You’ve always loved to write, and you think you’ve got good skills, some creativity, and solid understanding of the various types of writing. Now, you’ve decided to make a living doing it. Good for you! There is a great career in store for you as a freelance writer if you do it right, build your business with care, and commit to the responsibilities that it entails.
Getting Started – Take Anything!
A plumber, starting his own business, takes any job s/he can find, no matter how simple and no matter how small the payment may be. You must begin the same way, finding and taking any writing task you can find. There are a few things that you can do to be pro-active, however:
- Perform a Google search for freelance writing opportunities. You will find a lot of writing clearinghouses that want you to pay a registration fee. They will promise you the “moon,” but don’t believe it. Find the sites that allow you to register and establish a basic profile. Usually you will then be sent opportunities, upon which you may bid. Do some research on typical pay for novice freelancers (usually a few cents per word) and bid accordingly. Many people have begun this way and have developed rather permanent relationships with clients.
- Take the time to complete applications and take the examinations that many writing clearinghouse sites will require. You need to have your name on as many of these sites as possible. Some will publish writing opportunities daily, and you simply accept the ones you want and complete them with professionalism and according to the deadline.
- Check Craigslist regularly. They have two categories for writing/editing, and you should apply for any opportunity for which you may be qualified.
- Over time, you will “pick up” writing opportunities by referral. Always take the assignments offered, and be willing to put in long hours to meet any client’s deadline. You can always sleep when the job is completed. Many of your clients may be foreign – they don’t care about your time zone. Work with theirs!
Train Yourself – Become More Marketable
Given the wide variety of web-based writing opportunities, you need to embark on an independent learning process. Familiarize yourself with all of the current writing platforms and tools that online businesses and organizations use – for directory articles, for blogs, for site content, etc. You cannot learn enough, and this learning must be on-going. Are you familiar with WordPress and Tumblr? Do you know how social media can be utilized to promote businesses? Do you understand content marketing? If not, you have a lot to do in between writing jobs!
Time Management – How Organized are You?
It is really enticing to think that you can just work in your PJ’s all day. Think of the freedom and independence! If you are not careful, however, it becomes too easy to turn on that television, to check your Facebook page, to retire for a nap, etc. You cannot compromise your schedule for these things. A few tips follow:
- Have a physical space set aside in your residence for your work – a space that has the “feel” of an office. You need the psychological mindset of being “at work.”
- Set up a schedule that provides for work and for breaks. Follow that schedule. If you decide that you will take a break every two hours, stick to it! And, if you experience downtime, without a writing task, take the time to do some research, enhance your skills, or seek out new business.
- Accept the fact that your schedule may be totally uprooted. A client may have an urgent or rush order. If that client is important to you, then you must meet the deadline, without exception. You must be committed to long hours when necessary, even if it means cancelling social engagements. This is the life of a small business owner!
Your clients may have a variety of methods of payment – check, automatic deposit, etc. Whenever possible, choose PayPal. The beauty of PayPal is that, at the end of each year, you can obtain a full detailed accounting of all that you have earned.
Income Reporting for Taxes
Keep careful records of payments, and plan to set aside the appropriate amount for income and payroll taxes. But do not forget the multitude of deductions that are available to individuals who work out of their homes. You need to research all of the tax law and regulations that relate to your situation or find a tax preparer that is really skilled in self-employment tax preparation.
A Final Word
Freelance writing can be wonderfully rewarding and can provide the variety that you so want. If you are careful and steadily build your business, you can enjoy independence and an income that will sustain you quite well!