work. Of course, it’s important you possess enough self-motivation and discipline to keep you writing and earning on a regular basis, as working from home can prove difficult if you’re easily distracted.
Pros of freelance writing
Some of the positive aspects of freelance writing include:
- Determine your own workload
- Choose where and when you will work
- Flexibility of work and the range of available jobs
- You are your own boss
- It’s an ideal career for stay-at-home mothers or people who find it difficult to leave the home
- A good way to build a career within a specialist lifestyle area or hobby
Launching your freelance career can be disheartening at first when pitch rejections are commonplace and work can be difficult to find. It’s important that you persevere and keep searching for the right opportunities to grow your career. Finding a stream of regular work on content writing websites is one way to ensure a steady income and build your writing expertise while working on applications for more lucrative assignments.
Freelancing is the fastest growing sector of the self-employed workforce. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 2 million freelancers in 2016, which shows a rise of 43% from numbers for 2008. Up to 39% (790,000) of the total number of freelancers recorded in 2016 work in the associate, technical and professional sector, which includes writers.
Cons of freelance writing
Some of the disadvantages of freelance writing include:
- Making money on a regular basis can be difficult
- Some clients will have an expectation that freelancers can provide unpaid work
- You need to develop a variety of business skills, including finance and business management
- Self-motivation can be difficult when you work from home
- Jobs may come along at inopportune moments, such as weekends or evenings
It’s unlikely that freelance writing will provide sufficient regular income in the early days of your business, and you may need to take on a part-time job or source some other form of income. Keeping up levels of motivation while pitching for writing jobs can also be difficult if you experience a steady stream of rejections.
Getting into freelance writing
Before you start looking around for freelance writing jobs, take time to sketch out a career plan and identify the areas in which you wish to develop your writing career. If you hope to work in the arena of newspapers and magazines, you will need to send regular pitches to editors.
Corporate content writers need to develop business contacts within the industry, while advertising copywriting requires a good deal of SEO knowledge and the ability to create persuasive copy. When you have worked out the areas in which you hope to write, you can structure the development of your writing pathway accordingly.
Although being a graduate can provide a boost for freelance writing careers, it’s not always essential to have a degree. But you will need to create a portfolio of work to showcase your talents to prospective clients. Creating your portfolio can take time and substantial effort, as it should be reflective of a range of writing skills and highlight your best pieces of work.
One way of getting into freelance writing and building up a diverse work portfolio is to sign up with some of the freelancing websites, such as PeopleperHour, Elance or Copify. Working on sites such as these can provide a great introduction to a freelance writing career and help you decide whether or not it’s really for you.
Once you have built your portfolio and acquired experience within the field of freelance writing, you can start firing off journalism pitches or applications to organisations for corporate opportunities. Marketing your skills on social media is another way to source clients, alongside publishing a selection of your work on LinkedIn.
Following or connecting with businesses and organisations where you’d like to write can be a way of networking and building business contacts. You could also build links with businesses and other writers by offering to provide guest posts for blogs. If you decide to go ahead and provide guest posts, try running a Twitter search with the keyword “guest post” to identify websites and blogs within your fields of interest that are accepting guest posts.
There are numerous ways in which you can grow your freelance writing career, so it’s important to find the right solutions that work best for you. Organising or scheduling your daily activities can help provide a structure to your day and ensure you get on with some of the tasks you might find more difficult.
Creating a daily organisation planner helps you track your time efficiently and provides a routine for the day. Some of the daily or weekly tasks you might want to include in your planner are:
- Regular, scheduled hours of writing at times to suit your lifestyle. If you’re a night owl and work best when most people are asleep, then build this time into your planner and plan relaxation periods during the day.
- Identify and build a client base by scheduling regular periods of time for pitching to editors, emailing or calling local business organisations, or applying for available jobs on freelancing websites.
- Financial tasks such as invoicing, chasing payments and updating income and expenditure accounts should be scheduled on a regular basis as it’s important to know exactly where you stand with your business finances.
- Maintaining a professional business website helps attract new customers and provides a platform for your portfolio of work. Once you have created your website, you should schedule regular periods of time for blogging and customer contact to ensure a regular stream of work is maintained.
Getting into freelance writing may be the best career decision you ever make. It is an enjoyable work option which can grow in a number of directions. Once you are an established writer, you may wish to take on your own employees or it could even give you the flexibility to travel and work from different locations anywhere in the world, just so long as there is an internet connection.
Good luck with your writing career and don’t forget to check out the rest of our blog for more freelance writing tips!