Since I took my freelance writing from a weekend pursuit to a full time job, lots of people have asked me how I did it. After writing hundreds of articles, books, and essays, I know that getting your start in the field is totally doable. In fact, it’s probably a little easier than you think. But it takes hard work and trial & error. There are many ways to approach your freelance work, but I’ll outline the way I did it. Maybe this will be a could career path for you, too.
- Start. I was working a extremely long hours as a butcher. I wasn’t happy. I never saw my wife, and one week, I had to work when I was very sick. The shop couldn’t spare me. Miserable, I went home that week and researched freelance writing. Two weeks later, I quit out of the blue and went home to make a go as a writer. Simply by quitting my job, I was jumping into the deep end. I needed to write a lot to pay our mortgage, to buy food. But this serious need motivated me to do what it took, and I did. This won’t work for everybody, but you’d be surprised how hard you’ll work if you HAVE to make money in your chosen field. Therefore, I tentatively recommend quitting your job and sitting down at your keyboard.
- Find simple work to build confidence. There are lots of websites where you can bid for writing jobs. I started at one of the simplest and lowest-paying sites. For my first job, I was paid $1.18, but my client gave me 5 stars. Soon, I had a lot of good feedback, and I could apply for the sites “expert level” jobs. Before long, I needed to find a better site, and soon I had sought out the best sites on the internet for bidding on writing jobs. Within 6 months, I was making more money than I was as a butcher, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
- Look for work you can do well, and bid low at first. Most of the internet sites you’ll get work on have a rating system. Newbies will find it harder to get clients, because they don’t have ratings or feedback. In the beginning, you’ll have to do work for cheap in order to get a client to hire you. Work really hard on these pieces, so your client will give you great feedback. Soon, you’ll be able to get much higher-paying work.
- Meet other writers. Today, I know a lot of people who make their living freelance writing. Some of them have gotten me work with their favorite clients. I have passed work on to others as well. I have also been able to find local work this way, through people I’ve met in my city. As a freelance writer, most of your work will eventually come through clients, colleagues, and friends.
- Get diverse experience. In my relatively short time as a writer, I have edited 1000+ page books, contributed to financial blogs, edited memoirs, written biographies, and typed out hundreds of articles. At this point, if it has words, I know I can probably do it. A wide array of writing experiences is helpful in bringing in work. You never know what jobs you’ll find. With lots of experience, you’ll be much more likely to win them.
There are many other techniques to becoming a successful freelance writer, but these are the ones that have gotten me into the realm of stability. It’s not an easy job, but it’s not the hardest one I’ve ever done either. The freedom it brings to my life is worth it, as it probably will for you, too.