As the demand for quality content marketing and writing services increases over time, two things are naturally happening. First, more job opportunities are opening up and the pool of potential clients is growing. Second, more people are quitting their day jobs and attempting to become full-time freelance writers. The issue is that it seems like this second group is larger than the first.
Everyone wants to be a professional writer. It’s fun, flexible, and – under the right circumstances – lucrative. However, the truth of the matter is that not everyone is cut out to be a professional writer. And if you are, you must be willing to work hard with very little pay in order to eventually develop a successful career.
If you understand all of this and still believe a freelance writing career is for you, then it’s time to get to work.
There are certainly many approaches to launching a writing career. Everyone follows a different path, catches different breaks, and possesses different skills. While your career will likely look starkly different than the next person’s, the following tips are universally helpful in getting off the ground.
Build a Home Base
As a freelance writer, the success of your career ultimately depends on your internet presence. (It also has to do with the strength of your portfolio and size of your network, but both of these ultimately rely on a strong internet presence, too). Websites, blogs, social media profiles, videos, podcasts, and interviews directly impact your visibility and reputation. If you have no internet presence, you’ll find it extremely challenging to launch a career.
With that being said, the first step to starting a career in writing is building a “home base.” In other words, you need a quality website of your own, populated with examples of your highest quality work. This professional website will allow potential clients to visit and browse around in order to understand that you’re a serious writer with a real brand. They can see the quality of your writing and the impact you've had on other organizations. Here’s a pretty good guide to building your first website.
Once you’re confident in your website’s appearance, you need to begin developing connections. In the beginning, this may look like acquiring guest writing opportunities on various industry websites and blogs. Produce high-quality content and these opportunities can ultimately feed traffic back to your website and hopefully produce paying leads down the road. They also allow you to build a portfolio that you can use to pitch potential clients.
Even if you have a website and dozens of guest blogging connections, you’ll soon learn that new freelance writers don’t have the luxury of sitting back and waiting for leads to naturally develop. You’ll have to vigorously pursue them.
The best place to start is by finding local businesses that look like they have a marketing budget, but may not be maximizing it. For example, a business with a professional website and a couple of blog posts in the past month would appear on paper to be a good lead. They obviously care about their internet presence, but don’t have the time to keep up a blog or manage their content marketing efforts.
Research your area, find businesses like this, and reach out to tell them about your services. Not every one of them will realize the potential you're offering them, but if you follow this model long enough, you'll eventually get some bites. And from there on, you'll have paid clients that can testify to your value when bigger opportunities roll around.
Don’t be Greedy
Budding freelance writers often think too highly of themselves. While you may be a super talented writer, nobody else knows that - yet. And until you have the credibility of a strong portfolio, you’re going to have to work hard to prove yourself.
In the first few months of your writing career, you should never turn down a paying job. You may feel like you’re worth more than the rate you’re being offered, but at this point there's a good chance you aren't. Bite the proverbial bullet, work hard, and understand that you’ll eventually be able to command higher rates. Doing this sort of work will help you put a monetary value on your own writing efforts and understand how much to charge future clients when you've built up a portfolio and made a name for yourself.
Enhance Your Social Networks
The fifth and final tip brings us full circle. Remember that your internet presence is everything. In today’s writing marketplace, having a strong social media following is considered extremely valuable. While it’s not necessary to have 10,000 Twitter followers; it helps. Make a point of steadily growing your social networks and you’ll become an even hotter commodity in your career.
Share your work, get involved in conversations on social networks, follow people and gain followers of your own, and if you have the funds, you can even invest in a bit of advertising to grow your follower base. Judge the best course of action for your writing career and follow through on growing your online presence.
Putting it All Together
Do you spend your time daydreaming of a paying writing career that gives you the flexibility to work when you want, from where you want? If so, you’re not alone. This is both a positive and negative, though.
The positive spin is that plenty of other people are trying to launch careers in writing, which means you have a lot of support and helpful resources available to you. The negative spin is that these people are competing for the same jobs and clients you’re trying to land. As such, it’s imperative that you work hard and follow the tips outlined in this article in order to launch your career in a positive direction.