I completed my first freelance writing project for $7 on October 16, 2016. I spent 15 minutes editing a resume.
This might be my biggest accomplishment to date.
I realize that sounds funny. How could $7 be my biggest accomplishment? But here’s the deal, it’s not about the money.
You know why it was such an achievement?
I completed my first project.
The first project is arguably the biggest hurdle in freelance writing. Trust me.
Nine months later, I just got paid $185 for a single blog post. Pretty sweet, right? If you’re wondering how to start freelance writing, here’s my best advice for finding success:
1. Don’t get stuck in the research phase. How long have you thought about becoming a freelance writer? Weeks, months, or even years? You constantly research freelance writing tips and have a Pinterest board full of resources. But… you’re still not ready.
Tell me if these thoughts sound familiar:
- What if I’m not prepared?
- What if I fail?
- What if I’m not good enough?
Here’s the deal. You will never stop researching. Truly, it’s a wormhole. If you think you still haven’t researched “enough”, set a deadline for submitting your first pitch. Look at your calendar and pick a date right now.
I don’t want to minimize how important it is to learn a few best practices, but you don’t need to spend 12 months prepping. You can (and will!) learn as you go.
2. Call yourself a writer. After I started freelance writing full-time, it took me nearly 5 months to unapologetically call myself a writer. “What do you do?” became an increasingly difficult question to answer. “I’m a writer,” wasn’t a natural response. For some reason, it seemed fraudulent. Inauthentic.
I cycled through different responses. “I have a degree in higher education, but…”, “I’ve teamed up with several start-up companies…”. Every response required more explanation than I was comfortable providing. Finally, on March 3, I called myself a writer. Because that’s what I am.
If you write (paid, or not), guess what? You’re a writer. You have every right to be a writer. Start believing it.
3. Realize being “qualified” means nothing. I don’t have a degree in English or Journalism and I am a full-time writer. I know successful writers who are college dropouts, career changers, and undergraduates.
My Master’s degree in Higher Education and Bachelor of Business Administration make my writing unique. A formal writing degree—that teaches how it should be done—may lead to damaging conformity. Because I undoubtedly break conventional writing rules (and that’s okay!).
So here’s my point:
It’s important to consider what makes you unique as a writer.
Every writer has strengths and weaknesses. What are yours? Are you a great story teller? Do you bring niche expertise from a long career in a single industry? Take time to think about who you are as a writer.
Bringing It Together
I am intimately familiar with doubt. It’s normal to doubt yourself.
But listen up:
If you can construct a sentence and write content people enjoy reading, you can become a freelance writer.
So, when are you submitting that pitch?
Hey, I’m Laura. In October 2016, I quit my job (on purpose) and became a freelance writer (on accident). Now I share my experience as a freelance writer for 20-somethings. Because contrary to popular myth, you don’t have to wait until you’re 50 to become a successful freelance writer. I’m happy you’re here.