What's the secret? How can you be a successful freelance writer and find your share of well-paid writing jobs?
The secret to success is motivation.
So What Does it Take?
Why do you want to be a freelance writer? Is it for the byline? Money? To write television shows and movies? To become a hard-hitting journalist? Or is it the only way you can reconcile your intense social anxiety with your need for a job?
Whatever the reason, you need some pretty intense motivation to support your decision to become a freelance writer - and your expectations also need to be realistic. Big money isn't going to come until you put a few years in. To be honest, your first goal should be to earn enough money. Then you can focus on becoming a writing super-star.
This intense level of motivation is necessary to carry you through the steps to becoming a freelance writer, because over the next year you're going to encounter critics, low pay, and a scarcity of clients willing to hire someone starting out.
Step One: Humility and Low Pay
Somewhere during the beginning of the journey, you will encounter the dreaded Content Mill. They'll hire you without experience or a portfolio, usually based off a paid (or unpaid) test article. The pay rate for content writers at these disreputable institutions range from an ugly $5 per 500 words, to about $15 per 500 or 600 words. Is it enough? No. But it is enough to get started, and to put together a portfolio and writer's resume - so long as you put your best effort into the job.
Step Two: Resume, Portfolio and Extensive Client Searches
What comes next? A lengthy and, if you don't give up, virtually never-ending search for work. Although many customers will have repeat work for you, many will not. This means that you have to set up a good client base of small, medium and eventually large businesses that need everything from website content to white papers and brochure copy. The good new is that once you've properly prepared your application materials, reaching out to potential clients and writing agencies is just one more tiny chore.
Step Three: Establish Your Name and Expand
Whether you choose to use your own name or a pseudonym, it's important for your future to market yourself. This can be difficult with all the ghost-writing that goes on in this industry, but it's not impossible. Spend the time, effort and small investment to get your own website, and update it regularly. Business cards can help you spread the work and build your network, as can guest blogs on others' websites. Once your business is successful enough to sustain your lifestyle, you can expand into special niche topics or other types of writing as you see fit. Write a novel, create a screenplay or pitch a great non-fiction book to publishers!
Don't wonder how to be a freelance writer - the steps are simple. Get out there and do it!