Can you really make money as a freelance writer?

A friend of mine recently asked if me if it was possible to make a living as a full time freelance writer. Well, as someone who has been growing her own freelance business for a number of years now, of course I know that the answer to that question is “yes”.

But the real question I think is, how is it possible? What traits do you require or what steps should you take to establish a decent freelancing business?

Here are a few tips that I can give based on my own experience:

First, establish whether or not you really want to pursue freelance writing.

You’ve got to be passionate about writing…and have some talent

If you’re going to be a writer, you’ve got to put in the time and dedication. You’ve got to be self-disciplined enough to sit down at your computer every night and bang out as much content as you possibly can. You’ve also got to be fairly quick.

How do you know if you’re passionate about writing? Ask yourself if you write already – without the carrot of a paycheck. If you do, you are probably passionate about writing. And as an added bonus, it means that you are building a stockpile of writing samples that you can send to prospective clients.

Find ways to get clients

In my business, I’ve obtained clients from a number of sources. I’ve had referrals from friends and family; referrals from other clients; and I’ve used sites such as elance.com to apply for writing gigs that I was interested in.

By far however, my most successful source of clients has been kijiji.com – I’ve posted my own ads on kijiji and also used the site to search the “wanted” posts for people and companies who might require my services.

Specialize

When I first started writing seriously as a business, I would take any assignments that I could get – even if they were not really in my sweet spot. This was ok, and I earned some decent money doing it, but a lot of the time it was not enjoyable.

Now I specialize in website content writing and business writing. If someone wants help writing a novel, I have other writers that I can refer them to. This allows me to focus on what I do best and give the best service possible to my clients.

If you are starting out as a freelancer, you might take any job you can get at the beginning, but over time you’ll want to find your niche.

Hire other experts

As your business grows, you may have to employ the help of other experts. Earlier this year, I decided that for continued growth in my business, I would have to start branding myself more professionally. To help me accomplish this, I hired a designer to create my logo. Perhaps, I could have come up with something myself, but I doubt it would have been half as professional and slick looking as what I ended up with.

I also paid my accountant to help me apply for my hst number and show me how to file. Again, I could have done this on my own – but it was not really an aspect of my business that I felt comfortable doing on my own. So I saved myself the stress, and got help.

And really, isn’t that what people do when they hire freelance writers? They take a job that they need to have done (writing) and they get a professional to do it for them.

Are you a freelancer or trying to break into the market? I would love to hear your tips in the comments section!

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