Just recently as a not such a bad freelance writer, I had a customer, who’d asked me to write a post on how to become a freelance writer. Easy as a pie, I thought. Who would know better than a freelance writer, how to be a freelance writer? The hard part was – I had to do it in English. But still ok, for the major part of English-speaking readers is in… India! So this is what I came up with, skipping the intro – it actually sucked, as any custom plastic intro.
The titanic diaphoretic work of the bestselling writer is left behind the scenes. Coming closer to what being a writer actually is, let’s dig through the information and analyze the basis of the professional success. Even though a freelance writer is a totally different profession from that Hank Moody had, it is still a no less demanding and life-consuming job.
Before we start – let’s determine, whether you can actually be a good freelance writer:
Tolstoy (a Russian writer, you should know) once noted in his diary: “The only case when you should write – is when you cannot hold back from it”. In other words – it’s not even a question – if you’re known for writing something all the time, then don’t bother picking a profession.
Now let’s take a closer look at a freelance writer:
The freelance written is a bit chained to the market. Back in the times of Hemingway determining, what exactly will drive people crazy about your writing was a thought task. You had to have that particular outlook, which would help you guessing the tastes of the public. Or you could simply sip your absinthe and spill the ink and the countless brilliant ideas, fed by the extreme life experience on a sheet of paper and make it all sound like a bestselling story.
Today the army of marketers is just analyzing the google requests and gives you the topic. And that makes you a slave of what people want. But lets’ not get ahead. In order to earn your first $1000 by writing, take the steps successively. While to be a writer you need to do only two things: read and write, in order to be a good freelance writer you need to do 5!
First things come first and only the enriched vocabulary may eventually enrich the pocket of a writer. Develop your passive lexicon (the words you know, but don’t use daily). And believe it or not, only reading may best cope with that task. What to start with? That’s easy:
- Classical literature. Even though during the past century the English vocabulary has almost tripled and now counts more than 1 million words, according to the Global Language Monitor data, the masters of the word of the past knew their business well. No matter, how much pot would you have to smoke – you will hardly pump up the ability to turn the words into pictures. Why? It’s simple – the best writers of the human era had to create when the only way to make a selfie was actually drawing it while looking at your own reflection in a dirty pond. Right, the cinema was missing too, obviously.
- Read the Internet, because the Internet is where your masterpieces will eventually get to. The Internet is very demanding, aggressive and intolerant: the people are greedy for the high-quality information, speedy at reading while searching for the useful tips, and they don’t really need you to twist it too much. Read the popular blogs, that have become popular because of the unique style, the people like. What sells well – sells well. Popular on the Internet mean money for a freelance writer.
Write all the time – you’d better do. It has been repeatedly said like… Everywhere! Writing is a skill! The more you write – the better you become at it. Everything is a skill, so just do what you gotta do. Saying – “what if I’m not good enough” should take you to step one of this post.
- Write notes. Wherever you go – take a pen and a paper (damn PAPER) notepad with you! Notepad is awesome – the battery is never low, the paper doesn’t blink in the sun and you don’t need to hit those tiny characters looking like a part of the cell-phone-hand culture. Even though you most probably will never ever use the written notes again – trust me, you will remember what you pointed out as an interesting observation.
- Write posts. Going from small to big – once having picked the topic, write until your fingertips start bleeding and your stomach goes back to the pre-big-bang condition. Don’t stop before you lose the point. Then eat, sleep and…
- Proofread! There’s nothing more disappointing at writing, then reading it all over again and thinking to yourself, how miserable you are as a writer. But don’t get despair. Just correct the typos, erase the nonsense and post.
Posting is essential. You need to know, how you word sells and who is buying. If you’re too lazy for running a blog – start with your Facebook page, and see if your post about boobs, booze and butterflies has been shared at least once. Read the comments. The analysis may not be clear enough if you’re Justin Bieber or a smoking hot woman of the reproductive age, who’s also posting her bikini pictures from time to time. In this case, you may get the shares and likes just because you are who you are.
That is why the blog is better. The other reason for getting a blog is that sending a link to the potential buyer of your talent is actually much easier, than mailing an archive of files. Read a couple of articles/blog posts on how to run your blog. You may even make a profit. However, making a profit while being your own boss is harder than working for someone else.
Through running a blog you will gain the necessary experience to become a selling freelance writer. Mind using the tools and resources, that will help you writing, posting and proofreading online. And even though it’s a whole different topic – it worth mentioning. You welcome.
