My First 365 Days of Freelancing: How I Made Them Count

I can’t remember exactly what sparked my interest in freelance writing, but at some point I was furiously searching Google for freelance writing opportunities. I found hundreds of job boards and long story short, got my first client. I was brought on as a blog post writer for a marketing firm out of Kansas City, Missouri writing 500 word posts about a variety of topics for $15 per piece. From manufacturer recalls to energy efficient buildings, I got a taste of researching, writing, submitted and taking criticism – with grace of course.

As of today I have worked with over 15 different clients from all over the world. Some of the clients I work with are large companies looking to outsource blog posts, while others are authors that need a reliable ghostwriter. In the past 365 days I have written about things like marketing and business all the way to real estate and cloud computing – and everything in between.

As my first year of freelancing comes to a close, I have looked back on my successes and failures. I thought sharing them would not only help me by reflecting but also help new freelancers that might be overwhelmed, confused or even frustrated. Here are some of the things I did that got me to where I am today.

I Was Selectively Selective
I spent a lot of my first two months as a freelance writer browsing job boards for openings. I quickly realized that applying for jobs and getting them was based as much on speed as credentials. Any job posting that was older than 3 days was useless to me. I found out along the way that clients looking for freelancers received hundreds upon hundreds of applications – in the first day. In an attempt to save my time and theirs, I used this three-day rule to narrow my search and improve my success rate of applications to positions. Beyond that I only applied for jobs that I was qualified for and interested in.

I Guessed At Pay Rates
Finding jobs was one thing, but then clients started to ask me about my rates. To be completely honest I had no idea what to charge when I started writing. Good thing my first few clients already had standard rates in place. I used these rates to configure how much I wanted to charge when it came to clients later on that needed me to take the lead on pricing. To be honest, I’m still not sure I’m making enough money for the work I provide, but the work I get is steady and my clients are happy. This is one area I want to improve on in the upcoming year.

I Provided Quality Work
To my newly found clients, I provided quality work, in a timely fashion. The first draft I submitted wasn’t always up to par so I gladly made changes and asked questions so the same fixes were necessary the next time. I also took criticism well (if I do say so myself). Writing is just a function, its not who I am. Critiques of my writing are just that, critiques or suggestions from clients who deserve what they want not what I think they should have. And naturally over time I improved to points where I was providing the best quality assignments I could for my clients, work that they could publish on their websites with little to no edits. This leads me to the next way that I survived year one – with referrals.

I have to admit that this wasn’t something I went out looking for – it just started to happen. Clients I had picked up along the way must’ve mentioned me to their friends and coworkers because before I knew it I was getting emails from brand new people that needed blogs written and had heard about my work from someone they know.

I Kept Connected
I always found time to check in with past clients, who more often than not had work for me to do, or stumbled upon work for me to do in the upcoming weeks. A few of them event thanked me for checking in, as I thought to myself no, no, thank you! Keeping in contact with my clients have led me to long-term projects and increased profits.

The last year if my life has been a whirlwind of learning and writing that’s for sure. I realized that being a freelance writer is just a function of being an entrepreneur. I think that this article is a good, quick look into the first year of a freelance writer and I hope it helps other freelancers hit the ground running. If you have a passion and talent for writing the world of freelancing is your oyster. If you’ve been thinking about diving into the writing world – what are you waiting for? Getting started is the hardest part; it’s smooth sailing from there.