Having real talent as a writer is generally more important than being an expert on a specific topic. Though finding work is more streamlined when you work within a few select niches, being a generalist offers flexibility and the excitement of writing a variety of content.
An expert can’t always write well, but a great writer can always take notes from an expert. Keep this in mind as you progress in your career as a freelance writer. As your skill set develops, so will your opportunities to receive higher paying and more consistent jobs. These are common areas of concern for new freelance writers so I’m offering my thoughts on how they should be handled.
It is tough at first to believe that you can actually make money freelance writing. Why should these publications hire you to write?
Don’t think about it.
You need confidence to succeed in this business, and if you don’t have the experience to create confidence you need to be able to fake it. Supplement your lack of experience with confidence. As you start to gain skills and credibility, your confidence will grow naturally. If you allow this process to occur organically, you won’t ever have to worry about struggling to find new freelance writing clients.
Never work for free. This is important. I made this mistake early on — several times. In fact, I believe that most of the people reading this will still make this mistake, or have already made it. It is hard to resist offers of so much exposure and a highly valuable clip. Cheap editors or websites will use phrases like these to dupe you into writing free content for their blogs.
There is an exception to this though. Not working for free doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever accept unpaid work for exposure. In instances where the compensation of exposure is measurably worth your time, go for it! Getting relevant clips that will increase your worth as a writer can be a valuable opportunity.
Getting published is hard if you’ve never been published. Finding someone willing to look past your lack of published clips can be a tough obstacle to pass. I have two main tips for anyone looking to get published for the first time.
Read and write. Constantly
- Read as much content within the niche you’d like to write for as possible. By viewing the style and voice of other writers, your own creative voice will gain direction. When I sent out my first pitch in the entrepreneurship niche, I’d already spent hundreds of hours reading related content on other blogs. If you want to write for inc.com, read inc.com. If you want to write for The Hustle How-to, read The Hustle How-to. It is really that simple.
- Start a blog. If nobody else will take a chance to publish you, publish yourself. By building a blog and growing an audience, you show your capability to get results through writing. Writing well, like any skill, requires practice. There is no limit to your capacity for growth as a writer, so continue writing and editors will eventually recognize your worth.
Advancing Your Career.
Freelance writing isn’t anything like your traditional career structure. The cake goes to the hustlers, not to those who stick around the longest. Doing grunt work may pay the bills, but until you manage to secure proper clips and references you won’t be able to excel as a freelance writer. Though I started out using content mills, the experience you gain in these low paying sites won’t ever qualify you to write for higher level publications or websites. It may sound nice to “pay your dues” as a writer by submitting to content mills, but these dues are likely to have no return save the pennies you make working for them.
The first things you need to do are:
- Get some quality clips
- Find solid contacts
- Learn as much as possible about writing
- Get Feedback on your writing
Quality Clips and Contacts
For a freelance writer hoping to remove themselves entirely from content mills and sites like Upwork, contacts and relationships are everything. The relationship you are able to build with an editor is what will encourage them to offer you more work and refer you to their colleagues. Having solid contacts means more work and repeat customers. Explore your network to find any opportunity to get your writing in front of an editor or business owner.
Keep Learning and Practicing
Developing a strong voice that effectively characterizes your journalistic writing style is also important. The ability to maintain your voice while keeping your writing to the point and journalistic makes you a more desirable writer. As you learn more about writing, you train the ability to tell a story or promote a business in a straightforward and engaging way. Indulge in writing, the more you write the better you get. Finding mentors, taking classes, and keeping a personal blog will keep your skillset in a constant state of progression.
Feedback is critical in learning what works for you and what never will. You may think your writing is amazing, but to an unbiased eye it may be full of errors. To write confidently, build confidence in your writing by implementing changes that target the problems others find in your writing. Like with any career, freelance writing requires constant effort if you hope to see real growth. Now, using these tips, it is time to build the successful freelance writing business that you are certainly capable of building.
Categories: Freelance Writing Advice