7 Tips for Freelance Writers
Are you a freelance writer? Do you have a set schedule, or do you work whenever? No matter your current practice, by taking advantage of the following tips you will benefit and increase your visibility and bank balance. With that being said, you have to put forth the effort – I do not guarantee earnings from any platform. You will get as much as you put into it. Simply reading this article will not change your earnings; utilizing the tips will.
- Set a schedule – I know, you became a freelance writer so you can have more freedom, but setting a schedule will help you be more productive. Your schedule doesn’t have to be from 8am to 5pm; set it for a time that works for you. You could work for a few hours before your family gets home from work/school, or take advantage of some quiet time after everyone has gone to bed. Setting a schedule doesn’t mean you have to work from your home office at all times though. Take advantage of other environments as well. The library, park, backyard, beach or cabin are all acceptable places to work; the key is to get your job done.
- Take advantage of your most productive time – It doesn’t matter what type of schedule you set for yourself; you will not be as productive if you are trying to work when you have other things going on. Trying to write an article when others are demanding your attention is next to impossible. It is also difficult to write when your inner clock is working against you. You are your own worst enemy when you are forcing yourself to write.
- Know your topic – You will be better at what you do if you are genuinely interested in your topic. There is nothing wrong with taking on assignments that are outside of your comfort zone, but you will be more apt to do better if you enjoy the assignment. Think back to when you were in school: did you do better in the subjects you enjoyed? With a bit of research, you can learn about a variety of topics. The key is to not force yourself if even the thought of it causes anxiety.
- Don’t sound too techy – Readers will be more interested in your article if you use plain English. By adding in words that make you sound smarter, they will most likely roll their eyes and go on to something else. If you do not talk techy, then don’t write that way. The only time this is acceptable is if you are writing for a technical publication, and even then you will want to sound personable.
- Use social media – No matter your area of expertise, reaching out to others is a good idea. Let your contacts know what you do for a living; you never know where your next big gig could come from. It is often difficult to decide which social media platforms are best, so I recommend the basics. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+ are my go-to’s – as well as LinkedIn for the professional contacts. The number of social platforms can be somewhat overwhelming, so stick to the basics.
- Set up a website – There are many free platforms, but in my experience it is best to use a paid web host. The free sites can (and do) cancel accounts or limit the amount of content. I personally use Yola, and have not been disappointed. The bonus is my blog is integrated into the site, so there is no need to change platforms when I want to add to it. The purpose of a website is to showcase your abilities and services. This way, potential clients can view your site to see if you will meet their needs. Plus, by having a downloadable portfolio, you can direct potential clients to it as opposed to having to write a sample article for them. Sadly, some companies will take your sample, use it, but not compensate you for your time. The online portfolio should eliminate the need for additional samples.
- Diversify – It is difficult to make a lot of money as a freelance writer from one source alone. Not only that, relying on only one company can quickly lead to financial upset if the company goes out of business. Downsizing happens regularly, and online businesses are no exception. If you do manage to land a good gig from one company, more power to you. It is not, however, wise to rely on only that source. As a freelancer you have the right and capability to have more than one client. I do advise one word of caution here though: etiquette. If writing for multiple clients, ensure you are not jeopardizing their reputation by conflict of interest. For example: writing copy for Ford brochures will conflict with writing copy for a Mazda dealership.
The tips above are just the basics. Freelance writing is a rewarding career, and once you set yourself up you should not have any trouble getting and maintaining a constant client list. By keeping a schedule, writing about topics that interest you, and taking advantage of social media you may soon find yourself with more work than you can handle.