I am by no means an expert when it comes to running a freelance business or even really knowing all the twists and turns that come along with the title. I’m (in my mind) only a month in to being officially a content writing business owner, however, I have learned a few basic things about the process in my previous 2 years of freelance writing. Not to mention the countless hours I’ve spent researching every minute detail that goes into getting setup and started so that the business can be as effective as possible.
I’m someone who functions the best with specific directions, so I’m here to pay it forward by discussing the 3 basic steps to become a freelance writer. I am also currently working on an e-book that will be going into detail about everything that occurs within the first quarter of your business (and I mean DETAIL), so look out for that in late September 2019.
Let’s get started.
Know Your Niche
Before you can actually start writing you need to know what you want to be writing. I didn’t really consider this when I first began looking for freelance writing jobs because that’s how I saw them, just jobs. When starting work in a field that is so general, such as writing, it’s important that you understand where you fit into the equation and what you can bring to the table. By not deciding on a niche early on you’ll be picking up odd writing jobs here and there, but never really specializing in anything and being able to earn even more with clients that need exactly what you’re good at.
Your niche should be both the industry you want to work in as well as the type of writing you want to produce. For example, my ideal niche is fashion, beauty, and anything related to that industry (there are a variety of businesses that fall under that umbrella), and the type of writing I enjoy doing the most is blog content. Someone else might want to work in IT and software and only do copywriting for social platforms. Once you figure out the niche you are comfortable in it is then much easier to start looking for clients to work with because you will know exactly what you want and don’t want to spend your time creating.
Figure Out Your Rates & Stick To Them
This one was tough for me when I was first freelance writing. Like anyone who is new to a field of work, I took what I was offered and didn’t complain because, in my mind, I got to do what I loved and get paid for it. However, after a fair amount of time creating content and learning the basics about what goes into the work (time, effort, taxes) I realized that you have to have a lot of intent when you set your prices. Getting into freelancing full-time or running your own business (as I like to think of it) is not like a traditional job where all the backend work is taken care of. You are in charge of saving for your taxes and you won’t have a set income every month to look forward to. It’s up to you to ensure that you are getting paid exactly what you need to survive and thrive.
Yes, asking for what you’re worth can seem intimidating because we are often told in the current work climate that we aren’t worth it—that we are just another cog in a machine. But at the end of the day, you deserve to make a sustainable income just like everyone else. It’ll feel scary increasing your prices at first, but it will accurately represent your value as a writer when you begin working with clients.
If you are just as lost as I was when it comes to figuring out what your ideal rates are, have a look at this website. I used it to get a ballpark figure of what I should be charging and it helped a lot!
Have A Contract
Preparing a contract isn’t entirely necessary as soon as you find your first client to work with because most of the time companies have a freelancer contract ready to go. However, once you decide to take your writing business more seriously and want to start reaching out to more clients, having a contract ready to hand to them is vital. Why? Well, it’s a form of legal protection for both parties involved. While it’s not iron-clad, it will help if there’s ever an issue with compensation or communication. It took me about a day or two to put together my contract because I combined a variety of information from previous contracts I had been given and others I found online. It needs to cover the basics of what's going into the work such as rates, payments, project scope, confidentiality, etc. Both you and your client should feel comfortable signing the contract and adhering to it until the project is complete. I would recommend starting on one as soon as possible to get it over with because it will be easier to tweak and make your own as soon as you have all the basic legal jargon put in place.
This article gives you an example of one that I used to help me create my own contract. I didn’t copy it, but incorporated certain aspects that I think fit well with the work I wanted to do.