From Dreams to Reality: The Top 9 Tips for Making Your First Steps as a Freelance Writer

From Dreams to Reality: The Top 9 Tips for Making Your First Steps as a Freelance Writer

There’s so much about freelance writing that many professional journalists and copywriters today admire, and for good reasons. Being able to control your schedule, choose your projects, and build on the things you enjoy and are good at are just some of the great perks that freelance writers enjoy. But starting out in the freelancing world is not an easy job. It requires not only good research and preparation but also a shift in the way you think about your work.

You need to adjust your attitude and realize that you don’t depend on superiors anymore but instead only on yourself. While this thought is liberating, it also entails a whole new level of responsibility in your life.

But this process doesn’t need to be a hurdle for you.

Even though this change is major and takes time and effort to adapt, there are shortcuts to making the freelance lifestyle work for you.

From starting out with a clear idea what your writing focus will be and how you will find your writing gigs to good planning, socializing and constant strive for improvement,here are the top 9 tips to help you get through your first months of freelance writing.

Here are the top 9 tips to help you get through your first months of freelance writing Click To Tweet

1. Research what kind of writing you want to dive into

Freelancing is a top choice for many professionals because of the freedom it allows them to enjoy their work. That’s why before you cast your nets in the freelancing world, it’s important that you identify your desired niche.

Today many businesses need writing services – from online media looking for freelance journalists to companies and marketing agencies seeking content marketing writers. This means that you have the chance to write anything from journalistic articles to blog posts, newsletters, and other online content. In this sea of possibilities, the sharper you define your preferences and strengths, the better chances you have at succeeding in your freelancing.

Besides the type of writing, it’s also useful to pinpoint the themes that are closest to you or that you want to delve deeper into. If you have a solid background in business or marketing, for example, you can position yourself as a writer in these specific areas. This also makes it easier for project managers to find the right person for the job they have at hand.

2. Create your freelance writer portfolio

SquareSpace website

While crafting your website requires some efforts, it is certainly one of the most important steps you need to take to start your freelancing career. This is the place where you can present your previous work and showcase to potential customers your experience and qualities.

There are various easy options that you can find for creating your writer portfolio. Contently, Journo Portfolio, and Pressfolios allow you to include your existing work and present a short description of your professional experience and personality. They require a minimum investment of time and resources but still allow you to demonstrate your work to clients.

If you’re willing to go the extra mile, you can create a whole freelance writer website from scratch. This allows you to bring out more of your personality and the projects you’ve worked on. Good solutions are SquareSpace and Wix.com, which offer hosting and design templates. This means you don’t need to hire developers and designers but can practically set the website yourself.

3. Find the right platforms for your freelance writing

Hubstaff Talent

One of the biggest challenges that budding freelance writers face is how to find writing gigs. This can be tricky, especially if you are new in the field and still don’t have the right contacts. The best way to start writing quickly is to try out different freelance writing platforms that connect writers with clients.

Some of the top picks on the market today include our very own Hubstaff Talent, as well as traditional choices such as Guru, Freelancer.com, fiverr, and many others. These platforms serve as an intermediary between you and the project owners, which means many of the issues you face when working directly with clients are taken care of.

Besides their popularity, it’s important to check the fees that platforms will take from you. For freelancers, this usually means a percentage of your payments. But you can also opt in for great alternatives like Hubstaff Talent, where the service is free.

Become a freelance writer

Hubstaff Talent is completely FREE!

4. Set strict planning and budgeting

Now we’re getting into the challenges of everyday freelancing. Once you’ve made the ball rolling and have enough writing jobs at hand, you need to adapt to the differences in the freelancing lifestyle and develop new skills. A top priority is to learn good planning and strict budgeting.

When you work for yourself, it can be tough to create a schedule and stick to it, as it seems that you can transgress from it at any time. But discipline is key here because when you don’t complete the work you have on time and in a high-quality manner, as a freelancer, you can easily lose your clients overnight.

The same level of diligence is needed when it comes to finances. As your income will vary from month to month, you need to track how much money you make from different clients in different periods of time. When you have gotten to the point of having enough work, you can set the desired income for the month and plan the volume of jobs you take on the basis of this.

5. Diversify your working spots

For some freelancers, the possibility to work from home is a dream come true. For others, it’s burning in hell daily. How people feel about the place they work from varies greatly, so there are no universal solutions here. But the important thing is to find a way to diversify your workplaces and bring freshness to your routine.

In case you function well from your living room, you can experiment by deciding on a day of the week to work from a cafe, park, or a coworking space. If you’re in the opposite situation and you work from an external spot daily, then staying at home once in a while can bring a new vibe in your everyday work.

