11/19/08

Build a Successful Freelance Business

I've had some people ask me how they get started earning money with freelance writing so I thought I'd put a post together with some options that should get your freelance business going.

Once it's going, though, it's up to you to keep it growing.

Before we start, here's a link to a post that might also help. I wrote this one earlier in the year on almost the same topic:
http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2008/10/how-to-set-up-work-at-home-business.html

And there's also this one on creating a full time freelance income:
http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2008/10/creating-multiple-freelance-income.html

Now we've got that out of the way, let's get into finding some freelance writing work:

1) Create a Web Presence

Take your pick of free blog accounts (WordPress, Blogger etc) and set up your own blog. This is a quick, cheap way to get yourself a place on the net where people can find you. Introduce yourself. Chat. Get used to playing around on your online place.

Ask other like-minded people to link to your new blog so other writers can find you too. This is how search engines find your site quickly. It's important to keep links on similar topics to your own otherwise the link-bank importance drops in the eyes of search engines.

Then get some serious writing samples going and put them on there too. These will become reference links for future clients, so take care when creating them.

2) Finding Freelance Work

The type of freelance work you choose to accept is 100% up to you. You're the boss remember?

There are quite a lot of freelance job bidding sites around where you can sign up and bid for work against other writers. Places like http://www.guru.com/ or http://www.getafreelancer.com/ have thousands of job listings every day.

I don't like bidding sites at all - even though they are where I began when I first got online. I've learned that writers are silly about under-cutting everyone else's prices just to get the job. Under-cutting is insane because you're selling yourself short when you could be earning much better rates.

There are also plenty of job-boards around filled with people searching for freelance writers. Careful with these - they often want to pay ridiculously low rates so the work isn't always great.

Here's a link to a previous post outlining where to find high-paying freelance assignments:
http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/2008/08/where-to-sell-your-writing.html

3) Odd Markets

Who says writers can only write articles for websites or magazines?

What's wrong with writing jokes for magazines? Or recipes? Or naughty confessions stories? Or creating puzzles? Or getting paid to blog? Or writing fiction stories for periodicals or anthologies? Or podcasts?

You're a writer - be creative!

Go and browse at your local news-stand or news-agent and see what you can find. You might surprise yourself when you realize that almost every magazine in the world has a section right there in black and white saying "we'll pay you to send us stuff".

Here's a link to a set of posts about alternative writing income:
http://ravens-writing.blogspot.com/search/label/Alternative%20Writing%20Incomes

4) Away From Home

Who ever said you have to restrict your search for work to just the USA? There are plenty more opportunities in most English-speaking countries around the world, so broaden your search. I should know - I'm in Australia ;)

Paypal takes care of the currency exchange for you, so you're still getting paid in your regular US dollars. But does it matter from where in the world that money was sent?

Broaden your searches and who knows? You might soon be able to tell people you're published internationally.

5) Approach Potential Clients Directly

This is how I get a lot of my clients - I approach them directly and ask for their business.

Search engine optimization companies often require content writers to help with their SEO efforts on behalf of their clients. Web site creation companies also don't want to create their own content and so they'll hire freelance writers to do it for them.

Print magazines all need new, fresh, exciting stories on every topic imaginable. Never write a magazine article without writing to the editor first and discussing your idea. If the editor likes your idea then she will usually contract you to write the whole article. This means you KNOW you're getting paid (and how much!) before you even write anything.

Learn to write a query letter and a letter of introduction. Both should be really easy - you're a writer after all.

Then get hold of the Writers Market Guide. If you can't get the book, pay for the website subscription. It's worth the cost just for the amount of high paying markets listed there.


6) Create a Professional Portfolio

Editors will want evidence that you're able to write. This means you'll need samples of other articles you've written. If you haven't sold any writing before, don't panic. Simply write a few articles and load them to your blog. Voila! Instantly published.

These will be fine as samples to start you off. As your sales grow, so will your portfolio. Keep track of any links that show your published work and names of any offline publications as well.


7) Thank Every Client Personally

I always send a quick email to every one of my clients thanking them personally for trusting me with their business. Keep it short and sweet - no eloquent, soppy prose. Just say thanks. People remember gratitude and it's a simple act of courtesy.

I keep an accurate database of any client who has ever contracted my writing services. Keep your name fresh in their minds. I send Christmas cards to every client I've ever dealt with every year.

