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Becoming A Freelance Writer - 5 Things to Know Before Getting Started

Bianca is a content creator who's been writing professionally since 2013. She is now working towards building her online writing business.

Passion is the difference between having a job and having a career.

— Susan Leonard

Being passionate about writing goes beyond the mere 9-to-5 grind. It is more than just clicks and conversions - it's about making a difference. About doing something worthwhile and seeing the rewards, whether it's a comment from a reader or increased business for a client.

Freelancing is an art. Becoming a freelance writing needs more than just writing skills.

Freelancing is an art. Becoming a freelance writing needs more than just writing skills.

A lot of people decide to freelance for the sake of having variety and being able to dabble in different projects to improve their portfolio. Others decide to do it because they like being in control of their own schedule and life without being bound to a job.

Either way, venturing into freelance is a bold move that takes confidence, guts, and a lot of planning and patience. This article talks about 5 things that you need to know about if you're planning to freelance as a writer.

It will take time and patience

Building a name for yourself and creating a strong client base will take time, and hence, a lot of patience. Personally, it took me about 2 years before I got clients that had regular writing requirements and whom I could bill sizeable monthly invoices for blogs, articles, and content marketing collateral.

Creating a market name and credibility will take time and effort. It will also include writing articles for peanuts just to have your commercial work published online. Don't expect to get a lot of well paying clients that require writing services on a monthly basis immediately. It will take time. So be mentally prepared.

In the meantime, keep taking work that interests you (and some that's needed to pay the bills) and keep a personal blog or social media account where you can keep writing and displaying your skill.

People will expect to pay pennies for your work

The sad reality of the freelance market is that most people wish - and expect - to pay less for more work. The reason? Competition.

There are thousands of writers in the market today, and a lot of them are freelancers. Although not everyone is necessarily as skilled or talented (some even struggle with basic language and grammar), most people sadly believe writing to be easy, something that anyone can do.

I've personally encountered many clients who've told me that they could just write the article themselves but don't have the time and are hence paying me to do it for them. I've also been at the receiving end of "There are many like you out there who would've written a 1500 word article for a lot less than what we're paying you"

What to do in these situations is everyone's personal outlook, but money is an issue in a market where the supply of writers is just as much, or sometimes more, than the demand. And sometimes, clients just want AN article, not a GOOD article.

There is no schedule

One the advantages and simultaneous drawback of freelancing is that there is no set schedule. Even though this is one of the biggest reasons a lot of people wish to venture into freelance, the flip side is that you may end up working longer hours than you would at a 9-to-5 job.

I have worked countless weekends and 12 hours days for weeks on end, only to have nothing to do for another few weeks when between projects. There are ridiculous deadlines and unpredictable schedules depending on when projects become available.

For instance, I once wrote a 30,000 word piece of work in 3 days and then didn't have anything to do for the next week waiting for another project to come in.

Clients think you're only doing their projects

Yes, this is one of those things that no one told me about, but a heads up would have been nice.

There will be times when a client reaches out to you with a project that has a decent pay and isn't very time intensive. But they need it in a couple of hours or by end of day. Or there will be clients who will call you with changes or edits to your article, but not all at the same time! They will call with one change now, and the next a few hours later, and then another change a few minutes after that.

It is extremely frustrating and annoying when clients don't make all edits at once, or ask you to remove just a word or a line and send the article back (which is frankly something they can do themselves). It's also no fun when a client asks to turn in an article in an hour or two and then relents when you refuse.

Sometimes, some clients sincerely believe that you are either only doing their project and have no other work, or that you SHOULD make small changes as and when they ask you to, with no respect for your time, simply because they're paying you.

Either way, this can be quite frustrating, angering and exhausting. And it can suddenly spring up on you out of nowhere. So be prepared for such instances and have a response handy.

You have to manage EVERYTHING

Unless you're raking in enough dough to hire an assistant, you'll need to manage everything about your freelance business singlehandedly.

This includes everything right from reaching out to clients, cold calling or emailing and communicating/negotiating, to actually doing the writing, sorting it out according to client names, dates and types, sending invoices on time, having buffer time for edits or changes that doesn't clash with other projects, handling different timezones in case of international clients, and doing your taxes....among other things.

This takes time, but with a little organisation and planning, can be done. It isn't difficult once you have a system in place, but be sure to start at the outset. Right from the first project.

Freelancing in itself is an art and skill. It isn't just about writing. It's about communication, people skills, diligence and discipline, organisation and above all, patience.

© 2021 Priyanka Athavale

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