4. Determine the area of your expertise
Now the moment of truth! You have to decide, whether you’ll be a copywriter (the Internet posts processing machine) or a writer? Even though the writer initially has that broad vision and alternative outlook, the subtleties of the principles of the Large Hadron Collider work may lie far beyond the sphere of your knowledge. In order to write about (not copy-paste about) – you have to know about. This is the only way you can share the information in a vivid and original manner, being unique and unpredictable. Being unique and unpredictable on the Internet means success. So what should you do to determine the sphere of your competence?
- List your interests. Just like that – take a pen and a paper and list what you’re particularly good at. Whatever it is! Watching series non-stop? Put it on the list! Eating fast-food? On the list! Being sad and depressed, while striving to become a writer? On the list!
- Analyze the market. Ok, this is a tough part. You will actually need to do some real research. Study the google ad words tools or buy a database collector and check, whether the topics, that you may speak out on are actually demanded. That is the warranty of the success as we get closer to the selling point. At making a profound keyword research, you will find out that writing tips on how to be kind is pretty lame comparing to writing tips on how to be sexy.
- Find out more about SEO – SEO is trendy.
- Analyze the competitors. Before writing your very first post on the subject you definitely have something to say about – look through the internet. There’s always someone, who will turn you from the writer into a copywriter.
5. Go and sell yourself!
Selling oneself is a drama. Once a tender flower shutting tears and shaking dreadfully at a word “sell” has to take money for the talent – the gates of the Artists’ Heaven close forever. A creative person is all about creating, I know… Yet, please mind, that there’s always someone less talented as a writer, but more successful as a seller, who has made his first $1000 as a freelancer years ago.
A tasty morsel on a freelance market knows the basic rules of the service pack of the talented freelance writer. And you’re lucky to get this checklist for free.
- Discipline. You have to be accurate at determining your skills and working capacities. People, who pay money, want to know, what exactly do they get in the outcome and when exactly they get it. So note the time you might need for writing one post that you’d still like at proofreading and… Double it. That would be your constant working deadline.
- Good CV. Good CV is a face of the writer. Even though you may never need it – CV is a must-have of the potential employee. This is when your blog posts play into the hands! Put everything down.
- Manners. You can be who you are offline, but a cheerful, full of energy, locutions ideas fountain will tell the buyer, that you’re exactly the right one for his plan.
- Advertising. You should get yourself account everywhere. Don’t expect that a nice face and a good portfolio will have the job done at customers’ search! All the juicy spots on the major freelancers’ portals have already been taken. An empty profile without a job history is not something, that forms a queue of the word buyers. Read all the “how-tos” of the freelance websites to improve your chances of getting noted. Take the small jobs, use any opportunity to show yourself. Tell your friends and family to tell their friends and families that you can turn the words into the anthem of the… Slaughtering industry, if needed. In other words – knock every door, and as one of them will open – so will many more.
- Accuracy. Even though the customer is paying by words – don’t smear two words in a sentence. Keep it short and straight to the point. In case you need a sharp volume of the text, according to the demands of the customer – add some relevant information (interesting and useful). Make your writing neat and learn to adjust it to the claimed format.
- Style. Since you’re still a writer – don’t hesitate to insist on having your own style. Don’t argue too much and react to criticism adequately. However, don’t let your writing go plastic and uniform. People love reading people. Wikipedia is great, but you hardly know anyone, who reads it in a warm bed before going to sleep.
- Fair price. It’s not about your first $1000 yet. (of course, it depends on your selling skills). Don’t be shy of setting your price, even though initially, it should be smaller. There are two option: hourly rate and charge per word. Do some research on the average pricing. As you grow meat on your bones – raise your rates and never apologize for charging so much. Skip the explanations.
- Time management skills. Period.
- Flawless result. Your customer may send the corrections, consider, improve, note and never repeat the mistakes again. The errors should be finally brought to naught.
Now you’re ready! Go!
And don’t forget – constant writing on the given topics may turn your passion into a routine profession. That might have sounded like a dream job – doing what you’re good at, while that is what you love doing. However, doing it over and over again may get you tired from what you love. That’s the law of everything, except for one thing… You know, what I mean. If you still want to keep that little creation sparkle and make it once shine in a bold cover on bestsellers shelf in a bookstore – reserve some time for creation. Your pure imagination, thoughts and experiences written down. Right after making your first $1000 – take a break, clear your brain trash bin from that information of no value and think, if you’re still ready to ever write anything for free.
P.S. The customer said IT SUCKS and he won’t use it. So now it’s here – on my blog, wasting your time. My advice – if the customer disliked your work and you liked it – put it on your blog. Not because you don’t want it to be your wasted time – the customers still pay you for the job done, but just because… It should remind you that on your way to professional writing there will always be readers, that dislike. And in case they are too many – most probably your writing really sucks.