How to become a freelance writer
I find it’s a good litmus test when I meet somebody new and tell them that I am a full time freelance writer, whether they get energetic and exclaim “Good for you!” or if they’re like, “Oh. Well, wait…how do you pay your bills?”
I’ve been getting a lot of people asking me recently just how exactly I fell into this rogue career path and what steps they should take in order to launch their own freelance career. While the web has opened numerous doors for freelance writers, quitting your day job to work for yourself can still be rather tricky and a bit intimidating. In this post, I’ll break it down for you and tell you how I did it and what you should do in order to become your own boss.
It was never really my intention to become a freelance writer. I was working as a newspaper editor and freelancing on the side to earn a bit of extra income. After getting laid off from my day job and realizing that Philly does not offer a lot of journalism opportunities, I started applying for contracting gigs instead of full time, in-house positions. I am now earning more than I ever did and have the luxury of working from my sofa.
I don’t have a specific formula for freelance writing success, but I have discovered that there are a few major steps you should take in order to be any good at this at all.
1.) Pitch, Pitch Pitch
If you’re just starting off as a fledgling freelancer and don’t have any clients, email as many publications and websites as you can.
If you need some ideas on how to pitch an idea to an editor, check out Mediabistro’s “How to Pitch” section. It gives you the contact info of some of big name editors as well as how to craft your pitch. Be sure to research what the publication or website is all about before you contact them. This way, you’ll get a better idea of what they’re looking for.
2. Freelancing Sites
There are a few sites tailored to meet the needs of a fulltime freelancer. A few of the sites that I comb through daily areFreelancewritinggigs, Elance and Flexjobs. Flexjobs you do have to pay for to see the job listings, but it’s well worth it. Freelancewritinggigs pulls daily jobs listings from other sites and categorizes them, i.e. blogs, content writing, proofreading.
3.) Be Prepared for the “Feast or Famine”
The one thing that I did not realize right off the bat was that freelancing definitely has an ebb and flow to it. Some days, you’ll have so much work you won’t be able to come up for air. Others, you’ll be counting every cent in your checking account. When the work is fruitful, be sure to put money aside to live off of when the work is slow or when you are inbetween clients.
Unlike a 9-5er, you won’t be receiving a weekly paycheck in this field. Clients pay via Paypal, bank account, and even hard checks. And their pay schedule varies as well. I have one client who pays me biweekly and another who pays me whenever they seem to feel like it. It’s annoying at first, but you learn how to be flexible. Any more questions, drop me a line.