Rejection stings, doesn’t it?
You decide to give freelance writing a try, work your little tail off answering job ad after job ad, only to hear nothing back.
Then, finally, someone is interested. You send them an email telling them your relevant background info and you are the writer for them.
You wait in anticipation and when you see they returned your email you give yourself a little fist-pump.
But, it’s short-lived; the prospect decides they are going a different way and don’t need your services.
More likely, though, you will hear nothing back and you will be left hanging, wondering what you did wrong.
Chalk it up to inexperience, a bad first impression or not liking your writing, rejection sucks.
You need focused writing!
So, do you have it in you to freelance and hustle your butt off?
My series, Be a Freelance Writer: A Step-by-Step Approach, will help turn you – a SAHM, SAHD, part-time worker or burned out worker– into a successful freelance writer. Through a series of posts, I will give a step-by-step guide on getting your writing business up and running.
Each post will tackle the writing side or business side of freelance writing.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of what freelance writing is all about, this post is going to make sure you are ready for what it takes to be a freelance writer.
Not everyone is cut out for it, and those that are, often doubt they want to continue.
The Cold Hard Truth About Getting Started
Many freelance writers have an idea of what the writing business is all about. They imagine waking up any time they want, wearing pajamas all day and sipping coffee while they have amazing focused writing.
Having flexible hours, not having a boss breathing down your neck and being able to work from anywhere is enough to get people excited over getting paid to write.
But, as you land more and more writing jobs and you are more involved in your freelance writing business, you’ll start to uncover the hard truth – there’ a lot more to it than just writing.
Let’s look at 6 hard truths about getting started in the freelance writing business.
1. Long Hours
Face it – don’t expect to land a writing gig within the first month starting your business. For many freelance writers, it can take them up to 3-6 months before they land their first paid writing gig (sooner if you follow my tips in this series).
So, during the first 6 months (and even longer), you ‘re going to be working hard and working long hours.
But, if you don’t have any – or many– clients, what the heck are you doing?
The first thing you need to do is establish yourself in the freelance writing industry (my series will touch on this off and on in various posts as it’s a highly important and an integral part of landing high-paying writing gigs).
Since you are a one-woman or one-man show, you are also responsible for:
- Promoting your brand
- Building your portfolio
- Sending out pitch letters to job ads
- Working on attracting prospective clients to your writer website.
On top of all this, once you do have a steady amount of writing work, you also need to manage your time efficiently while still being able to create a healthy work-life balance.
Being your own boss is time consuming. Having to wear the hats of an entire business doesn’t leave much room in a day for anything else.
So, before you think you can take every weekend off and cut every day short, realize that if you truly want to be a success as a freelance writer, you need to put in the time and work… in the beginning.
As you become more successful, you will have opportunities to scale your freelance writing business and diversify your income, leaving you more time to travel, spend time with your family or have a weekend off.
This will be tough for SAHM’s. I’m a mother to twin toddlers and on top of writing for my clients, I have to:
- Take care of my twins throughout the day
- Prepare all the meals
- Do all the laundry
- Go grocery shopping weekly
- Tend to the house (inside and out)
- Spend quality time with my husband
- Spend quality (in the moment) time with my children
So, you can see, my day is already packed full with other obligations.
But, even though I spend around 3-4 hours a day actually writing, I’ve managed to land many writing gigs and grow my business to what it is now. But, I barely have time for myself and this is one of the prices you pay being your own boss.
2. You Will Have Distractions
Having the ability to work from home is a great feeling.
With so much flexibility, you won’t realize how many distractions are built in when you stay home.
- social media
- life in general
Be prepared to draw the line when you begin freelance writing from home. Give yourself times in the day to check your email and/or social media, because if you don’t you won’t get much work done or focused writing otherwise.
If you have small children, you may have to write whenever they sleep. Or, you could give them some quite time activities during the day if you have a tight deadline and need that time to write.
Find ways to maximize your time and minimize your distractions. It can be as easy as closing the door when you’re working or as involved as sending your kids to day care three days a week. If you want to succeed, find a way to tame your distractions.
3. You’ll Have a “New” Type of Boss
So, you know how I said one of the perks to being a freelance worker is the fact that you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck?
