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How to Become a Freelance Writer

The journey towards becoming a freelance writer is different for everyone, but what unites most is an underlying desire to find a medium to express our love for something that truly interests us. For me it was sports, for others, it could be business, fashion, travel, or literally anything that fascinates us. The truth is that anybody can become a freelance writer at any stage, but you'll need to be prepared to work hard and start off small.

Should I Work for Free as a Freelancer?

If you ask any self-employed or freelance writers this question, you'll probably get a similar answer. Ideally no, you shouldn't work for free, if you're putting in the work for anyone then some kind of remuneration is deserved, but it's also impossible to build up any kind of portfolio if you can't get published anywhere.

My own story started with a website I created out of boredom after an unfortunate redundancy from the corporate world. There was nothing particularly fancy or even groundbreaking about my work, but what I did find was that I managed to find a way to get my personality and style across in those scout reports I would write on football players. The niche was small, but I found some long-lasting connections in those interactions with anyone who did read and it led to much greater things. In some way you probably will need to either self-publish or work for nothing to begin with, so ensure you're writing about something truly passionate to you to ensure that fire doesn't burn out quickly.

How do I Turn This Portfolio Into Work?

Something you'll learn very quickly in freelance work is very little will be handed to you, nobody really knows you or your work exists, so you need to get it out there somehow. Social media is an excellent medium for getting eyes on your work but don't expect any overly complimentary feedback in the modern bot-infested waters.

My advice would be to simply take a step back to begin with and figure out what you're interested in and where your true personality and style shines through when it comes to writing. For me this was football, so I found every single football news site that I could find and got in touch with my portfolio and asked for any hours they could spare. I don't mind sharing that 70+ emails were sent, and only five replies were had. Four of those were gracious rejections, but the one successful response that kick-started my new career was 100% worth it. There's going to be rejection and some tough times, so ultimately it's about getting your work out there- somewhere, anywhere, and then pestering editors and site owners until someone says yes.

Building on Relationships in Freelance Jobs

Rarely will you find an offer of stable employment, it's likely to be a few hours here or a couple of articles here, but take on as much as you can and ensure you're putting forward your best work. Freelance work is often about creating a multitude of connections to open the door to future work. The people you meet could go on to become editors or hiring managers and give you a foot in the door, or they could become trusted companions for when you finally make it to the top. It's vital that you never burn a bridge unless it really can't be avoided and you would never go back. I found a stable freelance income in a field I didn't even know existed after being introduced by someone I was initially assigned to train by a previous site manager, so you never know where those relationships can take you.

Learn How to Manage Your Time and Say no

This one can be particularly hard at the beginning where you want to take on every single project that might be thrown your way, and experience will help to guide you into learning what your limits are, but it's important you don't over-commit and end up having to back out. Leaving a client high and dry isn't a good look for you and it's not going to result in a positive referral or reference down the line, so if it seems like it's going to be too much then learn to be open and communicate that. If anything, showing that you're too busy but keeping an open line of communication and stating a desire to be considered again soon for the next product will boost their opinion of you, so remember it's okay to turn down work, even if it feels completely counter-productive after you've worked so hard to reach a point where offers are coming in.

Take on Projects in an Unfamiliar Field

It's great to become a true expert in your desired field, but the reality is that competition is tougher than ever and interests come and go, so the more strings you have to your bow then the more successful you're going to be as a freelancer. The best advice I received was to always be willing to learn and never be too proud. Perhaps you're used to managing others or being an editor and taking a step back might feel like a step-down, but adding an occasional side project that takes you out of your comfort zone and helps you learn a new skill or a new subject can only make you more attractive to potential hiring managers or editors in the future. Sure you might not be able to charge your usual rate, but think of it as personal development where you still get paid, and you're learning new things.

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Of course, this has to be included, but one of the hardest things to do is find jobs to apply for. This is why Freelancejobopps exists, to bring you potential freelance jobs and openings, so if you're ready to find work then become a premium member and get applying!

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