When I started freelancing, it was partly out of boredom. I was used to working 2-3 jobs while going to college full-time, so once I was out and working a single fill-time job, I was ready to do something else after dropping my waitressing job that wasn’t worth the drive. When I first started freelancing, I know as much about it as anyone else did. I thought freelance writers didn’t make that much money (which is completely false) and basically I was doing it to increase my experience and broaden my horizons. I started researching freelancing writing and after a first official gig with Yelp as a Scout for Kansas City, the rest, they say, is history.
Look For Opportunities
I found sites like Freelance Writing Gigs and eventually FlexJobs and Virtual Vocations, which are worth the monthly price. I also liked using Craigster to search multiple Craigslist cities at once under gigs and the ProBlogger job board.
It takes daily application emails to tart building up a client base. I also got experience (which helped me write and type probably 50-100% faster) with Demand Studios, which pays a flat rate per article. Even though now a lot of my work comes from referrals and my website, it took me 3 to 4 years to get to this point.
Read. A Lot.
The best writers are the best readers. You should always be reading a non-fiction and fiction book at the same time. Non-fiction makes you more business savvy and fiction helps foster your creativity. I like checking out non-fiction audiobooks from the library and listening to them while I’m driving around town, running errands. Some of my favorite non-fiction books that will help new freelance writers are:
- Six-Figure Freelancing
- Steal Like an Artist
- Anything by 99U
- Eat That Frog
- Getting Things Done
Keep Sharpening Your Tools
Once you start getting clients, it’s easy to let your self development fall into the cracks. However, the most successful people are always learning and making themselves better. Keep reading/listening to non-fiction books and going to conferences or meet-ups as much as you can. Everything you put into yourself makes your work better, which will bring you more clients and more referrals.
Build Your Network
Because a big bulk of my business is now built on referrals, I make a concentrated effort to not only meet new people in my industry through blogging, conferences, and networking events, but I also make sure that I am keeping up with people I look up to or want to work with. It’s easy to mention someone in a tweet or recommend their book in a blog post, especially when they can tell it’s a genuine effort.
As I mentioned before, the CityHour app is a good way to meet new people by looking for people with your same interests nearby who have open time to meet. While I haven’t set up any meetings with the CityHour app yet, I will continue to use it and recommend it to others, especially those that love networking and want to start building their network.
Becoming a successful freelance writer is a tough road, but if you are hellbent on being successful, you will. Don’t let old assumptions about the freelance writing life dampen your potential, and go out there and go after your goals!