Writers are independent spirits by nature, which is why freelancing is so enticing – their creativity is way less likely to be stifled than if they were chained to a desk from 9 to 5. But while being self-employed provides the opportunity to work wherever and whenever, it also has its challenges – like maintaining a constant workflow or being paid on time. But smart freelancers know how to tackle these hurdles head on. Here are five ways to improve your build your business as a freelance writer.
1. Become an expert in a niche industry.
One of the biggest challenges of freelancing is competition. With so many writers out there looking for work, it’s difficult to set yourself apart. But if you have an expertise in a certain subject – be it technology, law, business, or art – then you have a distinct advantage. Niche publications want true experts. Once you prove your depth of knowledge, then these publications will often keep turning to you for additional content. And it’s likely their competitors will also commission you, as you’ll have already proven that you have the expertise they are looking for.
2. Use social media to market yourself.
Once you’ve established yourself as an expert in certain topics, then create a social media strategy to reinforce your expertise. It’s important to be at the top of editors’ minds as the person they can turn to for strong content on a particular topic. But if your Instagram is full of food pictures and your Twitter is populated with political posts then people may forget about your field of expertise (unless, of course, that said field is food or politics). Tailor all of your social media to be in line with the brand you want to project to potential clients.
3. Try your hand at brand journalism.
When it comes to finding writing opportunities, don’t forget the recent rise of content marketing, also known as brand journalism. Content marketing is a rapidly growing industry, as businesses discover that traditional marketing approaches no longer work as well as they have in the past. To this end, many companies are approaching their customers in a more relatable way, often through telling stories. Because this type of content creation often takes a more personalized approach, writers can let their own voices come through in their writing.
4. Establish a website and keep it updated.
The first thing editors do when evaluating someone they’ve never worked with is go to the writer’s website. If you don’t have one, it’s quite likely that an editor will just move along to the next potential writer whose work they can easily find online. An easy-to-navigate website that is up to date with your recent work is the best way to showcase your writing chops. If you have different niche areas you cover then be sure to put them into categories – a technology editor isn’t interested in your coverage of the latest art fair.
5. Plan financially.
One of the biggest struggles with freelancing is that you often don’t know how much you’ll be making from one month to the next. Six months of rent could be covered in one week’s worth of work, but then you could have a dry spell for three months. Smart freelancers prepare for those dry spells. A financial expert can advise you on how to intelligently approach your finances, so you can rest easy if you don’t get paid on time.
How have you found success as a freelance writer? What tips do you have for other writers? Tell us in the comments below!