You'd be amazed at the amount of fresh assignments I get from old clients every December because of this reminder (no, I don't send out cards during other seasons -that would be over-kill).

8) Ask for a Referral

If you don't ask, you don't get...

In every thank you note I send each client I also make a brief reference to being open to referral business. This means I ask them politely if they would know any other business owners or editors who might benefit from my work.

Not every editor will refer other clients to me - but some do.

Referral business is always the best. They're loyal to you before they've even started working with you because someone else has done all the marketing and promotion for you. :)

9) Rinse and Repeat

Just when you think you have enough clients sending you steady work - go and find some more. You can be sure that not all clients will have a steady stream of work and some may be quite erratic. It's always safer to have too much on your plate than not enough. You can always ask for an extension on a deadline if you're falling behind.

10) WRITE!!

Writers write. If you're not writing something - anything - then you're not really into this whole writing thing.

Love what you do. Enjoy writing for the sake of writing. Have some fun with it.

Break up your day by writing the fun stuff in between the serious stuff. Write silly things and make up jokes. Play on writer's forums. Create new worlds and new people and lose yourself in them. Then jump back in and create more great articles.

Just WRITE !

:)

6 comments:

Catana said...

Bianca, thanks for the comment on Captive Chaos. I'm going to hold off on looking around for substitutes for FB and for freelance work. With the two Today blogs, the two websites I'm building, and going back to Associated Content, I think my head will explode if I try to take on anything else. At least I know that I can always pick your brain, if I need to.

Bianca Raven said...

Hi Catana,

I'm always happy for you to pick my brain at any time :)

Gary said...

Hello Bianca, thank you so much for writing this new blog, that was very generous of you, and as always, it was very informative and helpful :)
I’ve come to realize the main point that you’re really advocating here and that is to just write. If you desire to write, then just do it, no excuses. Put all your fears and reservations aside and get your work out there, because you’ve got to start somewhere.

So, like the magician in frosty the snowman; after Santa suggests that he writes an apology to frosty, a hundred zillion times………”I’ve got to get busy writing………busy, busy, busy”, lol.

Oh, one other thing Bianca. Do bloggers generally use a pseudonym(I’m not suggesting or asking if you are)? I’m just wondering if it may be to personal to have your real name out on the web where it could be possible to attain other personal information from your name? Maybe I’m just being too paranoid, lol. How about a picture? I noticed some people do have a picture of presumably themselves in their profile, while others don’t. Are there reasons or advantages either way or just a personal preference?

Bianca Raven said...

I think the use of names and pictures is entirely personal preference. I don't have a picture of me up on the blog yet because I don't have a camera.

Oh - and unfortunately I'm using my real name. My mother has a lot to answer for... ;)

Gary said...

Hi Bianca, I had to comment back on this post and I’ll tell you why at the end.
First of all I read your post, elaborating on pseudonyms, lol. I loved it!! I have to admit that when I see your name I can’t help but to think of a romance novelist ;)
Second of all, I love, love, love your name!!! You should thank your Mom and your ex husband. This name really has a nice flow to it and so does Bianca Maria Catalano, so you can’t go wrong either way. There’s something to a name as far as success goes, I believe.

Okay so the reason I had to comment back on this post is because the night I read your comment back to me; It was late and I was just about to go to bed. So after reading your comment telling me that Bianca Raven was your real name, I get into bed and flip randomly through the Bible as I sometimes do. I stop after 2 or 3 flips through some pages and look down. In 1 Kings 17,(now keep in mind that your name is still on my mind and for some reason your last name appeals to me, I don’t know why) “Elijah Fed by Ravens” is what the title said. Weird huh, I got a little chill when I looked down and read that. Hmm, that’s got to mean something, lol?
Well I thought you might get a little kick out of that.

Alright, I’ve got to get busy starting up my own blog post’s now. After all, I can’t just keep writing to people with really cool names now can I ;) But seriously, I often refer to your blogs for insight and inspiration and for that, I sincerely thank you :)

Bianca Raven said...

LOL! :D

Gary that's so cool! What a great passage to have picked out of the Bible right at that moment. I wonder what the association means for you to have randomly picked it out when you did.

I have to admit, I never thought having a name that sounds like I write formula romance would actually be considered a good thing, but if you say it has a nice flow I'll believe you.

I prefer that thought to hearing women snicker from behind serving counters at it ;)