What kind of freelance writing will work for you?
For the ordinary freelancer, all that freelance writing entails is to write. But nothing can be further from the truth.
Freelance writing is a business like any other. It is even harder because it is typically a one guy micro-business selling intangible goods. For this reason, it is all too easy to lose track of time and write without direction.
To help keep you grounded within the writing business, here are 5 freelance writers’ best business practices to help you succeed:
1. Pick Your Freelance Writing Niche
You can’t write “anything” no matter how well rounded you are. So, why do many new freelancers claim they can write anything? The answer is that they don’t know exactly what their strengths and limitations are. This can be remedied by regular self-analysis of your “swot” to help you determine the type of writing to practice. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. By finding out truthfully what you are best at and what you are weakest in, you can determine the type of freelance writer you should become.
2. Create a Business Plan for Your Freelance Writing Business
Appreciate that your freelance writing is a business, or more correctly, you are a business. Now, you must have come across the term business plan. This is a formal write up showing how a business is run, by who and with which resources. However, for a freelance writer, the business plan can simply be a list or schedule of the articles, books, eBooks or reviews you plan to write in a day, week, months or years.
It can also be more formal, complete with a budget and various other items.
But, whereas a trader in goods purchases his stock from a wholesaler or distributor, as a writer, you are the manufacturer. It helps, therefore to plan for tools that are necessary for your production line. These include PCs, cameras, software, internet connectivity, professional subscriptions and contacts among others.
I will not prescribe a particular business plan format because I know you are creative and will determine what fits you best. I will, nevertheless, insist that a plan of some sort is a necessity if you are to succeed as a freelance writer.
3. Practice Your Writing Profession
There are many “freelance writers” whose only claim to the profession is the title. But, you obviously don’t want to remain a “wannabe”. Therefore, you must make it a habit to practice writing regularly. By practicing, I don’t mean scribbling unfinished bits and pieces (although these may be your first drafts); I’m talking about writing materials targeted for publishing. This helps you build your confidence and exposes you to the market. May I suggest that setting up a blog or website and publishing in it regularly can set you up on the path to professional writing.
Once you start getting professional assignments, make sure you meet your end of the bargain. It helps to under-promise and over-deliver. This will make you a darling of your clients.
4. Maintain Your Freelance Writing Business Records
When you start getting paid for your freelance writing work, you will ultimately need to keep track of what you sell, where you sell it, amounts earned, business expenses, etc. However, it may take a while before your business becomes profitable. For this reason, it is important to keep your business records from as early as possible. This will come in handy when the tax guys call on you. Remember that, depending on where you live, you might be entitled to tax refunds and tax relief along the way and you will need to back up any claim.
5. Update Your Freelance Writing and Business Skills
Change is the only true constant. For this reason, you need to keep your knowledge up-to-date. Search for learning opportunities relevant to your chosen fields of work. But, you must guard against over learning. Some freelance writers are always learning new things. This leaves them with no time to practice their trade. Don’t step into that boat if you want to succeed as a freelance writer.
Do you have some tips on freelance writing success? Please share them with us in the comments section.
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