I’ve been writing most of my life. In high school, I used to write really morose fiction that, quite honestly, would probably get me arrested into today’s “zero tolerance” over-reactive environment. I’ve written for a few small-time magazines, had one feature article in a fairly large local magazine, and wrote well over 2,000 articles for various online sites. While I’m far from a smashing success (mostly because I hold myself back because of my own insecurities), freelancing does keep a roof over my head and gas in my car.
I’m going to share a few of my favorite tips, things that I think are really important to any freelance writer. I’m not going to give you places to look for jobs because there are a million other sites out there that can tell you stuff like that. I do suggest checking out my guest post on Still Blonde After All These Years if you would like that type of information.
Freelance Writing Tips
- Don’t be your own worst critic. Remember above where I mentioned that part of the reason I’m not a smashing success is because I hold myself back? I’m my own worst critic, and I’m extremely hard on myself. I give myself anxiety attacks worrying that my writing isn’t good enough. I’m really working on this and hope to overcome it soon.
- Good clients make all the difference. I’ve written for most of the big content mills, and to be honest, I hated just about every moment of it. It was necessary because I needed to pay the bills and didn’t know the first thing about finding private clients. Now, I write for clients that are fun and easy to work with, and even when I’m writing on a subject I don’t love, I’m still enjoying the job.
- Form good relationships with your clients. One of the reasons I love working for certain clients is because they actually take the time to really communicate with m throughout the process. I’ve actually made new friends through gigs, and I think that makes it so much easier to anticipate their writing needs.
- Research while you write. Many freelance writing sites will tell you to do your research first, get your head around the subject, then write your article. If you’re prone to copying information you’ve just read, either intentionally (very bad!) or subconsciously, then yes, you should do it that way. If you’re able to take the info and turn it into something new, however, researching while writing saves so much time.
- Break free from linear writing. I stink at writing intros. They’ve always been a week spot for me, and I spend more time on the first sentence of an article than I do on the other 450 words. I’ve finally learned to write the rest of the article, then go back to the intro. It makes life a lot easier. Write your strong parts first, then fill in the blanks.
- Write for yourself at least once a day. Pretty Opinionated is my place where I can write in my own voice and express myself however I choose. Without this outlet, I would go nuts. Every writer needs an outlet for self-expression. Blog, journal, write fiction, write poetry, write on napkins at restaurants. Just write for yourself once a day.
- Stay organized. If you write for numerous clients, devise some type of system to keep track of what you wrote, whether you submitted it, and whether you were paid for the piece. I have a master “Freelance Writing” folder in my documents, with folders for each clients inside of it. In those, I have a sub-folder for pieces submitted, then a folder in that one for pieces that were already invoiced and paid. Use whatever system works best for you. Most people use spreadsheets. I am not a spreadsheet type of girl.
- Make a resume site. I created a resume site called Nicole Etolen Freelance Writing to help me keep an updated list of writing samples and let potential clients know a little more about me. No one ever visits it on their own because I haven’t really marketed it much yet, but it’s there when I need it.
I’m sure I could think of more little tips and tricks that make my freelance writing life a lot easier, but I don’t want to take up all your time. I can’t wait to read the different tips that other Armchair BEA participants talk about! I’m always open to learning new ways of becoming more successful. Thank you for stopping by today!
Thanks for sharing these great tips!
Thanks for the tips! I’ve been thinking of doing freelance writing, but erm… I think I’m not good enough – oops, that’s tip 1. Yes, I don’t believe I’m good enough. This is true for other jobs/work too, actually. I must work on that!
You won’t know if you’re good enough until you try! I’m great at giving that advice, but really need to learn to take it. I’ve been scared to write a fiction book because I don’t think I’m good enough. 🙂
I write my intros last too when I’m writing book reviews. They don’t come to me easily and I think up the rest of the review while waiting for inspiration for that first sentence.
These are good tips! I’ve always wondered about writing articles, and your information is helpful.