4 Tips to Help Freelance Writers Earn a Living

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So, you want to be a freelance writer–but you don’t quite know how to make it work.

Last week, I discussed the importance of getting started, among other things. If you don’t get started, you won’t succeed as a freelance writer. Of course, that may seem like common sense, but for many would-be writers getting started is an obstacle to overcome.

During the course of the week, Allena Tapia, writing at her excellent About.com resource for freelance writers, asked the question Can You Make a Good Living as a Freelance Writer? In a later post, Allena goes on to list some skills that writers need to succeed.

This week, I thought I’d share some additional tips to help freelance writers who are trying to build a successful career. Rather than focusing on writing skill, many of these tips have to do with business savvy and marketing know-how.

  1. Get your name out there. If potential clients don’t know that you offer freelance writing services you’re unlikely to get much business. Blogging and social media are great tools for this, but they aren’t the only tools. Forums and even commenting on other blogs can help.

  2. Build relationships. Relationships build trust, and trust is a crucial element when it comes to doing business. Successful freelance writers know how to build and maintain relationships. Eventually, some of these relationships will mature into business relationships.

  3. Keep marketing. A big mistake that keeps many freelance writers from earning a successful living is that they stop marketing when they are working on projects. The natural result of this is big gaps in your work. Devote several hours a day to marketing and stick with it.

  4. Look for clients that can give you repeat business. While it’s fine to accept one-time freelance writing projects, it’s also important to court clients who can give you repeat business. Look for clients who have ongoing writing needs such as for newsletters or business blogs.

It’s true that a lot of freelance writers struggle to keep going, but with the right business savvy it doesn’t have to be that way. What are your business tips to help freelance writers?

Comments

  1. says

    I would definitely second the advice to keep marketing. When I was first getting started in the business, I had one client who told me she would “keep me busy 24/7.” And she did. For the entire four weeks before her business went under.

    Then I found myself back at square one, because I hadn’t been marketing. I really needed to scramble to fill the void left by that client, and I’ve never again put myself in that position!

  2. says

    Hi,
    I am learning to market myself as a writer and to put myself out there on a daily basis. This one is the hardest for me because when I get wrapped up in a project I end up forgetting about everything else, including the need to be seen and promoted. You have some good methods and they are written down in a easy to read format.

    Thanks for giving us something to think about!
    Angela

  3. says

    Hi Angela,

    I’m glad you found the post helpful. Thanks for jumping in and leaving some comments. That’s really encouraging to a blogger. I hope to see more of you on here.

  4. says

    I dedicate an hour a day to marketing and admin. The rest of the time is for writing and editing. My father is also self-employed, so I see how important it is to think ahead instead of getting comfortable.

    It’s another bonus to being freelance. My friend lost her job and, obviously, her income dropped. Luckily freelance means we only lose one source, but that bonus isn’t there if people start partying over one client.

  5. says

    Hi,

    I’ve been very lucky to have the same wonderful client for almost three years and running, but in a way I feel like I’m just getting started. I cannot take it for granted. Marketing and social media is a new world for me as a writer, but when you wake up in the wee hours and think, “What happens if my client no longer has work for me,” it can be a little scary. For the pen and paper writer like myself, it’s almost as scary as learning to build a website. Mine is still in progress! So yes, daily marketing and social media is where getting yourself out there is at. Good thing we have the technology. Thank you all for the tips and inspiration.

  6. says

    Great article, and all of it is very solid. Having repeat work from good clients can really make all the difference in the world as a freelance writer.

    As someone who’s been freelancing for several years now, that is definitely one of the most important points. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the most important points! Building up a list of good clients can make or break you as a freelancer(as well as with every other business).

    Another good one would be to make a set schedule that you work from every day, and let your clients know that youw ill be working and available at said time.

  7. says

    I learned a while back that seeking opportunity is the key to any marketing and sales. By getting the opportunities in the queue, you can then focus on working the opportunities with best rates or with best long term positioning.

    Writing is a daunting thing to do without opportunities to focus the form. Most of us, I think, lose many chances to develop ideas for the simple reason that we lose track of them. In one ear (or brain cell)and out the other…

    My son and I have created a free service to help capture and then develop your ideas. We call it PlanItPad.

    It is a very simple to use tool tool and its free because I sponsor it with my battery business. We are those inventors in the garage you hear talked about…

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