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Changing careers is a huge undertaking, it alters the mechanics of routine and that comfortable lifestyle you’ve settled into. The thought alone can be stressful, and as an adult with grown-up bills and copious responsibilities, it tends to feel particularly overwhelming; however, a new career path can be acutely fulfilling and a chance to excel in a field that you’re much better suited to.
As far as modern work changes go, freelance writing is a trendy choice and a desirable option for those naturally inclined to journal, read and write down their thoughts. In a way, writing is much like an art form, it uses language to create a picture for its readers, and it can be a fruitful career path for many reasons. It lends the opportunity to follow your inherent passions, to express creativity and to lead a flexible working life.
Though, before you immediately quit your day job to become a freelance writer, do your research and understand not only how you can make a continual profit, but also the skills you need to obtain or nurture in order to pursue it.
If you’re passionate about freelance writing and have a change in career on your radar, know that it is certainly possible to succeed at it, but like any new venture, plenty of hard work and a smart plan of action is crucial.
To help get you started, here are some top tips and some useful advice.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. And your freelance writing career won’t be either. If you don’t have the luxury of cutting your income immediately, think of this transition as a slow work in progress rather than an abrupt change. It takes time to build up your client base and your resume, so start by wrapping your head around the logistics.
It’s also beneficial to know what platforms you’d like to use, what companies you’d like to write for, the skills or traits clients will expect you to possess and how much money you need to make. Unsurprisingly, beginners don’t receive the same as seasoned pros, building up your rate takes both time and effort, so start your new writing gig as a side hustle at first and progress day by day.
Before you start applying for work or sending around your resume, you’ll need to create examples of your work so that clients can get a feel for your style and unique skillset. Creating a blog is an excellent way to do this, as it can serve as a resume of sorts for beginners who have no other links to prior work experience.
Once you’ve built up a blog or have collated some examples of your work, you can begin to figure out how to make real money and from whom. There are plenty of freelance platforms out there where can apply for jobs, for example:
These, and many others, are excellent ways to start the job-hunting process. Sign up, create a profile, link it to your blog or prior experience and begin putting yourself out there. Another option is to send your work with a detailed resume and cover letter to the magazines or publications you’d like to write for or to apply to contract writing jobs listed on LinkedIn. Though, these methods are usually primarily catered to those who’ve been doing it for a while. But you never know, sometimes you get lucky.
Nowadays, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a huge part of freelance writing, as are many marketing tasks. Website copy and blogs written for online platforms often include keywords and a certain structure that aids SEO rankings, meaning more traffic to their website and an ideal placement on search engines. If this is something that you’re not overly familiar with, do your research online. Try to get a basic understanding of how keywords and links are incorporated into online content and get familiar with SEO formatting techniques.
WordPress is another platform that’s handy to learn, as some clients will ask you to upload your work directly on there.
When you’re older and burdened by rent or a mortgage, a brand-new university degree or lengthy college pursuit is inconvenient or unrealistic. Instead, take some online courses, the subjects offered are diverse and there are plenty of options for freelance writers starting out or looking to further their knowledge. For example, there are courses about the basics of freelance writing and more specific topics including, SEO, WordPress, content structure, finding writing jobs online, and much more. Identify which areas you need to learn to get where you want to go in your freelance writing career and take up courses that will help you get there.
A huge part of freelance writing is knowing how to use grammar and spelling correctly. Submitting work with spelling or grammar mistakes will affect your reputation and annoy clients, so it’s best to try and get it right the first time around. Grammarly and other online spelling checkers are excellent for proofreading your work.
It can also help to understand spelling variances across different countries or triple check it on a program like Grammarly. For example, ‘favourite’ in UK and Canada is spelt ‘favorite’ in the US. So, if you’re planning on working for anyone internationally, having this knowledge or checking the spelling for that specific country is useful.
With all the benefits that come with a freelance writing career, there is also the side that is at times, shall we say… trying. The deadlines are often strict, the feedback is sometimes jarring, and writer’s block is a true, real live pest. So, doing it full-time rather than as a side hobby comes with certain obstacles. Though truthfully, what doesn’t?
Prepare yourself for the reality and the possibilities, know that at first you may not get the jobs you dream of, but that they can help you to get where you’re going. And learn what a transition like this entails before you jump headfirst. Then, if you feel that becoming a freelance writer is the right career move for you, go for it. Just be clever about your strategy and forge ahead gradually.
After all, the best thing you can do to achieve your goals is to start. The rest will follow.