I have been incredibly lucky, and I will not argue or doubt that for a second.
My nerdiness and abilities at reading, writing, proofreading, and editing have served me well. Though I was weird and quiet in high school, I have proven to be successful and an "entrepreneur" post college. I never thought such a cool word like that would be applied to someone like me.
But here I am, so cool that I don't just have one blog, I have two.
Thanks to my skills and determination as a writer, I have been able to significantly supplement my income and am nearing the ability to replace my income. I worked my ass off, and took jobs I didn't want because I knew it would serve me in the future to do so. I have written articles that I hated, about topics I sincerely did not enjoy, and I may continue to do that. The trade off, for me, is acceptable.
But there are things that a freelance writer should know when entering the industry, things I wish I could have known. These tidbits of information and tips would have saved me a lot of stress and helped me to avoid shitty contracts. But, live and learn, right? I hope that these tips can help you avoid the same stresses as I did.
1. You are worth more than 1 cent a word
Some jobs are even UNDER 1 cent. You may feel that your portfolio is lacking and that because you don't have as much experience, you may not be as skilled of a writer. And that may be true and it will be difficult to land your first client. But you and your time are worth more than this. If you are looking for content or SEO writing gigs on sites like Upwork, you will see a lot of jobs for this rate.
Most of these gigs are going to be some low quality clients that won't serve as referrals or references for you in the future. Taking these jobs CAN help your Upwork profile, but in the real world of freelance writing are not always entirely useful. You can get lucky and score some great clients on Upwork (I did, and I tried to be a good client!) and get more work that way, but understand your worth.
Writers have a wide range of charges, depending on what you are writing and what the clients need. For me, this has been anywhere from $0.03-$0.50 a word for freelance gigs. Using these rates, you will pocket somewhere between $15/hour to $150/hour. Some more established websites and editorials will offer far more for this, say $300 for a 1000 word post.
Quality clients look for quality freelancers. Quality freelancers have the fees to fit.
2. Become an Expert
Don't try to be everything to everyone. Working on freelance websites, it is important to be versatile and able to write anything for anyone so that you can land more gigs. But in reality, our workload increases per project when we work like this and it is likely we aren't being paid for the extra research and time it takes.
Pick a specialty. Maybe your day job is in the medical field. Focus on writing things for clients that are in that niche, show your credentials and build a portfolio around that. You will find that you will get higher paying clients and clients that don't make you want to rip your hair out.
3. Master the Art of Proposals, Pitches, and Queries
I think this was the hardest part for me. I'm not particularly outgoing or aggressive in every day life, much less in freelance writing when I was still so unsure of my worth and capability as a writer. Without proposals, pitches, and queries, we have no work as freelancers. Get used to the idea of flaunting your capabilities, showing your work, and presenting your ideas. Create templates if you need to.
Present yourself as a professional. Outline your accomplishments, skills, and what you can offer.
4. Diversify Your Portfolio
You write articles for the medical industry, that's great! Now, when people need that, they can go to you. But if they need an ebook, a research paper, or an opinionated blog post, they may just go to someone else. Show your versatility in your portfolio; this will book you more (and higher paying!) jobs that fit your niche and capabilities.
5. Treat Yourself Like a Business
Just like going into a job interview, you have to sell yourself and what you can do. Your proposals, websites, pitches, queries, outreach are all representative of you, your business, and your services. Know your niche. Know your numbers. Own it. This is YOU. If a client has a question about your business, make sure you have an answer.
Create an online portfolio or services website. This is your place to brag!