Saskia Smit is a freelance writer with a background in Human Resources. She founded the lifestyle and career website, My Kind Of Monday to provide advice about how to balance your career and your hobbies to create a life that makes you happy.
Saskia stops by the blog today to give us some tips about how to grow your freelance writing career.
Take it away, Saskia!
When you first start out as a freelance writer it’s easy to spend all of your time just focusing on securing your next job, and going from one assignment to the next.
While this is normal at the start of your career, there comes a point when it’s important to start thinking about taking your business to the next level.
Because, in order to grow your freelance writing career, you need to start thinking of it as a business. These six strategies will help focus and direct your attention to the things that will really make a difference as you grow your freelance writing career.
1. Leverage Your Experience
Boosting your freelance writing career is all about leveraging your experience. Make sure you take note of any and every writing assignment you complete, even if you are doing it for free or for a small blog or publication.
“You are more likely to get an assignment if you have experience in the topic, even if you have only ever written one piece on the subject.”
Having hobbies, personal interests or previous work experience can help open doors in ways that would surprise you. Don’t be afraid to cite your previous experience and use it as leverage, even if you may not have seen it as a big deal at the time. You never know when that bit of experience can come in handy and be used to win over a potential client.
2. Focus on a Niche
Some people think that the best way to get into freelance writing is to be able to write about anything and everything. Surely, the more you can write about, the better chance you have of landing work, right?
“While it’s important to remain adaptable, in the long run it helps if you can write authoritatively on at least one subject.”
If you want to really grow your freelance writing career and start earning serious money, then it’s better to focus on a niche. Building yourself up as an expert in one area makes it easier to establish yourself, until you can eventually start asking for more money.
It also makes it much easier to write, since you can focus on building up your knowledge and experience in that one subject. Once you become an expert in your niche, you are more likely to find that people come to you, instead of the other way around.
3. Don’t Settle for Low Paying Jobs
It’s easy to settle for lower paying gigs when you are just starting out as a freelance writer. With so many jobs being advertised on places like Craigslist and hundreds of writers going after the same gigs, it’s easy to convince yourself that those are the only jobs out there.
“While these are great for gaining experience and laying the foundation to your portfolio, low paying gigs will only take you so far.”
If you want to start earning more money, you need to change your mindset. You need to realize that well paid gigs are out there, so don’t just settle for less. Instead of flocking to the mass job boards, try and find niche ones that fewer writers will know about. They make take some time to find, but it will be worth the effort – promise!
4. Focus on Repeat Business
When it comes to growing your freelance writing career, it’s easy to just focus on getting new clients. While this is important, you don’t want to forget about the clients you have already worked with. After all, it’s much easier to retain clients than it is to attract new ones.
“One great trick for getting existing clients to buy more from you is to purposefully make clients aware of all the services you offer.”
This may sound really straightforward, but you would be surprised by how many people don’t do it. If you are used to one client requesting regular articles for their blog, then you might not think about requesting more work from them.
However, if you also offer newsletters and press releases, then you may be missing out on a great opportunity to cross sell your services. Why not ask the client directly if they have ever considered sending out a newsletter?
You should also make sure that your services are clearly listed on your website, LinkedIn profile, business cards or anywhere else that might be seen by your current or prospective clients.
5. Carefully Select Publications
When you first get started as a freelance writer, it makes sense to be less picky about the jobs you accept in order to get work and gain more experience. However, as you start getting more jobs and building up your writing portfolio, you’ll start to find that you can be a little more selective over the brands and publications you write for.
If you find that a certain client is not meeting your price point or you don’t have an interest in that particular industry, then you don’t necessarily have to take the job.
“In order to move forward, you should be taking on work that can help to add to your expertise, challenge you in a new way or help you to expand into new territory.”
That way, you can move your career forward instead of letting it come to a standstill.
Unless you need to take a job on for monetary reasons, then try and carefully examine each job before you decide whether or not it is worth your time. The more skills and experience you gain, the more you can start to charge and the more selective you can be.
6. Marketing Is Key
Marketing may not come naturally to freelance writers, but if you want to grow your business, then you will need to start making it a part of your routine. It’s about more than just selling your services; it is also about selling the brand of “you.”
Familiarizing yourself with business and marketing concepts not only helps you to sell yourself, but it will also help you to get more clients.
“Nowadays, clients are more likely to hire a content marketing freelancer who is not only able to write a strong piece of content, but also understands how to promote it.”
It’s important that you build an online presence and use social media to promote your work and your services. Networking with other writers, getting active in blog comments and writing updates on you social media profiles is a great way of boosting your career.
If you build a strong online community around you, there’s more chance that people will think of you when relevant work comes up.
In order to take your freelance writing career to the next level, you really need to start thinking of it as a business.
Instead of focusing on one assignment at a time, think about the bigger picture and how every project you undertake affects your business. It may take a bit of extra work, but it will be worth it in the long run.
What techniques have you used to grow your freelance writing career?
Saskia Smit is a freelance writer and founder of career and lifestyle blog My Kind of Monday (@mykindofmonday), which focuses on helping people find happiness in work and in life. Visit her blog for more career tips and advice.
Photo credit: Greg Rakozy via Unsplash