Hey there, friends! Today I’m super happy to be featuring an awesome guest post from my friend, Lettie. She’s sharing some spot-on tips for freelance writers – things you have to know if you wanna succeed in the industry. Keep on readin’ and let us know what you think!
More and more young people today are abandoning the cookie-cutter career choices of older generations in pursuit of something more meaningful — something that’s on their own terms. One popular way of doing this is to pursue a career as a freelance writer.
Freelancing has both many perks and many challenges. You are your own boss, marketer, writer, assistant, tech support, and more. Whether you’re a full time freelancer or are following your passion while having a day job, these five tips can help you succeed. Let’s take a look:
1. Master the Art of the Pitch
One of the foundational elements of any successful career as a freelancer is getting clients. You can’t get paid to write unless you have someone to write for. Because of this, mastering the art of the pitch is well worth your time and energy. It could be the difference between success and failure.
A successful pitch needs a few things. First, it needs to be personal. Address whoever you’re writing to by name whenever possible — bonus points if you can tie in something personal in your introductory greeting. Something like, “I saw that you lived in Thailand for a while – I spend some time traveling there too; what a beautiful place!” is a great way to do this. A personal connection will set your correspondence apart from that of the masses and give your contact something to remember you by.
Next, a pitch is worth nothing without a good idea. Your idea needs to be timely, relevant, and well thought out. Generic or flimsy pitches rarely get the time of day. Additionally, prospective clients need to know why you’re the best person for the job. List your qualifications and provide a few examples of your best work for them to review.
Finally, you want to leave your contact with a call to action. Inboxes can fill up quickly, and if you’re not ending your pitch with a request for action, yours will likely get lost in the sea of unanswered or deleted emails. Something like, “please let me know if we can work together” or “are you interested in this idea?” works great, as does letting your contact know you’ll follow up again in a week if you haven’t heard back from them.
2. Protect Your Data
As a freelance writer, you’ll spend a great deal of your time online. It’s a really good idea to become familiar with common cyber security threats so you can protect yourself and your data from corruption and theft. Simple things like creating complex passwords and always working in a secure browser and wireless network are great ways to get started.
If you want to go a step further, you could invest in an antivirus software to protect your computer from malware and other threats. Protecting yourself and your data from hacker and cyber criminals may be the last thing on your mind when pursuing a freelance career, but when you think about how much of your well being depends on your internet presence, you might look at the issue with a fresh perspective. A little effort goes a long way here.
3. Learn How to Create Graphics
Learning how to create simple graphics is a skill many freelance writers overlook. It can be helpful in making a professional logo or invoice for yourself, posting updates on your website, or even creating an image with text overlay to submit with a piece of work for a client.
Adobe Photoshop is a great and robust tool to use if you want to invest both time and money into this skill. A great graphic can add something special to any piece of work. To help you get started, there are lots of Photoshop classes out there to teach you the essentials. Otherwise, free sites like Canva are generally user-friendly and can get the job done, despite offering fewer options than a piece of fully fledged software like Photoshop.
4. Manage Your Time Wisely
The adage “time is money” rings especially true when you’re a freelance writer. Self-employment presents a unique set of challenges, one being time management. When you’re your own boss, separating work life and home life can be difficult, as can keeping yourself focused and on track.
You’ll want to keep careful track of how many hours you spend on various projects so you can be sure to report this correctly when invoicing clients. You also might want to set time goals for yourself when you’re working on tasks like pitching, website updates, and searching for clients so you have an idea of the amount of hours you’re working each week.
5. Don’t Undervalue Yourself
It’s easy to undervalue yourself when you’re a freelance writer, especially when you’re first starting out. With many websites offering meager pay for long, in-depth articles, or worse, some websites asking you to pay them to write content for their site, it can be a discouraging world out there for writers.
Once you establish yourself a bit and begin to collect great samples of your own writing, however, you’ll be able to choose the clients you work with rather than saying yes to every crappy job that comes your way.
When you work with a client who is happy with your work, ask them for a review and create a testimonials page on your website. That way, future clients can see all the great things other clients have said about you and your work.
When pursuing an untraditional career path like freelance writing, we often need all the help we can get. Hopefully these five tips will help you on your way in becoming a successful freelance writer. What did we miss? What are your top tips or tricks for freelancers?
Lettie Stratton is a writer and urban farmer in Boise, ID. A Vermont native, she is a lover of travel, tea, bicycles, plants, cooperative board games, women’s basketball, and the outdoors. She’s still waiting for a letter from Hogwarts.