By Monica Sampson
By 2020, nearly half of Americans may earn their income freelancing. Companies like Lyft and Uber are already having an impact on the contractor or freelancer population. Declining job security is also driving the move from traditional to freelance employment. An in-demand role within the contractor community is that of the freelance writer.
Full-time freelance writer expectations
Flexibility attracts many people to freelance writer jobs. So too does a love for creating stories. The thing is that many freelance writer jobs rely on research, stats and advertising or sales copy. It’s this that some journalists find challenging when making the shift from newspaper reporter to online freelance writer.
Writing for the web is different than writing for newspapers and magazines. Writing for mobile devices produces an even greater shift. Clearly, even if you’ve written for traditional medias, you’re in for change as you start to work as a full-time freelance writer. Below are steps you can take to ease the transition.
Steps to life as a full-time freelance writer
If you’re starting out as a freelance writer who’s never earned an income writing, the following steps could save you hours of mistakes and hundreds of dollars. To successfully transition into being a full-time freelance writer:
- Decorate an at-home office space. Use this space solely for freelance writing. A desk, chair, computer, printer and telephone are key items to add to your work space. I’m a big fan of working at a desk that faces a great outdoor view. It’s also a good idea to have a back-up laptop just in case your main computer goes down.
- Tell your family that you’ll be working from home. But, don’t just tell your relatives that you’re working from home. Set work days and work times and stick to them. Stay free of guilt when telling people “no” when they ask you to babysit, dog sit or run errands during your work hours.
- Focus on your writing. If the television distracts you, turn it off. Save social media and email checking until your lunch break or at the end of your work day.
- Build a freelance writer website. Data to add to your freelance writer website are your bio, writing samples, freelance writing projects you’ve completed and a list of clients you have written for.
- Market your online writer portfolio. Social media sites, YouTube, Vimeo and online directories are places where you can market your online writer portfolio. Press releases are another way to let prospective clients know that you’re looking for business.
- Definitely tell your relatives, friends, neighbors and former colleagues know that you’re seeking freelance writer clients.
- Set up freelance writer job alerts. Create job alerts for keywords like “freelance writer” “copywriter” and “marketing writer” at job boards. Popular job boards include Indeed, CareerBuilder and ZipRecruiter. LinkedIn is another excellent job board source.
More steps to becoming a full-time freelance writer
- Create a LinkedIn profile. Speaking of LinkedIn, take the time to build a writing specific LinkedIn profile. Publish writing blog posts to this LinkedIn profile to market your freelance writer portfolio. Reach out to entrepreneurs. Let them know how you can help grow or deepen their customer base.
- Search for freelance writer jobs every day. Journalism Jobs, Freelance Writing Gigs, MediaBistro and Craigslist are good places to find freelance writing jobs.
Build a writing clientele of at least 12. Market your work until you get at least 12 paying writing clients. Why? Clients will come and go. You’ll have some writing clients who’ll work with you for three, four, five years or longer. Other clients will only need your services for two, three or six months. Having at least 12 clients helps to keep your income flowing.
- Negotiate competitive prices. Use your self-confidence to negotiate competitive freelancer rates. Earn competitive rates and you could earn $60,000 or more a year writing 40 to 50 hours a week.
- Keep good records. Record how much time you spend on each project. This will help you to negotiate rate increases. It also helps you to determine which clients are the most profitable.
- File and pay quarterly taxes. Pay quarterly Social Security, Medicare and income taxes. It’ll save you a financial headache at the beginning of the year.
- Backup writing files. Keep a backup file of freelance writer work. A removable disk should work. Just plug the disk into your computer and download a copy of client articles, blog posts, press releases, infographics and other content that you create.
Other steps to become a full-time freelance writer include continuing to learn. For example, as a freelance writer, you could get Google and HubSpot SEO and content marketing certifications. Research new online marketing, advertising and writing for mobile app strategies, analytic tools and trends.