"Somehow I can't believe that there are any heights that can't be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four C s. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence. When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable."
-- Walt Disney
BY AMBER McNAUGHT
Love your writing career
If you’re anything like the thousands of other freelance writers out there, you’re probably not in this for the money. If money was your main objective, you’d probably be working your way up the corporate ladder right now in a nice, safe office job, washing the car on Sundays and forgetting all about writing.
If that kind of lifestyle is anathema to you, then congratulations – freelance writing could be the right career choice after all.
At the bottom line, most freelance writers do it because they love to write, and because they want to be able to make a living doing something they enjoy. And that’s a good start. If you really want to make a success of your freelance writing career, you’re going to have to love what you’re doing, and really want to make a success of it.
This is a rule that doesn’t really apply to conventional working. You don’t have to love Big Macs to work in McDonalds, or love filing to work in an office. You just have to turn up on time, do what’s required from you and then walk away. If your career is freelance writing, you never get to walk away. The truth is that at first (and often for a long time afterwards) you’ll spend much more time looking for work than you’ll spend actually writing. Looking for work will become all-consuming. When you’re not writing, you’ll be either thinking about writing, or looking for writing you can do to make money. If you don’t love what you’re doing, and if you’re not absolutely determined to keep on doing it, you’ll find it very hard to keep that up.
But enjoying what you’re doing isn’t going to be enough: if you really want to make a living out of your writing, you’re going to have to treat it like a business.
Treat freelance writing as a business
As we’ve said, the chances are that you write because you love to write. Or because you want a job you can work around your kids, your hobbies or your other commitments in life. Whatever you do, though, never lose sight of the fact that your writing is, first and foremost, a business. And as with any business, you need to work at marketing it and growing it.
This may not come easy at first. You’re a writer, after all, not a marketer! If you wanted to sell things, you’d have found a job in sales, right?
Wrong. You DID find a job in sales. Freelance writing is as much about selling as it is about writing. You picked a competitive industry to work in. No matter how good you are at writing, there’s someone out there who’s as good or better. There are even people out there who aren’t nearly as good at writing as you are, and yet they’re getting more jobs. Why is that?
The difference is in the selling. The mediocre writer who does a good job of getting out there and selling their services (and themselves) will ultimately be more successful than the excellent writer who sits at home and waits for the work to come and find them. The truth is that the work will never come. You need to go and find it – and when you find it, you need to make sure you pitch yourself well enough to secure it. If you don’t know anything about marketing, it’s time to learn.
Remember the golden rule of writing
Of course, there are ways to make things easier on yourself. There are a whole host of websites out there which allow you to “bid” for writing jobs. Great idea, no? Well, it depends. Remember the golden rule: money flows towards the writer. If you’re thinking of signing up with an agency that requires you to pay money to join, you’re already breaking the number one rule.
Be wary of bidding sites, too. Often the competition is so fierce that you have to be willing to practically work for free in order to secure the job. And working for free isn’t paying your mortgage or feeding your kids.
Love your work, market yourself, and remember the golden rule. Welcome to the wonderful world of freelance writing!
Amber McNaught runs WritingWorld, an agency for freelance writers that helps writers find work, and helps employers find the best writer for their projects. They also offer a range of services, such as proofreading, editing and manuscript appraisal.