Being a writer is not an easy way to make a living.
Unless you write a best seller, or develop your poetry to the point that you can go viral, you have to find another way to make money from your talent.
A lot of writers turn to freelance writing so that they can make enough money to further your more serious endeavors – you have to pay the bills after all.
Freelance writing involves a variety of writing tasks and styles.
As a freelance writer you will be expected to handle any topic under the sun, produce something new on a daily basis under the pressure of deadlines, and adjust your writing style according to client needs.
Take note that not all writers have the necessary skill to work under these conditions – more avant garde purists might find the work demeaning.
Before you start, you need to decide whether or not you are prepared to use your talent to work on more menial tasks.
You can make a living doing this, and if you follow these three easy rules, you could actually thrive. And who knows, you might start to enjoy it!
Rule 1: Meet Your Deadlines
Freelance writing is a job, and like any other job, you will be expected to work under certain time restraints.
Freelance work comes in at unusual times, and because you will be working for a variety of clients from all over the world, time is always a problem.
A client will often send you a very strict deadline, and because you are part of a whole chain of people involved in the work, you need to get your part done in time. If you don’t you will get a bad reputation, and in this business, that could be a killer.
Rule 2: Get Your Work Out There
Create a portfolio of some of your work so that people can get a sense of your style. Try to include as diverse a range of work as possible so that you can show off your diversity.
Also, be sure to add to your portfolio as you get more work to track your growth.
Using sites like Freelanced.com, LinkedIn and even Facebook and Twitter could help you advertise yourself so that someone notices your work. This is your chance to show off, so include as much high quality work as you can.
Rule 3: Keep Working On Your Own Stuff
Even though you are writing for someone else, you are still a creative artist. Never stop working on your own projects – they will help you grow.
Even though you are not always working on your own work, constant progress will be reflected in your ability to wow clients, and that is always useful.
Plus you are going to need a creative outlet to break the tedium, so why not write for pleasure? You might fall in love with this unique art form all over again.
Rule 4: Take What You Can Get
When you first start out as a freelance writer, it is imperative that you take as much work as you can.
This is important for two reasons. Firstly, you will be able to get used to the various formats that will be expected of you – rewrites, blog posts, articles and so on all have different structures that call on you to adapt your narrative voice.
And secondly, taking on work will help you meet clients. Think of it like a networking dinner party. When you first arrive you don’t know a soul. Then someone extends an olive branch, in this case in the shape of work.
They have connections, and so you meet them. Freelance writing works like that. There is a lot of word of mouth business, so make sure people are talking about you. Oh, and taking work equals money!
Rule 5: Maintain Your Ethics
This might seem like a bit of a contradiction to rule 4, but it is important, particularly to new freelance writers. As a writer you will be expected to adjust your narrative voice, and write on any topic presented to you.
But this does not mean that you have to cross personal lines. If you are presented with a task that you are not comfortable with, say so. Your client will understand.
Also, if you feel that you are writing something that is less than legal (hate speech, propaganda and so on) pull the plug immediately – you can get roped in to legal proceedings for your involvement.
Keep your wits about you and use your discretion.
Rule 6: Develop A Strict Invoicing System
When you start receiving work from more than one client, it may be difficult to keep tabs on what is going on. This is the most important of these 7 rules. You need to know what is due when, how long the work was, what the agreed fee was, if it has been paid etc.
I highly recommend that you set up an excel workbook that details everything you write – one for each client. Have a page that details all of your work, with columns like “Work Title”, “Length”, “Accepted”, “Fee” etc. Every time you write an article for that client, insert it into the corresponding spreadsheet.
The benefit of keeping these records is that you can refer back easily for invoices. Some clients like to be invoiced at set monetary values, say every $50, so you will need to tally up your work and send it away.
These records can also hope when your local tax authority comes knocking – depending on the laws in your country taxing will work differently. Make sure you know what is expected of you in terms of income tax.
Rule 7: Keep Your Computer knowledge Up To Date
Your computer is the most important tool that you have as a freelance writer. Firstly, you need something that is reliable – you won’t get anything done if your technology lets you down.
Secondly you will need a good internet connection, especially when dealing with international clients.
Update your virus protection too – you don’t want to send your clients harmful viruses. And lastly, make sure that you are familiar with a variety of programs, as you could be asked to work in Excel, Word, and WordPad.