For those of you just getting into freelance work, it must seem like an Alice in Wonderland-esque adventure. You’re thrown into this big amazing world where you are your own boss and you’re not tid down to the 9–5.
Well stop that. Stop that right now.
I’ve been a freelance writer for around 4 years now and I can tell you, it’s more Schindler’s List than Alice in Wonderland. You wake up each morning sad and terrified that today, yes today, might be the day your dream comes crashing down on you. That happened to me recently, and it’s not enjoyable.
Please, learn from my story. This is all I can give you, a free advice article on how to start this horrible business (that I still love and wouldn’t trade fore anything in the world).
1. Blood Money is Accepted by the Banks
There is a wide world of job possibilities out there for the freelance writer. Many people just waiting for you to bring their hopes and dreams to life through the magic of your words. Unfortunately most people suck, and so do their dreams.
When your just starting out you will have grand ideas of the jobs you’ll take. “Some independent, some small businesses, maybe if I’m lucky I’ll even land a big business gig!” Whoever told you this was possible right away was lying.
You will hate your first freelance month or so, and all the jobs in it too.
My first freelance gig, and my second, and my third, and all of them through a month and a half were all the same. I was writing porn. Not FOR porn mind you. No, I was writing fan fic and semi-fiction tales for individuals on DeviantArt, that always ended in hard sex. It was soul crushing. But guess what, I got PAID. People are much more willing to pay big money when reading about their favorite people have sex is involved. The highest paid gigs I ever got were porn stories. The most fulfilling ones came later when I could turn those down.
Even though you may not like it, taking those soul crushing jobs will keep you in business and will get you through the beginning.
2. Have a Professional Email
I can hear it now.
“The best part of this job is that I don’t need my stupid work email anymore. I can just have everyone email my personal email. It’ll be so easy for me!”
Sometimes, what’s easy for you is horrible for your freelance career. Employers want to believe they are talking to a professional, and that means having a work email, having a picture to go along with that email, and having a signature at the bottom of every email. Also, and it may seem silly to say but I’ve seen it happen more than once, please go over your email for typos. Who’s going to want to hire a writer who can’t pitch his ideas without clear explaining them. Nobody, that’s who.
You could be the next great writer of your generation but if you come across as a third grader with a typewriter in your emails, no one will take you seriously.
I know, it feels shameless. You feel like you are just throwing your job into other peoples personal life. Oh yeah, you didn’t know? When I say relentlessly I mean RELENTLESSLY. Talk to your parents about it, your friends, you friends parents, your friends parents friends, your drug dealer, anyone who does not run away in horror.
I know exactly how this makes you feel. You hate yourself. You feel like one of those people who just interjects their hobby into every conversation.
And if you don’t your career may very well die. Let me explain.
There’s this misconception that you get your jobs through contacting people, that it’s just a lot of emailing and finally finding your clients. This is actually the truth about 40% of the time. The other 60% is from people you know. Writing isn’t like being a costumer service worker (a job I had for a year), everyone knows someone who needs a writer. Every single thing that exists, aside from like, ads for blind people I guess, needs writing. And if you tell your friends you’re a professional writer, they can become mini salesmen for you. Even better, salesmen who work for free. With that being said…
I’m a freelance writer and am currently looking for work. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
See, like that.