My friends and family often see me post about word counts and my published work on social media. They give me a like and a “good job” but I’m sure most people are either thinking I’m part of a delusional pyramid scheme or get paid in free samples.
To be clear, I’m a freelance writer. I don’t work for anyone, I’m not on a payroll, and I’m not guaranteed work every week. With that being said, I’ve managed to snag myself some reliable clients that do have work for me most weeks of the month. How did I do this? It honestly wasn’t hard and I managed to do it with two (now three) small children.
If you can do research on the internet, you can find work as a writer. It’s that simple.
To get started, you need to build a portfolio. Most experts say to pick a niche and write in one area, but that’s a little challenging when you are just starting out. I say, write a few samples in a couple topics you find interesting and then decide which topics you actually enjoy writing about.
At some point, you’ll have to bite the bullet and actually put your writing out there for people to see, in order to get work. Scary? Yes. Necessary? Also yes. When I was looking for gigs, I started this blog and threw every piece I penned up here. Then, when I applied for gigs, I’d simply direct them to my portfolio as a reference of my writing. There are also options such as ClearVoice or Upwork to display your work and bid on open jobs.
Keep samples on hand & be ready
However, you’ll definitely have to write a few samples to snag your first gig. One piece endorsing your love of a certain skincare brand won’t snag a client willing to pay. Once you’ve written a few substantial (800-2000 words) pieces and have them ready for applications, you can start bidding on jobs.
I got my first two clients on Upwork and I still write for them frequently. While you probably won’t get rich taking the small jobs on the platform, it’s a great way to get started. Plus, there’s always a rotating supply of new postings. Personally, I preferred Upwork at first because it takes care of the contract for you. Never EVER take a job without a contract that explicitly states what is expected and how much you will be paid.
Download an editing app
You obviously want to deliver quality work. So, it’s a good idea to download a free editing app or software. I use Grammarly, and Hemingwayapp. Both have free options and are decent enough that I’ve never felt the need to splurge on the paid versions. Keep in mind, you’ll need to edit and proofread yourself. These are generic editors that can suck the personality from your words if you aren’t careful.
It also helps to brush up on The Chicago Manual of Style. That’s what most blogs, magazines, and books use. So, if you’ve been writing college papers for a while, throw APA format out the window. You don’t need it where we’re going.
Now, once you’re done with your contracted work, proofread and edited multiple times, you’re ready to pass it on to your client. Be sure to make sure they’re happy and both sides of the contract have been fulfilled. If you’re comfortable, ask for feedback you can display on your blog or ask that they leave feedback on your Upwork profile.
That will help you get the next job, and the next, and so on.
Lastly, always been on the lookout for gigs! Projects move quickly and you never know which one will turn into a long-term client.
I’ll be publishing more on the ins and outs of Upwork soon. So, if you’re looking for another stream of cash, stay posted.