So, you’ve decided to follow your passion and become a freelance writer. But what now?
Being self-employed comes with a list of pros and cons that can be overwhelming.
For example, while employed, you will always have a chain of command to approach when things go wrong, and someone else will have to worry about tax and insurance, safety regulations, and sick pay, among other things. But when you become self-employed, you suddenly need to think about all these things yourself!
Here are a few tips to help you set yourself up in the proper professional manner, and to get those first few writing gigs under your belt.
What Are You Worth?
If you are selling a physical product you can factor in the cost of things such as materials, production costs, and manufacturing facilities etc.
Being a freelance writer, your words are your product. But just because you don’t need anything other than a laptop and a place to sit in order to get work done, doesn’t mean you should charge discounted rates.
Do some research into what others are charging for the same services, factor in the time it will take you to complete a job, and do not undervalue yourself. Set a realistic price list for your services and think about whether you are going to charge per word, per document, or per hour.
Optimise Your Mindset
The most daunting thing about becoming self-employed is putting a value on yourself and what you can offer, then having the confidence to sell that value to potential clients.
Sometimes, it can be helpful to volunteer your services to others for a short period of time in order to help you build confidence in what you can offer. Then, once you have convinced yourself of the value you can bring, you should be more confident when offering that value to potential buyers.
Identify Where To Get Work
This is where many of us get stuck in the beginning; you want to write but have no idea how to get clients. Gaining recurring, regular clients is the main goal so that you can have some sense as to how much you can earn each month.
A good place to start is by searching the internet for websites that list writing jobs which are available for freelancers. But before applying for these jobs, learn how to write a good bid for work, as this is a very important skill.
Remember, potential clients will likely see hundreds of applications for each job, so what will make yours stand out?
It's Not What You Know…
It's an old saying, but it really does apply in this case.
You may be the best writer out there, but unless the right people hear about you, you're not going to have a very successful career.
In your local area, there will be networking events that you can sign up for – be sure to make these a regular part of your schedule.
Most of these events will be a casual meet and greet, while some will host guest speakers with industry know-how, and others will offer group activities. Not only will you meet potential clients at these events, but you will also pick up vital knowledge and contacts.
It is for these reasons, and more, that learning how to network successfully will be hugely beneficial.
One of the main advantages of having an employer is that you rarely need to think about tax and pension contributions. However, when you become self-employed it’s a whole new ball game.
Each year, the tax authorities in your country will ask you about your annual income and expenditure, so learning what you can claim as business expenses might save you a fortune. And remember; tax evasion is illegal, but tax avoidance is smart business. So if you can legally and legitimately avoid paying tax on anything, do it.
Start keeping a log of everything you spend and everything you earn, so you can work out how much tax you will owe and what expenses you can claim against this amount.
Organise Your Time
When you are coming from employment, it can be a daunting task to get your organisational skills where they need to be. When no one is telling you to be at work at a certain time, it is all too easy to procrastinate and leave the boring jobs unfinished.
Be tough on yourself and dedicate specific working hours that work for you. Set yourself deadlines and targets to keep you motivated.
Stick To Your Strengths
When you are just starting your freelance journey, it is all too easy to be a ‘yes man’ as jobs start coming in. But allowing yourself to commit to more than you are capable of can be damaging to not only your reputation, but also to your passion and your motivation for work.
Remember that it's okay to turn away work if you are unable to fit it into your schedule.