Are you a new freelancer writer?
Struggling to start your freelance writing business?
Finding it difficult to identify a starting point?
You are not alone.
When I started my business, I was unsure of where to go or who to approach. I did a lot of research, reading and asking around when I first started out. As my business has grown, I have come up with these tips that will help to kick-start your career.
The tips in this blog are specifically around the writing and finding client parts of your business. Read my blog “How to start your writing business” for the setting up of the actual business side, i.e. ABN, tax, accounts, invoicing and more.
1: Have a current website.
When you are first starting out as a new freelancer writer, you generally won’t have a portfolio or many samples of your writing to showcase. By creating a website where you blog regularly you create an up-to-date writing portfolio. Potential clients can view your website and see the style of your writing, or they can find you through your website and contact you directly for work.
Not only is having your own business website a great way to showcase your writing, it also helps to improve your writing. I read back through some of my old posts and shake my head. The noticeable improvement from my first post to my current post is huge.It is true that writing everyday really does improve your skills.Click To Tweet
2: Develop a Marketing Plan
I know I reference Elna Cain a lot, but she is great at what she does! Not only is she a work-from-home mother, she has 4 different blogs and runs a successful freelance writing business. On one of her posts she talks about the importance of having a solid marketing plan, which we all know is essential to staying in business. And it is something Elna Cain seems to do incredibly well.
To maintain and solidify your new freelancer writing business you need to attract clients, and the way to do this is by developing your reputation through marketing. Some tips I have picked up along the way (and yes, I also found great tips on Elna Cain’s website) to market yourself include:
Regularly guest post.
This helps you create an author bio and establishes your reputation.
It is also a great way to develop strong links to the freelance writing community and form a network or contacts.
Develop your social media profiles, and update them regularly.
What ever mediums you choose to use (I currently have Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest) ensure you reach out to other writers in your community so you grow your network.
They are also an easy and effective way to grow your online presence so people can find you easier.
Develop your own writer website, update it and blog consistently.
Comment on blogs, posts and websites you wish to write for, or where you know your name will be seen.
This may take some time to notice the impact you are having, however it is a great way to establish a name for yourself.
3: Pitch, Pitch, And Pitch!
So you have established your website, printed business cards, perfected your email signature and created your online social media profiles.
The clients wont suddenly start knocking at your door. You are a faceless writer in a sea of writers at the moment. You need to establish your reputation and hustle up some clients.
I found the best way is to set a goal, and stick to it. For example, pitch to new clients 10 times a week. You can find potential clients in many places, such as job boards, newspaper advertisements, magazines, Google or word of mouth.
For a while there I was a member of freelancer.com, which I now have 2 ongoing clients from. I did find that other freelancers significantly undercut prices on here, so you were hard pushed to make an income that reflected the time and effort you would put into that particular writing project. I am no longer a member as I found the effort didn’t pay off and there was no way I would be able to earn enough to live off. But it did provide a starting point at a time where I was trying to find my feet.
You can also undertake what is known as a cold pitch.
This is where you find a company, business or person who is not actively looking for a freelance writer, however you believe you can assist them with their writing needs.
You can then develop a pitch towards their business stating how you can help them, and why.
Elna Cain wrote a fantastic post on her first successful pitch and how to write a great pitch.
4: Network with other freelance writers
There are many online groups of writers, freelancers, and small business owners that are an invaluable resource for information, advice or even jobs.
I have joined a few online groups and have found them incredibly helpful when establishing my writing business. You will find there is always some one on there who can help answer your questions, such as how much to charge for a certain project, what should you include in your writing contract, or even where to go to for more help.
Other writer’s websites and blogs are also a valuable source of information. They may have answers to your questions, or posts that inspire your blogs and writing projects.
When I am stuck for ideas for my next blog, I search other writer’s websites and skim through them for ideas.
5: The importance of a thorough brief
When you are discussing the project with your client, ensure you take a thorough creative brief.
Ask all of your questions and ensure you completely understand the scope of the project before you develop a quote. You don’t want to take on the project only to find out after you have both agreed upon a costing for the project that it would require twice the amount of work you originally thought.
If your client has already developed a brief for you, then ensure you read it word for word.
You need to understand exactly what your client expects from you before you accept the project.
6: Don’t write about a subject you don’t understand
It is best to be honest with your client, and admit that you do not understand the topic.
If it is something that may be easily researched and you are confident you can write an article, blog or what ever form the project is, that is well-written and high quality then for sure take on the project.
However, if you still have absolutely no idea then do not accept the work.
The simple fact is, if you do not understand the topic it will come across in your writing.How can you expect your intended audience to understand the topic if you don't understand it yourself?Click To Tweet
It is best to be honest then to take on work willy-nilly and hope for the best.
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The polite thing to do is to wait until your work has final approval before you send your invoice.
However, you need to send it through as quickly as possible after your work has been approved. It is not professional, or logical, to wait months or even a few weeks before sending your invoice through.
Developing an efficient and simple invoicing system will go a long way too saving you time and headaches!
There are many online systems, or you can utilise word and an excel spreadsheet.
8: Familiarise yourself with the website/publication
When writing for a website or publication it is helpful to read some of their articles and copy before starting your own project for them.
It helps you to gain a feel for the writing style that suits their publication and increases your chances of producing a project in keeping with this style.
In addition, most websites or publications will generally have editorial guidelines that you must follow. Ensure you read them thoroughly as they will help form the creative brief.
9: CommunicationThe importance of communication can never be understated.Click To Tweet
It is an invaluable tool for all business owners, which you now are.
Touch base with your client on a regular base to let them know that you are on track, or to flag potential problems with the project. This is especially important if it is a large project you have been hired for.
Clear communication is essential between you and your client. You do not want to be confused about what the project entails, what your client expects from you and deadlines. And it works both ways. You do not want your client to be confused about what you are doing for them.
10: Deliver on time
This should really go without saying.
If you have been given a deadline, then you should deliver on time.
There is no quicker way to ruin your reputation and loose clients then to be unreliable with deadlines.
Most clients will be reasonable if there is a good excuse for why you will miss a deadline, as long as you give them as much notice as possible. However, it is best not to make a habit of it.
11: Review and Edit thoroughly
Worse then tardiness is submitting poorly edited work.
You absolutely do not want a reputation for poor quality work; it is a sure fire way to run your business into the ground before it is even established.
Always run a spell check on your completed work as well as checking through manually.
If it is a relatively big project I always ask a friend or family member to read over it too, to pick out any mistakes I may have missed. I find that most of my time is spent on reviewing and editing my work to ensure I deliver high quality and readable writing.
12: Invest in a Course
Whilst it is not essential to complete a writing course, I have found short courses to be very useful.
Australian Writers Centre has some fantastic short courses on freelance writing, the business side of things and copywriting. There are many others out there too if you are willing to do a little bit of research to find a course that will help you.
I hope these tips help you to build upon or start your own freelance writing business. Don’t forget to have a read of my blog on “How to set-up your writing business”. It focuses on the nitty gritty details, such as business structure, tax, ABN’s and more!
Don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of “12 Tips to Kickstart Your Freelance Writing Business”!
As a new freelance writer it can be intimidating with all the information and resources available. If you take away any advice from here, take this: every one is unique and learns differently. Find resources, tools and information that resonates with you and fits your style (of course, I would hope that it is my blog)!!
I would love to hear if you found these tips helpful for your business, and if there are any others you would add.
Rachel specialises in writing for small businesses in the health, fitness, pregnancy and parenthood industries. She is a mum to 2 beautiful (and highly energetic) children and a registered nurse. She advocates for all women and mums and is passionate about building community and solid networks.