7 Skills You Need to Start a Freelance Writing Career
25 Jul 2017
A freelance writing career is the dream of many. Dictating your own schedule, working from home (or your favourite coffee shop) and playing with words for a living certainly sound appealing. But what does it take to achieve these ambitions?
Establishing a freelance writing career can be tough, especially in the early days when you don’t have a reliable network of clients. However, if you’re in possession of these seven key skills, you’re well-placed to make a full time occupation of your writing passion.
Spelling, Grammar and a Good Turn of Phrase:
To be a freelance writer you need to be able to write. This means creating copy with impeccable spelling and grammar. But good writing goes way beyond these basic requirements. You need to love language, command a wide vocabulary and have an instinct for putting words together. Reading and writing as much as possible is the best way to develop your skills in this area.
Whether you offer very niche writing services about your area of expertise or write more broadly on a wide range of topics, research is essential to your work. You need to find reliable sources online. You may also need to contact and ask questions from experts. The research you conduct can help give you a grounding on a new topic or lead you to uncover the latest research on a subject you know well. Either way, research will form a big part of what you do as a writer.
Working as a freelance writer will mean meeting deadlines. Procrastination is not an option. Forget spending hours on Facebook or dealing with household chores. You need to create a strict schedule and you need to stick to it, even when your creativity seems to have run dry. Any time spent suffering from writer’s block is time not spent earning money.
Working for a variety of clients, you’ll need to stay organised and on top of each individual project. This means creating a reliable filing system and a comprehensive to-do list. Administration and accounting will also form part of your working week. You’ll need to keep up-to-date with invoices and maintain good financial records. Being organised in this regard from the start will save you lots of time further down the line.
Communication with clients is a huge component of a freelance writer’s life. You need to work with clients in order to meet their requirements. Sometimes you may even need to do a little coaxing to flesh out a vague brief or help a client put what they’re looking for into words. All of this requires good communication and tact.
Some clients may want you to upload content directly to their content management system (CMS), others will want you to create a text with SEO in mind. Both require a certain level of technical savvy. It’s also a good idea to create your own online portfolio (using a site like WordPress is really easy) so you can direct potential clients to the best examples of your work.
When you’re working as a freelancer, you never know where the next job is going to come from. You need to build a strong network of contacts you can approach when work has dried up. Go to networking events, always carry business cards with you and do online networking using a site like LinkedIn. Shout your services from the rooftops and you’ll soon have writing opportunities rolling in.
Working as a freelance writer requires focus and a lot of determination. However, with these skills at the ready, you could soon be tapping away on your laptop in that coffee shop wondering why it took you so long to take the leap into a freelance writing career.
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