What It Takes to Get Started as a Freelance Writer: A Top 10 List

Since I'm a writing coach and a freelance writer myself, people are always asking me what it takes to get started as a freelancer. Other than some basic writing skills, here is my top ten list of essentials every writer needs to start a freelance career.

1. A Professional Resume - Your resume might not include much when you're just getting started, still you need to have something to show potential clients, editors, and publishers that lists your education, writing experience, and publication credits (if any).

2. A Professional Bio - A bio is more simple than a resume. It should be written in third person and give an overview of your education and experience, the type of writing you do and the services you offer.

3. Some Writing Samples - These don't have to be published clips. They can be unpublished samples of the different types of writing you like to do. When responding to advertisements for freelance writing jobs, many times writing samples and a professional resume will be required.

4. Three Major Writing or Career Goals for the Year - I advise writers to stick to only three major goals for the year. Then, everything they do during the year should serve to help them reach one or more of these three major goals. Working toward one or more of these major goals at all times really helps any writer keep from feeling overwhelmed, overworked, or unfocused.

5. A Weekly Marketing Plan - Every Sunday evening or Monday morning, it's important to create a marketing plan and writing schedule for the coming work week. When you have a clear plan, all you have to do each week is "work your plan."

6. A Method or Means of Accountability - Every writer needs to have someone or something that will hold them accountable for maintaining their focus and working toward their 3 major goals all year long. A writing coach, a writer's group, or even another friend who is also a writer can be used for this purpose.

7. A Professional Website or blog - Editors and clients expect any serious freelance writer to have an online presence, which includes a website or blog with information about the writer, his/her education and experience, and the types of writing services offered.

8. Business Cards - These should be simple and inexpensive. Include your name, business name (if you create one for your freelance writing business) or a tagline that tells people you're a freelance writer, telephone number, and email address. Don't include your home address. If you think a mailing address is essential for your business, invest in a post office box and include that address on your business card.

9. A Success Journal - This can be nothing more than a spiral notebook used to record daily or weekly progress. A Success Journal is one more way to help any freelance writer stay on track with a weekly marketing plan, weekly writing goals, and stay focused on just three major goals for the year.

10. Total Commitment - A freelance writing career can be difficult to establish because, generally, people who start freelance writing do so when they still have a regular day job and/or dozens of other professional and personal responsibilities. Then, when things get too stressful, the freelance writing is the first thing that gets pushed to the wayside. Before any writer decides to start a freelance writing career, he/she must totally commit to making this career happen.

If your goal is to become a successful freelance writer, get these 10 essentials in place right now and it will be much easier to get your career established.

Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, certified professional life coach and writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She has written over two dozen published books and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and other publications. She offers The Morning Nudge, for writers every weekday morning. Get your free subscription at www.morningnudge.com.


Karen Cioffi said...

Suzanne, great list of must-haves to become a freelance writer. Number 6 is a biggie. You need to have someone help you be accountable for staying focused.

Shirley Corder said...

Suzanne, thank you. To most of these I gave a "Yep! Got that/done that!" But there are a couple that need attention. Thanks for the prod!

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