How do I even start?
There are things you can do now while still working a full-time job that will ease your transition into the freelancing world.
I was lucky enough to have constant support from my husband, and without children of my own, making time was easier for me than for some. Every day after work, I would come home and sit at the dining room table for five or six hours working on writing, seeking clients, and networking.
It took me three solid months which is a lot faster than most. I’m not bragging, I just want you to be aware that three months is quick to get a freelance business off the ground. You can certainly do it, but be realistic and practical in your planning.
First, and most importantly, network network network!
Let’s talk about our love/hate relationship with social media. We all use it, know it, love it, or hate it. Sometimes I love and sometimes I hate. The first thing I had to do was beef up my non-existent social media presence.
Prior to leaving my office job and becoming a freelancer, the only social media account I had was Facebook, and it was locked down and private. I’m young enough to keep up with relevant technology but old enough to know that a picture of me taking a tequila shot from a stripper’s butt cheeks will never disappear from social media.
I was using social media sparingly to keep in touch with family and friends. I was content with my tiny social media presence that consisted of pictures of my dogs and well wishes during the holidays. I had no interest in putting more of my life online.
The reality is, however, social media is a requirement when conducting business online in 2017. Sometimes we have to conform with the times because they aren’t going to conform to us.
I had to expand and put my whole self out there like you might have to. I went back to researching what other popular and successful writers were using. There are a lot of options with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest (and dozens more), but you should focus on at least two of these social media platforms and get busy.
Write your bio and get some professional pictures taken.
That means no weird anime avatar, not a picture of your cat, and not a MySpace angled shot from your bathroom in 2005. If you need to look around for a professional photographer, it is also a great time to start offering your skills in exchange for theirs.
It might sound something like this. “Hey, photographer. I like your work. I was checking out your website and it looks like it could use *insert whatever they are missing, like a bio, a services page, or talk them into starting a blog*. I don’t know if you would be interested, but I’d be happy to create some content for you in exchange for a few headshots.”
You can go on to explain that you are trying to launch a freelance business and a testimonial would be great too. It might feel uncomfortable or awkward to start negotiations like that, but you’ll need to get over your reluctance quickly to make headway. One of my favorite sayings is “It’s none of my business what other people think of me”.
Start following people and businesses that inspire you, and begin interacting with them.
Comment on their blogs. Have meaningful interactions and start forming a network of like-minded professionals. They will be the foundation to your burgeoning freelance business.
(You can start here by commenting or following me on Twitter if you’d like. I love connecting with other freelancers! You’ll generally get the same reaction from other freelancers, so don’t be shy!)
As a private, introverted writer, I like my small social circle. However, networking and keeping yourself in the public eye is important in the age of technology. Think about it this way. Are you going to call your local telephone directory and pay to have your name put into a book that is passed out for free right before it ends up in a recycle bin on the corner, or are you going to take advantage of tons of free publicity courtesy of social media?
Some things that you will want to consider as you create or update your social media accounts:
Update your resume.
This should be first on your list if you are unpublished. As a beginning freelancer, you need to be able to show the path you’ve taken. Focus on the positions and duties that you can directly relate to writing and communication. Leave out extraneous information that does not pertain to where you are trying to go.
Update your other resume.
Yes, you need another resume. This is a resume for writers who are already published. It doesn’t matter how small the blog or business, you’ll want to make sure your resume reflects your work as a writer. Begin with your biggest pieces, the ones you are most proud of, and go from there. (If you don’t have anything published yet, no worries! I’ll tell you how to make them happen below.)
Resume Genius is a cool site to check out if you need help building a fresh and modern resume. I think some of their stuff costs, but the free stuff is good enough to get you started. I like their templates.
I will confess something here, though. I have never created or sent out a writing resume. My blog is my portfolio, and my website is my resume. Don’t spend money or a lot of time worrying about the resumes too much. You have bigger fish to fry! This is just one way to gather all of your writing into one document.
Bonus tip! Keep a spreadsheet to list all of your clients and jobs as you go. Each time you write something new or create content for a client, make a note of it so you’ll never forget even the smallest jobs.
And that brings me to…
Start writing your blog.
As I mentioned, your blog is also going to serve as a resume and your portfolio. Your blog will be one of the first things a potential client will want to see. Get in the habit of writing two or three new blog posts each week. Then promote those blog posts on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
Your blog should be about you, what you do, what interests you, and something that other people want to share and pass around to friends and family. Give readers a reason to read your blog. Whatever you choose to write about, stay consistent. Your blogs should be consistent with your brand.
Publish some articles.
To start building that impressive portfolio, you need to publish a contributor profile on as many sites as you can, but at least two or three.
Once you have a profile set up on each of these, upload your best writing samples. This is where you can refer potential clients in lieu of having a traditionally published article or blog.
Now it’s time to get started and
- Be patient
- Be persistent
- Be confident
- Be you, because being yourself is your biggest and most unique asset.
You can be a freelance writer just like me. I started with zero know-how and now I’m coaching others and getting paid to pursue my passion!
And if you’re wondering if I ended up marrying Lance the Carny, I did not. He called me once and I snuck out to meet him at the theater. I didn’t give up hope that he would show until 60 minutes into Free Willy. I sat next to a nice old man who shared his popcorn with me. I wasted my best choker and matte lipstick on that turd.
Comment below and tell me about your first kiss or how you began your freelance writing career or tell me if Free Willy 2 was any good. More questions? Hit me up! Let’s talk about it.
Do you need a mentor or coach to help you begin living your freelance dream? Do you need some help with the written word? Do you want to hire a freelance writer for your business? Do you want to talk about how no one actually likes avocados (no you don’t)?
Email me at Chandi@ChandiGilbert.com or subscribe to my bi-monthly newsletter for quick and simple tips on how to improve your writing.