This article was conceptualized by Nellie, written by Shari, and edited by Pitsh.
Shari is a Pitsh freelance writer from Canada. She specializes in Real Estate, Small Business and Educational content for blogs and magazines.
So, you’ve decided to become a freelance writer.
Writing professionally can be a crazy journey. Are you ready for it?
Before you go ahead and quit your day job, you should think about what you hope to achieve as a freelance writer. The deeper you dig now, the happier you’ll be as you get settled in your new career.
- Establish a Niche
If you want to find consistent, well-paying clients, choose a specific niche. You can go about this in a few different ways:
Choose Your Audience
Writers often focus on corporate writing for B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer), but you can also aim to write for newspapers, magazines, or trade publications.
Focus on a Single Industry
If you’ve got previous work experience or high interest in a particular field, such as Healthcare, Real Estate, Education, or Technology, you can leverage your experience and reputation, and increase your earnings, by positioning yourself as a subject matter expert.
Specialize on a Content Type
Businesses hire writers to create many different types of content: Social media posts, product descriptions, email newsletters, blog posts, case studies, white papers and more. If you prefer a particular type of writing, hone your skills in that area.
Of course, these categories aren’t set in stone.
Some writers love variety, or just love to write. Others aspire to book publishing deals, but write corporate content to pay the bills. Either way, writing outside of your niche is a great way to keep your career fun and interesting. And taking on new types of projects will help you to feel challenged while expanding your portfolio.
There is one more thing to keep in mind, though:
Your freelance career is essentially a business. And your chances of getting hired will be higher—as will your rate of pay—when you have relevant writing samples or expertise that wows potential clients.
- Build Your Online Presence
Many freelancers are unprepared for the reality that because your freelance career is essentially a business, you need effective marketing and sales in order to gain customers.
To start, make it easy for potential clients to find you.
Once you’ve decided what to write and who to write for, tell the world about it:
- Set up a website with a portfolio of your writing samples.
- Engage in writing and business communities, like Wattpad and Linkedin.
- Promote yourself and your writing on social media.
This is true for all forms of writing. Book publishers will evaluate your sales potential in part based on your social media following. Corporate customers need to be able to find you. And newsmagazines want to make sure that your controversial opinions don’t present a liability for them.
Pro tip: Don’t always work from the couch! Remember to keep good posture and consider workspace ergonomics, or your freelance career will become a literal pain in the neck.
If you don’t have a professional portfolio yet, that’s okay! Write for yourself, do it well, and share what you write. You don’t have to be on every platform to be a successful freelancer. Pick one or two to start, and focus on building your presence there.
Of course, there are also plenty of freelance marketplaces where you can try to bid for work. Or if you can get in at a content marketing agency (like Pitsh!), you can get stable and reliable work at fixed rates, without having to worry about sales or collections.
- Nail Down Your Routines
Now that you’ve decided what to write, and are getting clients, it’s time to buckle down and get to work.
Are you an early bird, who likes to plow through projects before the rest of the family gets up?
Or maybe you’re more productive with a glass of wine, at your best after the rest of the world settles down for the night. No problem.
One of the beauties of freelancing is that you get to create your own schedule. While you may occasionally need to take meetings with clients during their company work hours, you can usually set your own agenda for each day—whether that means coming up with new ideas, writing, proofreading, or something else.
So set a schedule. And stick with it. Be clear about your boundaries with family and friends. It can be hard for them to understand that while you’re never “at work,” you are still working!
Finally, don’t forget that while you’re a writer, you’re a business operator too. You’ll inevitably need to budget time for marketing, sales, client relationships, and bookkeeping. But you can also choose to budget money to outsource some of these tasks, and free yourself to focus on what you do best (or what you prefer to do).
So get cracking. Because you can do more than establish a niche:
You can own a niche.
And you can conquer a corner of the internet. Or you can take control of your life. Whatever it is that you need, go out and chase it! Then you’ll be one step closer to getting everything you want out of your freelance career.
Pitsh handles sales, marketing, editing, and collections on behalf of freelance writers. Are you looking for a few extra projects? Get started today.