It’s crazy to think about when I first started my freelance writing career.
I had just moved to a new city and was searching for jobs when I stumbled across an article about freelance writing online. I had no idea what it really entailed but I dove right in because I had always loved writing, so I figured, why not?
But jumping right in without looking may have been a mistake.
Freelance writing is a much more difficult career to get your start in than many other professions. Essentially, you’re starting a business. Your service is your writing and, like any other business, you have to market, build a positive reputation and grow.
And also like any other business, it’s going to take a while before you start gaining traction.
At first, you may not be able to secure jobs. It might be a while before you even land your first high paying client. The fact that you’re not making a full time income right away can be very discouraging.
It was for me. There were countless times I wanted to throw in the towel and just quit.
But I persevered, hunkered down behind my laptop and remembered a few key lessons that prevented me from giving up.
Now I’m a full time freelance writer and can honestly say that sticking to it was one of the best decisions I’ve made.
If you’re just starting out as a freelance writer or need some encouragement, here are a few reminders for when the weight of this career choice gets a little too heavy.
1. Building a client base takes time
Unless you have a lot of connections, you’re going to have to build your client list from scratch.
And as you can imagine, this takes time.
You’ll have to research publications in your niche, pitch different clients, send out samples and provide high quality work that people will want more of. Doing this — and doing it right — can take a large chunk of time.
And not everyone you pitch will want to work with you. Sometimes they just don’t need the work and other times they might not be all that impressed with your experience so far. This might feel like a kick to the gut and believe me, you might want to quit after your first few — or dozen — rejections. I sure did.
Having been in this game for a few years now, I’ve noticed a few tactics that help increase the odds of success. This is what I do personally that might help up your chances of clients responding to your pitch or rehiring you for future work:
- Produce a very clean, grammatically correct pitch
- Make sure your pitch follows the publication’s guidelines
- Send high quality samples
- Respond to emails in a timely manner
- Put forth your full effort in each piece provided
- Turn out your articles in a reasonable timeframe
- Ask questions if you’re not clear on instructions for a piece
Doing the above can help clients see how serious you are about working with them and it’ll also increase the likelihood of them wanting to work with you on a continuous basis.
The goal for freelance writing is to have a decent list of clients you can work for long-term. This will provide you with the stability you need to feel secure.
2. If you put in the work, you’ll be rewarded
Many people love the idea of being a freelance writer because you can work from the comfort of your home on your big cozy couch in your PJs. However, because you can have so many luxuries at work, you have to have one hell of a work ethic.
You need to be able to force yourself to work and be productive even on days when you’re feeling super lazy or tired or just bored with the topic you’re writing. If you don’t work, your business as a freelance writer won’t grow.
Think about it like a salesman who works for commission. The person who’s going to make more will be the one who makes the most calls and gives the best pitch.
Freelance writing isn’t much different than being a salesman. You have to continuously put yourself out there and pitch to companies. The only difference is that you’re selling your writing instead of a product.
The amount of work you put into growing your freelance business will be directly related to how much you get out of it.
So before you decide to quit, ask yourself if you’re giving it your all. Are you expecting too much while not putting in the work to support those ambitions?
Just remember that if you work hard to meet your goals, you’ll reach them much faster than you would if you continue to sit about contemplating giving up.
3. Be patient — building a business takes time
Most businesses aren’t overnight successes. It can take a while to see growth. You’re starting new with next to nothing on your freelance writing resume.
That’s like new businesses trying to sell a product without having any reviews. How likely are you to purchase something when you have nothing to ensure you that you’ll like what you get? Probably not very likely.
That’s why businesses take a very long time to get off the ground.
The same is true for your freelance writing career. If you’re expecting to make a full time income in only a month and land every client you pitch to, you’ll be very discouraged and disappointed when that doesn’t happen. This mindset can actually be sabotaging your potential success.
I had really high expectations right off the bat and when I was rejected time and time again for failing to have experience, I wanted to stop. I even looked at other 9-5 jobs before I realized that this is just a part of the process.
Just remember that building your business might take longer than you initially anticipated. Have a little patience and keep working toward your goals.
Freelance writing is not an easy career choice but it is worth it if you’re willing to put in the work. You’ll have some ups and downs along the way but remembering these few things can help you stick with this career so you can live the life you truly want.
How many of you have ever felt like throwing in the towel when it comes to freelance writing? What made you stick with it through the tough times?