Freelance writing is one of the only jobs where you’ll learn about “natural breast enhancement” at three in the afternoon and “how to choose the best guitar for an eight year old” at seven that same night. Your internet history is about to look weird.
But, freelance writing is an amazing opportunity to showcase and utilize your skills, give you increased freedom, and help you finally cut that nine-to-five that’s been draining your soul for years.
There are no shortcuts to building a career as a freelance writer, but there are some great ways you can jumpstart your success. These aren’t easy. You’ll have to work for it, but if writing is your passion, these are the best ways to help you do it full-time.
Look for Jobs on Freelance Writing Platforms
This is how plenty of freelance writers get their start. Platforms like iWriter, Upwork, and Rev allow clients and freelancers to find one another a lot easier. This is a great way for a new freelancer to build a pipeline of clients and create a sustainable source of work for themselves.
iWriter has been around for quite a long time and is a fairly simple platform to use. The way it works is clients will post their jobs in a pool and freelancers will pick and choose which projects they want to complete.
It operates on a tiered system, meaning that those freelancers with higher ratings receive the higher tiered (higher paid) jobs. This is great for those who are just starting out, but the inconsistent flow of projects can make it difficult to glean a sustainable income.
This platform is excellent for creating long-term relationships with clients with whom you are compatible. A freelancer is able to speak with clients about their desired rates, use an in-platform messenger to communicate questions, and can either work for a fixed or hourly rate.
Upwork is, by far, the best platform for steady work that pays well enough to work at it full time. Of course, it will take time for a freelancer to build a client base, but as long as you provide great work to your clients every time, you’ll keep the ones that initially reach out to you.
Rev is a transcription platform. It’s on this list because it’s great supplemental income for a freelancer who is just starting out or who has yet to build a large enough client base for themselves.
For Rev, clients place audio files in a pool and then transcribers will choose projects at their leisure. A transcriber will listen to the audio file and type every word into Rev’s transcription editor. The best part is every project is considered complete when you submit it and you will be paid every Tuesday via PayPal.
Take It Seriously
Writing is your job now. Whatever unpaid work you’ve done before this, be it unpublished novels or blog posts, now it’s the source of your full income. That being said, it can be easy to see freelance writing projects in the same light as your past, unpaid endeavors. This can lead to procrastination or even feeling guilty that you’re doing this instead of helping out around the house.
Again, this is your job. Projects need to be completed in a timely fashion, so don’t drag your heels. As for feeling like you’re neglecting other obligations, just remember that if you were to tell someone that you’re unavailable because of a shift you had to work, it would be totally acceptable. This is the same. Working from home doesn’t negate the fact that this is your job.
Don’t Expect Overnight Success
As with most entrepreneurial startups, it’s going to be awhile before you are making enough to cover all of your bills and also live comfortably from your writing alone. It’s best if you can devote yourself fully to writing as soon as possible, of course, because you’ll meet with success faster. The more time you put into it, the quicker you will be able to build your pipeline.
If you do decide to quit your day job right away and begin a freelance career, save up enough to cover expenses for at least your first month or two. Panicking after the first couple of weeks to a month of starting to do this full time is natural, but try to use it as a motivator. Find your money. As long as you don’t look back and you keep pushing forward, you will find the light at the end of the tunnel.
Knowing that this is going to be a slow build puts you way ahead of the game. Some freelance writers see this as a way to get rich quick with minimal effort. Knowing that this is going to be hard work and not just an easy way out of a regular nine-to-five job is going to be your greatest advantage over the competition.
Take Lower Paying Gigs At First
Anyone who suggests that you should you work for free should go straight into the bin, whether you believe in yourself or not. However, you should expect to take on projects for less pay than what you’d like while you’re building your pipeline. Once you’ve gained some experience, then you can ask for higher pay from either your existing clients or new clients who reach out to you.
One of the biggest mistakes aspiring freelancers make is demanding five cents a word before they’ve built any relationships or proven their worth with a portfolio.
Don’t Take It Too Seriously
The other side of the coin. As a new freelancer, you want to take your position seriously and work diligently to provide completed assignments to your clients. You want to build your pipeline as quickly as possible and create a sustainable source of income from your writing.
And that’s great. You should.
But, if you type away at that keyboard without going outside for three weeks straight, mainlining coffee, and only talking to your cats, you’re quickly going to despise your job. You are likely choosing to do freelance writing because you’re passionate about it and you feel like you have skills that others are willing to reimburse you for using.
Never burn yourself out to the point that you dread sitting in front of your laptop. Don’t make freelance writing make you feel as you did in your typical nine-to-five. Pacing yourself and having fun researching different topics to write about is one of the greatest ways you can jumpstart your freelance writing business.
About the Author:
Melissa is a young and energetic writer, a mom to a sweet little boy, and a fur-mom to two perfect pooches. Before becoming the Associate Content Director for Project Female, she was a journalist specializing in topics related to women in politics and policy affecting women.