With the freedom to work whenever and wherever you want, no boss breathing down you neck and the chance to make an income doing something you love, becoming a freelance writer is many people’s idea of a dream job. Although this is not an unrealistic aspiration, there are things you can do to maximise your chances of success and help you to avoid the most common pitfalls. The following advice is taken from my own experience as a freelance writer and editor.
Manage your Online Presence
The first step for any online venture is to manage your online presence. This means multiple things. Assuming you are on social media, make sure that any publicly viewable content is something your would be happy showing a potential employer. If you are not on social media, then create a profile on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Secondly, set up your own website to promote yourself, your services and showcase your portfolio. This can be as easy as creating a blog using Blogger. However, I would always advise buying the domain (£10 a year through Google) as this boosts your page’s visibility to search engines which could seriously impact your success later on.
Although you may have a passion for music or art, understand that the likelihood of writing on your favourite topics is very low to begin with. For example, in a given week I might be writing about Chinese culture, anime or online slot games at Dream Jackpot. Remember that any time you spend writing will further hone your craft.
Apply for any or all online writing projects through websites such as Guardian Jobs, Upwork or one of the many ‘Content Mills’ around. Content Mills often get a hard time for the lack of quality projects and relatively low pay, but they are a great way for beginners to cut their teeth and get those first few projects under their belt.
Try to say ‘yes’ to project managers as often as you can. Of course you shouldn’t take on more work if you don’t have any time to complete it, but being reliable, keen and available will increase your chances of getting repeat work from that client.
Track your Earnings
Many ‘creative’ people find the administrative side of home-working to be the most challenging (and least enjoyable) aspect of becoming a freelancer. Create a new email folder for work-related correspondence, keep all invoices together and maintain a spreadsheet detailing how much money you have earned for that period in order to calculate any taxes owed. Nobody becomes a freelance writer to live a lavish lifestyle, but it is important to value your time when crunching the numbers to work out whether your freelance career is viable and, if not, how to change it.
Most importantly, don’t become disheartened. Keep on applying for new projects even while you’re busy working on something else, as you never know when things might dry up. Becoming a successful writer is a hard road, but one well worth traveling for those who want to take control over their career.