So you discovered freelance writing and you want in because it will help you earn extra money. You did what any curious person would do so you typed various keywords online to learn more about the tools of the trade and what websites offer work that will help you hit that target income because really, that’s what it’s about come day’s end. The fact of the matter is, you barely earn anything when you write for freelance websites because aside from the fact that the rates are low, the numbers decrease further once the fees are deducted. Not too encouraging for newbie freelance writers, right? [Read more…]
Freelancing is a thrilling yet terrifying line of work. Getting started as a freelancer is the most difficult and challenging step. Especially if you’re coming from the stability and predictability of full-time work, freelancing can seem vague, threatening and terrifying. When you’re just beginning, you’ll be on a constant hunt for freelance writing jobs. Let’s consider some popular ways to can find freelance writing jobs for beginners and get your career off the ground. [Read more…]
Author: Kenneth Waldman is a freelance writer and content creator. He draws his inspiration out of the traveling. Get in touch with him on Linkedin.
You might be surprised to learn the number of freelance writing aspirants out there. However, many don’t dedicate time to fulfilling their dream. Alternatively, they go about their 9 to 5 traditional work routines, take orders from irritable bosses, and get paid less their worth.
If you wish to be a freelancer and your current situation is similar to the one outlined above, it’s high time you make a change. You’ll only waste time if you keep procrastinating.
Just remember that it takes some time to grow a successful freelance writing business. The steps to actually start are simple. They do not guarantee that you’ll be swimming in cash, but they will set you on the right path to gaining a solid income in the near future. [Read more…]
- A lack of purpose and passion
- Working a dead-end job
- No one is investing in you
- Insufficient compensation
If you’re feeling any or all of these symptoms, you may be ripe for a change. The launching pad for this monumental shift? A bit of wisdom from Confucius: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
Whether you’ve freelanced as a side-gig or are just jumping into the ring, taking on a full-time freelance career is not a decision to be made lightly. Full-time corporate employment offers paid time off for vacations, illness and holidays. Medical, dental, vision, disability and life insurance are often part of a benefits package. So, too, is a guaranteed minimum income.
So, how do you leave all of that security? How do you transition to freelancing as your main source of income? How do you budget and plan? Very carefully.
Be a Business
Transitioning to full-time freelancing means you are going to be a business all on your own. If freelancing is your main source of income, you can’t be casual about it. You’ll have to start thinking like a business owner, even if your only employee is, well, you. By giving up that secure spot in corporate America, you’ve taken on the following roles (in no particular order):
- Head of Sales & Marketing
- Account Receivable
- Creative Director
- Client Services
- and more.
Are you ready and willing to manage both big and small picture details? Gone are the days of throwing receipts into a shoebox. Here are the days of detailed financial record-keeping. Gone are the days of, “Sorry, just saw this email from two weeks ago.” Here are the days of, “Please see attached for all deliverables due tomorrow. Please contact me with any questions.”
Don’t take this to mean you can expense everything and go on a spending spree to outfit a new office. You have to think about overhead costs, billing cycles, positive cash flow and more. Find a reliable and usable accounting platform. Learn it inside and out. Use it.
Research and apply for credit. American Express has some of the best business credit cards with benefits ranging from purchase protection to flexible payment schedules. Using a card (and paying it off monthly) is a great way to keep business expenses separate from personal expenses. It will make it easier for you to reconcile business expenditures by comparing the statement to your accounting records. You’ll also be building credit for your business. That way, if you’re ever in a position to seek out investors or loans for expansion, you’ll have a credit history.
Set Yourself Up for Success
After years of marching to another’s drum beat, it can be tough to stay productive without oversight. By now, you know what helps and hinders your personal productivity. Does a clean workspace keep you sane? Find and maintain a dedicated and orderly space for your business. Using the kitchen table might seem convenient, until someone spills fruit punch all over a very important piece of paper.
Start with a schedule. Until you’ve found your stride, it’s important to commit to a scheduled workday. It doesn’t have to be eight to five, but you must be fully engaged in work during whatever schedule you choose. Don’t let distractions like daytime television destroy your productivity.
