Earlier this spring I wrote about my decision to pursue a career as a freelance writer in a post titled, The One Where I Decided To Start My Own Business. It was a bold declaration and one that immediately conjured up feelings of creative romance. I’m sure plenty of folks pictured a plucky thirty-something with a pencil in her hair, happily typing away. In reality? I have never worked harder in my life. Once my semester ended in May I immediately proceeded to –
- Create a new website.
- Identify and develop my brand or “voice” as a freelance writer.
- Take an online course in freelance writing and marketing.
- Identify my target audience/niche.
- Educate myself on tax law and codes.
- Learn how to use PayPal for setting up invoices and accepting online payments.
- Set up an office space.
This list isn’t even a fraction of the mountain of work I’ve either completed or have underway. If you are serious about starting your own business as a freelance writer be prepared for a lot of elbow grease. Plus, you will never have enough time! Fortunately, this is my last year of grad school which means in 2018 I will have more time to focus on my writing. I plan on working from home as a part-time freelance writer, and using the income to pay off my student loans.
To make that happen I’ve been implementing the advice of freelancer Jorden Roper. Roper is the creator of Writing Revolt* and the owner of Cutthroat Copy*. It was her advice that prompted me to create a better website and identify my niche for potential clients. Currently, I am re-familiarizing myself with how to write query letters and pitches. Next month I will focus on identifying potential clients through reputable websites such as ProBlogger*
I admit it is discouraging when you don’t see immediate results from your efforts. However, when you are first starting out it is important to avoid content mills such as Upworks. When you have zero-ninety-five in your bank account it makes sense to take the first paying job you find. I get it. The problem is that content mills are not paying you what your writing is actually worth. Content mills are notorious for underpaying freelance writers to where making a living wage becomes impossible. Instead, go to reputable networking sites such as Freedom With Writing* or Author’s Publish Magazine* to find potential clients and valuable advice.
Every time I complete a step for my business or achieve a goal, I write it down in a process called goal-marking. This way I can encourage myself by reviewing the steps I have successfully completed. For this reason I strongly recommend investing in some cheap composition books. I make it a habit to keep one close by to write down ideas and things I need to do whenever they occur to me. It cuts down on the risk of forgetting important information. It also helps to maintain a practical point of view per a piece of advice from one of my art professors –
Only ten percent of creatives – regardless of media or discipline – are going to be in that special echelon of writers and artists who make their living solely from their art. They’re the ones who are household names, and only one or two of you is ever going to get there. The other ninety-percent of us are going to have day jobs. There is no shame in this and it doesn’t mean you have “failed.” The only way you can do that is if you either don’t try or are an arrogant jerk who can’t be taught and can’t grow.
Unless you’re an arrogant jerk you should be fine. It makes sense given the highly competitive nature of the creative industries to have a career to fall back on. Many artist and writers do – including some of those household names! Factor in the astronomical price of tuition at your local university and the black hole of student loan debt, diversifying your income is a no-brainer.
With freelancing you do not need a lot of capital to start. You do not need a fancy office space or expensive equipment. You just need a good laptop and a wireless connection. Many of the websites that offer professional services such as networking and online portfolios are free or have very minimal fees. I intend to spend this weekend tying up loose ends and creating my next plan-of-action. If you have any advice you would like to share about starting your own business, comment below. In the meantime have a great day!
*I was not paid or compensated in any way by any of these companies or individuals. These are my honest reactions to their products.