Many people dream of being a full-time freelance writer, and with good reason. It gives you freedom, makes you your own boss, and lets you do something you love for a living. But when you are on the outside looking in, it can seem impossibly difficult to break-in.
You’re right that it’s hard. There is a lot of competition; there isn’t a lot of guidance. When you don’t know where to start, getting your foot in the door seems impossible.
But it’s not. You just need a plan. Here are three tips for how to begin freelance writing:
1. Pick a Community You Want to Write For and Read The Content That Already Exists
If you are eager to get writing, this probably isn’t what you want to hear. All the more reason to believe me when I say it’s true.
Asking how to become a freelance writer is not specific enough. There are no ‘freelance writers’ — there are independent writers within a community. If you don’t know what community you want to write in, you’ll never succeed. So start there.
And this isn’t a platitude. It’s about value.
Writers that make money are business people. There are really only three ways to make money as a writer: 1) provide valuable information; 2) provide valuable analysis; 3) provide valuable entertainment.
You can’t do that if you don’t know the specifics of a subject and its community inside out. That doesn’t mean you will ever know anything. It just means you need to be constantly reading and learning.
Don’t confuse this with “I like X”. Lots of people “like X”. You want to write about X. You want to equip yourself to provide value to the community of people that “like X”. Read the content this community is reading with a critical eye. Ask yourself: What are the evergreen themes? What is the tone? Why did this content get made? Why are people reading it?
You are reading this article because I am providing you with information you want. Take the time to understand that and really think about what that means. Then go read up on whatever it is you want to write about.
2. Stop Worrying About Getting Paid and Start Worrying About Getting Published Instead
You won’t get paid to be a writer until you can show people a consistent body of already published work that demonstrates the value you offer. It sucks, but that’s the reality.
The good news is you are misinterpreting what this means. Published work is not the same as paid work. You can do one without the other. A lack of experience only keeps you from becoming a freelance writer if your ego lets it.
Getting published is actually not difficult. Here are three things you can try:
Write for a friend’s blog
This is how I got started. My first article ever appeared on my friend’s blog. It went viral, so he let me keep posting. After a few months, someone asked him to recommend a writer for a paid gig and he gave them my name. It turned into my first paid freelance writing job.
Use social media to connect
This is the Gary Vee 1.80 strategy. Bottom line, connect with publishers in the community via social and offer to do a piece for free. I’ve done this and can tell you that you’ll definitely get responses. It’s up to you to follow through and execute.
Ask friends that write to recommend you for a test article
A personal introduction will open doors that cold calling will not. If you want to get into freelance writing and have a friend that already does it, ask them to request an assignment for you to do for free.
3. Know How to Stay Motivated to Write
Read the content in your target community. Get published without worrying about getting paid. That’s how you get your freelancing career started.
Staying motivated to do this is challenging, but the business of writing is always hard work and long hours. Freelance writing is not a get rich quick scheme. Other people might not tell you that but I will. If you can’t stay motivated to do the work necessary to get your first job, you won’t be able to stay motivated to put up with the uncertainty of the career over the long-term.
Stay motivated by focusing on why you wanted to know how to find freelance writing jobs in the first place. Yes, freelancing gives you freedom. Yes, it lets you be your own boss. Yes, it pays. But all successful writers also love writing.
Take it one piece, one section, one paragraph, one sentence, one word at a time. Find joy in the craft. Stay motivated to write because you love to write.
If you can’t do that, then you really shouldn’t be freelance writing in the first place.