By pure chance, I saw an Internet advertisement for a freelance marketplace, Freelancer.com. I created a basic profile, and bid on a few jobs. Within a week, I had my first writing gig, and got paid. I was amazed and excited! I always enjoyed writing and my English degree was finally becoming useful.
I’m not going to say it was all great, because it wasn’t. I didn’t have experience so I took low-paying work that took me much longer to complete than I expected. At times, it was stressful, but I kept going. The gigs were varied. I revamped people’s websites, made resumes that sounded more professional, and proof-read work written by non-native speakers of English.
At the time, it didn’t even occur to me that there were other ways of getting writing work. All I knew was this one freelance market place where jobs were hit and miss…and so were the clients. And, not all of the clients were trustworthy. Some took my work and ‘ran’ without paying. I was naive, and didn’t ask for partial payments before starting the work. But, I was lucky to meet a few who paid fairly for work done.
After a few months I got a great client, an agricultural publisher called 5M, who employed me to write some animal care ‘how-to’ guides for their website. This was something I really enjoyed since, being a country girl, I had some knowledge of farming. This was quite an extensive project that took a few weeks to complete. Afterwards, I had all this extra material and it seemed a shame to waste it. I thought it would be great turned into a book. I approached 5M and, after several book outlines and much discussion, they agreed to publish my book.
It was so exciting when I received my contract to sign! Even though I knew I had a lot of work to do, I was going to realize a dream that I had always had – to be a published author. After signing the contract, it took me a year to finish writing the book. It was published in December 2018. It’s called Smallholding: A Beginner’s Guide to Raising Livestock and Growing Garden Produce.
Those early days of freelancing were hard, but I needed those terrible gigs in order to learn from them. As for the good clients I found, I still write for some of them today. The biggest difference for my freelance writing career was learning to pitch. I have had many articles published in online farming magazines, and the pay rate sky-rocketed. I remember gulping in astonishment at the rates I was being offered for a one thousand-word article, for which I needed to interview people. Another new skill to be learned!
Writing the book helped me find a niche as a writer and this has been key to helping me grow and develop. I started a natural lifestyle blog called Let’s Grow Wild, so I could focus on environmental issues, sustainability, and natural health, and went on to self-publish a second book, Foraging for Health.
Although I’m now an author, I am still a ‘writer for hire!’ I have also started a new venture into helping other writers with their freelance businesses.
Freelance writing is a career that gives you so many opportunities for personal development and there is money to be made as long as you keep learning, and don’t give up. My advice is to not get disheartened if things don’t move as quickly as you’d like. Stay determined because that is one of the most important things you do as a freelancer.
Georgina Starmer is a freelance writer with a special interest in the agricultural and sustainability field. Author of Smallholding and Foraging for Health, Georgina continues to write about natural lifestyle topic at letsgrowwild.uk. Above all, Georgina has a passion for writing. She offers practical help and advice to others who are beginning their journey to freelance writer-hood. Find out more from her website, webwritersrock.com.
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