How to Make it as a Freelance Writer

Freelance writing is undoubtedly an exciting career to pursue for a young professional, especially in today’s media landscape. It’s an ideal platform for career development, self-expression and establishing credibility as a writer. While there’s no silver bullet for sharpening your path as a freelancer, there are some helpful methods to get you started. Here’s the skinny on making it as a freelance writer.

1. Read a lot. 

Writing and reading go hand in hand. If you don’t like to read a substantial amount, you may find yourself ill prepared in becoming a freelancer. But don’t fret. Start by absorbing materials that matter to you. Think about publications that are most helpful and meaningful to you. Get an idea of some common areas you would feel comfortable writing about on a regular basis. Become educated on those topics and well accustomed to their trends, insights and the like.

2. Start small to form your client base. 

You may have to figuratively knock on a few doors to find the right opportunity. Get a good pitch going for yourself, and sell yourself to the client. In short, explain why you’d like to write for them, what you like about the brand’s publication and how you will be helpful to them as an expert source. You may be asked to write some starter articles or begin unpaid work. This is a good thing. Start with a solid platform, then focus on raking in the bucks once you get established and build a following. You’ll want to get used to the ebb and flow of freelance writing before you commit a financial status to it.

3. Get to know your editors. 

You’ll want to communicate often with your editors. In general, the quicker you respond, the more work you will get. Let more than a day go by, and you’re letting both work and cash flow go out the window. Lend yourself available when possible without over committing. A good rule of thumb is to turn work around with enough time before another project begins. That way, small changes can be made without being under the clock. Staying in contact with your editors via phone or email is a wise choice as well. You’ll want to get to the point where you understand their expectations and they look forward to receiving your work.

4. Earn an income. 

Before you commit to writing full time, keep your 9 to 5 or other job whilst maintaining a writing side hustle. Some clients pay either hourly or per article. If you’re charging a rate, make sure it’s sustainable yet appealing to the market. There’s a bit of a learning curve to which methods earn decent wages, so keep track of the number of hours you work monthly and compare that to your earnings for the month. If your rate comes up short on a specific client, one way to make more money is to propose a suggested rate that measures fairly against the hours you put in. On an extra note, keep in mind freelance work of all types comes in waves. Plan your finances for when work slows down.

5. Make connections.

While you may not be in an office setting, it’s even more important to network with prospective clients, marketing & media agencies as well as fellow writers. Remember, you are your own marketer, and your personality is your brand. Being known as a reliable and friendly person to work with will catch on via word-of-mouth and industry circles. Don’t be afraid to ask for a review or recommendation that you can post to your personal website or LinkedIn. All of this will build your credibility.

Additionally, networking shouldn’t just be about recognizing your own work. It’s encouraged to get to know other writers both in and out of your areas of expertise. Get in contact with writers working in house at marketing and link building agencies, commend other writers on their work and to get expertise on your own. You can introduce yourself or way in on their work through a simple tweet, email or commenting on one of their articles. There are a lot of veterans out there, and they’ve been doing this for a while. Get to know them.

What are your tips for making it as a freelance writer? Tell us in the comments below!

Sarah Arrazola

Sarah Arrazola is a communications professional in Miami, Fla. Her passions focus on Latin American issues, fine art and the digital age. In her spare time she enjoys aerial silks and traveling. As a young professional with experience in the PR industry, she's excited to share her thoughts with you on Your Coffee Break. Follow her on Twitter @sarah_arrazola