You aced your freshman composition class and professors have always praised your writing abilities. If you're thinking about making the leap from writing term papers to freelance writing projects, here's how you can kick-start your way to making money as a freelance writer:
Gather Your Writing Samples – In the world of freelance writing, you're only as good as your writing samples. Put together a writing portfolio that contains brief writing samples – not a 25-page final paper. Your samples should include all kinds of writing from a feature-reporting piece you've done for the school paper to a witty blog post to Tweets (yes, writing for social media can earn you money, too). If you don't have samples that fit what employers are looking for, starting as an intern is a great first step to a paid gig.
Go Corporate – Freelance writing can involve pitches to local publications or big time media outlets, but it's often business owners who need the help and are most ready to hire. Don't just think freelancing involves traditional publications. Business owners often need help with all kinds of copy including: blog posts, social media updates, newsletters, blog posts, white papers, product descriptions, annual reports and marketing materials.
Create a Niche – When you're first starting out, you may take any job that you can get, but it's always best to specialize in a specific area as your portfolio grows. Are you interested in writing about everything environmentally friendly? Look for businesses that are green service providers (perhaps a local cleaning company that uses organic products) or stores carrying eco-friendly wares. Or maybe you're not after an industry, but you'd rather write a blog post than product descriptions. Go ahead and specialize in blogging and educate yourself on SEO and blogging best practices rather than short, catchy product copy. As the saying goes, if you're a jack-of-all-trades, you're never a master of one.
Show-off Your Tech Skills – While writing can help pay the bills, it's much easier to land a new freelance job when you can add tech skills to your credentials. Get experience using blogging software like WordPress and Blogger so that you're comfortable creating posts from start to finish. If you're interested in e-mail marketing, get familiar with e-mail platforms like ConstantContact and MailChimp. An employer is more likely to hire someone who can put together a project from start-to-finish.
Grow Your Business – As you start to grow your portfolio and your niche, it's time to grow your business by asking for recommendations and referrals. Including a client's recommendation in your portfolio or cover letter can establish your credibility and create trust instantly from perspective clients. You can also let your current clients know that you're looking for more businesses, and that you would appreciate any referrals from other business owners looking for a bit of extra help.
What do you think? Have any tips to add to this list?