It is hard to make a living as a freelance writer.
To make good money as a hired gun, I believe to achieve the following:
- build a reputation as an excellent writer
- find ways to be found by your potential clients
- turning clients into returning ones
Just by missing any of the points above, you will find it much, much difficult to maintain a career as a freelance writer.
Luckily for me, with hard work, perseverance, and lots of luck, I was able to teach myself how I became a freelance writer.
In my case, I started earning $1000/month in December 2014.
I started taking freelance writing seriously in July 2014. From that 5-month period, I was able to set up the three pillars of what I feel successful freelance writing is built on.
But before I dwell on the success, I would like to share why I became a freelance writer.
The Journey from Failure
Before starting a freelance writing career, I worked as a virtual assistant for a Canadian client made up of two people. We began a professional relationship in 2012 when I used to work for them part-time to supplement my full-time earnings.
It only took a year later for me to decide that I should work for them at home full-time since the pay was good and the tasks were up my alley. I managed the entire digital marketing campaign of the client, from developing and executing a content strategy to running lead generation campaign to hike up her sales.
One of the pitfalls of freelancing is how you will manage when the client is unable to supply you the salary you are used to getting. Unless you have built up your funds for the rainy day, you will find yourself scrambling for sources of income to keep up with your lifestyle and expenses.
My rainy day came around June of 2014 when my client was no longer able to pay me the amount we discussed before hiring me. It was a straight punch to the gut as I was banking on my work for them to sustain my finances for the family.
While I did not hold any grudge against them, I was left disillusioned by the incident. They were my only client, and I did not have anything going for me outside the work they give me.
So I decided to start back to square one.
Instead of expecting the same fixed amount every month, I had to make do with $5 payouts from then-oDesk and Fiverr writing articles.
During this period, I had to work twice as hard and long to receive around half of what I was used to getting. I was also working alone and did not have colleagues whom I can share my experiences.
I also considered working again in an office full-time out of necessity. However, I was not able to get accepted for the positions I wanted, and other opportunities were hours away from where I lived.
It was a necessary obstacle that I had to go overcome professionally.What made it worse was that my wife and I were expecting our first child in September that year. Without having saved enough money, I had to get help from my parents, which is something I have been trying to avoid.I want to do it on my own
What made it worse was that my wife and I were expecting our first child in September that year. Without having saved enough money, I had to get help from my parents, which is something I have been trying to avoid.I want to do it on my own
While I have been fortunately enough to have a great support system, I think everybody would agree that they want to take matters into their hands. I want to become independent of my parents and start living a life that I could call mine.
Unfortunately, I was not able to do that at that time.
So I decided to ramp up my efforts on getting more clients by pulling every trick out of my bag. I built better landing pages on my site, wrote content with the purpose of attracting customers, and applied to job posting sites, to name a few.
Doing all these came at the expense of getting the usual $5 writing gigs, so it was a calculated risk on my part. If my strategy of getting clients does not pan out, I will not be earning as much as I wanted that month and all my efforts are in vain.
With sheer luck, I finally got a better paying writing gig from the ProBlogger Jobs board and an email from my contact page.
And for some strange reason, it snowballed to more opportunities for different clients.
As the year came to a close, I was pretty sure that working as a freelance writer is what I was meant to do.
And it showed in 2015.
And things are looking up even better this year.
I do not wish to gloat my earnings. But if you think freelance writing — or freelancing in general — does not work, this is proof that it does!
Okay, so how did I do it?
As mentioned, there are three factors that I believe lay the foundation to a fruitful and sustainable freelance writing career:
1. Guest posting
This tactic is the best and fastest way to build your reputation as a good writer.
By writing for different online publications, you can showcase your writing to a different audience than where you usually write.
If they like your writing, they will go to your site and read more. If they are potential clients, they will contact you for a job opportunity.
The important thing to remember here is always to find sites where you can write for to grow your audience and attract leads that you can turn into clients later.
I have covered guest blogging brief in this post to give you an idea on how you can proceed with your guest blogging strategy.
Granted, writing for different sites may not get you paid. Think of this strategy as an investment to help you attract more clients to your writing services.
2. Inbound marketing
You need to stick your neck out to be found by your audience. Your products and services won’t sell themselves — you need to make an effort to be seen by people to make a sale.
Old school marketing encourages you to go out there, talk to people, and pitch to them about your services.
While that is a tactic that works for some, that was not my approach when promoting my freelance writing services.
I always believe that, if people wanted to know more about you, they would find a way to make that happen.
This is the principle behind inbound marketing, the philosophy behind HubSpot’s methodology.
Instead of you going out of your way telling people why they should buy from you, you want them to go to you.
This is part of what guest blogging does for me. They see my name on the sites I write for, and I get to nest in their heads like a debt that they cannot pay.
To douse their curiosity, I built a site with all the information about my services so people will be compelled to reach out. I created different landing pages for each of my services to ensure that visitors will find the details they need to know about me. I am also currently following a content strategy of writing decent content on my blog to keep my site relevant on search results.
This is the reason why I invested time in building a good-looking site and blog that you are reading now.
And if you are indeed still reading this post, then it only goes to show how important inbound marketing is.
My rule here is simple: do not treat your clients as a dollar sign.
My clients are just like me, people who want what’s best for themselves. They just happened to be people whose needs I can answer.
I provide solutions for my clients, and my goal is to deliver the work that I promised.
More importantly, treating people more than a job is crucial in getting them to order from them to order again.
Going back to my previous Canadian clients, I still keep in contact with them. I have always made it clear that the lines of working again soon are always open. If they have questions on what they should do regarding particular tasks that I once covered for them, then I unhesitatingly give my advice.
Same thing goes for my current clients. I strive to provide them with a more personal experience when ordering content from me. I do my best to answer every email and find a solution to every problem they encounter.
At the same time, I become even well connected to the industry I am working in. As a writer whose feet are dug deep in digital marketing, I have come to know clients from different agencies, as well as influential bloggers from across the globe. Some of them were referred to me by my old customers, so building bridges with clients go a long way!
Wrapping it up
Freelance writing is a struggle, but you need to play your cards right to succeed. In this post, I have revealed my cards in my attempt to help you find your path to success. You can copy my process and build on it to achieve even greater success!
I may not have fully revealed the entire process of how I build an excellent freelance writing career for myself. In the future, I promise to update you with comprehensive tips on how to do guest blogging, inbound marketing, and relationship building.
Until then, I would like to hear from you by answering a couple of these questions:
- How is your freelance writing experience thus far? How can I help you?
- What are the obstacles that are preventing you from succeeding as a freelance writer?
- Are there strategies and techniques you used not mentioned above that made you a freelance writing success?
Seriously, I would love to hear your thoughts about the questions above.
I want this post to connect both of us professionally so we can learn how to help each other.