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.