Back in 2009, I would never have been able to predict that I would end up in a dream career working as a freelance writer. I also would never have predicted how hard I would truly hit bottom before I saw my dream become a reality. The year 2009 was right in the middle of the economic fallout the United States was struggling through. Back then, I had a big home in an upper-class neighborhood and my husband and I both worked for a truck plant. When the economy took a turn for the worse, the plant closed. My husband and I ended up losing our jobs, home and savings. With three children, we scrambled to get our footing.
I went back to school and decided I would become a paralegal. It was a quick program that would get me back into the workforce making a decent wage. Within months of working at a law office, an autoimmune disease (fibromyalgia) that I had been diagnosed with got much worse. I was in constant pain and was so exhausted that I spent all of my time sleeping when I wasn’t at work. I was miserable and I wasn’t performing my work duties well. I quit my job because I couldn’t work outside of the home anymore. It had become physically too much to handle.
Depression set in. Too many blows, one after the other, had me feeling hopeless and I began to blog as a way of getting my feelings out. It was the best thing I could have done. I got a positive response from readers and I felt I was gaining some control over my life again while writing about my struggles. My blog following increased and I branched out by posting my articles to Facebook and Twitter. As the topic turned to working with an autoimmune disease and other career heavy topics, I posted to LinkedIn.
LinkedIn was the platform that started my professional writing career rolling. Sharing articles in several groups got the attention of a few companies who reached out, offering me writing assignments. I was, I realized, putting the wheels in motion for a writing career and I jumped at the opportunities.
I was stunned that I was able to begin a writing career without clips of work to show potential clients. This was contrary to everything I had read. I ended up crafting a brief letter and sending it out to my LinkedIn connections asking if they needed a freelance writer. This is how my career took rapidly expanded. To this day, most of my work comes from reaching out to people on LinkedIn.
What began as the lowest point in my life turned into a life I would never have imagined possible. I have a career doing what I love most, I have the privilege of working from home and there is no limit to the amount of money or type of assignments I can attain.
My best advice to you when starting out with a goal of pursuing a writing career is:
1. Make sure your profile on LinkedIn is completed according to LinkedIn’s standards and then reach out to your connections offering your services. This is how my profile looks: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wmccance
2. Guest post on the best blog sites you can find to build clips of your work.
3. Make sure you can be found in search results. If someone wants to work with you, they will most likely Google you. An easy way to get your name out there is by writing articles on your blog. The more articles you write, the more often you will see your name in search results.
4. Create a signature for all of your emails with your title, a link to your website, LinkedIn profile or other professional platform and a phone number.
5. The best way to begin a writing career without clips of work is to work as a ghostwriter. Write blog articles, press releases, newsletters, sell sheets and website content for companies. I have never had a client ask for examples of my work in this capacity. It’s a great launching pad to build your confidence and make a good wage. You can then use examples of the work you do when looking into other writing opportunities you might be interested in.
6. Above all else, start a blog. It’s a great way to demonstrate your writing style, showcase any press you have received and openly ask for work. It is also the perfect platform to use for doing interviews and product reviews, which may open the door to some unique writing opportunities partnering with some well known companies.
Have a Freelance Success Story to share? We pay $40 on acceptance, non-exclusive electronic rights only. Success stories run around 300 words but we're very flexible. Our guidelines are here: http://writersweekly.com/writersweekly-com-writers-guidelines
Wendy McCance is a Freelance Writer and Social Media Manager to big companies, mom and pop shops and entrepreneurs. She is the founder of the popular career and family blog, Searching for the Happiness, which can be viewed in The Oakland Press online. For more information follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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