Now that we have established that anyone can write, it’s time to look at some tips for the aspiring freelance writers out there.
Now of course, there are books written about freelancing and writing, so I don’t claim to have all the information for you here to launch your freelance career. However, I do hope that this post will encourage you think of the possibilities and to look more into your own potential as a freelance writer, and I’ve combined some of the great ideas from the web to help you do that!
1. Consider Your Niche
All freelance writers have a niche or two. No one really writes about anything and everything. While you don’t have to be an expert on a particular topic, as a freelance writer, you need to make sure that you have a niche topic that you are willing to specialise in.
Not only does this help you do targeted pitching and to establish yourself in a circle of writers for that niche, it also allows you to become somewhat of a subject area expert so that you become the go to writer for repeated work!
Here is a good article here by Carol Tice – an extremely successful freelance writer – on How to Figure Out Your Best-Paying Freelance Writing Niche. There are definitely more indepth lessons to be learned here!
2. You’ll Have to Spend Some Money
This is probably what you didn’t want to hear. While I did say anyone can write, and that writing isn’t a career that required formal qualification, it certainly will help if you spend some money on a course and learn from an expert.
Some of you may have a publishing background, but if you are brand new to the writing game, to the idea of having to pitch your stories rather than being told what to write about, then it is certainly worth your while and money to sign up to a short course on freelance writing.
Having made a lot of first timer mistakes and learned things the hard way, I figured that I needed to know how the pros do it, so I signed up for a couple of courses with The Australian Writer’s Centre, and my investment had paid off.
My first professional pitch earned me $390 on a 600 word article, which pretty much paid off the fee for the course!
While my income can vary and be quite seasonal, I have now gone beyond the desperation of picking up $10 jobs and can effectively pick up some quite decent work, all thanks to the lessons I learned and the support I received from the tutors.
Whether it is through your local writer’s centre, or through many of the individual mentors out there, spending this money will fast track you to understand how the industry works, how to study publications, how to formulate your pitches, and make sure you do not make the mistakes that many have made before you, so that you can give yourself the best opportunities in the freelancing road ahead.
Think of the money you spend as an investment!
3. Write Everyday. EVERYDAY.
One of the best advice I have ever been given is:
The most successful writers are not necessarily the best writers, but those who write often.
Write. Write everyday.
Even if you don’t have an assignment, start a blog, give yourself a reason to write everyday.
I’ve made a commitment for my daily writing routine to incorporate writing every day, whether it be writing for this blog, or a short story idea that just popped into my head, or to add another 1000 words towards my novel… I am making sure that I don’t have one day that I didn’t write something.
The rational behind this is that those who write often are more aware of their style, and are motivated to take on more work. It is a way to get your ideas out of your head, to something that you can see, that you can mold and work with and eventually, pitch with.
It is also the #1 tip on how to building your writing confidence as a writer.
There may be great writers out there, but those who are dedicated to write everyday are the ones that are noticed and succeed.
4. Research and Connect
Start reading. Read widely. Read lots.
To be a freelance writer you are going to need someone to write for, and your clients are going to be the many publications, on and offline in the big world out there.
Research into newspapers, magazines, online journals and websites that publish topics on your niche. Read all of them, study them and understand their tone, style and structure.
Find out names of editors and writers and start following them on social media. Read what they have to say, because often their writing style will reflect what they would prefer to read from writers they commission.
Connect with fellow writers, join a writers club on LinkedIn. And yes, it is all about the social media these days!
Be active in these networks, don’t be afraid to ask questions, at the same time, don’t hold back information you can share. Treat your fellow writers as friends, because you never know when they might just think of you for a job one day.
One of the benefits of being part of a writing community is that it can be motivating. Knowing that someone else has had success means you can do it too. It’s all about being surrounded by positive vibe!
5. Repeat After Me: “I AM A WRITER!”
So you’ve taken the step towards freelance writing but still shy about calling yourself a writer?
Snap out of it! Any entrepreneur out there will tell you the only way to success begins with you believing in yourself.
Let’s say you need your kitchen tap fixed and you are looking through a list of traders in a directory, are you more likely to hire someone who says “well, I am kind of a plumber” or someone who confidently shakes your hand, hands over their business card and say “I am a plumber, let me fix that for you”?
Do you think editors are going to want to even read your article if you say “I am kind of a writer”?
So repeat after me: “I am a writer” and say it loudly and confidently the next time someone asks you what you do. Because, you need to believe you can do it first before you can convince someone else!