I’ve started getting more and more requests for information on how to get started in freelance writing. So, I thought it might be time for me to write a guide to getting started as a freelance writer.
How To Become a Freelance Writer
Get a piece of paper to take notes, because this is going to blow your mind.
First, to become a professional freelance writer you need to write.
Great. We’re all done.
Seriously, that’s it.
O.K., that’s not it.
Publish what you write.
Now, that’s it.
Getting Published as a New Freelance Writer
Right about now, several of you are rolling your eyes and / or looking for the back button.
Actually, I’m completely serious, but you are correct, some explanation would be nice.
Once upon a time, there was a diabolical Catch-22 when it came to becoming a writer. No one would publish anything you wrote until you had been published somewhere, and if no one would publish your writing until you were published, how could you ever get published.
In fact, this was the world that existed when I first tried to become a professional writer. At the time, the internet was still reserved for the niche of technically sophisticated people and young college students. Sending a resume by email was considered offensive. How dare you send us a resume without putting it on expensive paper with a matching envelope? You obviously are not serious about getting this job!
Needless to say, being published online, regardless of how large of successful the website, was worthless.
Today, things are different.
People who have been published “only” online get jobs everyday. In fact, writers who can write for the online market are every bit as in demand as their offline counterparts. However, one thing has not changed, you still have to have published writing to use as “clips” if you want to get paying freelance writing gigs.
Fortunately, those clips can be published anywhere, including your own website. In fact, having your own website filled with quality, published writings, not only is an opportunity to show that you can write, it also shows that you DO write, which is important for on-going writing gigs where you need to submit content on a regular basis.
Your own website also shows that you know how to use the internet, how to publish on the internet, and how to do basic things like insert links, publish pictures and graphics, and even how upload materials to a website.
In other words, your own website will show prospective clients what you can do. It also shows that you are serious.
With unemployment high, there are thousands and thousands of people who have decided to just jump in an be freelance writers. After all, everyone can write, how hard can it be? Websites with a dozen pages are a dime a dozen. Writers without websites are a penny a dozen. A writer with 300 published articles on a writing website that has been around for a few years is a serious writer who isn’t going away as soon as he finds a “real” job.
Unlike a single writing sample, your website is a collection of hundreds of writing samples. My freelance writing business has a page where I link to several of my freelance writing samples. There are various topics, various lengths, maybe even various styles. Potential clients can scan the links provided and then read samples that most relevant to what they are looking for in a writer.
Freelance Writing Business Startup Plan
If you want to become a freelance writer, stop reading, stop applying for jobs, and stop making plans.
Start working on your website. If you don’t know anything about websites, start with a blog from wordpress.com. Just click the sign-up link and fill in the form. Use your name, or your business name as the domain name. Delete the sample post and then start writing.
Ideally, you’ll write a post per day, but anything without long gaps in between works. Don’t get caught up thinking that every single post has to be an earth-shattering opus worthy of a doctoral dissertation. Even feature articles in Time Magazine are just a few pages long and most published writing is a much shorter.
Be sure everything you publish is something that you would feel good about if someone looked at it, because they are going to.
Now, update your resume to include your website address and make sure you mention your writing website in every cover letter or email you send out.
It might not happen today, this week, or even this month, but sooner or later someone is going to take your resume seriously enough to check out your website, and if (and that is a big if) you are a good writer with a good style, they’ll hire you. If you happen to hit on something, you might even make money writing online from your website.
You can do social networking until you are blue in the face. You can send out resumes until your fingers bleed. But, until someone can see your writing and be impressed by it, you are just spinning your wheels.
Stop reading about it, and start writing about it and you’ll be on your way to being a pro freelance writer.
Yes, you’ll have to do other things later on in order to build your business to a sustainable and profitable level, but doing them before you have a catalog of published materials online is a waste of time.
If you want to know how to get started as freelance writer, the answer is to start publishing your writing only AFTER you have done that long enough to have 40 or 50 articles you are proud of published somewhere should you bother doing anything else.