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Freelance Writing Tips: Getting Your Start

Updated on February 8, 2015

Welcome to the world of freelance writing! Wordsmiths provide a myriad of writing services to the public including editing, advertising, article writing, web writing, reports, and on it goes. You could write articles, about pages for web sites of professionals like lawyers and businesses as well as work on your own material all in one day. It's solitary work no doubt, but rewarding in many ways. Getting your start is not really difficult, but requires lots of discipline, determination and persistence. Although I've only listed a few, the following tips are probably considered to be most fundamental.


Photo Credit: 123RF
Photo Credit: 123RF | Source

Don't Be Afraid to Write for Free

Free? I know this might be difficult to stomach for some people, but writing for free or on the cheap can do a couple of things for you, particularly if you're just getting your start in the business of writing. Keeping a personal journal, writing for free article directories and residual sites like Hubpages, Writedge, Seekyt and BubbleWS, will give you experience and published samples, which are tremendously important. Journaling gives you a private space to brainstorm, and develop new story ideas in a relaxed way, while article directories give you a voice. It's like announcing your arrival as a writer to the world.

You'll need to have examples of your work on hand to qualify for better, higher-paying assignments. Also, taking low-paying gigs will allow you to get your start as well; most will be open to new writers.

Even though you are providing free, or low-paying writing services, this does not mean that you should skimp on producing quality articles. You should always strive to do the best you can because remember, your work exhibits what you are capable of delivering to potential clients. It is a reflection upon you as a writer and as a businessperson.


Specialize

Developing a niche or two is one of the top priorities of writers. We make it our business to be quite knowledgeable about certain subjects; in fact many writers arise out of careers requiring specialty experience such as IT professionals, nurses and computer programmers. I come from a nursing background myself, so writing medical and health-related articles are not only enjoyable subject areas, but a natural fit for me in the writing world. You'll either come into your freelance writing career already equipped with specialty knowledge and experience, or you'll find something particularly interesting and research it extensively. Either way, you become an expert in your field which is important to a writing career.


Watch Out for Scams: Writers are Frequently Exploited

There are a lot of scams out there for the purpose of swindling people starting a freelance writing business of their own, but if you can follow a few simple rules you'll be less likely to get taken in. One of my hard and fast policies is that I don't do free samples; I submit published samples only. However, I will take a test where I write one article for the person or company offering the job, some of which do pay for test articles. Research the company, if possible, preferably through the experiences of other writers; we openly exchange information with each other this way. Make sure that you are clear about how you are to be paid for assignments and when, as well as what rights you are selling to the client. Also, if a company claims that you have to pay them a fee to work for them, more than likely, it's a scam.


Diversify

If you plan to earn a living in the business of writing, diversification is key. Taking advantage of a variety of writing assignments helps to grow your business, and increases the likelihood of being offered work and garnering private clients. You can write for a few companies, keep a couple of blogs, sell your work through your own website, do a bit of residual writing here and there, etc. But now here is a caveat: we must be careful not to spread ourselves too thin. There is a such thing as having too much going on! Trust me, I've been there. I've have been guilty of getting so many irons in the fire that I can't get anything done. Ever done that? This is where time management and prioritizing becomes very essential.


Promote Yourself

Promoting yourself is a lot easier now for writers when compared to the old days before the internet. Thanks to the social networking platforms today, getting the word out about ourselves is a cinch. Create an online writer's portfolio, a website featuring links to your work, contact info, a resume and a short bio. This can be done utilizing a free blog such as WordPress.com or if you're tech savy, set it all up on your own with WordPress.org. Be sure and showcase any new work you've done on your portfolio site and provide links to your social networking pages like Twitter, LinkedIn and Face Book. When you hunt around for work, send them a link to your online portfolio and published work samples.


Network on a Regular Basis

Networking actually goes hand-in-hand with promoting yourself, but since this is an area that we writers tend to slack, and because it must be done with consistency to be effective, I've decided to give it a separate space all of its own.

Talking shop and communicating with other writers is so very important for us. I think we might slack off in this area at times because as writers we tend to be quite solitary individuals. We work alone, so our work can be isolating at times. Visiting a few forums online and chatting with other writers to see what's happening in the wordsmithing world, keeps you "in the know" about the field. You'll learn from more seasoned writers, and it provides a venue for promoting yourself as well. You know that little signature line people use in forums? This is where you'll put up links to your work and your portfolio. You can get work by visiting forums regularly as people looking for writers tend to frequent them often.


Happy Writing!


More Writing Tips From Aunice:

Freelance Writing Tips: Getting Your First Clips - Don't get discouraged by the clip conundrum. Discover ways to get your first published writing samples!

Freelance Writing Tips: Content Mills to Avoid - Some companies are just not worth an ounce of a writer's time.

Freelance Writing Tips: Tools of the Writing Trade - Great resources no writer can do without.


Recommended Resources

Work-At-Home Moms Online Magazine - The freelance writers forum is particularly helpful for new writers.

Master Content Mill List - An exhaustive list of content mill companies and those offering residual opportunities.



Comments

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    • Al Shield profile image

      Al Shield 

      6 years ago from Bendigo, Victoria

      Great stuff - thank you :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Great info, thanks, I have been writing for free for a long time but I do copyright my writings.

    • Joyette  Fabien profile image

      Joyette Fabien 

      6 years ago from Dominica

      Interesting hub! This is an area I have considered venturing into and your hub has provided some encouragement to move forward with it. Thanks for the push!

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