“The life of the professional writer – like that of any freelance, whether she be a plumber or a podiatrist – is predicated on willpower. Without it there simply wouldn’t be any remuneration, period.” – Will Self
The gig economy is alive and thriving.
If you’re hesitating to take the plunge, it’s a good sign. Freelancing takes a variety of skills and requires your constant attention and growth.
Becoming a one-person industry isn’t easy! So how do you know when is the right moment? There are a few signs you have what it takes to succeed as a freelance writer. Check out our list and make your plans.
1. You Have a Financial Cushion
Like it or not, starting a business is going to make money. Those first few freelancing jobs will be few and far between, and probably cheap.
We all have big dreams, but starting a business, no matter your skill set takes time. Time to grow your client base, and get a regular string of work. Not to mention building up your skills enough to impress higher-paying clients!
It takes a certain doggedness to be able to do this work. So if you’re in a healthy financial position and you can afford to take the time, your business will start on the right foot. Maybe you can get flexible hours at your steady job, or your partner has a decent enough income. This way, you don’t need to experience success right away, as you’ve got some backup.
However you do it, make sure you’ve got a comfortable cushion to sustain you financially while you learn the ropes.
2. You’re Able to Keep Your Deadlines
Being self-motivated is a massive part of being a freelancer. Not only because you’re working mostly by yourself and unsupervised. Having a clear plan and goals from the beginning is helpful when you’re trying to grow a business.
If you have discipline, focus, and a good grasp of time management, you’re going to be golden. Mastering the art of working at pace and avoiding burnout is a significant first step.
3. You Have a Well-Developed Network
This doesn’t mean you have to be an expert at networking right from the beginning, but again, planning is essential.
Do you know your strengths and areas of expertise?
Specializing as a freelancer can earn you more in the long run, as clients tend to pay more for a specialist. Aim to write on particular topics of interest that you already have some experience with. It will increase your chance of success, as you probably already have a vast network of potential clients and contacts to draw from. So put yourself out there to the places that already know your name, face, and more importantly, work ethic!
3. You’ve Been Itching to Take on New Challenges
If your 9-5 office job has started to go stale, working remotely, or building a freelance home business could be the answer. Working for yourself is an entirely different animal than working with others, even if the work itself is very similar. Don’t let yourself stagnate! Boredom can have a considerable impact on your productivity and your mindset.
4. You Have Support from Friends and Family
A network of potential clients and contacts is one thing. But do you have a supportive network of family and friends? We’ve already talked about the financial support you need to start up a freelance business. That’s not the only area your family can help.
It’s an entirely different mindset to work on your own, meet your deadlines, push yourself to fight for a fair fee, and more. But once you’re a freelancer, there’s no water cooler chatting. You’ll want a strong network of supportive family and friends. They can boost you up, function as beta readers when you’re choosing portfolio pieces, even help with marketing and branding.
If your family and friends would love to see you working for yourself, it will make it much easier to “go it alone” moving forward.
5. You’re Able to Take Time to Learn New Skills
How difficult can writing be, right? Here’s the thing; when you’re starting up your freelance business, it’s not just about writing.
Writing takes many forms, each of which might demand slightly different skills. They might be completely different from what you’re used to (ad copy and blog posts are very different, for example).
But there are plenty of other skills you need to develop to be successful. Do you know anything about social media marketing? How to network? How to pitch? You might even need to dip into graphic design and run your website!
Learning these skills takes a lot of time, and the ability to prioritize is helpful in this case. If you’re used to being self-taught, and you know the value of pacing yourself, you’ll be in a better position to level your skills up gradually. And if you already have some basic knowledge in building an online persona, and marketing yourself, you’ll be able to hit the ground running!
6. You Have Vision
You’ve heard me mention planning. Running any business takes a clear plan. You should have drawn up at least a rudimentary business plan before you start.
Create an outline where you want to put your focus for the first three months, six months, one year, and beyond. This outline should ideally have clear and measurable goals, such as the number of desired clients, income, and goals for branching out.
If you enter into the world of freelancing with vague notions of “working from home” and “creative freedom,” you’ll flounder a lot before you find your footing.
7. You Have a Solid Portfolio of Work
This one seems intimidating, but it’s quite easy to build a substantial body of work, even if your background isn’t in writing.
Content sites are a great place for freelancers to learn the ropes. The pay starts on the lower end of the scale. But with time, practice, and a bit of strategy, you can cultivate a list of clients, and focus on the work you want to be doing.
Pick through your best pieces, and you’ll have a portfolio that speaks for itself in no time.
8. You’re Social Media Savvy
The world of freelance writing is, for the most part, online. Securing clients, getting work, connecting with the writing community, and the bulk of your marketing will all be easier with an online presence.
The right social media marketing tactics can help net you better clients faster. It allows you to take advantage of an existing readership for everything from creating buzz, to beta-testing new ideas.
If you’ve got an online presence and no idea where to start, don’t switch into marketing mode overnight. Add a link to your online portfolio on all of your social media profiles. Try not to cross-post too much. And link back to other writers in your field of expertise. It could open up an opportunity for guest posting and a whole new audience!
9. Ready or Not: Just Keep Swimming
Freelancing isn’t just about the job itself. It’s the marketing, pitching, securing clients, building your brand… It’s a risky venture that requires a lot of dedication. If you’ve read this article and decided you’re not ready yet, keep moving toward that moment in small, consistent steps.
Finally, make sure to check out the freelance writing blueprint for success by Careermetis. You’ll have a better idea of how to meet your goals and build that dream career.