Is there such a thing? I was thinking about that this morning. I’m about to reach my twentieth anniversary as a freelance writer (November). Throughout the years, I’ve received advice from dozens of professionals—some who were writers, and some who were not. My goal is to go through some of that advice for you and add other nuggets of wisdom here and there.
Write Daily No Matter What: Just Write
I hear this advice all the time for a variety of reasons like these examples:
- For battling or preventing writer’s block.
- As a way of staying on task regarding deadlines.
- To prevent large chunks of time elapsing between writing sessions.
Jeff Goins writes, “Spending five hours on a Saturday writing isn’t nearly as valuable as spending 30 minutes a day every day of the week. Especially when you’re just getting started. The idea is repetition — developing a discipline of showing up, making this a priority, and working through The Resistance.”
Keep the Funds Rolling in Your Direction: Don’t Write for Free
Soon after I started writing, I joined several groups online. I found handfuls of professional freelance writers in each of them. They each taught “newbie” writers the ropes, including not to write for free. There are exceptions, though. These exceptions don’t “count” as writing for free, though. The main reason is that you’re marketing. For example, if you’re:
- Writing marketing material for your blog or website.
- Creating a lifestyle blog containing affiliate links that lead back to your business blog.
- Guest posting as part of your marketing efforts.
Carol Tice states, “If you’re going to write without pay, you should have a darn good reason — some end goal the free work is serving.”
Network, Network, Network!
I mentioned that, soon after I started freelance writing, joining groups was one of my priorities. The main reason was that I wanted to learn as much as I could from other writers. I wanted to ensure I was using the highest quality resources, seeing the best leads, and networking with as many different writers as possible.
In the late ’90s and early 2000s, social media wasn’t the norm. So, I had to depend on message boards, reading blogs (and subscribing to them), and subscribing to newsletters. Then, we all started learning how to network on social media. Thankfully, most of the connections I nurtured through the message boards and blogs carried over.
Why is this important? You’ll be able to:
- Learn about new industry leads in group chats, pages, or feeds depending on the network you’re using.
- Participate in pitching sessions with writers, editors, or companies in group chats or feeds.
- Have writing sessions with other writers who need support.
- Receive feedback or round up beta readers.
- (the list goes on and on!)
Kelly Konya of Grammarly.com says, “A steady stream of people willing to connect you to projects is a key factor in launching a successful freelance career.”
Write When You Don’t Want to Write
Here’s the best advice I’ve ever heard. Throughout my twenty-year career, I’ve seen countless people dream about being a writer who would spend their days in pajamas, drinking tea, and writing whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. The reality? Sometimes we’re juggling children, listening to a lot of background noise, and writing about radiators.
Writing is a business. Some people forget that. We’re logging hours in just like anyone else. There are days when we’re exhausted, but we have a deadline to meet. If we were working for a business outside of our home, we’d have to get up and do the job when we didn’t feel like it—writing is no different. Some days, you’ll be writing about dry topics—window screen replacement, how to pick restaurant furniture, or the best fish tank for your dentist’s office. It’s not about what YOU want to write. It’s about what your client wants you to write.
Nathaniel Tower suggests, “Re-reading a work-in-progress or an unpublished story can inspire you either to get back to work on writing or to send out your work. Additionally, re-reading a story of yours that’s been published might rekindle your love for writing and remind you how good you are at it.”
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of the best advice you can ever get regarding freelance writing; it’s a start. I hope it gives you the motivation you need to launch or move forward with your freelance writing business. Remember, we’re all in this together!