Freelancing Writing Business

Tips for Freelance Writers

Written by Charles Mburugu for Gaebler Ventures

A freelancer is someone who works on a freelance basis or on a contract. As a freelancer, you are an expert or a specialist in your field. Freelance writing is one of the most popular areas of freelance work. How can you get started and succeed as a freelance writer?

People are always asking for advice on how to get started with freelance writing. There are no simple answers, nor answers which apply to everyone.

However, there are tips which can help people get started in freelance writing, and at least survive during the first few months.

Invest in a website

This is the best place to start. A website is vital because when you email or call prospective clients, you will need to direct them somewhere for more information. Your website should be kept simple. Be sure to include a portfolio page with samples of work previously done. Talk about clients you have written for, places you have worked, and include testimonials received. Include your contact details and address as well. If you don't have experience but are sure you can do the job, communicate that in a subtle way.

Don't target agencies

Most agencies don't have time for writers who don't have experience working in an agency. Handling an inexperienced writer and controlling quality is too risky and takes too much time. Since most agencies don't give unproven writers a chance, you should target end-clients directly.

Use a jobs and contacts database

Regardless of your level as a writer, you should maintain a database of jobs and contacts. This will record phone numbers, names, and details of every correspondence.

Write some samples

If you are targeting particular industries or clients, don't hesitate to write and send a few samples. You could offer the pieces at a discount or free of charge as an incentive for future work. This all depends on the type of client and the type of work. Remember that samples are like portfolios for most clients.

Invest in an accounts software

Even if you don't have many clients, it makes sense to invest in a proper accounts package. This will help keep proper records as well as in preparation of annual tax reports.

Provide great service

This may seem obvious, but "great service" does not mean the same thing for all clients. You will need to understand what great service means for your different clients so as to satisfy them.

Anticipate hard times

The first one or two years as a writer will not be easy. It takes some time to gain momentum and sometimes you will doubt if you made the right career choice. Whereas it is possible to earn six-figure incomes every year, you will have to be patient. Freelance writing may not be ideal for new parents or those with heavy mortgage commitments.

Don't invest too much on training

The truth is that no money spent on learning is really wasted. However, the return on investment needs to be weighed up. Most clients value writing ability over training.

Be confident of your abilities

Confidence in your writing ability is vital. If you do not insist that you can produce the result the client wants, you will not be able to persuade the client. There's usually a steep learning curve in writing, and significant time-consuming labor. Avoid focusing on what you haven't done or what you don't know.

Charles Mburugu writes for us from his home in Nairobi. He has a graduate degree in Business Management from Kenya Institute of Management. He is interested in writing about branding, CSR and intellectual property.

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