While this is technically true, you will still have clients breathing down your neck. These clients are now your new boss, so to speak. You provide a service and with that comes following the guidelines and requirements your clients tell you.
You might have a client with short deadlines or one that requires multiple revisions. You might even fall victim to bad clients:
- The scope creeper – a client that keeps piling on more work after you agreed to a set amount
- The “I’m never happy” client– a client that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the writing assignment and then when you turn in your work, complains you did it wrong
- The late payer – a client that takes their time to pay you and never gives you a reason why they are always late
Every freelance writer will come in contact with one of these clients. Realize it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns running a freelance writing business. Sometimes you have to be a hard-ass.
Do you have it in you?
4. Your Income Will Be Inconsistent and Variable
Have you heard of the starving freelance writer?
Or, how about hearing that the freelance writing business is like a revolving door – one client in, another client out.
When you first start freelance writing, be prepared to climb a steep hill in terms of obtaining the same amount of pay you received at your old job.
Since you want work, you’ll take any work that comes your way – whether it’s equivalent to $15/hr or $100/hr.
Not all clients value content like we do. Many clients will undervalue your writing, and if you are new and don’t know otherwise, you’ll take the job not realizing that you’re essentially working for pennies.
But, that’s okay because everyone has to start somewhere.
You’ll also encounter inconsistent pay. One month you might make $1,000 and the next month it might drop to $400 because one client dropped their content needs and another decided to drop your services.
This is normal for a freelance writer and if you want the chance of having a lucrative business of your own, the sooner you understand this, the better chance you’ll have at succeeding.
And with my “paid to write” series, you will learn guaranteed ways to land clients and earn more than pennies among other things – making you a successful freelancer!
5. You’ll Doubt Yourself In the Beginning
I’m technically not a formally-trained writer.
I find it difficult to do focused writing.
I don’t have a journalism degree or a background in writing. In fact, I have a Bachelors in Psychology and my career before this was working as a special education assistant in a school setting.
I definitely had doubts about becoming a freelance writer. You start to wonder:
Am I a good writer?
I’m poor at grammar. I can’t be a writer then!
Her writing is so much better. No one will like my writing
You start to compare yourself to other freelance writers and doubt starts to settle in, making you realize you may not be cut out for this.
But, you know what?
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a formal background in writing. You can still make a ton of money online writing for other people!
All you have to remember is this: No on can write like you do.
Clients who hire you, want YOU. They want your writing style and your writing voice.
Just keep that fact in mind next time you feel any doubt about choosing this career.
6. You’re Not Going to Like Every Writing Gig
In the beginning, you may not have the credibility or authority to pick and choose your clients. This comes with time.
So, most of your writing gigs may not be very exciting, but if it pays well, most likely you’ll keep them on as a client until something better opens up.
I encourage you to find any paid work because this will help you:
- Become a better writer
- Build your credibility as a paid writer
- Build your portfolio
- Land more clients
Remember, you don’t have to keep these clients for the long haul if you don’t want to. Use the clients that you don’t really like to write for as a learning experience.
My first writing gig was for an automotive enthusiast site. I am not a car enthusiast and I know absolutely nothing about cars.
But, they liked my limited portfolio and I must have made an impression during the phone interview, because they hired me.
Another writing gig I secured was for a phone app I knew nothing about. I’m the least tech savvy person around, but my portfolio and Google hangout interview sealed the deal.
I still write for both of these clients, and you know what?
While they aren’t the easiest topics to write about, the work is fairly consistent and the clients are wonderful and easy to work with.
So, don’t be afraid to write for a WordPress site or a digital marketing firm. Tell yourself, these writing gigs are a learning experience.
Do You Have It in You?
I just laid out 6 hard truths about freelance writing. If you’re still gung-ho about getting paid to write after reading this, then you passed the test and you’re on your way to being a legit freelance writer.
You’re now ready to start building your writer platform. My first post talked about establishing an online presence.
For my next post in this series, I want to focus on the core of this – your writer platform. Learn what it is and how to build a writer platform that will get you noticed.
Until next time, let me know if you’re still ready to start getting paid to write after learning about some hard truths.
And for all you newbie freelance writers out there, if you need some coaching or mentoring, you know where to find me!
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