The Best Ways to Become a Freelance Writer
For many of us, making a living as a freelance writer is something of a dream. Freelance writing not only gives you the opportunity to work from anywhere, but it also allows you to spend your days doing what you love. However, breaking into the freelance world can be difficult — you don’t just have to be a great writer, but you also have to manage your time and know how to market your skills.
Here are a few tips for becoming a successful freelance writer.
Make Sure Freelance Writing is Right for You
Before you spend time and energy establishing yourself as a freelance writer, make sure it’s actually the right career for you. If you want to be a full-time freelancer, you probably won’t be working for just one company and may not take home a paycheck every week depending on which business and the number of companies your work for. You may also give up benefits like health insurance and paid sick time that you would get with a salaried position. In addition, you have to be a pro at managing your time. However, you do have the benefit of being your own boss and spending your time however you want.
Write Creatively Every Day
Once you’ve made sure being a freelance writer is the right career for you, get creative — in your writing, that is. Regardless of the type of writing you’ll be paid to do, your employers will want you to have a distinct and well-developed voice. One of the best ways to develop your voice is to practice creative writing. This type of writing, whether it’s poetry or creative prose, really allows you to free up and explore different word choices and sentence structures. Great creative writers can easily become great journalistic or academic writers because of the distinct style they’ve been able to develop. Having a few polished creative pieces in your portfolio will also give you an edge over your peers that don’t.
Perform Market Research
Market research is important for two reasons:
- you should know how to best advertise your services
- you need to know which fields are most in need of quality writers.
Otherwise, you may not be getting the exposure you need, or you may be targeting your efforts in the wrong places. There are a variety of books and other publications on self-marketing out there, and many of them are available at your local library or for free online. Read these as often as you can to ensure you’re promoting yourself in the best way possible.
You should also regularly browse news, tech and employment sites to find out which industries and companies should be on your radar. You may get assigned things that are foreign to you, like how addiction rehab centers work or the pieces of a car engine. You’ve got to be able to research and write as though you are a pro in the given area.
Craft Writing Samples and Have Applications Ready to Go
Most companies looking for freelance writers will ask for writing samples, a resume and a cover letter. You can save yourself a lot of time by preparing these materials before you actually begin applying for positions. Compile a variety of articles and pieces for your applications — everything from creative writing to sports writing is important. The more kinds of examples you have, the more attractive you’ll be to an employer, as a variety of samples shows that you’re flexible, well-rounded and open to new experiences. Also, while you may need to tailor your resume and cover letter to different positions, having the basic letter ready can save you time in the long run.
Once you’ve prepared your materials, start applying for positions. Don’t just looking for opportunities on job sites like Monster, though. Rather, target specific companies you’ve found through your market research and apply directly to their website. Also, give copies of your portfolio to your family, friends and professional contacts. Many freelance jobs are unadvertised, and getting the gig is just a matter of knowing the right people or being in the right place at the right time.
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