Thinking about dipping your toes into the world of freelance writing?
Having the freedom to create your own schedule, set your own rates and choose the best people to work with are just some of the reasons why being a freelance writer is so appealing.
So, what do you do when you’re first learning about something new? You research and read up on it as much as you possibly can. But, then you end up becoming completely freaked out about the whole thing, because you feel like everyone is telling you something different.
If you’re nodding your head thinking “this is me”, then I want you to know that I’ve been there, and actually, I still am. There are days when I read SO many articles about freelance writing that I just don’t know what to believe.
This meant that it took me a lot longer to get going with freelance writing and made the whole thing a hell of a lot more confusing too.
It doesn’t have to be that way for you.
I’ve wanted to start creating more content about freelancing, so today, I’ve got seven things you need to be aware of as a newbie. Now, these will all require some sort of action from you. Your freelance business won’t grow if you’re not helping to make it grow and getting yourself out there. So here are some of the things I think you need to be aware of if you’re thinking about freelance writing.
#1 | You have to pitch...a lot
Just because you have a great blog that you publish content on, doesn’t mean that clients will start flooding your way asking for your services.
And the reason why they won’t is because they won’t know you exist or they won’t know that you’re actually offering freelance writing services! Think about how many people are trying to make it as freelance writers - you’ve got to throw it in their face.
So one thing you need to bear in mind when you’re starting out as a freelance writer is that you’ve got to be the one that does the reaching out. Start pitching and go straight to the client.
You also can’t just send one pitch per day and hope for the best. My rule of thumb is anywhere between five to ten pitches per day, if I can.
Now you might be thinking, “I ain’t got time for that on top of everything else I do!” But it doesn’t actually take as long as you think. Once you’ve got a few pitch templates written up, you can customise them for each gig you apply for. That way, you can also keep track of which pitch template performs better too. It’s all about working smarter not harder, right? ;)
When you’re pitching you want to aim for job boards, but also cold pitches too (which I’m plucking up the courage to try!) Cold pitching is basically reaching out to companies who aren’t actively looking for freelance writers. You could contact anyone - bloggers, small businesses, startups, entrepreneurs, and tell them why your services can help their business.
#2 | You need to keep up with your blog
If you’re serious about freelance writing, you can’t be all ad hoc with your blog. You can’t decide to go quiet for a week for no reason. You’ve got to treat your blog as a client.
Your blog is your portfolio
When I first started pitching I thought, how the hell am I going to send any writing samples when I don’t have any experience yet? The answer? Your blog.
That way, you’ve always got articles to link to. And it’s so important to always use your own blog content as some of your samples.
It helps improve your skills
I couldn’t tell you how many words I’ve written for this blog. But I know that if you go back to the beginning and compare those posts with my more recent work, you’ll notice a huge improvement in everything.
Whatever you’re doing regularly for your blog, you’re always learning, improving and getting better at it. This will pay off so much when it comes to what you can offer your clients.
Clients can find you through your blog
At first, my blog didn’t help me generate leads or enquiries. Freelancing wasn’t even in my plan when I first started out. But as I started talking more about freelance writing on my blog, more people became aware that this was something I offered and got in touch.
The best thing about this is that potential clients actually get to see your writing in action before they hire you. Win win.
#3 | You’ll need to focus on little victories
It’s easy to pay too much attention to all the rejection emails. Your writing is a very personal thing and when someone doesn’t like it, that can be hard to take.
But just because your pitch isn’t successful, doesn’t mean the people behind the computer screen don’t like you.
That’s what you think, I know, because I’ve thought it. But here’s the thing - freelance writing and even blogging is professional. We’re running businesses.
So when you don’t hear back from someone or you get told they’re going to pass on you this time, it’s nothing to do with who you are as a person. Don’t let rejection take over put your goals on hold. I’m not the most outspoken person, but that hasn’t stopped me writing for big publications.
And to think I almost quit a job once because of someone’s words!
Have faith in yourself, learn from it and move on.
#4 | Taking a course is a very good idea
This is something I know I need to do if I want to earn a decent enough income from freelance writing. I already know I’d have saved so much time by taking a course as soon as I made the decision to start.
Having successful freelancers tell you the ins and outs of how they got to where they wanted to be will help you grow so much quicker as a new freelance writer. You’ll learn what to pitch, how to pitch, where to look for jobs, how to market yourself and so much more that will save you from wasting a lot of time figuring it out on your own.
I’ve got a few free email courses saved ready to have a go at that I know will make a difference. Start off small and then find the one that’s the best fit for you.
#5 | You’ll have to get comfortable with networking
One of the best things I did (and still do) to help my freelance writing services is to reach out to other freelancers. Whether it’s to ask them advice or just to say I appreciate what they create for me as a reader, having them there as a guide is so comforting and helpful.
I find most of the freelance writers I chat to on social media or through blogs about freelancing. You’ll usually find if there’s a guest post on a blog about freelancing, the guest posters are probably freelancers themselves!
#6 | You’ll have to get to grips with marketing
So, I know a lot of people get uncomfortable with promoting themselves and their blog or business. But marketing is what helps you stay alive online.
Because after you land one reader, you have to land another and another if you want to create a sustainable, successful blog.
It’s just the same with freelancing. When you get one client, you have to land another if you want your business to grow.
I can even compare it to where I work. We need student after student to enrol with us and we get those numbers to increase year on year, through one word that will make this whole thing possible for you - marketing.
You’ve got to market yourself, there’s no question about it.
Here are some things to think about doing regularly:
Get on social media (especially Twitter and LinkedIn). Put in every bio that you’re a freelance writer for hire.
Start guest posting. And in your author bio, put that you’re a freelance writer for hire. This is a great tip to get you noticed.
Keep up to date with job boards and businesses on social media so you’re aware of any of the latest opportunities.
Comment and interact with the blogs that you want to write for.
Create a page on your site showcasing the services you offer.
#7 | You’ve got to keep going
Being any type of freelancer means you’re a go-getter. You’ve got to go out there and get your clients.
But don’t start thinking this is what life is going to be like as a freelance writer forever - because after a while (and with the right marketing), clients will approach you.
So even when you think you’ve got enough work and everything is ticking along nicely, always keep going and be on the lookout for more opportunities.
Clients don’t stay with you forever and one of the biggest fears of a freelance writer is losing every client.
A Final Note
Even though freelance writing can be a lonely game, it doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. There’s a whole community of people out there willing to help you if you just reach out.
So if you’re thinking about freelance writing, make it a goal for today to reach out to someone and ask them a question that you need help with. I guarantee you’ll get a response.
What other pointers do you have for new freelance writers? Let me know in the comments.