Best tips for writers planning to start a freelance career
If you thought freelance writing is your ticket to Disneyland, promising exhilarating rides (read: amazing projects), truck-loads of candies (read: great money) and oodles of fun (read: flexibility and lesser accountability), well, you are in for an unpleasant surprise. Making a sustainable career out of freelancing is hard work and smart work in equal measures and you will have to cover many grounds before you think of that ideal vacation from where you could write inspirational content that will make you famous.
Having achieved some sort of success in making freelancing work for me (50k in 6 months), I decided to share 10 ideas that worked for me so that you can too in order to build your dream clientele and start a strong revenue stream with freelancing:
I Started My Own Blog
As a freelance writer, I realized that I was going to have to be my own brand and my own boss which made it essential for me to have a platform where people could locate me with ease. Once my blog was established, it became easier for me to showcase not only the range of my writing but also my entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to the very art of writing.
Soon enough, I found myself writing some of my most creative pieces in a long time as well as growing a strong community of readers who were devouring my blogs and many of whom got me more freelancing assignments directly or through word-of-mouth.
I Started Pitching Smartly
I hate to break it you but a major chunk of your success as a freelance writer depends upon your ability to get out of your head and actually start pitching smartly. I know we all have those fear-demons breathing down our neck, telling us we are perhaps not good enough for the job or that we are not going to get it. But pitch nevertheless.
My approach was to connect with entrepreneurs and decision makers all over the world. From the first, 200 emails and LinkedIn messages I sent, I got no reply. The next 100 I sent connected me with men’s hair pieces manufacturer that has been sending regular work my way. So, pitch and pitch some more.
I Focused on Creating Killer Samples
Thanks to Google, there’s no getting around creating unique and creative content in 2018 if you hope for even a chance at success in freelance writing. So if writing doesn’t come naturally to you, turn around now. Rather than focusing all my attention on the outcome, I trained my mind to focus on what was in my hand – yes you guessed it right – creating killer samples that would stand out from a cohort of half-heartedly sent proposals and samples. I realized that adding personality to my samples and customizing them as per the client really did the trick for me.
I Found My Niche
I understand the temptation to pitch to anyone who would read and to write on any niche under which work is available, especially when you are new. Been there, done that! Trust me when I say this, you are far better off writing only a few pieces under your chosen niche (which should be of interest as well as employability-friendly preferably) than to creating volumes of scattered content that only show you as jack of all and master of none.
Take time in finding your niche and aim to be the expert in your field. This also ensures higher remuneration when you do pitch under your perfected niche. After much thought, I decided to focus on lifestyle and digital marketing.
I Grew My Social Media Presence
If you have not been living in the caves, you would’ve heard that creating content is just one half of the battle in today’s time. Guess what the other half is? Marketing, especially online – no surprises there! Being present where future employers and their customers are is one of the surest ways to get noticed is.
The butterfly effect is never more clearly visible than in getting work online – you publish something awesome -somebody likes/shares it-their friend looking for awesome gets the notification – they locate you easily. See how this works?
I Networked Tirelessly
By networking, I don’t mean connecting with people online and then forgetting all about it. Networking goes deeper, entailing the ability to see the larger picture. That big-shot influencer you just met and exchanged your card with isn’t going to remember you the moment you walk out the door, you will have to keep constantly engaged with him and work towards building a rapport.
I, for instance, formed a great relationship with Punam Pal, co-founder of Spiritual Punditz (a yoga school in Rishikesh) after meeting her in a local event. Her work approach and life ideas helped me a lot in overcome work challenges. So, dedicate few minutes to networking every single day.
I Requested Satisfied Clients for Testimonials
No matter how brilliant your writing is, an excellent feedback by a client will any day garner you more attention than blowing your own trumpet. Alternatively, I have also noticed that writers sometimes shy away from letting the world know about their special achievements. You don’t want to be caught up on the either end. Publishing positive testimonials with credible information that can be verified by any party interested is the name of the game here.
Request reviews on your Facebook page or gather them through Google Places. This brings more authenticity to them.
I Learnt the Art of Negotiation
Let’s first agree that none of us are interested in charity and would like to be handsomely rewarded for the outpour of our creativity. With me still? Alright! There are plenty of people out there who would not want to pay you what you deserve or fall back on payments or ask for unreasonable number of revisions without actually paying for the exercise. Develop a knack for spotting them and negotiate with them on your own terms. Do not go against your gut even if someone you trust suggests otherwise.
I Invested in My Growth
Last but definitely not the least is the need to invest time as well as money in improving your writing skills and knowhow to be bankable in the long run. Reading a lot is crucial. I started following fashion and marketing blogs that were offering solutions to the exact problems I was facing or were advising against the usual pitfalls beforehand. While there were ample fashion blogs out there, I had a hard time deciding where my marketing wisdom should come from. Finally, I came across this growth marketing agency that had everything I wanted to learn in their blog. Neil Patel is another marketing genius that I frequently read for my personal growth.
The point is the competition is stiff and expected to go stiffer and if you wish to fry the bigger fish, you need to feed your own mind first.
I Became More Professional and Disciplined
I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to appear professional and disciplined in your dealings with clients. You don’t want to overcommit and underperform. You need a routine and the ability to stick to it in order to flourish as a freelance writer. Remember, no matter how lucrative the project is or how prestigious the client, you are not going to keep them with a lax attitude.
While above are the top 10 freelance writing hacks that helped me in reaching a stable income in less than 6 months, these are definitely the only things I did. In reality, I worked with double the number of ideas to create value for my freelancing business. So, don’t shy away from your own ideas of growth as well!
Listen to your heart, keep working hard, and the money will follow.
Simar is a content consultant in love with social media and influencer marketing. An avid reader, she helps startups, entrepreneurs and brands with thought leadership content, social media management, and brand strategy.