Don’t let stories of overnight successes fool you into thinking you don’t have what it takes to be a freelance writer. Sure, there’s always going to be ‘that person’ that seemingly shows up out of nowhere and takes the world by literary storm, but for most of us, that just isn’t reality. For most of us, we have to work smart and we have to work hard.
I didn’t start out expecting a freelance career at all. I started freelancing so I could have a little extra money in my stay-at-home-mom budget so I could afford a Starbucks Grande Mocha with Skim Milk while I was dutifully shopping for diapers and wipes at Target. I came across Associated Content, an old school type of content farm, and I started to write. The pay was lousy, but I could do the work while holding a small sleeping child on my lap and so I wrote. And I wrote a lot.
I wrote about styling hair and I wrote about applying makeup and I wrote about picking church music and anything else they threw my way. And soon, my articles went from appearing on no-name web pages to Yahoo Beauty to Yahoo Shine. And then one day, a friend sent me a screenshot of my face on the front page of Yahoo with over a million views from that morning alone. I felt like a success!
Life changed and I left freelance writing until I became a single mom. I needed a work from home job that I could fit around the needs of my 6 children. A good friend pointed me to UpWork and my career was (re)born. It isn’t glamorous, not one bit, but it is satisfying and certainly pays the bills. I learned a few things from serving my clients in my time in and out as a freelance writer.
Don’t despise small beginnings.
We all have to start somewhere, and that’s usually somewhere small. I started out working for a content farm. Upwork is a far better platform to get you on your way to a writing career than what I had in my early days of freelancing. It’s ok to take a few low paying articles to get some good feedback on your profile and a few clients under your belt. Don’t worry about how humble or small the beginning, just begin.
When I haphazardly attempted to be a Mary Kay beauty consultant, my upline always laughed that I had the Zoom-Screech condition. She meant I would zoom ahead full force, only to run out of clients, get worn out, and come to a screeching halt before starting the cycle all over again. Being steady and consistent is a much better way to grow any business, especially freelance writing.
Write a lot.
Have you ever received a text message from a friend and you could practically hear them speaking the words in your head? That’s their ‘voice’ and you have one, too. The best way to find your writing voice, and get really good at it, is to write a lot. Even if you don’t have enough clients, keep writing. Write for your own blog, write for a friend’s blog, write for fun, write about things you are passionate about, and write about things you want to learn more about. The more you practice and hone your craft, the better you’ll get.
Find a mentor, a comrade, or at least a friend in the business.
A successful friend helped me to get back into freelance writing. She’s also the person I bounce ideas off of, discuss grammar with, and share fun client stories with, too. Find a friend who writes so you can encourage each other.
The best thing my writing friends ever told me was to just do it. Don’t wait for the right education, the right clients, or the right moment in time. Wherever you are, whatever skills you have, whatever knowledge you have, just jump in and get started. Every failed assignment and every successful venture will get you closer to the success that you want to achieve.