Becoming a 'Real' Freelance Writer

So you don't want to do any:
  • content writing
  • magazine querying
  • non-fiction writing (press releases, sales letters, web copy)...
but you're crying about wanting to be a freelance writer and say you can't figure out how to find any clients?

Give me a break.  I will never understand people who don't make things happen - and I quote Kid Rock: "You want some French cries with that waa-mburger?"

Freelance writing isn't a piece of cake...
but it's not an Army Ranger obstacle course, either.

If you want clients, you need:
  • writing ability.  Know when to capitalize, when to use 'that' and 'which', realize that there, they're and their'your' and 'you're' are different words entirely and for Mojo's sake, practice tight writing.

  • a spine.  Stick up for yourself and what you believe in, and don't let people give you less than what you're worth.

  • organizational skills.  You're going to need to keep track of invoices, taxes and money coming in from multiple sources - and if you need an accountant, get one.  If you think you can handle it yourself, don't drop the ball.

  • a website.  I don't give a crap what anyone tells you about being able to run a successful business without a website.  You need one.  Period.  Without one, you will not reach clients outside your social circle, and you won't impress those you do reach.  Get a website.

  • business cards.  Same deal - you need freelance writer business cards.  Look at websites and business cards like this: would you rather get a kidney transplant from a guy in a van downtown or from a guy with a business card and a website?  I pick the business card and website guy every time. 

  • a really real fee schedule and really real contracts.  Your freelance writing services cost money (and you need to make sure you're charging the right amount), and both you and your clients need to be held accountable through freelance writing contracts.
And one more thing - if you want to make a living as a freelance writer, you go where the money is.  Especially when you're first starting out.

That means you're probably not going to wake up to a random phone call from National Geographic tomorrow (the day after you decided to become a freelance writer) asking you to write a 4,000-word piece on the mating habits of the Yangtze River Dolphin for $4 a word.

That also means you're probably going to be writing web content and press releases for small businesses, querying magazines when you've got time and marketing your freelance writing business constantly.

I absolutely hate to hear people say, "I want to become a real freelance writer... but I don't want to do any of those things."  You know what that means?  It means you don't really want it.  Go apply for a conventional job.

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© Angie Papple Johnston 2011. Don't steal from me or I'll come getcha. Really... I've got that kind of time.