Do you want to enter the realm of freelance writing as a full time career? The pandemic has put lot of us at home and in the mindset of realizing work from home problems.
While the details sound glorified, people are starting to talk about the very real and very tough challenges that freelancing and work from home careers come with. In terms of actual sitting down and penning the words, writing as a freelancer is no different than a writing desk job in a cubicle.
Then what is it about the word ‘freelance’ writing that enchants us and scares us simultaneously? It is the freedom of hours and creativity that ropes us in and the uncertainty of pay that scares us away. This so happens because newbie freelance writers often start by trial and error, juggling hierarchical actions in parallel or vice versa.
One such common mistake is pitching guest posts while marketing yourself as a freelancer. I will get straight to the point and tell you that before announcing yourself as a freelance writer, pitch for guest posts and collect testimonial samples. It is not a simultaneous task but a step-by-step process.
The First Step
What is the first step according to you in a freelance writing career? Setting up a website? Handing in posts? Cold emailing? What if I say NO to all those answers? The basic first step is writing itself.
Pick a Niche
Hence, the first step is to figure out the type of writing that fits your style. And you can only do that by writing more and more. Turn to your blogging community for critique. Many writers try to figure out their voice and genre as they go while others pick a niche style before beginning. Notice the success rate for later is higher and exponential than those of the former.
Apart from the above task, you must also practice pitching. Look at websites with form pattern. Answer questions like ‘Why are you a fit for us?’ or ‘How does your piece help/interest our readers?’. Talk to your fellow bloggers. Check how pitching for a magazine will differ from and online media platform. How does a review query differ from a copywriter’s query?
Remember that a pitch does not solely fail or succeed based on your query, there are many other factors involved. Keep it up and keep going.
What happens in both cases: For writers who figure out their style as they go tend to gain much experience in various genres than the one they eventually specialize in. This other experience does not amount to much going forward, piling up useless time and effort. This can be cut short by taking up specifically allocated time for yourself to figure out a niche before beginning. Doing so, gives a jump start and narrows the target instead of scattered efforts.
Your pick can be as broad as essays or as specific as luxury lifestyle news covers. This gives you an advantage over those who start from ground up whereas you get to pick from the second step of the ladder. A blogger in my social circle picked her niche to be ‘Luxury Stays in India’ and has become an authentic voice in her genre within a year.
The Second Step
All the guesses that people make about the first step of freelance writing are applicable here. It is now time to start socially calling yourself a freelance writer and gain some amount of experience as one. As a beginner, this is a hard job. Everyone wants experienced writers for their work which causes newbies to sign up for content mills and end up working for minimum wages.
No experience required
Little do you know that there is wriggle room at this time of pressure. There is another path, though no easier but with hope; Guest posting opportunities are currently the most unbiased equal opportunity platform for writers. No matter if you are a newbie or experienced, a guest posting platform will look at your piece more than your previous work and if you have none, it doesn’t matter.
Please remember to read the guidelines very carefully for every pitch you send to these websites. Yes, most of them are similar but not the same. There will always be little tweaks before you send them in.
Put your pitching practice to good use and let the good times roll.
No matter if your pieces are published or not, keep writing. It will be wise to make this a daily habit. Keep aside some time for writing everyday. Find what tone and voice works for you and your niche. Writing is a craft you can get better at by doing it. The more you do, the better you get.
Also, take some time to edit. Editing is what turns a draft into a final readable material. It is just as important as free writing. To keep your motivations going, look for writing exercises available on many writing blogs.
Post picking a niche, the publishing target narrows down. This saves a writer’s time and energy which would otherwise be lost in looking through various genres, genre specific blogs and bloggers, learning their styles and the kind of guest posts they’d accept.
Now that the target sites and publishers are narrowed down in your niche, look for the ones that would align well with your writing style. Create a priority chronology and pitch. The chances of acceptance are higher here.
The Third Step
Now that some of the work is published as guest posts, it is time to start collecting testimonials, reviews, stats and comments to consolidate them into a single portfolio.
Every job asks for reference, this is yours. Collect these references. They may be in the form of testimonials from editors, comments on your guest post or reviews about your work.
If your material seem to be doing great, don’t hesitate to make a humble request for the stats. It shows how good an article you created can perform given the right direction and platform.
There are various sites that offer a place for writers to create a simple online resume or better known to be a portfolio. You can add links to your work, organizations you have worked with and testimonials you collected. A consolidated portfolio makes it easier for any writer, beginner or otherwise, to fish in the bigger pond.
Many writers also opt to create an exclusive web page for a portfolio instead of getting it supported and powered by larger platforms. If a blog is involved, make sure to narrow down a genre around which the blog will revolve. Include a blog in your portfolio website if and only if you have some value to provide to your readers.
Testimonials of your work are by far the best fruits of labor any writer can ask for. It has a human voice and trust encrusted into the words which pour credibility into your work. Every evidence of great work will lead to better results. And once you consolidate all these reviews and stats in one place, your pitching efforts will be cut in half as people can easily find you online with reference to your niche.
Every writer starts somewhere but not every one is lucky enough to find the right guidance. Make use of the advice above and start by narrowing down your niche, interest and expertise. Start sending in pitches for this is the hard part of the job. Now, the cycle of collecting testimonials and sending queries continues with stability and you have your portfolio for those places that only accept experienced writers.
Get to work!
See you next blog.