Working as a freelance writer can be exciting and lucrative. It also has its down sides. As a successful writer, I’d like to share some of the essentials you’ll need to consider if you really want to write for a living.
Is there good money in this field? Absolutely! Is it all ice cream, roses and days of doing whatever you want? Categorically not! Like anything else, if you really want to succeed at this you’ll have to work. Sometimes harder than others, but this is not a free-ride to the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
If you’re serious about beginning a new career in freelance writing, there are 3 things you’ll need to consider before you jump into the wordsmithing pool. Naturally, there are a lot more than just 3 things you’ll have to do in order to start making the kind of money you want to. But these three are essential if you want to have a chance at all.
Now, I’m sure if you do a quick search of the web you’ll find all kinds of pages and ads related to freelance writing. And I’m also sure you’ll hear how the author is going to show you how to make thousands of dollars a month like he did? Is it possible? Yes. Is it practical to believe, that right out of the gate you’re going to be raking in hundreds a day? No. Be careful when you interpret these sites and ads. They may well be legitimate. But if you’re going to gamble your life on starting a new venture, be wary of the “pie-in-the-sky”, “too good to be true” avenues to success.
So what are 3 things you should consider first?
Your Business Plan
Your Survival Budget
Skills You Need to Succeed
We’ll take a good look at each of these separately, but first I’d like impart my humble beginnings in this area, to demonstrate that, aside from the ability to write, you don’t have to have any special background. And also show you that there is really a chance to make good money by doing what you love (and I’m assuming you love writing, or this is definitely the wrong move for you.)
Not long ago I decided that I needed more enjoyment out of life than I was getting. I wanted to do something that I really loved, but I wanted to do it from home. I was sick of my commute every morning. Although not as bad as some have it, I got pretty disgusted with an hour-and-a-half commute (in good traffic) every blessed day. I knew there had to be a better way, but wasn’t sure what it was.
At the time, I was a scientist working for a small biotech company in northern New Jersey, while living in the Pocono Mountains. Being a scientist, I began by researching “Work at Home” jobs. To be totally honest with you, most of them out there are either pure scams at worst or pipe-dreams at best.
Then I came across the idea of freelance writing. After diligently researching the possibilities in this field, I decided to give it a shot. It seemed to hold promise. As you’ll soon see, the initial investment was minimal. I could begin slowly working part time without having to give up that all-important steady paycheck. And I didn’t have to pay anyone to give me lessons.
Yes, like you’re doing now, I sifted through lots of articles and websites, purchased a few “How To” books and began in earnest to set up shop. Now, what you might find encouraging is that I had little to no experience with this field. Yes, I was already adept at writing, especially scientific papers and so forth, but I had no client base and no portfolio to speak of. Like many of you are doing – I started from scratch. And guess what – I’m now doing this full time and paying the bills.
Ok – to the heart of the matter – 3 Things To Consider
Your Business Plan
I highly recommend laying out a business plan before you begin. There’s no better way to judge how you’re progressing, and also know where you want to go. There are tons of books on this subject, ranging from in-depth corporate plans to small-business owner plans. Being naturally a bit lazy, I opted to put together a relatively simple plan.
What I did was to take a calendar and start laying out goals and when I wanted to reach them. This helped keep me on track with everything, and it was all in one place. Since I started out doing this part-time I had the luxury of slow, step-by-step development.
I opened my calendar, let’s say, to February. I began by marking dates that I wanted certain thing completed by. As an example:
• Feb 12 – Complete 1st 2 articles for submission
• Feb 21 – Contact Graphic Designers
• Mar 4 – Open Separate Savings Account
• Mar 5 – Begin Ad Campaign ($300 Budget)
I think you get the idea. I began mapping out where I was going and what I wanted to accomplish. I also did the same thing in a word document. I spelled out in writing what my objectives were, what rules I would follow to get there, and what methods I would use to achieve my goals.
