How to Be a Freelance Writer
It's no secret that I started my own freelancing business without a penny. Although I still feel I have a long way to go I'm pretty happy with what I have as I get to do what I love every day and mostly work from home.
I'm the editor of The Consumer Voice along with being a writer for fabulous places like here and Yahoo! Here's how I did it.
Finish Your Education
As a single mum I began by increasing my qualifications online, I went after the English degree that I'd always wanted along with other diplomas that would help with the quest. From psychology to science I continued to study as the kids slept.
I cleaned caravans during the day to bring in some cash while the kids were at school. To pay nursery fees for my youngest I weeded their gardens in return!
In amidst all of this I thought my true goal was to be an author and so I steadily wrote the book I'd been planning for years. I then set to work on selling it.
With the writers' and artists' yearbook by my side I contacted every agent in the UK, sending them samples through the post or online. I got a lot of interest but it was also the same time the economy crashed and whether they were being kind, or this was true, nobody took it up.
Then an American publishing house bought it and I thought my dreams had come true. Little did I realise I'd receive just pennies from every sale. Although this wasn't ideal, it did help me into other areas because when they lost an editor I happily jumped in to make a little extra cash.
Take on Any Related Job
This paid very little but looked great on a CV so I was happy. In the meantime I looked for writing jobs online. My degree was finished and it was time to make some money. As everyone warned me against pursuing the life of a writer I decided to give it one last shot and then maybe apply for a proper job like a teacher.
My main motivation was my children. I'd been a latch key kid and didn't want the same for them, I wanted to be there.
Looking for "writing jobs online" I came across many portals that would allow me to write but wouldn't pay. I decided to write a few articles and submit them just to see what the response would be.
I also found a new online magazine, Nerditorial that wanted contributors. They didn't have fund to pay but did occasionally get linked to by the BBC.
Sign Up to Freelancing Websites
After a few weeks I felt confident enough to sign up for a few freelancing websites. I didn't think I'd ever be offered a job as my experience as an article writer was limited but I wanted to see what I should aspire to. An American company offered me a job for $1 per article.
They needed a hundred in a week! Looking back I can't believe I took it on but it was the thrill of actually being paid to do something I love. They paid for the first 25 and were over the moon. I submitted the rest and they disappeared yet my content is still live on the site to this day.
I berated myself for being so silly as to think I could pursue a career in this but when another offered me $2.50 per article I saw it as a step up.
This was very tedious work and not exactly what I pictured. I remember writing twenty articles in one day on Slimming World Vouchers. I had a baby just a few days old and my husband was away. The landlord was demanding rent arrears and I'd sold every bit of furniture we had. Then I noticed an urgent job posted for copywriting.
They needed the copy overnight and would pay £100. For the amount of work (about 14 hours) this was still barely minimum wage but the £100 would keep the wolf from the door.
Take a Chance and Believe in Yourself
I did it with a little trepidation, applying my business knowledge, my writing skills (that had yet to be verified) and my qualifications in psychology to create copy that would appeal to the target market. It was a risk, I'd never done it before except for friends and if it wasn't accepted I'd finally know I was no good at what I did.
Build a Portfolio
In fact the client loved it so much they threw much more work my way. It did only amount to the equivalent of £4 an hour but it was a fortune to me. The more jobs I did, the more feedback he gave and the more my profile began to rise.
With a little more confidence I applied for jobs writing articles, showing off the articles I'd produced for a dollar as my portfolio. This is all the clients needed, examples of my work online and from there I began my career.
Let Your Work Speak for Itself
Now I work full-time while my husband is a househusband. I'm here and I'm flexible but I do work a lot of hours every week. I'm not complaining though, it's been quite a few years since those one dollar articles and I would probably be still cleaning caravans if I hadn't taken them on to bulk up my portfolio.
Invest Your Time
It does seem to take an age to get started but once the momentum gets going you'll be surprised how in demand quality writers are online. If you truly love writing and want to work from home all you need to sacrifice is a little (or a lot- let's be honest) of your time.
While you are waiting for answers to your applications either write your own blog or do a survey or two. It all adds up and many survey companies also need writers so it's a good way to get a foot in the door.