Freelance writing doesn’t need to be a lonely activity, but in the same time, you have to the find the sweet spot in which you are most productive and relaxed.

6. Join writing communities

Freelance writing communities

While freelance writing is often a solo working experience, that doesn’t mean that you can’t create relationships with fellow writers. This is an excellent way to get support, be connected, and find solutions for many common problems that other people in the field are facing.

Whether it’s LinkedIn or Reddit groups or professional associations, becoming a part of a writing community is adamant for your survival in the freelance world. Freelance Writers Den is one of the popular ones. When you’re just starting out, experienced writers can help you out with information about gigs, budgeting, and all the different aspects of your trade.

Besides the practical part, fellow writers can also serve as your mentors while you’re still learning how to navigate in the new field. Mentorship can be in the form of coaching or simply discovering useful and relevant tips on other writers’ websites and blogs.

7. Don’t forget to frequent industry events

Another important step that you need to take – whether you’re in the beginning of your freelancing career or already an established freelancer – is to keep up with the developments in the field. One of the most effective ways to go about that is to make a habit of following relevant events in your area.

Seminars, workshops, and big industry events can all be helpful for your career and your everyday work. They are excellent opportunities to update your knowledge, network with potential new clients and get connected with fellow writers.

In a sense, attending industry events and get-togethers is more like an investment in yourself rather than a socializing experience. They’re also a good reason to set some time aside and get out of your writing routine to refresh it.

8. Keep getting better at what you do

Besides relevant industry events, it’s a wise choice to continue educating yourself in your trade, even if you are in a good place currently. This will ensure you don’t start feeling stuck in your freelance writing – and will keep your competitive advantage.

Tried-and-true ways to keep improving yourself as a writer is to attend courses that can help you improve your skillset. But self-improvement can also take the form of reading books, exploring new writing methods and formats and following important industry blogs. Or alternatively, if you feel confident in a certain area, you can make workshops and start teaching others, both helping them and positioning yourself as an expert in the trade.

Even if you eventually decide to step out of freelance writing, having invested time in building up your experience and qualities will pay off whatever new field you set foot in.

9. Stay open to new opportunities

A final word of advice is to keep your antennae out even if you have enough writing gigs on your plate. It’s likely that after some time, if you’re good at what you do, you’ll get headhunted for writing projects – or even offered full-time positions. Don’t dismiss these chances lightly.

Whether you are fond of the opportunities that come up or not, always take the time to connect with the people who approach you. That’s how you widen your professional network and plant the seeds for future collaborations. Even if you don’t get to work with these contacts immediately, you never know when new projects would bring you together.

And naturally, there can always be better options than your current projects. Whether it’s the financial part or the topics you are writing about, a new opportunity can refresh your writing spark and remind you why you chose writing in the first place.

Over to you

Starting out as a freelance writer can be tough, but there are plenty of opportunities out there to make the experience smoother. These 9 tips are bound to help you on your way of launching your freelancing journey.

What’s your experience with freelance writing? We’d love to learn about your insights!

  • Some good freelance writing tips, we shared will all our favorite social hangouts!

  • Kristy Pepping

    Interesting read!

    As a freelance writer, you need an online portfolio for sure. I use Journo Portfolio and really like the ease of use. I think though as a writer, I would Google and read blogs about portfolios geared toward writers, look at the sites and use the one the best fits your style. I find Journo great. Josh, the owner, even worked with me to incorporate a logo for me in my profile section.

    And when it comes to staying relevant, I would also recommend online webinars. Many are free to watch and also many are watch when convenient for your schedule. This is helpful as a freelancer as one day does not always look like the next in terms of time.

    Finally, I would recommend Facebook and Google Plus groups too for connecting and sharing ideas with fellow writers.

    • Thanks for the tip on Journo Portfolio, Kristy. Definitely seems like a great asset to have for freelancers, or any writer for that matter.

  • Leisa Good

    Great article. I would also suggest hiring a writing coach or some type of coach or even using a mentor. I have found that to be a great way to get started the right way!

    • Most definitely. There is a group called Score (https://www.score.org/) that offers free small business advice to people looking to make money on their own terms. They also help freelancers. After all, freelancing should be treated like running a small business.

  • Upwork is also a great platform for finding gigs but there’s a lot of competition. A lot of freelancers are willing to work for pennies basically so you really have to stand out from the rest. None the less it can be really beneficial for your freelancing career and most of the times the clients will return if you do a good job.