This post is part 2 of a 2-part series. In part 1, Nick shared 4 of the most important lessons he learned in his first year writing for a living.
In part 2, I’ll share 4 of the lessons I’ve learned so far. We’ve tried to include lessons that apply to beginner and established writers, so dig into each post – there may just be a nugget of advice you can use to take your business to the next level!
I’ll start off this post as Nick did, with an overview of my freelance writing journey so far. I’ll then focus on 4 of the lessons that have helped me quit my day job and establish myself as a full-time freelance writer.
I first became serious about writing for a living after taking part in Bamidele Onibalusi’s Earn Your First $1000 as a Freelance Writer Challenge. We’ve written about the challenge a lot on this blog – and with good reason.
The challenge was the catalyst that helped the WriteWorldwide team – and many more in the challenge Facebook group – to kickstart their freelance writing careers. Stick at it, and the strategy put together by Bamidele works. The proof is in the pudding. To this day, success stories are regularly posted in the group from people who’ve achieved amazing results following it.
After taking part in the challenge, I won my first few clients and have continued to use what I learned to build my business over the last year. Thanks to Bamidele’s challenge, I’ve never worked for content mills and I’ve never worked for low pay. Aside from writing a couple of free articles to build social proof, I’ve been paid a fair rate for my writing ever since.
When I started freelance writing I had a full-time job. Because of this I built my business during evenings and weekends. Fast forward to today and I’ve been able to quit my job and make my living from writing. This has been achieved with a lot of cold pitching, a lot of determination, and by building a good reputation with clients in my niche – the pet industry.
If you’d like to read more about my story check out my recent guest post for Freelancer Kenya, How I Made $3,558 in My First Month as a Full-Time Freelance Writer. But for now, let’s get down to my 4 lessons for success …
1) Consistently Show up in Front of Your Ideal Prospects
There are lots of freelance writers out there – which means you’ve got lots of competition. But don’t let that bother you. Most of your competition do very little to market themselves, so if you market yourself effectively you’ve got a much better chance of landing some great clients.
So what do I mean by showing up in front of your ideal prospects? First, decide who your ideal prospects are. For me, they’re professionals in the pet industry. Next, do your best to get on the radar of those prospects on a consistent basis.
Here are a few ways I do this:
- Send cold-emails to prospects
- Send follow-ups using the 3-7-7 formula
- Write regular articles for a trade magazine in my niche
- Connect with prospects on LinkedIn
- Message my LinkedIn connections
- Post industry-specific articles and updates on LinkedIn
- Connect with pet businesses on Twitter
I attribute a lot of my success to using this process to stay top of mind with prospects. One retainer client I have right now hired me several months after we first connected. In that time I emailed back and forth to stay in contact. I even emailed an article I wrote that I thought she may find useful. Other prospects have contacted me after seeing my posts on LinkedIn, or as a result of reading my trade magazine articles.
2) Keep Investing in Yourself
Another great way to stand out from the pack is by continuing to invest in your education as a writer. This means spending time – and yes, sometimes money! – to make sure you keep learning how to be the best possible writer you can be.
Here are a couple of the ways I invest in myself:
There are lots of great books out there to improve your writing, but don’t limit yourself just to books about writing. I like to read books about topics such as marketing, sales, entrepreneurship, and improving mindset. I also enjoy reading autobiographies, novels, and non-fiction books. Reading books will help you to become a better business owner and writer, so make some time to read each day. Just remember what the famous writer Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Take Writing Courses
I’ve taken several great courses on writing, and I’m glad I did! Each and every time I’ve committed myself to taking a course, I’ve been able to improve my skill set. As an example, early on in my career I took The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting from American Writers & Artists Inc. (AWAI). It gave me a great foundation in copywriting, which helped me pitch for new projects and raise my rates.
Of course, there are lots of free resources online to help you in your freelance writing career, but I’d definitely recommend investing in specialised writing training.
3) Take Charge of Motivating Yourself
As a freelance writer, you are your own boss. It’s great to take control of your life and not have to be accountable to a boss. But without the external motivation of a boss breathing down your neck it can be hard to sustain your motivation.
Some days you just won’t want to get out of bed, some days you’ll be tempted to procrastinate and let things slide. The solution? Accountability.
Being part of the WriteWorldwide team has been a huge source of motivation for me throughout the process of building my business. I can get feedback on my writing, share ideas, resources, and technical knowledge, and report back on my progress to the team.
Recently myself and other members of the team have started meeting for daily Skype calls each morning. It’s a great way to add structure to the day, and kick off our daily routine by talking about our business goals for the day.
There are a few different ways to benefit from the power of accountability. Check out my previous post for tips on being accountable to yourself, and how to find an accountability partner or team. And if you need a quick boost of motivation and inspiration, take a look at my recent post 3 Free Resources to Improve Your Mindset as a Freelance Writer.
4) Develop a Core Offer
One of the secrets to my success over the past year has been developing a core offer. Let me explain. I’ve found that there are some types of writing projects I enjoy more than others, so I’ve started to focus on getting better – and faster – at those projects.
Two of types of writing projects I love are blog posts and newsletters. Blog posts can be short and snappy, or long and well-researched, but they’re always fun to write and don’t take too much time.
Knowing I enjoy shorter writing projects, I decided to package my blog and newsletter services, and offer them to clients on a monthly basis. This has been a great way to get some regular retainer clients and improve my skill and efficiency completing these projects.
I recommend you do the same. First, find out what type of projects you like doing. Then get really at good at them, and start pitching them more to prospects. Of course, you can still offer other services if you like, but having a core offer will help you boost your productivity and income.
I’ve learned a lot over the last year freelance writing, but I’m still near the beginning of my journey. That’s why I love freelance writing so much – it’s a challenge, and there’s really no limit to how much you can achieve.
There will be good days and bad days, but always push forward, learn from others, and be the best you can be.
What have you learned as a freelance writer? Jump into the comments section and let us know!