Every week, I hear from people who ask me how to become a freelance writer.
You hate your job, or you can’t work outside the home, or you want to be home with your kids…the reasons vary. But the glamorous reputation of freelancing has caught your eye. Being your own boss sure sounds great!
Everyone wants to know how this gig works — how to stay home and pay your bills with your writing.
Aspiring freelancers usually have strong writing skills. But there are other strengths you may lack that could doom your chances.
What does it take to be a successful freelance writer? Is this career for you?
Here’s my unvarnished, let’s-get-real list of key traits you’ll need:
I can still remember how excited I was to get my first freelance writing job. It was an essay for an alternative paper in Los Angeles that paid $200.
Over the moon! You know I ran right down to my nearest mini-mart, the hour those papers got delivered, to grab myself a few copies.
Then, I followed up on that by doing…nothing.
When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of seeing your name in print, or getting that first client check. And to be a bit in the dark about what to do next, to keep building career momentum.
There are some key moves to make right after getting that first gig that can help you build your career faster — steps that most newbies don’t take. (I know I didn’t!)
Want to get some real mileage out of your first freelance writing jobs? Here’s what to do right after your work gets published:
When you’ve created over 900 posts full of free help for freelance writers, it’s hard to remember every single post. Becomes a bit of a blur!
But a few posts stand out in my memory, because I keep sending their links out to struggling writers, week after week. They’re posts that address a writer’s critical need to understand some aspect of freelancing.
You’ve got urgent questions about how to make it as a freelance writer — and these are the posts that deliver the answers.
I can’t remember where I put my sweater half the time these days, but there are a few key posts that come easily to mind, because I find myself sending writers off to read them again and again.
After nearly a decade (!) writing this blog to provide help for freelance writers, these seven posts seem to address the most common problems freelancers face:
Every year, at the end of the year, I look back and discover the things freelance writers need to know most.
How can I tell? By looking at which posts here on the blog saw the most readers. Those are the topics freelance writers needed to learn about the most.
This year, there’s an interesting variety to the list. As always, this provides a road map for me to what kinds of posts I should bring you more of next year!
To qualify for this list, by the way, the post has to have been published or re-published in 2016. Oldies-but-goodies that keep getting traffic for ages don’t count! But you can check out the sidebar for those.
Here are the 10 things you wanted to know about the most in 2016:
The biggest problem I faced as a new freelance writer was wondering when I’d ever feel ready to make the leap to marketing myself effectively, and getting that first freelance writing gig.
I took me some time to realize that I’d never feel 100 percent ready. But if I wanted to make real progress, I’d have to start taking consistent action to find that first client.
Sometimes we just need a shot of inspiration to send us down the right path, and mine came from Bamidele Onibalusi’s recent Earn Your First $1000 as a Freelance Writer challenge.
My strategy and email template are adapted from his articles, and used here with his permission.
Here’s what I did:
I post a lot of tips here on Make a Living Writing for writers looking to earn more. But recently, a look at my Google Analytics revealed a surprising phrase writers commonly search on:
“What is freelance writing?”
This makes me feel I should back up and start at the very beginning. Clearly, I shouldn’t assume every reader knows what this career is about.
Apparently, some folks know that term well enough to search to find out more about it…but they don’t yet know how freelance writing works, exactly.
So let me fill in the blanks today with answers to some of the most basic questions about the world of freelance writing: