In recent years, freelance writing has taken off and become a fruitful career for many. As more people gravitate towards working from home and being their own boss, freelancing gains popularity. In the U.S. alone, there are 57 million freelancers and 51 percent say they wouldn’t return to a traditional job.
Perhaps you’ve decided to leap into the world of freelance writing. You’re ready to ditch the nine-to-five life of an employee and become your own boss. But where do you start? How do you prepare yourself for your first writing client?
In this post, we’re going to give you a few tips to help you jumpstart your freelance writing career and land your first gig this year.
Narrow your niche
Too many people go into freelance writing thinking that they can write about any topic and get paid. While there are some writers out there who make a living off of generalized writing, for most, this is a bad plan.
When clients search for writers, they’re looking for those with specialties and specific experience. If they see that you write about anything and everything, they’ll know that you aren’t an expert in their industry and will move on to someone who is.
Think about what you have experience with and how you can narrow it down further to appeal to more people in that audience. For example, if you used to work in real estate, you can start a freelance writing business for up and coming realtors who need email marketing content. If you used to work in the restaurant business, you can create marketing content to help them bring in more business.
There are endless niches out there for you to choose from; the hardest part is deciding which one is right for you. Some choose two or three, and as they gain more experience, narrow their niches even further.
Create a strong portfolio
Because this is your first gig, it’s safe to assume you don’t have a lot going on in your portfolio. It takes time to build a quality, valuable portfolio that showcases your skills and highlights your talent. You might be wondering how to create an impressive one when you haven’t landed a client yet, but remember that everyone has to start somewhere.
You can create pieces solely to build and shape a portfolio that clients will love. Write content as though you were ready to send them to publications but, instead, they go in your portfolio. Even if they aren’t officially published pieces, clients will still be able to gauge your writing style and professional capabilities. It may land you your first ever writing gig.
To create valuable content for your portfolio, keep these tips in mind:
- Focus on the few niches you’ve set in place. The more you write about one niche, the more of those clients you’ll attract.
- Use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. No one will take you seriously as a writer if you have errors in your example pieces.
- Write content similar to the type of content you want to write for clients. If you want to write whitepapers and press releases, don’t waste your time producing website copy.
- Run your content through an editing app, such as Grammarly or Hemingway. Around 47 percent of writers edit their own content, but if you can afford an editor, more power to you.
Focus on networking
As a new writer, it’ll be challenging to catch others’ attention at first. It’s important to remember that everyone has to start somewhere and that, at one point, the people you know now and look up to were unknown to the world. Don’t let fear intimidate you into poor networking practices that lose you clients and revenue.
Put extra emphasis on your networking efforts, especially at the beginning. Half the battle is finding clients who are willing to spend what you’re worth. With networking, this becomes easier.
Join social media groups, forums, and online communities where you can seek advice and read about other writers’ experiences. Not only does this help you advance your freelancing career, but it also introduces you to like-minded people you can connect with on a meaningful level.
Guest posting for other websites is also a great way to get your name in front of bigger audiences. Writing for well-known publications means your content is valuable and that you’re worth paying attention to. It gives your brand social proof so that it’s easy to drive traffic your way and start a conversation.
Freelance writing is exciting but takes just as much work as any other career or profession. With the proper planning set in place, you too could run a successful writing business that pays the bills and keeps you fulfilled. How will you land your first gig in 2020?