Building a freelance writing career from nothing

Building a freelance writing career from nothing

 

Guest author: Steven M

 

inspiration

I started freelancing seriously just before last Christmas. I’d dabbled before, but not with any clear intent. At that time, I naively thought being a literary gun for hire would lead to an avalanche of jobs. I was, of course, like most optimists, disappointed.

 

I’ve been out of mainstream work for some time looking after my father who suffered from dementia. Prior to that, I wrote copy for a marketing team at a North West University. After dad passed away last year, I didn’t want to go rushing back into a conventional work environment. Freelancing seemed attractive once more.

 

I kicked off my freelance career mark II with peopleperhour.com. It seemed as good a place as any to start and simple enough for me to understand. There are two ways to secure work on PPH, one is to post an ‘hourly’ advertising a product you offer, in my case writing a 500 word article for £8, or you can put in a bid on work that others have posted. In the latter, you are bidding against other, equally competent, candidates (the average seems to be about 20-30) and that makes it more difficult to win.

 

So far I’ve written 20 articles. Although I’m charging what I consider bottom end rates at the moment, I’ve been more successful than when I had my first foray into freelancing a few years ago. Back then, with elance.com, the lowest, and usually less talented bidder normally won out. Buyers now seem to understand that you get what you pay for. Extra low price = rubbish product.

 

I’ve had good reviews for my writing so far and my customers have all been friendly and, more importantly, paid promptly.

 

So, is it worth it?

 

There’s a cost, however, to getting this business on PPH, as there is on other freelancing sites. To stand a real chance of being noticed you need to ‘feature’ (advertise) your hourly and that costs £9.99 (for a 5 day exposure). The company also charges 15% when earnings are transferred to your bank account.

 

On its own PPH does provide a source of income but hardly enough to live on, at least not at the moment. Of course, I know freelancers require several avenues of income and I’ve only touched the surface so far.

 

I will need to get what my father used to call ‘a proper job’ at some point, but, for the moment, I don’t have to worry about my monthly income. So, the next step is to look at other revenue streams and try them out. Some will work, others won’t.

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For those who want to a career as a freelance writer I can offer a little advice.

 

First, decide on whether you are a good enough writer – it’s a skill that takes time to develop and one where you never stop learning. I’m a competent writer, I wouldn’t go beyond that despite my stack of good reviews, but even now I still work at my craft.

 

Second, in the beginning you are going to be looking for work more than you are actually doing it. Keep yourself fit and positive and don’t be afraid to try new things.

 

Third, get to grips with social media, from LinkedIn, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and beyond – they will help spread the word and bring in business.

 

And finally: There will be no pot of gold at the end of a rainbow; that would be too much to ask. But a steady flow of decently paid work?

 

I’d settle for that.

Guest author:

Image sources: Steven M

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