If you need Internet to do your job, do you have a plan at home with adequate bandwidth? What happens if you lose access? Do you have a back-up plan? It wasn’t a big deal when your Netflix was down for a few days, but if your livelihood is resting on reliable email access, that changes things.
Every freelancer wants to be “too busy.” A freelancer’s best problem is having such an overflow of work that turning projects down is necessary. So, how do you get there? You have to make a name for yourself. Relying on a small client base would be nice, but what if the work dries up? Know who you are and what you do. Distill that into an elevator pitch. Imagine this: you run into a friend at a restaurant, and they introduce you to a potential client on the spot. What would you say? Will you have a business card at the ready? You’d better. You don’t have to plaster your face on a billboard like an aspiring realtor. You do need to constantly seek out business opportunities and be ready to pitch yourself at any moment.
Still ready to ditch the suit and forge out on your own? Have fun and stay organized!
This post was written by Amanda Kohn, a bookworm from Phoenix. Although a fashionista at heart, you can find her head in a book or online reading up on the latest headlines. Follow her on Twitter.
A former student of mine graduated with a degree in theater and set off to Hollywood to make her way in her chosen world. She soon learned an interesting twist about the requirements of Hollywood: in order to land a part you need a SAG (Screen Actors Guild) card. But in order to have the coveted SAG card, you must have acted in a legitimate production. So in the logic of the glittery world of movies, you can’t get a card until you’ve had a role, and you can’t get a role without having a card first. It’s a vicious cycle! Short of being “discovered”, she was going to have to pay her dues by acting in productions that earned her points towards her card, but were less glamorous than Hollywood.
Writing is very similar. Often, in order to write an article, an editor wants to see clips – or examples of material you’ve published in the past. But, it’s hard to get clips if no one will publish you without them. Just like acting, we writers may have to pay our dues.
For writers, “paying your dues” may mean writing a few articles that either don’t pay or pay in copies (sending you five copies, for example, of their magazine) or contributing to an online site or blog or searching out smaller markets. I have a couple stacks of magazines – copy payments – I don’t necessarily have a use for (other than making my mother proud), but now I have hard copies of clips I can scan and send along with my queries.
Get Those Clips!
So how do you find ideas and potential markets?
- Spend a couple hours at a local bookstore or library scanning the magazine section. Don’t limit yourself to the big names; there are almost as many magazines as there are interests: sports, kayaking, mountain climbing, dogs, cats, biking, literature, cars, farming, cooking, ranching, eco-living, art, etc. Let the magazines and their topics inspire you!
- Be sure to check out local and regional magazines. My first articles were published in a local arts journal and a regional interest publication.
- Writer’s Market is a well-known writer’s resource book. Flip through the thousands of pages of trade journal and magazine listings. Consider people you know who you could interview for articles. A few of my first publications in national magazines were written interviewing a local dog trainer, another came from spending a day with friends who grew organic, heritage potatoes.
- Go on the internet. There are a plethora of online magazines and blogs you can write for – they count as clips too! Many are very open to new writers. Are you a caregiver? Parent? Traveler? Athlete? There are sites for every interest you can think of.
- Look at job boards. They are an excellent resource to find publications, websites and businesses actively seeking writers.
Let your imagination and creative juices flow and come up with great ideas. Mine all your life experiences for topics and ideas – you’ll be amazed to find there is a market for almost anything. Now that you have a file full of ideas and potential publications, it’s time to sit down and write. Start gathering those clips, even if it means writing a few pro bono articles. You won’t have to do that for long. Soon, you will be savoring the satisfaction of producing and seeing your writing in print.
About the Author
Julie Luek is a freelance writer living in the mountains of Colorado and is published in dozens of regional, national and online publications including Farm & Ranch, Dog World, Vibrant Life, Today’s Christian, Colorado Central Magazine, Arts Perspective, Coaching and Athletic Directors and others and is the author of two blogs, A Thought Grows and In Fine Company. She is also a biweekly contributor to the international writing site, She Writes and appears as a guest blogger on sites like WOW (Women on Writing), Author Spaces and others with writer-based content. She can be found on Facebook and Twitter and enjoys supporting the community of writers.
