Okay so you want to be a freelance writer but there are so many places out there and you aren’t really sure where to start right?
I didn’t either but I figured out some things along the way.
These are the things you need to work on first while making that leap into freelance writing.
First things first.
#1 Find a mentor/someone who is already freelancing and successfully doing it that you can get advice from.
I personally chose Elna Cain. She is making six figures freelance writing. You can find her on FB as Twins Mommy , she writes at TwinsMommy.com and she also just started her own group as well – Mom to Mompreneur but you may not be looking to write as a mother and that’s fine but you should find a top person in your niche to look up to and get tips and advice from when your stuck and frustrated and who will keep you going. I sometimes write motivational content if you want to follow me on my other blog – Mom&StudentBlogger.
#2 Narrow Down Your Niche.
Finding your specific niche, or focus isn’t always an easy thing to do but here are some ways to figure out which one is best for you. Ask yourself these questions:
- What one hobby or activity excites me the most even if I am not already doing it myself?
- What is one thing I have been interested in for a long time or can’t see myself getting bored of researching and learning more about anytime soon?
That is what you should focus on in your writing first and foremost. It’s good to start off only trying to write about what you already know quite a bit about and it will make it easier as well. You can always branch out to other topics later on but for the beginner, it’s best to stick to what you know well. You should also only be applying to writing gigs and jobs in only this niche you have chosen. Sometimes you may get sidetracked on different ideas or even some different opportunities that sound interesting. Save those for later. Just trust me on this. Save yourself a headache. I myself made this exact mistake when I first started writing and ended up losing a lot of time going on a mad goose chase that led me nowhere. Now I just stick to what I know. Natural Health, Freelance Writing, and Being A Mother. If you’re just getting into freelance writing and have no idea where to start Elna Cain also has a great article about ways to start getting writing experience if you have nothing to write on your resume.
#3 Figure out what time of day you can do your best writing/research.
Figuring out when your writing/research skills will be at their peak during the day (or night) will help you as a writer (especially a new one). I myself have four very active, energetic kids, 3 boys and a 1-year-old girl. So sometimes I just have to make time. Everyone has the same 24hrs in a day to work with but finding your optimal time is my best piece of advice I can give to a writer. Procrastination is so easy to get used to. You may need to take some time to think this through before deciding to become a freelance writer. When I first started writing I wrote at the strangest times and still do a lot of the time but that is what works for me right now. I am also in college (online) so I have to work around quite a bit in my day and it doesn’t always go exactly as planned. School and family always come first as my priorities so sometimes my blogs have to take a back seat especially when things get hectic. The good thing is the writing I have done hasn’t gone anywhere and it will still be there when I come back to it. There will always be time later to work on writing so I don’t worry about it too much. Make sure you get yourself a good writing planner/organizer because they help a lot especially when your ideas start flowing. You can find them anywhere online just google it, print it out, or go to the store and buy one. I personally like to write mine down with pen and paper but feel free to use what you like best. Make sure to set up when you will need time to work on your writing and how much time for each part. This will include research, planning, writing, editing, adding in extras (pictures, links, etc.) and whatever else you may need to do. Let your spouse, kids, pets, neighbors know what you are working on and to not distract you during these times and treat it like a real job (even if you aren’t making any money at first, from it). It will help you in the long run if you can get into this habit early on.
#4 Don’t think you’re going to be able to quit your job right away or in the first 6, 9 or 13th month of freelance writing. It may not catch on as quickly as you think it will.
I think every “new” writer has a dream about quitting their job to be able to stay at home and write and pay all the bills. While it can eventually happen I would not recommend quitting the job you have to maybe become a self-sustained, and highly successful freelance writer. You should be making a good amount of money freelance writing first and then decide you’re going to quit your day job. Freelance writing takes time, dedication, and lots of rejections. I have been rejected numerous times. A LOT actually. But I never gave up and neither should you. Sometimes we just aren’t fit for that certain position or gig. Freelance writing is a journey. Don’t get caught up in your vision of the finish line, make sure your enjoying journey it takes to get there as well.
