9 Things I’ve Learned From My Freelance Writing Career

I’ve been writing online since about 2005/2006 — almost 15 years. Even when I wasn’t doing it full time (and I’m not right now but I am working back to that and I am taking new clients), I was learning and honing my craft.

I started off on a site called Writing Up. Does anyone remember that site? It was one of the very first sites where you could write whatever you wanted and earn money from Google Adsense. It is the site that got me my Adsense account, too. It was populated by people who just wanted to do the same thing as me — make some money while doing what they loved.

Writing Up — from the Wayback Machine

Over the years, I started writing for clients. I wrote mostly for private clients and that is still my preference but I did work for a handful of writing companies over the years.

There are a lot of misconceptions about writing online. In fact, some people just think it is easy money. Others have no idea that it can ever be a career! But it can. I know many people who make their living by writing content online.

If you’re considering making a living from writing online here are a few things that I’ve learned that you can benefit from:

  1. Writing online is a real job. It requires the same thing that any other “job” does. You have to show up, or you won’t get paid. You have to do the work, or you won’t get paid. You have to answer to the boss (yourself), or you won’t get paid. You have to follow rules, or you won’t get paid. It’s a real job. And if you don’t treat it like one? Well, you won’t get paid!
  2. You need skills. The most obvious skills you will need are writing skills. If you’re going to write the words and get paid for the words, you need to write reasonably well; however, there’s more to it than just writing. You have to have communication skills because one of the first things you’re going to have to do is communicate with potential clients and convince them to hire you. You also need organization skills. You have to meet the deadlines and at times you will have a lot of work on your plate. You need to prioritize and stay organized so you can get them done. You need document reading skills because if you are working for a writing company there will be rules and guidelines to follow. Other skills you may need include editing and proofreading and time management.
  3. You should spend time writing for yourself. Unless you got into the writing biz solely to make money and stay at home, you need to have your passion projects. Sure, the other stuff — client work and writing companies — are going to pay the bills. But your own work could pay the bills, too. You never know. But writing stuff that you love to write, whether it makes money or not, will remind you why you are passionate about writing in the first place. So, blog about something you love, write that crazy novel that you don’t know if anyone will want to read or not, or do something else that just makes you happy. It can be a career saver.
  4. You need to market yourself. If you want people that hire writers to find you online you need to first have a home base. A web site or an article or an page on a site that convinces people that you are worth hiring. Then you need to direct a large portion of your marketing efforts there. You need to get your name out in front of the people that hire writers. You need to give yourself exposure. Marketing can include a lot of different things (both paid and free) but in order to understand them and make the best use of them, you need to become a marketing expert!
  5. Social media can be fun and profitable. A lot of people think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other sites like this are just a waste of time. But you can make it profitable and even have a little fun along the way. Have fun 80% of the time. Even this helps you promote yourself and make connections. Promote yourself 20% of the time.
  6. Be professional. That means you have to act like someone who wants the job. But it “professional” depends on who your market is too and what your specialty (if you have one) is. It may mean no swearing. It might mean having professional photos. Know your market. What does professional mean to them. Be that.
  7. Work at finding work. The clients likely won’t come to you. You have to find them. And you likely need to apply for jobs. You need to apply for jobs knowing that there are going to be a couple hundred other people applying for the same job. TIP #1 — be first to apply. #TIP #2 — make them want to hire you!
  8. Make some writing friends. You’re going to want to bitch about stuff. You’re going to have days where you really need to vent. You can’t do that on social media. So, you need writing friends. You need friends that understand what is going on in your life and will commiserate with you. Trust me. You need writing friends!
  9. It takes time. Don’t expect to be an overnight success. I mean, it could happen, but it is unlikely. Chances are, you’re going to have to work your butt off to build up a business. It’s going to take time and a whole load of work. But don’t give up! Keep at it and you’ll get there!

𝑷𝒓𝒐𝒇𝒆𝒔𝒔𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒂𝒍 𝒘𝒓𝒊𝒕𝒆𝒓, coffee freak. Accepting new clients: http://daniellemcgaw.ca 𝑬𝒎𝒂𝒊𝒍 𝒎𝒆: danielle.mcgaw@gmail.com

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