Image via Brandon Giesbrecht
You’re just starting your journey into the world of freelance writing. Maybe you are looking to make it a career, or maybe you are looking to make a little Target, I mean, grocery money while you stay at home with the kids. Either way, that first step can be intimidating. Where do you start looking? How do you approach potential clients? How much time should you spend writing each day? And the questions go on and on.
As you become more and more confident in calling yourself a freelance writer, you will find your own answers to these questions – paving your own way is kind of the nature of the beast. And while I would still consider myself in the paving process, I think there is something to learn from a person who is just starting out. So, check out Lessons on How to Be a Paid Writer, and then read more about the beginning of my freelance career:
The First Steps
Consistent writing started for me when I became pregnant with our first child. I wanted a way to document the pregnancy and share information with family, and, the easiest way to do this was with a blog. In addition to starting my own blog, I began reading other people’s, and I saw how it could become so much more than a diary. So, I started out dabbling in other genres by just writing guest posts for writers I enjoy following. I did this either by responding to requests for guest posts or checking submission guidelines for various sites. This was a low stakes way to get my writing out there and receive feedback from someone who was considering publishing it.
Then, I started looking online for more. I found a few sites and programs that list various opportunities and have good information. Some offer paid positions while others do not. Either way, I consider being published a great way to boost my career.
- Freelance Writer’s Den
- Make a Living Writing
- Freelance Writing Jobs Blog (of course)
- Blogger Link Up
Use Your Talents
A lot of my family and friends know I am an English major and a former teacher. They also know that I edited and helped write papers and resumes in college, so I get a lot of business from recommendations. If someone is in need of a service like that, I usually work out a price with them based on what they need.
Think about what talents you naturally have. Find a way to incorporate that knowledge and make it work for your writing. Are you great at marketing your work? Do you already have a small business you could use as a venue for clients? Do you have specialty knowledge that others might benefit from learning about? Use it. Write it.
My blog and portfolio continued to grow, and I started finding new ways to get my name into the market. I created a LinkedIn account, and I also added a tab to my blog so others could see my work and see what I am capable of. After doing this, I received emails from a few sources asking that I write for their site or publication. This doesn’t happen as often as I go out searching for opportunities though.
When I am hired to write for a publication, I make sure I make use of all of the social media resources I have on hand. I tweet it out, post links to Facebook, pin posts, and have even been known to post to Instagram after writing something my followers might love. By doing this, not only do more people see my writing, but the publications I am working with appreciate the marketing. They are more likely to rehire someone who will tout her work and drive in traffic.
The Bottom Line
If you want to make a liveable salary freelancing, be ready to put in well over 40 hours a week. A lot of it is writing, but a lot of it is searching out and getting the opportunities. If you’re looking to make a little extra cash on the side, check out some of the resources above and start practicing. And, don’t forget subscribe to Freelance Writing Jobs – they have connected me to a lot of work!
About the Author
Jenna Hines is a former HS English teacher turned stay-at-home-mom. She spends her days taking care of her kiddos, creating content for her blog, Call Her Happy, and freelance writing. Find her on Twitter and Facebook or check out her portfolio on LinkedIn.
These are those all important dates that you never miss. It’s when an article is due, when the editor wants it in and when excuses will be tough to take.
A quickie summary of what an article is about, it usually is placed in the table of contents or under the article headline.
The theme and publishing calendar for a publication. Most print publications have calendars set far in advance, some as far as six months which is important to remember when sending queries. Writers also use an editorial calendar to schedule their work and organized deadlines, blog posts, etc.
The yummy, meaty articles that are ‘featured’ in the main part of the magazine. These articles are longer and are an impressive feather in the cap of any writer.
FOB (Front of Book)
Newbie writers are always told to aim for the smaller front of the book (magazine). These articles are shorter pieces designed to get a writer’s feet wet with the publication. Front of the book is sometimes used interchangeably with filler which are short pieces, but they can be located throughout the magazine.
The silent voice that gives the zing to a piece without byline credit, but earns the income. Often writers sign a confidentiality agreement with their clients and the terms vary from project to project.
