Your work world is changing. The current situation aside, more and more workers are going freelance. Freelance work has a few perks, including the ability to set your own hours and choose your own clients, just for a start. It’s a great option for everyone from stay-at-home moms, to students, to anyone looking for more time to travel. If any of that sounds like you, working as a freelance content creator might be exactly what you’re looking for!
Do You Have A Freelance Mindset?
Starting any business needs a plan. A freelance business is all about self-motivation and your ability to network and sell yourself. Before you get started, ask yourself these questions:
What are your areas of expertise? Experts show that specializing makes it faster and easier to earn better pay as a freelancer. It’s also a lot easier to mine your network if you’re focusing on your strengths.
What are your freelance goals? Any business, no matter how small, should be prepared for growth. Are you looking to grow your own audience with a personal blog? Is your goal to earn with affiliate marketing? Are you looking for more creative freedom? How many hours a week are you willing to give to your business? These are questions that will give your new freelance career some direction, and allow you to work smarter, not harder.
Do you have time to learn as you go, and will you have a support network available when you need it? Freelance offers you a lot of freedom, but it can also be a lonely job. When you’re part of a team, missteps can be adjusted, and you can collectively change strategy. When you’re freelance, every decision is yours. Ensure you have a team to support you when things get rough. Family, friends, and writing groups can help you when your confidence is shaken.
Can you afford it? This is the tough part. Especially when you’re starting out, a freelance career takes money. It’ll take time for you to build a client list, and you don’t want to take jobs you hate and sacrifice your freedom or your own goals to pay the bills. What are you willing to give up while you settle into your new life, and can you rely on support financially while you find your footing?
If the answer is yes, then it’s time to start thinking about setting up your office!
Do You Have The Right Equipment?
The great thing about a freelance writing business is that it can be done from anywhere in the world, and with very little equipment. But there are a few necessities. Depending on your setup, you’ll want a computer with a strong internet connection. You’ll want a dedicated email for your business only, to keep track of cold-call pitches you’ve sent out, and correspond with your clients.
I recommend a signature on all emails that gives your “office hours,” when prospective clients can expect to hear back from you. You should also have a portfolio available online. Your portfolio is your personal website. It should contain your best pieces in an easily-searchable format, that allows clients to get a sense of your style and expertise. Don’t skip an About page. Take the opportunity to talk about your background, any relevant experience or interests, and add a photo, since the web is more and more a visual medium. Finally, your website should include any relevant contact info, including links to your social media. The great thing about having an online portfolio is that it’s reachable from everywhere, and it takes only minutes to update.
Freelance writing is a job with a very low barrier to entry and not a lot of technical knowledge required. But you may also want to print yourself some business cards, so you can network both online and off.
Tips For Networking On The Go
Networking is a big part of any freelance career. Even the most introverted freelancers can learn networking skills to get them the best clients. And you can do it while traveling, or when at home with the kids. Here are a few of my tried-and-true methods for networking:
Mine your existing networks. Do you belong to any community groups and organizations? Put the word out that you’re going freelance. If your specialization is eco-living, you can contact garden and community centers in your area, but you can also think outside the box. Do you have friends in tech? Are they looking to highlight green technology? Choosing people you already know means they’re more likely to trust you and can help you build your portfolio.
Get active on social media. Freelancers use social media in a variety of ways. It’s a great place to connect with future clients, advertise yourself and your style, and even actively look for work. But it’s also a great place to build relationships with other freelancers, who may be your first guest posts or referrals, and also offer opportunities for mentorships.
Spend time on other blogs. Speaking of guest posts, commenting regularly on blogs that specialize in your area(s) of expertise will boost your profile and your search rankings! Freelancing is all about creating relationships. You want to take the opportunity to share knowledge, and build connections so that you’re a familiar face and voice, even before you pitch.
Remember those business cards I mentioned? Carry them everywhere. While you’re making small talk about what you do, it’s that much easier to slip it into the conversation and pass over your contact information.
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to build a network; But if you’re starting from scratch, you need to go where the work is.
Go Where The Work Is
One of the joys of freelancing is that it can be done from just about anywhere. On the go, at home with the kids, and anywhere in between. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t steer yourself toward the work. Check out freelance job boards and market sites. These are a great place to land your first clients, build up your portfolio, and master your workflow.
Next, check out local businesses. If they have a website or newsletter, ask if they’re looking for a content creator. If they don’t, they definitely should! Attend networking events for small businesses. Better, join your local small business community, and get the inside track on trade events and other networking and pitching opportunities. Pitching is a vital part of your job as a freelancer, and the more you do it, the easier it will become!
Putting Your Best Foot Forward In Your Pitch
The number one rule of thumb when it comes to pitching is to keep it short. An elevator pitch is designed to last the 90 seconds it takes in an elevator with your dream client. Though we’re talking about email here, a 90-second attention span is still your best choice.
To nail a cold email pitch keep in mind:
- Keep it brief and polite. Your clients are busy.
- Use a clear subject heading to avoid the spam folder.
- Don’t waste time puffing them up, but make sure you know the client you’re approaching well enough that they know why you’re pitching to them.
- Be clear in what you’re offering, and offer them a chance to look at your work.
- Be polite and professional. No slang, or cutesy language. It’s an email, but you’ll want to keep things professional.
- Visit their website first and check for submission guides if they have them. Then FOLLOW THEM. Don’t spend an email explaining why you didn’t.
Starting a business can be a daunting task, but becoming a career freelancer offers you freedom, flexibility, and the chance to pursue your own interests. If you’ve got the right mindset, the right network, and some basic pitching skills, you can build a portfolio and client list that will keep you busy no matter where you go.