How to be a Successful Freelance Writer | Everyday Power
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10 Steps to Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer

Published on July 31, 2016 12:00 AM EST
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As a freelance writer, you can work from any location such as your home, office or the local café. Freelance writing can be your full-time job or just a part-time side gig. However, trying to juggle a traditional job at the same time, might not give you an opportunity to dedicate enough effort to your writing career. To become a successful freelance writer, you need to understand the basic principles which will help you put your goal into action. It might take some time to build a successful freelance writing career, but following these ten steps will help you get started.

How to become a successful freelance writer

Polish your Writing Skills

Working as a freelance writer requires you to have marketable writing skills. If you are just starting with writing, you will probably need to brush up on your writing skills. Consider enrolling in a creative writing class offered by your local community college, either in person or online. You can also pursue self-study by buying books that can teach you how to develop your writing skills. Also, many free and premium resources that can help you become a proficient and prolific writer can be found online.

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Expose yourself to other writers by reading books, articles, and blogs whille paying attention to their style, vocabulary, and voice. Find a variety books on different subjects to add depth to your writing skills. When you find writers you like, study their style and emulate it in your work. You should also find a writing partner who can read your work and give you honest, constructive feedback about your writing skills.

You can also improve your skills by practicing. Set up a regular schedule to practice writing. As you write, you will build your skills and find your voice, tone and other characteristics that will make your writing unique. At first, you might spend more time than you planned on every step of the writing process. If you take your time to develop suitable methods for your work, you will eventually work fast enough to manage a hefty workload. Focus on writing first and then edit later, this way you will be more productive in your writing.

Explore your Options

Now that you’ve decided to become a writer, you should explore your options. You can get started by writing about things in your personal area of expertise. Write about the products and services you worked with during your previous career, especially those that captivated your interest the most. If you previously had a job in a specific niche, you probably have enough experience to write from a position of an authority.

If you have a college degree, you should have plenty of academic topics you can write about, using your textbooks and notes as a foundation. Although you can find writing jobs that require little expertise and minimal research, you will probably discover that those jobs do not pay as much as opportunities that require specialized knowledge or experience in a particular field. As you explore your options, pay attention to the market of available writing jobs. If you can find a market with a shortage of expertise, you can jump start your writing career by customizing your knowledge for that market.

Get Some Exposure

If you want to kick start your writing career, you need to put yourself out there. In order to get the necessary exposure and gradually establish yourself as an authority in a particular niche, you should leverage the power of the internet.

One way of increasing your digital presence is to start your own blog or website. You’ll create a platform where you’ll be able to consistently post quality content on the topics of your choice, showcase your work, and eventually build a community around it.

Another great way to get under people’s radars is to look for guest blogging opportunities. By offering other bloggers great content, written exclusively for their sites, you’ll get the chance to position yourself as an authority in your industry. You’ll also get exposure and traffic back to your blog or website, and expand the network of your connections.

Your blog or guest posts will serve as your writing portfolio that can help you win jobs. When clients consider hiring your services, they often want to review samples of your writing to make sure you have the capability to produce work of the caliber they require. Your portfolio should feature a diverse sampling of your best work, so you can show off your ability to master a variety of topics and styles.

Get Good Testimonials

Ask your clients and colleagues to provide testimonials about the quality and character of your work. When you have people who can attest to your professionalism and talent you add weight to your pitch, improving your chances of success. Whether you do work for bloggers or businesses, make a habit of getting a testimonial you can add to your repertoire of recommendations.

Set your Rates

When you enter the market as a writer, you will quickly discover that you face a lot of competition. Resist the temptation to take a low-price strategy that will inadequately compensate for your work. Make up your mind to keep your fees up as a testimony to the high-quality, professional work you produce. As a part of your pitch, define your minimum acceptable rate to establish clear expectations.

Browsing through the jobs available in any writer’s marketplace will help you get an idea of the average rates charged for your level of work. Use the information you get to set an appropriate rate that will keep you competitive. Make sure you collect a retainer before you start work to help ensure that you will get paid.

Find Writing Opportunities 

Your writing career will not take off until you show some initiative in finding work. No one can give you writing jobs if no one knows that you have started working as a writer. Begin by letting your family members, friends, and business associates know that you have decided to write for a living. You should then search online for opportunities to write so that you can gain experience and a good reputation.

Many existing online resources for finding paid freelance jobs offer you a chance to get real world experience and exposure as a writer. As you pursue the various available writing jobs, you will likely come across a particular topic, niche, and style that appeals to you. When you find the kind of writing work you like, your passion will drive you to take your career to new levels.

Craft a Great Pitch

Landing writing jobs require that you have an effective pitch. You need to make a good first impression with your pitch, demonstrating your abilities and enthusiasm. When you let your passion and your writing skills shine, you can differentiate yourself from the masses.

Give great attention to the subject line of your pitch. If a prospective client requires a specific subject line in the ad, follow their guidelines. If there’s no specific instruction, try to come up with something that will separate you from the crowd but won’t come off as unprofessional. Make it short and sweet, avoid capital letters and certain buzzwords that sound too salesy or banal.

Make sure to follow the guidelines provided in the ad and include all the necessary attachments. Prospective clients probably have dozens of other applicants, so making sure you get noticed is crucial.

Pay attention to spelling and grammar of your email – outstanding writing skills are supposed to be your strongest asset. Demonstrate them early on. Create original work and pitch it with professionalism, and you will lay a sound basis for your writing career.

Stay Professional

Once you start getting your first writing jobs it is very important to maintain a high level of professionalism. During your writing career, you will come in contact with various clients. Some of them will be delightful and working with them will be pure joy. On the other hand, some clients will be impossible and might cause you stress by having unrealistic expectations or requiring unattainable results.The important thing is to learn how to deal with them.

You should always have a lot of patience with your clients. Accept their criticism but also show them that you know what you are doing. Keep your clients constantly informed about your writing progress and offer them quick solutions should any problems arise. No matter who you are writing for, always maintain your writing to the highest standards and don’t let the character of others deter you from your career path.

Go the Extra Mile

As your writing career progresses, you’ll soon realize that many prospective clients expect more than just having the article written and submitted. If you’re writing for blogs, you should be familiar with the concepts such as online marketing, content marketing, and SEO. Your clients are certainly familiar with those terms and are keen on keeping their online marketing strategy effective. By offering to not only write, but also publish and promote the content, you’ll soon begin to discover the great range of other opportunities for the development of your freelance career.

If you’re just getting started, you should probably focus just on your writing first, but keep the option of upgrading your skills for the future. Having your own blog or website will soon prove to be worthwhile, as it will force you to acquire the extra useful skills, such as the knowledge of basic principles of HTML, CSS, SEO, or social networking.

Final Word

As with any change, your new line of work might seem difficult at first. Expect to have ups and downs in the freelance writing business, but stay disciplined and persistent. As you work, keep exploring and learning. Test new ways to write and new approaches to business. Eventually, you will become a successful freelance writer.

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