Have you ever come across those freelance writing jobs that are “perfect for students?” Me too. I don’t necessarily appreciate ads that target moms, students or retired people because it usually indicates to me the hiring person is trying to justify extremely low pay. However, that doesn’t mean that freelance writing isn’t a good way for college students to earn money over the summer.
Who should consider freelance writing as a summer job?
We all know freelancing isn’t for everyone. If you hate to write and can’t grasp basic grammar and usage, it’s probably not something you should consider. However, if you’re a journalism, English or communications major or if you love to write and happen to be quite good at it, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give it a shot. Most students haven’t really established an area of expertise and can’t speak as authority on topics, but there are some good generalist gigs out there. Also students into technology, gaming, and music might find enough work to keep them busy.
If you’re planning a career in writing, getting your foot in the door now might help you to have steady work and clients once you graduate. Just be sure to research freelance writing and freelance writing jobs before getting started. Learn as much as you can about the business end, types of gigs, and types of pay. Potential clients are going to be leery enough of hiring a student, if you can show you know what you’re doing you’ll have a better chance of landing gigs.
To get started, read our Frequently Asked Questions About Freelance Writing Jobs.
What are the benefits of freelance writing for students?
When you think about it, freelancing is the perfect summer job. When I worked summers, I missed out on specific outings and good times because there was a clash with my hours. Freelancing is flexible, so if you want to go to the beach with your friends you can, as long as you have good habits. You can make your own hours and work as much or as little as you want. You can also work anywhere there’s WiFi – home, the coffee shop, a hotel and even some National Parks have free WiFi hotspots. Also, depending on the types of freelance writing you do, you can earn anywhere from $10 per hour on up. Mind, you, ten bucks is on the low end, but it’s comparable to many college summer opportunities. Most freelance writers earn much more.
Beware: What to look out for
Ok, so here’s the thing, there are definitely people who look to take advantage. Always make sure the ends justify the means. For example, if you spent an hour writing a blog posts and you’re only earning fifty cents in residual change for your time, there’s something wrong. Now, if you spent 45 minutes to an hour on an article and it pays $20, and $20 per hour works for you, the end justifies the means.
- You don’t have to pay for jobs. Some “clients” tell you that for a fee they’ll send work your way each month. Don’t fall for it. You wouldn’t pay an employer for a job in the real world, why would you do it as a freelancer?
- Be careful when offering freebies. We’ll get to writing samples in a few, however, sending samples of your work in order to get a gig is one thing. Being asked to produce writing assignments on spec, or for free without the promise of a job, means someone is trying to get something for nothing and looking to take advantage.
- There are arguments all over the web about the best kinds of writing and what you should and shouldn’t do. Aside from ensuring the end justifies the means, only you know what’s best for you. Don’t let other freelancers on forums, blogs and social networks bully you into making decisions. Only you know what writing works best for your situation. Read everything you can and make informed choices based on your own personal situation.
Some things to keep in mind
If you read this far, it probably means you’re still intrigued and want to learn more about this freelance writing thing. Ok, then. We’ll keep going.
You can’t just jump into freelance writing. There are a few things you should know, a few things you should research and a few things you need to take care of before you begin.
- You’re going to need writing samples: Freelance writing isn’t like a department store job. You can’t walk in, fill out an application and hope you’re called. You have to perfect a cover or query letter and have writing samples to present with your letter. You see, a client wants to know you can write and also be sure you’re a good fit for your project. Even if you’re looking for content sites as a summer job, you’re still going to need some killer writing samples. If you haven’t been published your best recourse is to create some sample articles on your own. It might not hurt to have a trusted teacher or fellow writer look them over to make sure they’re good enough to land work.
- You’re going to have to make a good first impression: Your cover letter and writing samples must be absolutely perfect. You’re being judged for your writing from the very first sentence.
- You’re going to be rejected: I’m sorry to tell you but most writers are rejected at some point in their career, many in the very beginning. Don’t take it to heart as it’s nothing personal. It doesn’t mean you’re a poor writer, it’s more likely your writing style didn’t match what the client was looking for or you weren’t a good fit for the gig.
- You’re going to meet with some fierce competition: Every time I post an ad for a blogger for my blogs I get between 200 and 500 applications. That’s a lot of competition. What can you do to stand out in a potential clients eye?
- You’re not going to have a boss looking over your shoulder: When you freelance you have to be accountable for you. That means finding time to work, turning in clean work, and meeting your deadlines. You won’t have a boss reminding you something is due and you have to practice your own good customer service. You won’t be part of a team. It’s just you and a client who is counting on you to be responsible.
- Certain types of writing are considered unethical: Term paper mills, misspelled SEO writing, article spinning and plagiarism (stealing another writer’s content) are considered unethical. Steer clear of this type of writing, especially if you wish for writing to be your career. You don’t want to have any bad marks on your record.
- There are different types of writing: Newspapers, magazines, blogs, web content, copywriting, grant writing, and technical writing are only a small portion of the writing opportunities available today. Each has different rules and formats. Do yourself a favor and learn what you can about the types of writing that interest you.
Get your freelance writing foot in the door now
It takes time to establish a freelance writing career. However, if you start now, then maybe by the time you graduate you’ll have enough clients to keep you busy while you either look for a job, or launch a full time freelance writing career. There are so many opportunities available for freelance writers of all levels. There’s no better time to do this than now!
OK, FWJ community. What is your best advice for college students wishing to become freelance writers?
I’m thinking back to the early days of freelance writing. I’m remembering a time when the possibility of landing freelance writing jobs was overwhelming, yet seemed very real. I’m remembering the days when I couldn’t wait to look for work, but was afraid to look for work. I’m remembering the time when fear and lack of confidence kept me from doing more than reading the freelance writing job ads.
Today, we’re going to talk to the folks who want to write in the worst way, but something is keeping them from taking that first step.
Today we’re going to discuss landing that first freelance writing job.
If you’re scanning the subheads below, you might think, “well that all looks easy enough, I can do that.” Yes, you can, but it’s not easy. I can tell you that you may not land the very first gig you apply to, and you will make all sorts of mistakes. Just because you’re taking those first steps, doesn’t mean you’ll actually land the gig.
However, nothing will happen if you don’t try.
Step 1: Assess Your Skills
I have an anecdote for you:
My friend Kurt wasn’t a writer, but he wrote well and his friends encouraged him to continue. He’s dabbled in novel writing, but never really sought out freelance writing jobs. When a friend with a car website approached me to ask if I knew anyone with a passion for cars, Kurt was the first person to come to mind. Kurt wasn’t a writer in the traditional sense of the word, but I didn’t know anyone else with such a genuine passion and enthusiasm for cars and motorcycles who also wrote well. Now my friend Kurt is lead writer for RideLust and works as an automotive journalist. As I write this, there’s a long list of luxury cars waiting for Kurt to have a turn at driving (for two weeks at a time) and reviewing them. Kurt is freelancing full time, talking about his passion.
You can be a generalist with your writing, this has worked for many people. In the beginning, I wrote about saving money and family finances. It wasn’t until I blogged for a few years that I began writing about writing and blogging. Think about all the things you love or the things you can do best and exploit your passion.
Passion alone won’t get the gig
So here’s the kicker – just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you can write about it. First of all, there may not be any gigs available in said niche, but also, you may not have the writing skills. It’s easy to get writing gigs every day. For some clients it’s more about cheap labor than hiring the best writer for the job. However, if you’re not a very good writer you’ll only get the cheap gigs. Be realistic about your talent and skill. If you’re always having your writing corrected or don’t know basic rules of grammar, consider taking some writing courses or having your work critiqued.
We all think we’re good writers, but sometimes we’re in for a major reality check. I can tell you that I thought I was one great writer when I graduated from school because my family and teachers told me so. However, when I began working in publishing I learned from the editors there that certain things needed work and I went to school. There’s no shame in brushing up.
Step 2: Think About the Types of Writing You Would Like to Do
Ok, so now you know you have mad skills and something to offer to the world. Where are you going to write? Do you want to write a newspaper column or magazine articles? Do you want blog or write web articles? Would you rather explore business writing? There are so many possibilities available to you. Think about the types of writing that most appeal to you.
