Basic outline of how to begin a career in freelance writing


It’s amazing how your opinions change over time.  Much is commensurate with experience – writing, interaction, constant learning and even travel broadens the horizons, as they say; and quite right, too.

English: Traditional freelance writer work system.

When I started out writing (online), it was all about monetising sites to get them ranked, earn money off advertising (paid onsite or click-thru) or marketing affiliate products.  Not that I’ve stopped doing any of those things, but I’ve come to realise that, in order to get, you have to give a little a lot at first to start building trust, a following and finally a community.  All of which demonstrate to would-be employers that you know what you’re doing, even if the site that you point them to is not a ‘virtual ATM’ in its own rite as many digital product manufacturers claim that they have created.  Guys, don’t be fooled; 9 times out of 10 the snapshots shown on the sales page is of the manufacturer’s clickbank account, not an affiliates…

Sorry, I digress.  The last two days, I’ve found myself in a very giving mood, despite NaNoWriMo and the commitments I’ve made there.  First there was a post I wrote for a guy on facebook for his wall and secondly, one of my ‘writing buddies’ from NaNoWriMo asked me what it was like to be a freelance writer.  My response was verbose and has probably petrified them.  But then I thought, ‘No – I wished I’d had someone tell me all that when (or even before) I started out freelance writing.

So if you’re looking for a little professional writing advice – this is just from my perspective and there are probably countless others who have other ways of earning a successful living writing – for what it’s worth, here’s my two-penneth:

Hi, [NaNo writing buddy].

Congrats on the mammoth word count – that’s bally impressive, m’dear.

Freelance writing’s okay – it can be frustrating and, when you start out, the pay’s not great.

Like everything, you have to earn the right to charge a fee you could call liveable on – there is so much competition from writers in the Philippines, Bangladesh and India who charge a pittance for their services – one guy was re-writing for $0.22 (about £0.15) per hour!

Their writing is poor, but some webmasters put up content that is purely to get their pages ranked highly and have no consideration for their human readers, just the advertising space they can sell or place on top-ranking sites.  It really cheeses me off, but there are so many doing it, it’s pointless complaining.

But there is decent work if you’re patient.  You have to make your own luck – get yourself out there, build up a portfolio.  You may have to sacrifice decent earnings initially whilst building that repertoire and rapport with clients, but that’s a pay-off well worth doing as early on in your career – like when you’re a student, say – as you possibly can.

Much of my work now comes from recommendation, but I still love the buzz of bidding for jobs on sites like oDesk and PPH and working with new people from all over the world.

The best way to get into it is choose a couple of niches you know a bit about or that interest you; get involved in the forums, groups, social media pages (especially LinkedIn, for business) and create websites specifically for those niches – I use Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress and I’ve got my own site that is sadly neglected – www.wwwriteright.co.uk – I’ve promised myself that I’ll tidy it up in the new year and start getting it ranked to bring in work direct and cut out the middle man – I’ve even thought about building a team of writers once the site starts to rank.

Once you have your blogs and sites up, start writing articles and posting them – people follow blogs not just for the content, but they like the authors and how they come across.  The more ‘you’ in your articles, the better.

Gauge the reaction from your followers, facebook friends and family; market the site/articles on facebook, twitter, add images to pin them on Pinterest, Delicious and StumbleUpon – I’ve got 11 social media outlets for the golf blog, including Flickr, YouTube, all of those above, two ‘curation’ sites and a weekly ezine.  It’s pretty much all on https://about.me/zebedeerox if you want a better idea of the type of thing I mean.

It takes a while to do all that, but if you’re genuinely interested, the sooner you get started, the sooner you get established and the more opportunities come your way.

If, after NaNo, you want to know more, keep in touch.  I started to mentor someone in summer, but they gave up after about three weeks because they hadn’t started earning $1,000 a week overnight!  It’s a career, not a fast buck; like all careers, it takes time to get a reputation, fathom the best practises – I’ve no objection to showing the ropes and how and why I do what I do.

You can, of course, forget all about your own sites and just ply your trade on the online freelance agencies, but the majority of writing work called for on those platforms is Internet-based.  It’s a good idea to have a basic knowledge of how the web & search engines work (mostly Google) to stand you in better stead when it comes to winning jobs and raising your fees.

Blimey – I bet I’ve bored you shitless.

Honestly, ask as many questions as you like.  If I can answer them, I will.

Have a great weekend – see you in the stream!

So there you have it – my introduction to writing for freelance agencies and the web. Got any recommendations I could pass on to my NaNo buddy (or me, of course)? Would totally love to hear from you.
Zebedeerox. x

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