When most people think of freelance writing, they envision somebody with a laptop working from a low-stress environment. This is typically a coffee shop, restaurant, or even in a chair by the pool.
The truth is, this notion isn't too far off from where freelance writing could take you. But, most people are also unsure of how they should go about starting their careers.
To help streamline the process, we've put together this brief guide that illuminates key factors that you should keep in mind.
In order to help you stand out as a professional, you'll need to brand yourself appropriately as a freelance writer.
One of the most common mistakes that new freelance writers make is branding their freelance business as themselves. While this isn't an inherently bad thing to do, it could prevent you from giving off the right impression as a writer.
You'll want your freelance brand to resonate with the type of content that you wish to write. So, someone who specializes in market analysis or entrepreneurship likely wouldn't want to post sarcastic, politically-charged content.
Otherwise, it's highly likely that you miss out on a large number of projects that you would have otherwise been able to secure.
A significant part of your branding as a professional will include creating a professional website. This should allow users to easily find examples of your past work while also providing a bit of insight into your personality.
Freelance writing is one of the broadest freelance careers simply because there are so many different topics to write about.
Since the clients you work with will help you get additional clients in the future, it's best to choose a single niche or small group of niches to focus on depending on your interests. To elaborate, let's assume you prefer to write about real estate.
It's far more conducive to the development of your freelance career to work with multiple real estate clients and establish yourself as a real estate writer in the industry. If you're constantly writing about whatever topic comes your way, you won't be able to provide an example of the depth you're capable of in a specific niche.
That being said, it's not unwise to work on a project outside of your main niche every now and then in order to illustrate your diversity as a writer. If possible, though, this secondary niche should complement your primary one.
Unfortunately, there's a strong chance that you will need to consistently pitch yourself to potential clients during the early stages of your career. This fact will likely remain true until you have cultivated a significant presence as a freelance writer.
To get started, you'll need to reach out to clients that you would like to work for. Your pitch should be concise but also provide your credentials as a professional writer.
So, briefly mention any awards, past clients are projects, etc. during the message.
At the end of your pitch, you should also provide a link to your professional website or portfolio. From here, you'll need to wait for their response before you move forward.
Although many writers don't like to acknowledge it, the reality is that the vast majority of individuals you contact will never respond. Instead, you'll need to send cold pitches to a large number of different professionals in order to give yourself the best chance of securing work.
Be sure, though, that each pitch is organically written and doesn't sound like a mass email. People are even less likely to read an impersonal message that sounds like it was sent to a large number of people.
Many freelancers choose to take advantage of Hectic's discovery tool, which optimizes the client onboarding process for both parties. Afterward, you can use the client portal tool that Hectic offers to view invoices, contracts, and any changes to the scope of work.
The stronger your portfolio is, the easier it will be for you to find new freelance projects. Whenever you complete a project that you're particularly proud of, it's best to replace the weakest project in your current portfolio with that one.
As you repeat this process, you will slowly begin to strengthen the overall quality of your portfolio. In the beginning, though, you likely won't have a large number of projects to showcase.
If you're in this situation, you can create mockup work on your own to convey your skills as a professional writer. The project that you create should align with the type of project that you would like to work on with actual clients in the future.
Staying productive as a freelancer is often a struggle that even experienced professionals deal with. Fortunately, there are tools that exist to help streamline this process.
The easiest way to boost your overall productivity is to use time tracking software. Not only will this help you hold yourself accountable for staying on task, but will also provide insight into how you use your time during projects.
The more often you use it, the better you will be able to optimize your workflow and improve the total volume of work that you're able to get done in a single day. This is achieved by determining when you work best, what type of tasks take the most time for you to complete, etc.
As with staying productive, many freelancers struggle to stay organized. This can easily lead to lost productivity and failure to meet certain deadlines.
You may also encounter a situation where you are unable to locate a certain file or project, which is something that could put your relationship with a client at risk. To help accommodate this situation, Hectic has a project management tool that allows users to break up assignments into smaller segments.
It also allows users to bulk-view their projects and quickly discern project status. Additionally, this tool provides suggested actions to help keep the user on track.
No matter how experienced you are as a writer, there's always more that you can learn about working as a freelancer.
It's essential to devote time each week to conducting independent research, as this will allow you to recognize certain pitfalls and obstacles. It will also allow you to cultivate your talent as a freelance writer by expanding your knowledge in your chosen niche.
Great resources to start with include guides written by other freelancers, podcasts, or even writing workshops. Then, you can secure higher-level projects that provide a higher level of compensation and bring your career to new heights.
Even at the very beginning of your freelance writing career, you need to understand that you are essentially the owner of the business. The most important reason to keep this in mind is that you will pay taxes by filling out the appropriate form instead of a conventional W-2.
When your clients pay you, the amount that you receive from them hasn't been taxed yet. So, you will need to set aside the appropriate amount in order to avoid complications in the future.
Unfortunately, the IRS has little sympathy for freelance writers who were simply unaware of their tax obligations. For this reason, it's in your best interest to accurately record all of the money that flows in and out of your business.
This means you should have a separate bank account dedicated to receiving payments from clients and handling business expenses. The latter obligation is especially important, as you are able to write off certain expenses in order to receive tax deductions.
To elaborate, let's assume that you made $45,000 within a 12 month period as a freelance writer. But, you spent $20,000 that year on new equipment and business-related purchases. Your gross income is now $25,000 ( $45,000 - $20,000), which means you'll pay taxes on this amount.
Using Hectic's invoice generation tool is a great way to streamline the client payment process while keeping accurate financial records.
The above information will ensure that you are able to jumpstart your freelance writing career and provide you with the necessary tools for your future success.
Want to learn more about the tools we're able to provide to freelancers? Reach out to us today to get started.