But wait…you’re not done yet….
These gigs don’t just fall into your lap. Now you have to figure out what is involved with each. You can say that writing white papers looks interesting, but unless you’ve done so, you’ll need to know a little about it. No one is going to hire you if you don’t have a clue about white papers are and how to write them. Think about your skills and the best way to profit from them. Research all the different ways to break into these gigs and markets.
One of the biggest mistakes I made as a freelance writer is not researching markets enough. I knew about magazine markets from publishing, but I thought all markets were the same. Though I landed the first job I applied for, the rest didn’t come so easy. Not knowing a thing about approaching the markets wasn’t a smart move. I did better after I took the time to research.
Step 3: Figure Out a Rate
What do you want to earn? No, seriously, what do you want to earn? Do you want someone to set your rate, or do you want to take charge from the very beginning? Knowing how much to charge will help to shape your career from the get-go. What do you think your writing is worth? That’s not an easy questions as it encompasses several factors. You’ll want to consider the type of writing, the amount of research involved, whether or not you will conduct interviews, expenses, fees and taxes. So if you state off the bat you want to charge $50 per hour, also work out if you will be able to support yourself on that amount after all is said and done. (For help, try this freelance rate calculator at Freelance Switch.)
Now stick with those freelance writing rates
You may be tempted to fiddle with those freelance writing rates. You might want to bargain in order to get your foot in the door. Sure, you could try that. Consider this though, when you negotiate lower rates, clients catch on quickly. They know you won’t stand firm. They know they can talk you down. If you’re firm, you will land the clients who will respect your rates, but make no mistake, they will expect value in return.
Sure, there may be times when negotiating might be in order. For example, if you’re tackling a variety of projects or if you want to offer a trusted client a discount to reward customer loyalty. For the most part, your rate is your rate. Stand firm. It may be harder to find gigs with this rate at first, but once you land a few clients you’ll be happy you held your ground. Be the one to set your rate and clients will be less likely to lowball you.
Step 4: Press Send
It’s time. You know you have skills, you know what you want to do and you know what you want to charge. What else is there left to do but start querying and submitting. Notice I didn’t say “look for work?” That’s because if you’re like me, you spent a lot of time looking for work already. You know what’s out there. You can look for work until the cows come home, but unless you actually sit down and start typing those queries nothing’s going to happen. Stop looking and start taking action.
Create some samples
Notice how everyone wants samples of your writing? This shouldn’t be a deterrent. Unless a potential client specifically asks for “published” samples, you can create a few relevant samples to send with your query or application. Samples are meant to give potential clients an idea of your writing style. If you put your best effort into some samples, some clients will hire you, regardless of whether or not you have published work.
Research query examples
So, yeah…you’re going to have to send a cover letter or query and it’s going to have to be better than everyone else’s. Your query is your first impression. An editor or client should look at it and say, “That’s it! This is the person I want writing for me.”
We’re starting a query letter series here at Freelance Writing Jobs, and also, Linda Formicelli often features “query letters that worked” at her wonderful and helpful Renegade Writer blog. Do investigate successful query letters before submitting your own.
Editors are sticklers for details so proofread several times over before hitting “send.” If necessary, enlist another pair of eyes. As you gain more experience, the query and application process will get easier.
Step 5: Follow Up
When I worked in publishing, many of the editors had stacks and stacks of queries and submissions to go through. Many of them put it off as long as possible. I know one editor who only looked at queries once a month. When freelancers called to inquire about the status of their queries, we would unearth them from the pile and take a look. Not hearing from an editor or potential client is frustrating. Many times, they only respond to the person who landed the gig. Many times your query is lost in a pile somewhere. There’s nothing wrong with waiting a couple of weeks and sending a polite follow up.
A few years ago, there was a gig I really wanted. The pay was terrific and the subject matter was right up my alley. I sent in a cover letter and some of my best writing samples.
