If you want to turn writing into your career, you might be wondering what are the steps to becoming a freelance writer? Whilst there’s no one way into writing, just as there’s no one way into any career, there are some simple steps to becoming a freelance writer that you can take today, and with a lot of hard work and determination, you could make your passion your 9-5. Although be warned, it’s anything but 9-5!
1. Get a Portfolio
This is probably one of the most important steps to becoming a freelance writer. You know the drill; you can’t apply for writing jobs without a portfolio, but how can you have a portfolio if you’ve never had a writing job? Well, you can write, so that’s a start, so why not pick 3-4 topics you enjoy writing about and write a few pieces for your portfolio. An informative article, a casual blog post – whatever you feel like writing. You can use these pieces to apply for writing jobs.
2. Apply for Writing Jobs
If you’re looking to write online, there are plenty of opportunities. Use Craigslist, Odesk, Freelancer.com and other freelancer sites to hunt for writing opportunities. You might have to take poorly paid pieces to start with, but you’ll soon improve and gain experience, moving on to bigger and better paid clients. Remember, the application process never really stops when you’re a freelance writer – I set aside at least an hour or two a week to assess my workload from current clients and see if I can spot any new opportunities, whether they’re long term working relationships or one-off projects.
3. Believe in Your Ability
When I say believe in your ability, there’s a certain amount of blagging to be done here. Be confident and act as if you’re already a writer, and people will have faith in you! If you were responsible for writing for your college magazine or studied journalism at school, mention this in your job application. Be confident in your ability to write well and create pieces that people will want to read. Of course, not everyone will like your work, but then you’re not trying to please everyone – you just need to please your client so that you can make a living writing!
4. Write Something
If you don’t have time to put together a portfolio today, or the kids are screaming and you’re thinking there’s no way you’ll get peace and quiet to complete a job application, then just write something. Sit down at your computer (or use pen and paper if you like) and write whatever you like. Writing a little something every day will help to hone your skills, and you’ll soon find your own, distinct tone of voice, whether you’re planning to be an online content writer, advertising copywriter or best-selling novelist!
5. Read What You Want to Write
This is a really good tip that I was told when I was younger. Want to write witty, off the cuff pieces for dating sites or lifestyle blogs? Then that’s what you should be reading. Read more of the type of writing you admire and would like to write, and you’ll soon pick up useful tips which will help you to become a better writer. Keep cuttings of any pieces you come across that you particularly enjoy, or search for writers online and look through their portfolios – you’re sure to be inspired!
6. Get an Early Night
This might sound like a bit of an odd tip, but you’ll feel much more fresh and creative first thing in the morning, after an early night. I have some of my most productive days when I start work early (and often finish early), which means I have more free time to spend with friends and family. By making sure you get an early night you’ll be refreshed and raring to go in the morning.
7. Cut Your Outgoings
When you start out as a freelance writer, you’ll probably invoice most of your clients on completion of briefs – they’ll then take 28-31 days to pay you your earnings, so don’t count on having money in your bank account straight away! By cutting your outgoings and being more sensible with your finances, you’ll have the financial freedom to take on new freelance writing jobs without worrying about your cash flow. If you have savings stashed away in the bank, even better!
There are plenty of websites and forums where you can seek advice about freelance writing, whether you’re looking to work in print, take a freelance job at an agency or go-it alone from day one. If you’re a freelance writer, how did you get into the industry, and do you have any tips to share with the rest of us?