Want To Be a Freelance Writer? Here’s What You Need to Know…
So, you want to be a freelance writer? Congratulations, but keep reading because there are things you need to know before you take the leap — even if you are only dipping your toes in the pool and still deciding if freelance writing is the right track for you. Lots of people can write well, but writing is hard and laborious, so you have to really enjoy it in order to do it for a living. Running your own business, working from home, setting your own hours, and earning a six-figure income are all enticing benefits of freelance writing, but it is certainly not a get-rich-quick scheme. Results come from dedication to the business and appreciation of the craft.
Freelance writing can make for a lucrative and fulfilling career; you have the freedom of working for yourself, working from wherever you want and whenever you want, and you really never stop learning. However, freelance writing is also a stressful and time-consuming occupation. The downside of running your own business is that all of the work involved — from the actual writing to the bookkeeping — falls on you. It takes a long time to build a career in freelance writing, and it also takes time aside from writing and finding work to stay relevant in skill and knowledge.
Want to know if you have what it takes to be a freelance writer? Here are five things you need to know in order to make it as a good one…
1. How to Be Patient, Disciplined, and Organized
Working from home is not always what it is cracked up to be; it can be distracting and make it difficult to stay organized. A freelance writing career takes time to grow, so not only do you have to be patient, but you also have to be disciplined about setting aside time to write and build the business for what seems like, in the moment, minimal payoff.
Because the management of the business falls on you to maintain, you have to be the manager that your business needs. It is on you and you alone to keep track of assignments and deadlines, send out invoices, and promote your services. Freelance writing is not always a steady income, but it is rewarding. It is possible to make full-time money working part-time hours, but your chances of succeeding are higher if you know how to think like a businessperson.
2. The Rules and How to Break Them
People pay for creativity, and generally, you should err on the side of writing creatively, but it would be even better for you to know when it is and when it is not appropriate to go outside the box. That is why it is important for a freelance writer to be flexible and know the boundaries. This is especially true when it comes to conventions of grammar and style. For example, passive voice — when the object of a sentence appears before the verb — is a faux pas in academic writing, but in other types of writing, it is acceptable.
You should let your personality shine through your writing, but you have to be in control of the construction. Think of it like you would in social situations; you would not act the same way with your co-workers as you would with your friends.
3. Research is a Skill
If you want to be a freelance writer, brace yourself for constant learning. Part of the fun of the job is that with each assignment you learn something new either about the process or the topic you are writing about. However, if you are not skilled in research, it is possible for learning to become burdensome, unproductive, and a waste of time.
First of all, you need to settle on a niche that you are passionate about to prevent burnout and dread of the chore of research. Second, it is important to target your research by identifying what you know and what you need to know in order to write about a topic and research within that framework. Researching is more than reading articles, and it is really important to be efficient in research because it takes time, and the better you research, the higher quality your writing will be and the less time it will take to complete an assignment.
4. Before You Pitch…
…you need to have a personal website or online portfolio to show off your samples and promote your services. When you are not writing, you should be pitching for gigs, so before you even enter the business cycle, take time to build a hub for your business. As you are developing your brand and figuring out your niche, get to know the audience you would like as your client base because it will inform your website and how you approach clients through pitches.
Also, understand the game you are getting into, from the client’s perspective. Customers want a quality product completed in an efficient amount of time for a reasonable amount of money. Once a client hires you for work, it becomes your responsibility to deliver a product that will meet the client’s utmost satisfaction. You have to know what your client wants and how to advertise what makes you stand out from the competition. You also have to be confident in what you charge per service and stick by it in your client communications. As with everything else in life, clear and thoughtful communication is key.
5. How to Walk the Walk and Talk the Talk
The only way to become a freelance writer is to be a freelance writer. Starting thinking of yourself as a writer and immerse yourself in the writing community. Follow freelance writers on social media, participate in writing forums, read articles, attend conferences, and listen to podcasts. Know the field you are breaking into before you even get started and the transition will be much smoother. Know what you want to write and tailor your self-training to that. For example, a fiction writer would not follow in the same footsteps as a copywriter.
Think of it like job training; the best way to do something is simply to do it because knowing what to expect beforehand makes it much easier to adapt. Freelance writing takes hustling; you have to make every effort to communicate effectively and be able to demonstrate your credibility in the business so you can start working, making money, and enjoying the payoff. Associating with the people who have already accomplished what you want to accomplish will help you grow as a writer, and connecting with aspiring writers just like you will give you the support you need to be successful.
So, with all that said, do you still want to be a freelance writer? Writing is hard and if you do not love it, then it might not be the path for you. However, if you do enjoy it, there are many opportunities out there waiting for you. It is never a good idea to jump into something blindly, but if you do your research and come prepared it should not be too difficult to find your voice in the world. There are many resources to help you become a freelance writer, but do not let the process overwhelm or intimidate you; forging your own way to success reaps the greatest reward.