Three weeks later I sent the client a polite letter, only a few lines long, to follow up on my application. I told him I’d love to discuss the gig in detail more. The client sent me back a note telling me he already chose someone for the gig. However, two weeks later he contacted me again saying his first freelancer didn’t work out and since I seemed to really want the job he offered it to me. We still work together from time to time.
Step 6: Lather, Rinse, Repeat
Now that you sent out your first query, cover letter or completed your first application, what will you do? I hope you’re not going to rest on your laurels. You may not land your first gig. You also many not hear from a potential client right away. Continue querying. Use it for practice. Don’t stop after one try. The third time might be a charm or you it may take until your 20th try. Eventually your persistence will pay off, but only if you continue looking for work.
Are there easier ways to find freelance writing jobs?
As a freelance writing blogger I’m not supposed to tell you this. I’m not supposed to encourage this type of writing, but if we’re going to talk about the ways to find freelance writing jobs, not mentioning web content sites would be a glaring omission. In 2010 plenty of freelancers are earning a living this way. Keep in mind that “easy” doesn’t always equal “lucrative.”
There are plenty of easier ways to find work, for example you can work for content sites. However, most content sites are not high paying opportunities. You’ll have to see how they fit into your game plan. Is this the type of writing you want to do? Is this the rate you want to earn? If so, by all means start out writing for content sites. After a little while, take that experience and your new found confidence and look for higher paying gigs.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with writing for content sites, I did. Be careful though. You can find yourself getting caught up in the “easy” lifestyle. Content sites can be a terrific springboard to more lucrative gigs, but the easy way isn’t always the realistic way. Sometimes writers start with content sites to get their feet wet and that’s all they’re doing three years later. Make a game plan if you’re going to take on content site work. Use it to start out or supplement your work. Use it full time, if that’s what you want to do, but make sure it fits in with your vision.
Freelance writing is work. It’s not a fun “bon bon and bunny slippers” gig. We work hard to find work, we take pride in what we do, and we work hard to give our clients the best writing possible. Before you embark upon a freelance writing career, be sure you can deliver. Take it seriously as you would any other job and you’ll do fine.
Do you have any questions about finding or landing freelance writing jobs?
If I had to pick one of the most difficult aspects of freelancing, it would have to be building a freelance writing business while still working full time at my day job. I did this for two years, from 2000 to 2002, and also in 2008 and 2009 when I had a full time social media job. As much as I love to write, sometimes the last thing I wanted to do after a full day of work was to come home and work again. Plus, many clients want to talk on the phone during business hours, something I couldn’t always give them. I had to find some balance and a way to make it work, especially if I wanted to freelance full time.
You can freelance and work full time and still make it work. Maybe some of these tips will help you achieve some balance too:
Only take as many clients as you can handle
You might be tempted to take as many opportunities as you can in order to build up a client base and save enough money to leave your day job for good. Before you do, make sure you can handle the work load. Also consider how all your spare time will be spent writing. No TV. No reading. No family game night…just work. However, if you take one opportunity at a time until you know how many hours of your time you can devote each evening or weekend, you might find a more doable solution for you and your family. Try one client at a time to start and adjust as necessary.
Set aside time to communicate with clients
Not everyone can call freelance writing clients or handle emails from their days jobs. You might have to handle communication during your lunch hour. You might even have to make those calls from your cell phone from the local deli. The last thing you want is for your moonlighting to interfere with your day job but you can find a workable solution. Not all clients come from 9 to 5 businesses either. Find out whether or not they can talk to you in the evenings or on weekends. You’ll find many are flexible and willing to work with you.
Set a realistic schedule
Working late into the night or rising early in the morning is how many of us found the time to write when we were still working full time. I can’t speak for all the other writers who did this, but I can tell you I was always tired and cranky from rising at 4:00 a.m. If you’re dead tired throughout the day, you won’t be able to focus on your work at night. Set a realistic schedule and don’t let your desire to freelance full time get in the way of everything else you do.
Having a full time job while building a freelance writing business is absolutely doable, but try not to make the mistake of biting off more than you can chew. A common mistake among aspiring freelancers is to keep accepting gigs even if it means sacrificing precious sleeping time. Be careful not to over do it. Start out small and grow as you go.