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Emma Siemasko tells us why if you want to be a freelance writer, you better be legit…
When I started freelance writing, I was unemployed and spending most days in my pajamas. My portfolio consisted of two blog posts – one I’d written for a college journalism class, and one I’d written about breaking up with a Korean boyfriend.
Still, I knew I could write.
Maybe you’re ready to leave your cushy job and go rogue, or you’re ready to work after a hiatus. Either way, you’re a good writer and you’re ready to try freelancing. For travelers, parents and those who want a flexible lifestyle, freelancing can’t be beat. You make your own hours, choose when and where you work, and decide who you’re willing to work for.
The downside of these perks is that freelancing is competitive. There are established writers offering premium services, while some are barely charging at all. How can you fit in and make a living from freelancing?
When I began as a freelancer, I wasn’t legit. I didn’t have a website, samples that showed my abilities, business cards, or a phone number to be reached at. Today, my clients can find my portfolio with a quick Google search. They can call my tollfree number to get in touch.
If you want to be a freelance writer, here’s how to be legit:
1. Build an online presence
If you want to write on the internet, you have to be on the internet. In order to seem professional, you need a website, which you can build using sites like WordPress or About.me. If you don’t have experience writing for others, you can upload example materials and samples onto your site. When I connect with people like Kirsty and ask them to guest blog, I send them a link to my website so they can check out my samples (it usually works!) When clients see that you have a professional website with awesome copy, they’ll be way more likely to give you a chance.
2. Be reachable
Not only do you need a website, but you also need easy ways for people to contact you. It’s important that the lines of communication are both available and professional. I have a special email address for freelance opportunities, as well as a tollfree number that forwards calls to my cell phone.
3. Connect with clients
Clients don’t appear out of cyberspace just because you made a website. Successful freelancers are great at seeking out opportunities. They tell their friends “I’m a freelancer”, create a Twitter account and follow other writers. Make sure you have business cards for when you’re out on the town. When I was starting out, I met a startup founder on the subway. I gushed that I was a writer and we exchanged information. She hired me the next week. Now I talk up my writing all the time.
4. Develop expertise
Writers get hired because they can offer something special. If you’re excellent at grammar and a killer editor, develop that craft and market it like crazy. If you have great personality and can turn a box of tissues into an angelic experience, show that off. I’m not an expert on writing about green energy so I veer away from guest blogging about it. I focus on my own expertise – startups, small business, dating, and relationships – and build credibility.
5. Get paid
If you want to get paid through freelance work you need to stick to your guns. Your time and effort cost money and the amount you get paid should reflect that. Set rates and stick to them mercilessly. Ask around and see if you can find out what others make per post. Make sure you can get paid through your website via services like PayPal, Amazon Payments, or Stripe. You can also use a third party like Elance or set up an invoicing system.
6. Be patient
Freelance success doesn’t happen overnight. I went from writing crappy $4 articles to being a full-time writer. One job leads to another job, which leads to more opportunities. Keep at it and be patient.
If you want to be a freelance writer you can be one, but you better be legit.
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Emma Siemasko is a freelance writer and online dating expert based in Boston, Massachusetts. She started freelancing in 2010 after coming home from a year in South Korea. Emma has lived in the UK and Asia, and dated in both places. She can be reached via Twitter @EmmaFayeS or through her website: www.emmasiemasko.com