A brand new website calls for a brand new shiny blog. So here it is! I must admit that given writing is what I do for a living I have been procrastinating far more than I ought to about what to feature in my first post. I write so much more productively with a brief! But now having put digital pen to paper I thought it might be fun (sort of!) to look back on the embarrassing mistakes I made as a newbie freelancer and try and dredge up some tips to share with you all about starting out as a writer.
1) You will have to work for free (or very close to it!)
If you are starting out as a brand new shiny freelance writer you have a problem. That problem is you have no portfolio, or in other words, a lovingly curated collection of your published works to share with potential clients. So when you are starting out be prepared to work for peanuts at sites like fiverr.com or for free. One of the best ways to do this is contacting local businesses or calling in favours from family friends. I remember thinking that a decent introduction letter and a couple of pieces I had knocked up in word would get me high paying work – it didn’t and unless you are very lucky it won’t for you. Start small and build, with a bit of luck and some writing smarts you will move on from this low paying stuff pretty quickly so hang on in there.
2)You will make mistakes (Just try and learn from them!)
Starting to write professionally you will learn that there are some things you don’t know. A grammatical error you have made all of your life only to get pointed out by a grumpy client or missing a brief by a million miles and having a contract cut short. Criticism is tough to take, especially when you are pouring your heart on soul into something, but take a breath and listen or read criticism then take some time to reflect. OK, so occasionally you are going to get a completely impossible client who is just plain mean but most of the time criticism has a basis and learning from it will make you a better writer. I say this as someone who has nearly thrown her laptop out of the window on multiple occasions – BREATHE people!
3)Write what you know (or can learn REALLY fast)
I see a lot of freelance bio’s that say the author can write about anything. Well maybe they can write about anything but I would bet my house that they can’t write about everything well! I have learnt through painful assignments that I cannot write about techy stuff. My brain cannot process it and I can only produce the musings of a 6 year old on anything vaguely techy. I have accepted that my niche in life is lifestyle writing so make-up, dating, essentially all the fluffy stuff. I’m ok with this because I know I can write about this stuff well. So find your niche and do a really, really good job, not only will you have a lot more fun you will sell a hell of a lot more stuff.
4)Try a variety of platforms
If you have started to look into this freelance writing stuff you will know you can sell your services over a variety of platforms and sites. My advice is try a few and find two or three that work for you and concentrate on them. For me peopleperhour.com and the jobs board at problogger.com have been fruitful but there are a ton of options out there. Spreading yourself too thin will make it difficult to build a strong profile and in honesty is just confusing. Try some on for size and see what works for you. Over time you may build up direct clients (which is ace) but for most of us a presence on these platforms is necessary to make a living.
5)Do not give up (and you will want to allll the time)
Starting up as a freelancer is frustrating, hard work and at times just a pain in the backside. You will have days where you are struggling to scratch together an income and you wonder if it is worth the effort. You will have a lot of these days especially at the beginning. I honestly believe that with some hard work and lots of enthusiasm you can make it as a freelance writer. I am still not all the way where I want to be with this writing business and sometimes I beat myself up. The rewards of freelancing are immense, set your own schedule, come into contact with a whole range of great people and do a job you are passionate about. I think these rewards outweigh the hard stuff – so keep going – it will be worth it!