Admit it: you’ve always been a scribbler. Always writing something down, maybe in a journal, or a notepad, or even on your own blog. Maybe you re-purpose others’ posts or articles, putting your own spin on them. And maybe, you feel the time is right for you to take your “scribbling” to another level. You want to step into freelance writing.
We all have to begin somewhere, and making the decision to become a freelancer is that first step, on what may seem to be a journey of a thousand miles. If you enjoy writing, can write well, and would like to work for yourself, then freelancing might be your dream career. But what should you do after making that decision? The obvious thing would be to spread the word.
Spreading The Word
Don’t feel shy about using friends, family, co-workers, etc to help with this. I know when I started writing it was hard for me to tell people, because I was afraid they’d ask what I had live, or what I had published, and I’d have to tell them, “well, nothing yet…” Don’t let this stop you! Word of mouth is one of the best ways to get a foothold.
Social media can also be a great way to do so, through use of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. But don’t take them all on at once! Start with maybe two or three, and leave adding more for later. Maybe even never. “Having some social media presence is vital. Prospective clients who follow you on Twitter are likely to be well-disposed to hiring you. And if your current clients become “fans” of your business on Facebook, their friends might well check you out,” says Ali Luke of aliventures.com. She also recommends LinkedIn for it’s more professional focus, “to add credibility”. This is a good one, in my opinion.
I was invited to join by a friend of mine, and within a few days was networking with other young professionals in my area!
Create separate profiles for yourself as a freelancer, vs the one you keep personally. And always keep in mind what message you’re sending.
Your First Clients
Work might come in a little slowly at first, but don’t worry.
One of the things you can do while you’re working towards being really well-established is pro bono (free) work. Pro bono can be done for friends, for blogs and/or websites that allow guest posts (some with a byline), for charities or non-profit organizations who need the word put out about an event or other notice-worthy news. You can find information on these by searching the web, looking around your town, and keeping your ears open.
A blog or business website is definitely another good idea. This can increase the internet presence, but sets you a little apart from the mainstream social media. Things to include on a website would be:
- Live samples of your writing, whether it be from photos, screenshots, pro bono work, etc.
- A profile/home page where you can give prospective clients an overview of what you can do.
- Testimonials from clients. If you don’t have any testimonials, go to clients and ask them to write one!
- A contact page. This might seem a little “duh” but it is important to remember. Whether you choose to be contacted by phone, email, chat, or smoke signal, it’s important to remember to include that information.
Finding clients might seem like the hardest part of getting started—it can be daunting as you picture the hours waiting for someone to stumble upon your blog, or notice your Facebook freelance profile. But rest assured, there are jobs out there!
Good ways of finding clients include job websites or boards; reading other blogs and webpages; and touching base with your current contacts, both business and personal.
There are many more things to learn as you go along – everything from dealing with clients to tracking your income for taxes. But you’ve made the decision, you have the start up advice, and you’re off! Your journey of a thousand steps just got shorter.
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Eric Pangburn is a blogger who enjoys helping others and sharing his passions of blogging tips, SEO copywriting, and entrepreneurship.