Okay, so recently I read an article in which an “expert” writer shared her keys to succeeding as a freelance writer. I mean, this expert is a published author of a whopping 10 books, including an NYT bestselling book, so when she talks you listen… right?
While I do not in any way mean to demean her achievements, or discredit her for them in any way, I find her advice downright dangerous for freelance writers. That said, based on the “advice” she gave, this is exactly the kind of expert I advise you DON’T follow as a FREELANCE WRITER.
As a freelance writer, when you see ANY “writing expert” give advice related to the following in anyway, UNFOLLOW immediately. It’s for your own good!
Here are just a few points she made:
1. Get Educated
I quote her.
“I have a BA in English, an MFA, years more of classes and it still took decades to make a living.”
Heck, I don’t have a BA in English. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients in the past few years, and not a single one has asked for my degree. In fact, I haven’t been freelance writing for a decade — and I do just fine. This month alone (I’m writing this knowing that today’s December six), I’ve made more than what many average freelance writers will make this quarter, and more than what many have made the whole year.
My point: thinking that success as a freelance writer is about a degree is exactly why it takes anyone decades to make a living as a freelance writer!
Focus on the right strategies. Finetune your core services to ensure they are in demand. Make yourself marketable. It is NEVER (I repeat: NEVER) about your degree!
2. You Won’t Make a Living Freelance Writing
You see, but for this particular point I’d have kept quiet and just minded my business. But this advice right here, that you won’t make a living freelance writing, is damaging to freelance writers. Especially when it comes from an NYT bestselling author.
Not only can you make a living freelance writing, you will. Many have. I have (more than a living even!), and in the recent Earn Your First $1,000 as a Freelance Writer challenge that I did (which was free then by the way!), lots of freelance writers made their first $1,000 within two months — including Richard, Henry, Nick and many more. Many are doing much better now. I mean these are writers who have been at the game for a while and were struggling to make things work. If they can, heck you can!
You see, it took me less than a year to start making money as a freelance writer. It was even accidental, and I never looked back. It took some people much less time. For some, however, it took decades.
Some people will indeed never make a living as a freelance writer. It’s the fact. This is for several reasons, including:
- Taking advice from “experts” like the writer I’m referencing as gospel truth.
- Believing that success as a freelance writer is about having an English degree, or some other certificate or certification, instead of in-demand services, marketability and good strategies.
3. The industry is shrinking
Really? I mean this coming from an “expert” should instantly raise your B.S. detector.
I quote her…
“There are fewer newspapers, magazines and webzines that pay every day.”
One, the industry is not shrinking. Two, relying on newspapers, magazines and webzines for your income as a freelance writer is recipe for failure. For one, they are dying a rapid death (as they should!), but these are by no means “the industry” for freelance writers — if they are your sole source of work as a freelance writer, I’m sorry to burst your bubble but you are in for a bad time!
While newspapers are dying, more blogs are springing up — including paying ones! Many more companies are coming online, realizing the power of content marketing… and they need writers more than ever before. They are willing to pay well, too!
In fact, the “industry” hasn’t experienced such a rapid growth as it has in the past few years thanks to the internet, and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
You see, I singled out the above pieces of advice because they can kill the career and hope of a budding freelance writer. Especially when that writer learns that the advice is from a “bestselling author expert freelance writer with a BA in English and an MFA,” but take solace in the fact that they are not true. I said so!
That said, our expert gave some good advice that I’ll single out:
- Pay attention to the market: the market changes, and so does content needs. Know how the market moves and you’re set for life.
- Get a writing mentor or get in the group. You see, after the Earn Your First $1,000 as a Freelance Writer challenge ended, I had wanted to delete the group. Members convinced me not to. It’s since made a great difference in the lives of a lot of writers — who have since kickstarted their career. While you can’t get in that group anymore (at least not through me, anyway!), find a very good group — free or paid — to help kickstart your career. If you can, get a mentor too!
- Get educated. Not through an expensive, useless degree that will send you into debt and keep you unemployed too boot! Instead, get a course by a vetted expert that will probably only set you back a few hundreds of dollars or much less (here’s a good start!). It’s a career investment. If you can’t make this kind of investment but use a Smartphone, or have a tablet, or any other luxury (oh, and here in Nigeria where I’m from… a lot of things you think are necessities are luxuries!) then you’re not cut out for this stuff!
I’ll end this with some words of wisdom… take it or leave it!: be careful who you follow. They have the power to consciously and subconsciously shape your future. Be especially wary of writing experts — and while being a bestseller of many books (and having a BA and MFA to boot!) might make someone an expert at selling books, it doesn’t make one an expert at freelance writing.