What’s the recipe for freelance writing success? I can give you the typical and predictable answers that might include networking, taking courses on writing, and managing your time…but you’ve heard all of those before. This article will lay out actual actionable tips that you can perform to bolster the success of your freelance writing career. You ready?
Get It in Writing
You’ve worked hard to get a foot in the door, expending your time networking, and someone is now interested in your work. That’s huge! But, don’t let yourself be duped into doing free work. Always, always, always get a signed contract for any work before you do it. There are many examples of contracts online, but you should tailor your contract to your specific project. Ensure that your contracts cover:
-The amount and terms of payment
-That the client’s work will stay confidential
-That your work is completely original
-That they accept full responsibility for the work after they receive it
-That you both can terminate the contract and what that entails
While there may be situations where a contract won’t protect you because it just might not be worth it to get it enforced, just having a contract shows your clients you truly mean business.
So many new freelancers are afraid to say no, wanting and hoping for client recognition (and to get paid). Never blindly agree to something that seems against your better judgement. If you think the work doesn’t pay enough, isn’t in your knowledge base, is going to take longer than you have time for, or just isn’t right for you, just say “no.”
On the other hand, saying yes in the freelance industry is important. Many seasoned freelance professionals feel they are above certain work or certain pay grids. But, if you aren’t making any money, or are scraping by, you might want to consider those less-than-ideal contracts. Why? Because they could easily lead to something more. Getting a foot in the door is important for freelancers of all levels. I started my current position writing articles that barely paid me minimum wage. I am now the Director of the company. My willingness to say yes, and give my all to every project, helped me get here.
Invest Your Time
A freelance career might be a side gig for you but, if you aren’t investing your time in networking, marketing, and in the work you are doing, you will never be successful. Find the time to put the effort into growing your freelance business and your side gig may just turn into a six-figure career.
Be Honest and Forthcoming
Whether you’re saying yes or you’re saying no, being honest with your clients is job number one. If you don’t understand the instructions they gave, don’t be worried about stupid questions. If the client is aggressive towards your questions, you might want to chalk them up to being a bad client, and find clients who are willing to mentor you, and help you do the work to best of your abilities. Similarly, if you find you can’t do the work, you should immediately let the client know. They may appreciate your honesty and use you for a future project. Just don’t let them know on the day your work is due! And, if you can’t do the work, you will need to return any payments they have given you.
Even if you don’t have any paid freelance contracts in the works, keep writing. You’ll keep your writing prowess sharp, you’ll build valuable work for your portfolio, and you’ll remember why you wanted to be a freelance writer in the first place. Having a business website where you can publish a blog with articles that show your thought knowledge will not only be a great place to build a portfolio, it will also create great back-links for SEO so clients can find you. Even better, get some guest posting gigs, where publications will publish your work, and you can use them in your portfolio. If you have a business website, link to your site from the guest post and you’ll be creating back-links that help your site with SEO.
There is no secret sauce for becoming a successful freelance writer, but these tips should get you on the way if you take action, and treat your writing career as a top priority.
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Eva Webster is the Managing Director at Article-Writing.co and GetWrittn.com. She has spent the last 25 years clawing her way to the top of the freelance ladder, sacrificing time, sleep and many bottles of cheap wine to achieve success.