One of the most daunting aspects about a freelance writing career is figuring out where to start. Upon searching this topic at the beginning of my journey, many freelancing professionals claimed that the best way to start is just to jump into it. After taking their advice and not doing the research that I originally wanted to do, I found that this method was not realistic whatsoever.
I found myself hunched over my laptop, scrolling the seemingly infinite list of freelance jobs and trying to submit my bids. I spent endless hours tweeting about my services and my experience as a writer and editor, but after almost a week of no responses, I knew that just jumping in wasn’t the right decision, and that I had to take a different approach.
So, if you’re looking to start a career in freelancing, here is my step-by-step guide on how to get started!
Step One: Do your research
Find out what kind of freelance you want to get into. Do you want to write fiction, non-fiction or maybe even reviews or news? Do you want to edit or transcribe? There are so many options for us because as writers we have a wide skill set; not only do we have the ability to write, but we also have the ability to edit and type fast!
Step Two: Pull together a writing resume
Now this isn’t going to be as structured as a normal employment resume. Instead of selling your skills as an employee, you are going to be selling your service as a writer. This resume is to include all levels of education, all non-institutional education that has contributed to you as a writer, and any and all writing experience. Your goal is to show people why they want you to work for them. They want to buy your skills, and you want them to come back to your service with all future projects.
Step Three: Find a secure venue
For your first couple of freelance gigs and beyond, it’s important to find a venue where you will will be securely and regularly paid for your services. You need to make sure that there are contracts and that there is someone watching your transaction to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Hopping on Twitter and finding a client that wants to work with you over email and PayPal is not the ideal first gig, but there are tons of other websites that make for a safe freelancing environment.
One example is Fiverr, which is a simple marketplace style website with tons of traffic. You create an account, build your profile and offer your services. The catch is that the base price for each gig is $5, so you want to consider this for how much you want to get paid in the end. On my profile, I have a very popular service that says I will proofread 2000 words for $5, but other people on the website sell their editing of 700 words for $5. There are so many options for gigs, from press releases to copywriting; all for $5 and the clients come to you! The best part is that you can create custom offers for customers that want larger projects done.
Step Four: Build client relationships
In my experience on Fiverr, most of my bigger projects have come from the same clients I had when I started. They liked my work and they came back. So I started thinking about ways to get more business from them. I started messaging them occasionally, asking them if they needed any work done for their books, websites, or projects and 9 times out of 10, they would say yes. Then I took the step to letting them know that they could refer their partners and friends to my service as well. This is all based on the workload you are interested in taking on. Sometimes it gets a little bit stressful, but it’s worth it in the end.
Step Five: Don’t get discouraged
If freelance is what you want to do, than you need to know that it’s not going to be easy from the get go. Even after these steps, I had a hard time with a few set backs. You just have to keep telling yourself that it will get better, business will pick up, and in a year from now, maybe even a month from now, you will have a successful freelance career as a writer. As long as you keep working for it.
In my next post, I’ll be clearing up any confusion you might have about what to charge for your services, how much is too much, and how to get your client to keep coming back! I hope this helps inspire you to try professional freelancing and I look forward to hearing any stories or experiences you have along the way! Feel free to leave any questions below and I will try my best to answer them for you!
Mazie Bishop is a fiery 22 year-old writer and journalism student from Canada. She is self-published and also has several poems and short fiction pieces published in various anthologies and magazines. She is a big dreamer who hopes to be writing with the big guys some day and cannot wait for her career to start! Currently, she is in the process of writing her second novel, and is in the outlining stages of a quarter-life memoir. You can read about her little crafty adventures, read her work, and gander at her photos on www.theselittlepieces.com.