6 tips to help you go far as a freelance writer
The beauty of writing as a profession is that it can be so flexible. Armed with a notebook, laptop and some blue-sky thinking you can do your job pretty much any time, any place. Working remotely or completing short, in-house contracts gives you the flexibility to travel, which – let’s be honest – is the ultimate goal.
But with great flexibility comes great responsibility. Writers aren’t typically the most practical types, but when it comes to making your passion a profession, you can’t just rely on your way with words.
I’ve been freelancing for about two years now, and I’ve learned a lot about how to succeed in this competitive field. Here’s my advice if you’re looking to do the same:
Find your niche
What are you good at? What are you interested in? What gives you the most viable way of making a living? The best way to make money in writing is to find your niche and invest energy into it. Most of my freelance work has been as a creative copywriter, and I’ve put a lot of effort into learning about the field – from mastering techniques to reading up on the way the industry is going.
Develop a thick skin
Working in a creative field is a privilege, and there’s nothing more rewarding than being paid for the fruits of your creative loins. But it has its drawbacks. No matter how good you are, you’re going to have clients who don’t like your work, and this is going to sometimes make you feel a bit rubbish. They may particularly dislike the work you’re most proud of; they may say they love your work, before butchering it so its barely recognisable from the carefully curated copy you’ve agonised over for days. It feels personal, but believe me: IT’S NOT PERSONAL.
At the end of the day, they’re paying the bills. You have to learn to accept criticism, even if you disagree, and just keep doing your work to the best of your ability, with an unwavering faith in that ability.
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You could be the most fluid writer in the world, but no one is ever going to hire you if you can’t prove it. You need to have your name beside some professional work if you’re going to attract good clients and interesting jobs. This may mean doing a few initial gigs for free, but these shouldn’t take long and it’s difficult to demonstrate the value of your work to potential clients without doing so once or twice. If, like me you’re interested in travel, becoming a contributor on our platform couldn’t be easier.
Give yourself time between writing and editing
It’s always a good idea to let your ideas marinate. I like to initially get my ideas down on paper, even if they are slightly scrappily articulated, take a break, read a book, and, if I have time, come back to it the next day. It’s amazing the insights I get just from looking at my work from a new perspective, and it’s in the editing process that you’re writing will really begin to shine.
Work on a portfolio website
A personal portfolio website or blog is the perfect way to display your talents to potential clients. Don’t panic if you’re not a coding ninja, there are heaps of tools – Wix, Squarespace, or WordPress – that allow you to create professional websites without any coding knowledge. You just need an idea of what you like and some rudimentary dragging and dropping skills.
Never stop learning!
I’ve always believed that the key to being a good writer is being a good reader. If you’re constantly reading work by quality writers – be it journalism, non-fiction or fiction – you’re bound to absorb some of their capacity for articulation.
Think about the field you’re in and subscribe to blogs and social feeds that help you learn more about the industry. Get feedback from clients and actually listen to them, even if you don’t necessarily agree with them. Through learning more you’ll really carve out your role within your chosen market, and you’ll soon find yourself refusing work rather than seeking it out.