Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Getting started as a freelance writer

I started my business Write On! Creative Writing Services in 2003 with a dream and a lot of hope. I still remember all the times I wanted to give up and go back to a corporate job where I could consistently make good money. Perseverance paid off and today I am happy to say that I am a full-time freelance writer supervising my own a team of contracted writers. I love what I do and each day brings a special joy as I busily spend my time writing my own non-fiction, marketing my business, networking with other writers, publishers and publicists as well as producing work for my clients. You may be ready to step out on your own and give freelancing a try. I'll share some tips to help you get started.

How it all began
Before I ever considered striking out on my own, I started writing pro-bono copy for some volunteer organizations that needed promotional materials. That was during the time when my kids were teenagers and they were raising reptiles and all kinds of animals in our basement. I was going nuts, but the stories I wrote about daily events were hilarious. Each week I sent stories to my friends and each week they came back with the same response: You should publish these stories as a book. Their encouragement helped me see that I had exceptional writing skills that could be put to good use in making money for myself. My day job as an administrative assistant required a lot of writing so I was naturally keeping my skills honed. It occurred to me that I could be making some money on the side so I started taking on writing assignments through Guru.com where I had to bid for projects. At first I was like a weed in a field. There were so many writers and tons of project leads, but I had no idea what to charge; and I was not that confident that I was a great writer. I felt overwhelmed; however, I had paid my yearly fee to join so I decided to give it my best shot.

The first thing I had to learn was how to market myself. I had little experience but I showcased the few articles I had written and started bidding really low hoping to land a project. During that year, I managed to build my writing portfolio, and I learned to market my skills and define what type of writing I was best at. It seemed that everyone had a website but me and I wasn’t going to be left behind in the dust. I got a domain name from Godaddy.com and used their template to create a home page and post a few of my writing samples.

In that first year I learned by trial and error what prices to charge. I searched the Internet for other writing services and compared my prices to theirs. After my business grew to where I was not able to help all the clients needing my services, I took on a couple of experienced writers and formed a team. Together we set our prices according to market trends and stayed a little lower than the guidelines maintained by Writer’s Market in order to gain a competitive edge.
If you are considering a career as a freelance writer, you may want to read sign up for my free monthly newsletter or listen to my podcast about freelance writing. These are very helpful resources accessible from the home page of my website. By the way, I did have a professional who knows what they are doing redesign the site for me last year. Now it attracts much more traffic and clients.

There are always learning curves to be considered and even with the best advice, you are going to make some mistakes along the way. Don’t give up. It is worth the pursuit. I wish you well in your writing career.

Yvonne Perry

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