A business plan, whether simple or complex, is essential to keeping you from wandering blindly forward. You’ll have to know where you’re money will go and where it will come from. You’ll also have to have a way to chart the growth (or failure) of your business.
Your Survival Budget
Ok, this one is critical. If you’re going to do this full time, here’s what I recommend. Calculate what your monthly living expenses are, and have enough money in your bank account (my separate account I mentioned above) to cover you for at least 8 months. Some authorities recommend 6 months – but I’m a scaredy-cat, I like heat and running water – I wanted a bigger cushion. If you think 6 months is good for you, go for it. But the last thing you want to be saddled with is fighting the bill collectors instead of dealing with clients.
When you’re figuring your budget, don’t forget that you’ll also be supporting a new business. Ink, paper, website (maybe), all these things need to go into your budget. The easier you can make it on yourself, the better off you’ll be. If you can find ways to cut personal expenses – do it.
For example, if you can survive with basic cable instead of 1000 channels, you’ll have more money for your business. After your business is running smoothly, you can have all the channels you want, but you have to get there first. So think about where you can really save without depriving yourself of everything.
Skills You Need to Succeed
In the world of freelance, there’s room for everybody. Whether you’re an accomplished author or just breaking into the writing scene there are possibilities for all.
Obviously, the better writer you are, the more client’s you’re going to win. But even poor to mediocre writers can make money in this field. In fact, to be honest with you, I have seen some really poor writing, and yet, there it is…in print. So even if you’re skills aren’t polished, don’t get discouraged.
What skills will you definitely need?
• Researching Skills – there will be many times you’re called upon to find all, or most, of an article or book you’re working on. This is especially true with ghostwriting. Being able to search the web, libraries or print media efficiently will cut your turn around time. This means you’ll finish faster and get paid sooner. Being concise with your search terms on the web, or asking for assistance from the librarian will go a long way toward reducing your research time.
• Interview Skills – Whatever kind of writing you decide you’re going to do you will be faced with interviewing the client. You’ll need to be able to extract all the information you need to get the project done correctly. Whether it’s copywriting, ghostwriting, E-book writing, if you you’re doing for someone other than yourself you’ll have to know how to handle the interview. Knowing where to start and what to ask can mean the difference between 2 re-writes of 10.
So I’ve included a few questions below that should be asked almost all the time. (This, of course supposes you already know the basics of the project.)
o What is your target audience?
o How long do you intend the work to be?
o Do you have any reference sources you want me to include?
o Are you expecting any graphs or tables in the work? If so, are you going to provide them, or will I have to produce them?
o How do you plan to market this e-book? (assuming it’s an e-book project)
o Is this a stand alone book or are you considering a series?
Knowing the right questions to ask will simplify things for both you and your client. You also have to listen attentively, because often, the interview will lead to other questions you hadn’t planned on. Listening to what the client wants and anticipating how he wants to accomplish it will help guide your interview process.
Becoming a freelance writer and working from home is certainly a doable and viable alternative to working visit https://prowriterstime.com/. It’s a business that requires dedication, both to your craft and your client, but can be very rewarding.
Before you jump into writing as a career, especially on a full time basis, you should have a solid idea of where you want to go, what you want to accomplish and how you’re going to accomplish it. Your business plan will drive all this.
When you decide to make it a full-time thing, you’ll have to have enough money put away to cover your living expenses while you’re building your business. Eight months worth of expenses is a comfortable and safe start. You’ll need to be concerned with marketing yourself and your business, and not worrying about where your next meal is coming from.
When you do have clients, you’ll have to know how to get into their heads and get the information you need to give them the best work you can. Listening closely and playing dumb (asking lots of questions – even if you think you know the answer) will go a long way toward satisfying your customer and getting a good final piece for your portfolio.
Freelancing is not for everyone, and it’s not always easy. But it’s a lifestyle I wouldn’t change for the world, and if you believe this is for you – go for it with everything you’ve got. Don’t do it half-heartedly. Be dedicated, and there’s a really good chance you’ll be successful.