As some of you will know, I recently expanded my online endeavors into freelance writing. I have now been writing for WPMU for nearly two months (doesn’t time fly?) and have today landed my second client.
I have my fingers in many different pies. I have authority sites, a JV with Joseph Archibald, and of course this blog! But freelance writing is extremely important to me, as for the foreseeable future, it will be my livelihood! Given that I am quitting my job at the end of this year, I will need to move quickly to replace my income so that I don’t, you know, go broke.
So, I have been working steadily towards lining up work for the New Year. It is very difficult to do this whilst I still have a full time job, and it has been something of a crash course. Since I started looking into freelance writing a couple of months ago, I have already learnt a great deal. And now I intend to pass on my learned wisdom to you 🙂
1. Always Be Talking To New People
You should be getting to know new people, all of the time. And you should not discriminate in the slightest. You never know where your next client may come from – the more people you network with, the higher your chances of attracting work.
2. It’s Not Just About the Money
Don’t focus solely on how much money a job will bring in. There may be benefits that offer far more value than temporary compensation.
For instance, a job might generate valuable connections, or have potential for long term development. Alternatively, you might just really enjoy the work and be willing to do it for less than your typical rate.
Remember – if you’re quitting your job in search of greater freedom, flexibility and contentment, you don’t want to be doing work that you don’t enjoy! Always bear that priority in mind.
3. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
This is especially important when you are first starting out and your reputation is non-existent. One of the worst things you could possibly do at this stage is let a client down. You should always aim to over deliver. Never take something on if you doubt you can get it done to a good standard of quality and in time.
4. Don’t Be Picky
Beggars can’t be choosers! Don’t turn your nose up at anything. This doesn’t mean that you should accept every single job that comes your way, but you should consider each one thoroughly. Remember – it’s not all about the money. Bigger things can come from humble beginnings.
5. Be Dynamic
Don’t be afraid to make (tactfully worded and respectful) suggestions to your clients. If you spot a hole in their content marketing strategy for instance, don’t be afraid to suggest how you might be able to plug it for them. One way of setting yourself apart from the crowd is by bringing things to the table – not just sitting within the confines of your job description.
6. Existing Clients Are Always #1
Client retention is almost always easier than finding someone new. And a client with a proven track record of regular payments and being easy to work with should never be undervalued. Even if you seem to have hit the jackpot with a job that seems too good to be true, don’t be in a hurry to dump your tried and trusted clients.
7. Establishment First, Money Second
When first starting, money should not necessarily be your priority. Whilst a lot of freelancers will say that you should set a healthy hourly rate from the get go (and I do not argue with that point), you may have no other choice but to make short-term compromises on your desired rate. Don’t be afraid to do so if it is necessary. Relationships can develop and rates can grow.
8. Get to Know People
I can tell you from personal experience that freelance writers are an extremely friendly bunch. I have been fortunate enough to talk to some wonderful people, such as Amy Harrison (who incidentally rocks it out with a totally badass Bluegrass band) and Ali Luke.
Get to know your peers, and forget about them being your “competition” (quite frankly, if you are dealing with established freelancers, you would probably be doing yourself too much justice!).
9. Don’t Burn Bridges
You might have a bad experience with a client. Resist the temptation to name and shame them, or leave the relationship on a sour note. There is absolutely no benefit in doing so, beyond a temporary feeling of satisfaction, and there can certainly be a big downside. Yesterday’s difficult client may recommend tomorrow’s awesome client. So keep it clean and professional.
I’m Just Scratching The Surface
I’ve only been at this for a matter of weeks, and know that I have an enormous amount left to learn. But these are the key principles I have borne in mind to date, and they have done me some good so far! So take these tips collectively as your starting point, and get started!
How about you? Are you a far more experienced freelancer than me? Or are you just getting started but have your own two cents to contribute? I would love to read your thoughts in the comments section!