As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. As a seven year child back in the 80’s, being a writer meant rows and rows of books with my name on it at the local book store. It meant interviews on talk shows and months spent in some tucked away cabin plucking away on a typewriter (yes…a typewriter). Imagine my excitement when I received the letter in the mail announcing that my short story would be published in a children’s literary magazine.
I was only seven years old and I was a published author! The thrill was almost too much to bear. My parents ordered extra copies and sent them out to an embarrassing number of family and friends. I was on my way to becoming a big time writer.
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Over the years, I entered and won numerous writing contests and my winnings helped me to pay my way through college. Career and life and bills took over and, although I have always journaled, my dream of “being a writer” was shelved for many years. Until a few years ago.
I found myself newly divorced with two children and desperate for some extra Christmas cash. A few quick Google searches directed me back to my writing passion and talent. I talk about the specifics of that terrible time in this article about my experience with content mills.
I began writing for writing services and quickly parlayed that into locking down a few regular clients. If you are already writing for content mills, you will want to check out this article.
These days, I am on a monthly retainer as a content writer for a couple large companies and a few start ups. My favorite writing “gig” is as a grant writer for a local non-profit. Although I have self-published a handful of ebooks that sell a few copies every month, my “writing” career is nothing like the glamorous one I dreamed of as a seven year old child. But, I am a writer nonetheless and I love it.
I am making a very good living as a writer. Being a freelance writer today, in the digital age, offers endless opportunity and income potential. There has never been a better time to earn a living as a writer, if you know where to start.
If you are interested in purchasing Amy’s ebook, Fast Track to Freelance, to learn the exact steps that she personally used to boost her freelance writing salary, grab it below.
Here are actionable steps to earn your first $1,000 as a freelance writer, based on what I have learned over the years.
1. Start Close to Home
I made the mistake of writing for multiple writing services when I got started. Tight deadlines and low pay nearly drove me insane; until a lightbulb went off and I figured out how to work smarter. Avoid writing for content mills by making a list of the services you use. Include hair stylists, dentists, chiropractors, gyms, landscaping, pool cleaning, etc. Look up each business website and write a quick “content audit” for them. Answer these questions:
- Is their content well written? Could it be improved?
- Do they have a blog? If they do, is it frequently updated? Is the blog content high quality?
- Are they targeting keywords with their content? Could additional or better targeted keywords be added?
Email over your suggestions for their website content and a quick proposal that includes your suggestions and the value you can bring to their content strategy. Include your fee and offer bartering with them, since you are already a customer.
I sent out 30 emails to my service providers and immediately landed over $1000/month in recurring revenue. Once you write content for your first few clients, move on to step 2.
2. Create an Online Portfolio
Now that you have a few small clients and some content published online, it is time to put together a portfolio. An online portfolio is a great way to show prospective clients your experience. There are several free portfolio platforms, such as Contently, but I highly recommend creating your own, self-hosted portfolio on WordPress.org. Creating a WordPress website to showcase your writing is more professional than free platforms and allows you unlimited creative options. Check out my tutorial for starting your own website.
If your portfolio looks sparse, fill it in:
- Include a blog as part of the portfolio to showcase your talent.
- Offer to guest post for various blogs or industry publications in exchange for a by-line.
- Write for a friend or family member’s business website for free for a few months.
3. Ask for Referrals
Once you have a few regular writing jobs with businesses, family, or friends that you already know, ask for referrals. Let your existing clients know that you are actively growing your business. Ask them if they know of any businesses in need of a freelance writer. Provide them with the link to your portfolio and urge them to pass it on. People who are thrilled with your work will be happy to either provide you with additional work or refer you to their colleagues.
Additionally, share the link to your portfolio on your personal social media pages and request that your social circle pass your info to anyone who has an interest. My three biggest clients were referred to me by past clients. Referrals work and cost $0 in advertising.
By following these three simple steps, you will quickly earn your first $1000 as a freelance writer. Deliver high quality work on time and before you know it, you will have a steady flow of business at the competitive rates you deserve. I followed these steps to realize my seven year old dream of being a writer and you can, too!
The Short and Sweet
Maybe your writing career is not shaping up to be the glamorous Joan Collins lifestyle, but there has never been a better time to be a freelance writer. If you follow these steps, within a few weeks you will earn your first $1000 as a freelance writer. If you goals are to become a full-time freelance writer making six figures, I highly recommend purchasing Amy’s ebook, Fast Track to Freelance today.