I cannot stress this enough. Think of your writing as a masterpiece, not yesterdays lunch you just threw together in 2 minutes as you rushed out the door on your way to work. Slow down and think. Take your time on it. Don’t be in a rush. Make sure each part is well thought out, researched (if needed) and you are using your excellent vocabulary to get to your readers and get your point across to them. Don’t force it. It’s better to have made a masterpiece in a week than 4 halfway put together articles or posts in a day or two. If you read a lot (which you should be doing if you want to be a successful freelance writer) then you will notice the really bad writing and also the really great writing. Sometimes the only real difference between the two (other than grammar and punctuation) is that one of those writers took the time to choose carefully what they were trying to say to their audience and the other writer didn’t. Everyone has the potential to write well. I think it just depends on how much thought and care you put into it that ultimately makes it “great writing” or “horrible writing“. I realize my writing is best when I feel I am helping others in some way and I try harder to make sure I am giving the best advice I can. Conversely when I write about myself its harder for me to write. You have to figure out what makes you tick as a writer and use that to your full advantage.Figure out exactly what it is that will keep you interested in writing and you will never have to worry about coming up with ideas. When you figure this out ideas will flow almost effortlessly and you will be well on your way to a writing career. Who wouldn’t love that?
#6 Know Your Audience & What They Want/Need to Learn From YOU.
You are unique. Everyone is in some way or another. It’s important to also know your audience and more importantly your potential audience and what it is they are looking to learn from you. Your writing is going to be unique. New information/content is only good for someone if they don’t already know about it. Your audience needs new, fresh content that hasn’t been rehashed a million times over. This is where the research comes in for you. It can be done. I like to google a specific topic and read through a few of the first articles that come up on google. I then think of ways I can put a different twist on it so that it’s relevant still but also helpful and beneficial to someone who reads it. You just have to think about it for a little bit to figure out a new topic or idea to write about on the same subject someone else has written on already. If it takes a day or two to think about that’s fine. Masterpieces take time.
#7 Make Sure You’re Taking Care Of Your Body and Mind.
I know sometimes as a “writer” I tend to get into a funk and end up in tunnel vision mode. I think a lot of writers do this. I end up getting writer’s block for whatever reason and get frustrated trying to figure out my next move. The only times I get out of this little mini-funk is when I physically get up from my computer and leave my house. I have to go for a walk or just go relax somewhere other than in front of my computer screen. Sometimes I just have to stand up and stretch and get a snack, walk around, watch a show I like. Anything other than thinking about what I am going to research, read, or write next. You just have to get completely away and clear your head. You will feel so much better when you come back to it and have fresh ideas to use too.
#8 If your writing and realize it really is crappy and you want to trash it, Don’t Do It!
First, sometimes we learn what and how to write better the next time when we save and reread what it was we wrote that was so horrible.
Second, sometimes you can actually salvage some parts of that bad writing and reuse some it later on when you get some more ideas for new content to write.
I have trashed many posts and regretted it later when I thought of an idea for a new post and I could have used some of what I had already written. It’s easier to work around what you have than to have nothing at all and start from scratch when writing.
#9 Don’t always sit in the same place to do your writing.
I’m not sure how many other writers this may apply to but I know for a long time I only wrote in the same singular place and then I realized I needed to have different move around. Write but see new things at the same time. It can be very boring and secluded always writing in the same place day after day. Having something new and refreshing to occasionally look up to from my computer screen definitely helps me to keep my ideas flowing and does wonders for my thinking and planning that goes into my writing.
#10 Finally, make lots and lots of connections.
Anywhere, everywhere. Meet other people in your niche and make friends. Follow them, comment on their content. Pick their brains. Make sure you are working on your networking skills. It helps a lot.
So, are you ready to give freelance writing a shot?