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You’re staring at your screen, thinking about your ideal career path. Lately, you’ve found yourself daydreaming about your perfect job: flexible work hours, work from anywhere you choose, added responsibility, greater autonomy, and a good income.

You think, “How will I ever find anything like that?” Then you remember two words you read or heard somewhere: freelance writing.

You decide you want to learn more about this term and how to go about becoming a freelance writer. A quick search leads you here. You wonder whether you’re in the right place. Well congratulations, you are in the right place.

This article focuses on what the life of a freelancer entails and also includes tips on becoming one at the dawn of a new decade.

Prepare Yourself Before You Freelance

Like any important decision in life, starting a freelance career is something you first have to plan for before actually diving in. You have to be sure that you’re ready for this new chapter in your life before you start writing for others.

It may have many benefits, however – and I’ll be honest with you – success on this path you’re about to choose doesn’t come as quickly and as easily as many would hope.

It takes time and a lot of effort to become a great, independent writer because, after all, freelancing is still serious work like any other profession.

An important aspect you need to plan for is the initial uncertainty that comes with this field.

In the beginning, clients are hard to find, the ones you do find may want to pay you the least amount possible for your work, and some don’t even want to pay you at all.

Some will find any excuse not to pay up. They may even offer to pay you in ‘exposure’. But last time I checked, landlords don’t accept that type of currency when it’s time to pay the rent.

Sorry, I digress.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to ensure you give yourself enough time to thrive.

Build a Buffer and a Portfolio

First and foremost, it’s important to have the financial resources you’d need to maintain your current lifestyle before fully committing to the life of a freelancer.

This may mean saving up for a few months before venturing into freelance or deciding to start it part-time as you keep your full-time job. At least until you do the math and you’re able to confidently say that the amount you earn as a freelancer is comparable to the income you get paid at your 9-to-5.

Secondly, you need to build your portfolio before you can truly be appreciated by the clients who are willing to pay what you feel you deserve.

Clients won’t be interested in your services unless you can show a track record of quality content.

You can begin creating your portfolio in a few ways. The simplest of which is to start a blog and create your own content while developing a following of people genuinely interested in your work.

A following means potential clients who would want you to write for them.

Blogs are easy and generally inexpensive to start. The most popular blog platforms include Medium, WordPress, and Blogger. What’s important here is to show off your skills, knowledge, and ability to generate great content on a consistent basis.

Other popular ways of building up your portfolio include asking people you know if they need articles written for them or their businesses and submitting articles to online platforms or magazines.

Even if this exposure doesn’t earn you much monetarily, it has the benefit of putting yourself out there in the very beginning. It may be necessary at first, but it likely won’t make any sense (and definitely no cents) to carry on working for exposure once you’ve established yourself as a talented writer.

You have to start somewhere, just make sure you don’t stay there.

Find Freelancing Opportunities

Once you have a portfolio to impress potential clients, you have to go out and find them. Here are some ways to do just that:

Signing up to Freelancing Websites and Apps

As more and more clients require an ever-increasing amount of content to market themselves online, freelancing jobs abound.

Many clients search for content creators on freelancing platforms such as Freelancer, Fiverr or Upwork. Here you’ll find a large number of freelancers offering their services.

The downside to being on any of these types of platforms is that you find yourself competing with others for the jobs available. So you offer to complete jobs for less money than you should be charging and more work than you should be doing in a shorter timeframe than should be recommended.

Working on these sites and apps can lead to burnout for little reward. And that’s if you somehow obtain an abundance of jobs on these platforms.

Working for Content Marketing Agencies

These types of agencies specialize in creating streams of content for companies all over the world on a consistent basis.

Ideally, if you’re looking for constant work, this is where you want to find yourself. Here you’re assigned tasks on a regular basis, paid for your work, and you have the opportunity to grow as a writer and earn more as you improve your skills.

Whereas on freelancing websites you’re on your own competing for jobs and at times struggling to find any, in a content marketing agency you’re part of a team and you’re seeking actual self-fulfillment. Keep an eye out for opportunities following agencies online and frequently check to see if they are hiring.

Using the Power of Social Media and Referrals

Social media is such a powerful tool you can easily use to promote yourself and your skills. You likely already use it to share personal details about yourself, so why not use it to share your professional credentials?

Let the world know that a freelance writer is what you are and epic content is what you provide. Twitter and LinkedIn are perfect platforms for this. Clients can find you easily on social media the more you put yourself out there.

Referrals from clients you’ve worked with and people who can vouch for your writing ability are also helpful when it comes to finding your next client. People trust who they know. If those they know recommend you, clients are more likely to trust you with important work.

Use social media and get others to use it to promote you as well.

Improve Your Writing Skills

Once you find opportunities and you start writing for clients, remember to write about what you know. Focus on what you’re good at and show that you are an authoritative figure in your field.

Clients and readers prefer content that comes from a reliable and knowledgeable source. You also want people to trust you when they read your articles.

It’s better to be a master of one trade than a jack of many.

Taking on jobs for topics you know little about can only be detrimental to your freelance work. You end up losing time conducting extensive research on those topics – time you could use to write other articles. Ultimately, whatever content you come up with lacks the quality readers come to expect.

Keep Learning Your Craft

As much as it is important to write what you know, it is equally important to learn more about what you know and about creating content.

As we enter a new decade, new trends in the online content field appear and it is crucial for you to remain updated at all times – lest you get left behind and clients eventually replace you.

You absolutely have to invest in yourself so that clients can invest their content marketing budgets in you.

The best way to remain updated in an ever-developing world and invest in yourself is to keep learning.

Find courses relevant to your skills.

As an aspiring freelance writer, start with an SEO Copywriting course that teaches you how to best increase traffic to your clients’ websites through consistent quality content.

Ready to succeed as a freelancer? Then get started and see you on a beach somewhere!

Photo by RamdlonCC BY

Katrina McKinnon
Author

I'm Katrina McKinnon, founder of McKinnon Group and Small Revolution. I'm using my 20 years' experience in building and operating online businesses to create engaging educational materials that helps others become successful online workers. Find me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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