“Freelance”. The word itself conjures an image of a wanderer, a person who doesn’t live in a fixed space, much less work in a cubicle or have to track their billable hours for some nameless, faceless boss. A freelancer is, if you break the word down, a weapon for hire. The “free” part is easy enough. The “lance” part refers to a spear or pole used by knights for jousting. Thus a “freelancer” would be one whose weapon was his or her own, and not used under the governance of an overlord. Perhaps you like words, too. You enjoy breaking them down or blending them to create images or ideas. If so, you might be the perfect candidate for a job as a freelance writer. When you’ve decided to give the idea of being a “pen for hire” a stab (pun intended), then here are five steps to help you on your way to become a freelance writer for content development:
First, do not let your lack of formal education in the writer’s craft daunt you. Many great writers, some of the greatest in literary history, had little or no professional training as writers. The best writing is often instinctive. You do, of course, need the rudiments of spelling and grammar. The rest you can learn along the road.
Secondly, you want to start out small. You might want to write travel articles and have dreams of seeing your story’s title on the front of a glossy magazine and maybe getting a byline? Think smaller. A great place to start is in your own home at your own PC. Article writing or publishing an on-line “blog” is a good way to get experience and exposure while fine-tuning your web content writing abilities.
The third step is finding someone who is willing to pay for your work. You might want to work up a few travel articles of varying lengths and keep them tucked away. Then, surf along on the web for the sites that offer freelance writing jobs and editors a chance to cyber-meet and, if you’re persistent, eventually someone is going to give you a chance. That’s when having those samples of your work can come in very handy.
The fourth step is establishing credibility as a content writer. This assumes that you’ve landed an assignment. It doesn’t matter how small, insignificant or boring it might be, do your best at it. Put all you have into it, and ensure that it stands out in a positive light. That’s how you get picked for the next job and how other editors learn of your work. Even if you don’t get picked when you submit your samples, take heart. Better editors will often critique your samples and give you pointers. They want you to improve your web writing skills. After all, they need good writers.
Finally, even when you are not on an assignment, keep writing. Check out books on composition and grammar, and use them to assess and perhaps rework some of your old material or create some new articles. Word crafting is an art that improves, as do most other forms of art, with practice.
Freelance writers enjoy the flexibility of working on their own with minimal supervision, freedom to accept or refuse assignments and can decide their hours and what days will be holidays on their calendars. It is not, however, a great full-time job for the breadwinner of the home. Only top-notch writers can pay the mortgage or rent on their freelancer writing jobs’ salary. Still, be encouraged. Those same top freelancer writers had to start somewhere, and chances are they followed some of these same steps.