One of the easiest ways to set up a successful writing business is to start a freelance career. You develop an income while you develop your business.
Your success is up to you.
If you can write a coherent email message, you’ll do well. The demand for freelance writers has never been higher than it is today. And competent writers have never been more needed. Much of the content on the web is uninspiring, to say the least.
Diligence and persistence will help you to build an amazing career, with endless opportunities.
Of course there are pitfalls. I coach and advise many writers. One of the biggest challenges is a writer’s self-doubt. This invasive and insidious tendency poisons your career. Few writers recognize it as SELF-doubt… It’s self-inflicted and masked by anxiety and over-thinking, which engender procrastination.
Your freelance career: success by the numbers
Here’s an antidote to self-doubt:
- Realize that, as I said, if you can write a coherent email message, you can learn to write many things. If you keep learning and practicing, you can write advertising copy, print advertising, content in many different forms, fiction… Anything you choose which interests you.
- Success is a numbers game.
Here’s why it’s a numbers game, as most things are: repetition wins. The more often you do something, the better you become at it.
An essential warning: this applies to bad habits as well as good habits. The more you procrastinate, for example, the better you become at it.
Writing practice is essential. Writing practice might not make you perfect, but every word you write improves your writing skill. The only way to fail at a writing career is to stop writing.
When I speak with writers, they ask for advice. Invariably, I respond with: “what did you write today?”
Here’s why I ask that: if you’re not writing, you’ll have problems and won’t see solutions. On the other hand, if you’re writing every day (it doesn’t matter what you’re writing), and keep learning, you’ll develop your own solutions.
Let’s look at two essential tips.
1. Your freelance career: make plans and follow them
Make plans. Attempt to follow them. I say “attempt” because most plans get derailed pretty quickly. That’s OK. In fact, it’s wonderful, because your plan got you moving. That’s the single aim of any plan: movement. When you move and receive feedback, you’ll glimpse new directions and potentials.
Your plan inspired you to take action and you learned from the responses to your action.
Beware of turning planning into a goal. You may develop a plan for three years from now, for this year, for the next three months, as well as for this week and today.
But focus on today. On NOW. Make a quick plan to do something or other and do it. Describe your plan in a couple of sentences (always write things down) and act.
Use the WOOP process; it works.
2. ASK! (And keep asking)
As the saying goes, it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
Get in touch with people. Send out LOIs. (Letters of introduction.) Smack yourself sharply on the hand if you’re whining: yes, but LOIs don’t work…
They work. See numbers and repetition above.
Remember, we said success is a numbers game. If LOIs aren’t working for you, it’s because:
- You’re not sending enough of them, or are sending them to the wrong people (by “people”, I mean companies too), or…
- You don’t have sufficient supporting material.
Your supporting material could be a website with content relevant to your LOIs, or a portfolio, again with content relevant to your LOIs.
No website or blog? OK. Turn that into a plan. Create a (small, for now) website. Send out short LOIs; refer contacts to a page on your website.
Start today: build your freelance career
Every freelance career is different, because our life experience is different. Way back when I had young children, I wrote parenting articles for national and international magazines. If I had young children now, I might set up a parenting blog.
If you want to build a freelance career and you have young children, you have built-in topics. Set up a blog. Send out LOIs.
Make plans. ACT and ASK.
Before you know it, you’ll be well on your way to a successful freelance career and then, a freelance business.
Today, the opportunities for writers have never been greater. Back in the day a writer who was making six-figures a year seemed a creature of myth. These days, highly successful writers are making six figures a month.
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The challenge for writers today is that we’re competing in a global marketplace. So, when you rely on job websites like the freelance marketplaces to get gigs, the race is to the bottom. The buyers want cheap writers, and the cheapest bid wins.
You can avoid becoming a commodity: learn to pitch. Get wonderful clients and charge top fees.More info →
Try writing in series. Your audience loves to binge on entertainment, whether it's a series on a streaming service, or a series of books. Marketing series fiction and nonfiction is much easier than marketing standalone books.
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.