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7 Tips for Launching a Freelance Writing Career | By Heather Kenny

30 Mar 2021 12:14 PM | Sarah Klose (Administrator)

Post was edited for Stet. To read Heather Kenny’s full article, published on Medium, click here.

I’ve only been freelancing full-time a little over a year, but I’m already making a decent living. If current trends continue, in 2021 I should match or even overtake my salary from my last full-time job. So I’m successful -- even if it doesn’t always feel like it while I’m continually marketing myself, juggling clients and projects, and identifying digital tools. I get asked for advice regularly, so here are my top tips.

  • Have a financial plan for the first year. I got a severance package when I was laid off from my job and had savings, so I could pay my bills and not freak out about money for a while. If you don’t have a cushion, start socking money away, or freelance part-time to get a head-start on building a client base.
  • Put up a website and a LinkedIn profile. Your website, especially when you’re just starting out, doesn’t have to be anything special — it can be clips and basic information about you, quickly posted on WordPress or Squarespace. You can also promote yourself and connect with others on LinkedIn.
  • Create a portfolio of your work. I’ve been a writer for over 20 years, so I had samples ready to go from my former job and my occasional freelance gigs. If you’re a newbie writer, mock up some samples in your niche.
  • Identify your niche and preferred type of writing. Do you like to write snappy copy for social media? Are you good at sales copy that converts? I enjoy using my journalistic skills to write business posts, articles, white papers, and case studies. Also consider the industries you want to write for. My writing experience was in higher education services and healthcare, so I pursued those areas and added on B2B technology (which is now one of my niches). A niche doesn’t have to limit you — it’s just a way to focus your efforts.
  • Identify and reach out to potential clients. Now that you know your niche, find clients in the space who need your services. I’ve looked up companies and pitched to their marketing managers (using LinkedIn, then to find their emails). But I mainly found work through my network and didn’t need to rely on cold emails.
  • Work your network. Friends, family, former coworkers, people you chatted with at an event, LinkedIn contacts — let them know what you’re doing and ask them to pass your name and information along to those who may need your services. My first two clients came from my aunt and my first boss after college.
  • Be open to learning and adapting. At first, be willing to explore. As you get more experience, you can gain more control and have your work align more with your interests and preferences. Sometimes your career can surprise you — I never expected to write about technology, but it turns out I’m good at explaining complex concepts in an engaging way. This is actually part of the fun.
  • That’s the quick version of how to get started. With freelancing, I’ve worked harder than I ever did at almost any job, but I don’t mind because it’s on my behalf. If you’re ready to face your fears and create a plan to survive the first year, I encourage you to go for it.

  • - Heather Kenny

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