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Starting your freelance writing career: 5 tips to find success

I can’t tell you the number of people I see who think freelance writing is the easiest career to get into. There’s the view that if you can write (well or not) you can start making money online.

And, of course, there’s the view that you’ll start making money overnight. Hasn’t that been the case with every other writer out there?

Well, it’s really not that simple. To find success when starting your freelance writing career, you need to put in work and time.

There’s no need to invest a lot of money. I managed to invest nothing financially at first (but that did come soon after), but I invested a lot in time. I still invest in time.

Here are my five top tips to find success when starting your freelance writing career.

Set up your own website as a freelance writer

Okay, so I actually started without a website. If you have literally no money to invest right now, you don’t need to have a fully functioning website just yet. What you do need is somewhere to put your samples.

Get your name out to big companies, like The Huff Post and Entrepreneur. You want to reach out to major blogs and companies within your niche to get a byline to your content. This work is likely to be free, but it’s for good exposure.

As you start to get clients, you can then set up a freelance writing website. This will detail who you are, what you offer, and why people should hire you. From your site, you can link to your samples to make it easier to share with people looking for a freelancer.

Have a rate in mind for your services. There’s no need to put that out there for the world to see, but you could create some blogging/writing packages. This is something I’m moving into for boosting your writing pay each month, as my coach has suggested recently. You will want a “hire me” page for people to contact you.

Free vs. paid domains will come up. In today’s world, there are some advantages to having a paid and self-hosted site, but to start out you could opt for a free one.

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Connect to people on social media

Connect to companies that hire freelance writers and other editors through your social media sites. LinkedIn is a great one for this.

As you connect to them, you can find out more about them and read their posts, while sharing your own work through the social networking websites. You may end up with people following you back to find out more about you or they may contact you with work that they have.

If they don’t contact you, there’s nothing stopping you from contacting them. Start off by building a professional relationship with them – retweet their links or comment on their posts – and as it goes on, you can start pitching your own pieces.

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Contact local businesses about your freelance writing

I used to contact the local businesses in my area with blogs to share my freelance writing expertise. I’d send them a letter of introduction, which includes my expertise in their niche. I’ve also dropped in with business cards to talk to the people who own the smaller businesses.

This hasn’t been the most successful method but I’ve often ended up with referrals from some of the businesses when people are looking for a freelance writer. It was something that I did more when I was starting out. Now that I have enough clients, I don’t do it anymore. It’s something that I keep in my back pocket just in case I need it in the future.

Contact the publications you read

I read a lot of magazines within my niche and have been sending letters of introduction to them. I want to know if they hire freelance writers and share what I can bring them. Not all have replied and some have replied with a no, but it’s all about getting your name out there.

The ones that reply with a no or don’t have work yet, I’ve stayed in touch with. I don’t want them to forget about me! That way, whenever they do have something that they need to hire someone for, I’ll be one of the first people they think about.

This will be an ongoing task. You need to keep following up and you’ll need to reach out to new magazines or publications that are created. If you decide to change your niche, you’ll want to find out about magazines in those niches, too.

Make sure you get the emails for the editors directly. Sending off an email to an overall publication head doesn’t do you any favors since your emails will be buried under many other (more important) emails.

Again, with clients that I have right now, I don’t do this anymore. It’s not something I would forget about, though!

5 tips to succeed in your freelance writing career

Guest post on blogs

Guest posting is a very powerful way of getting your name out there. I’ve found a series of blogs that cover topics that I write about, including writing and technology and I’ve created pitches for them—some I’m still creating the pitches for.

The trick to guest posting is to spend some time reading the blog. I’ve signed up for the updates for some of the blogs and others I check in on every now and then and read the posts—and check at past posts. Not only does this help me as a writer but I get to know the blog well.

I know more about the readers, the topics that have been covered in the past, and how I can put a personal slant on some of them. I learn about the guidelines for posting and whether to pitch or send a fully written piece first. I also want to make sure they get a large readership to help my efforts.

Some websites will pay you to guest post on their sites. Others will just offer you a backlink to your website. If the writing is free, you’ll want to make sure the audience is valuable to your niche. There’s no point in spending time freely when you won’t get a valuable return to that investment.

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When starting your freelance writing career, you need to get your name out there. It’s all about exposure and making it as easy as possible to let others know you’re available for hire. It will take plenty of patience and time, although not necessarily that much money!

If you still need help getting clients, get in touch to talk about becoming one of my writing students.