Guest post written by Ivan Hamlin on August 22, 2017
To embark on a journey where you can go full time with your freelance writing is no easy task. The road will be riddled with obstacles of all sorts. You will have to face financial limitations as opposed when you were employed full time in a company and had a constant income stream with occasional bonuses and raises as a result of yearly evaluations.
Secondly, when you will pitch this idea to your friends and family, they will laugh and it will make you look an idiot in front of them. They will call you stupid for even thinking like that. You will ask yourself, “how will I pay my bills?” etc. The struggle will be real. But there is nothing impossible once you set your eyes on it and if your mission is clear.
These guidelines can help you successfully transition from being a full-time office employee to a full-time freelance writer:
Research should be thorough
Now that you have decided that you want to make a career out of freelancing, your research should be no short of thorough. You cannot jump off a cliff without knowing where you will land. If there are rocks down below you will probably not jump (unless of course if you want to kill yourself intentionally) but if there is some safety net below or an arrangement to break your fall midway which will minimize the damage, you might want to take that plunge.
Similarly, with freelancing your research ought to be top notch. If it is academic writing, dig as much information about the field of writing as you can. If you already have been doing freelancing on the sides, it will be perhaps easier for you to make the switch as you can always ask your clients to provide you with referrals.
If you are a beginner, you may want to learn and ask people around you who have successfully made the switch to full time writing as a freelancer. Learn from them and read about the common mistakes freelancers make during this time, on their way to going full time. Practice the writing process from its pitch to publication.
It is not necessary just because you have gone against the norms or tide that you start heavy. The ideal way to go about this as it will take time, start small. But even before that, you must ask the following questions:
Have I got enough that will get me by for few months financially? You should at least have six months of saving so that if the things were to go awry, you have a cushion to fall back on.
Do I have what it takes to account for my taxes, insurance and other fringe benefits that my employer used to take care of? It will be now your responsibility and in addition, utility costs usually increase in working from home.
All in all, do I have the budget to survive? Even after this, you feel nervous and worried, it is perhaps wise to squeeze freelance in alongside your job routine. But remember fear will always hold you back. Thus, when you start, start small so as to minimize the damages (if it comes to that). There are people who start earning almost immediately, but such examples are few and far.
Starting small time means that you get to be your first client. Is your blog outstanding? Are your copywriting skills top notch? If the answer is yes, look for work among your self-employed friends and family. Figure out if they are in assistance of your skills. For beginners, it is a great way to hone their skills and build a portfolio.
Create a website
While you are making this transition, develop a website of your own or ask a professional to do it for you and showcase your portfolio on the site. By means of personal branding like this, you can attract a lot of returning and potential clients.
Set targets and start pitching
Write down your target on how much wish to earn on a monthly basis or on a fortnightly basis, for that matter. Writing goals, as well as ideas down, have a higher percentage of being realized. When you have written down your targets, start by writing the names of your potential clients that you may be interested in working with.
It is not necessary that these names are big ones nor is it essential to only seek clients with high payouts. Draw another column, but this time write down the names of the big publications such as the NY Times or Vox. These names are who you will be interested in writing for one day. This exercise can prove to be really helpful in pitching.
When you have prepared the list, now start developing pitches to prospective clients that you think are likely to hire you. But you cannot simply make the same pitch everywhere or on each site. You have to read the policy of that website before approaching them with a pitch. Different sites have different criteria.
Moreover, pitching to the client, adhere to the guidelines strictly. If the editor of the site wants you to provide him with your resume or an overview of yourself as in why should you be hired in two paragraphs, make sure you abide by these rules when making the pitch.
Don’t lose heart if you are rejected. Rejection can feel overwhelming, especially when you don’t have a paying job. You will notice by setting targets and approaching the client in true letter and spirit, for every five pitches you send one will get accepted (in the beginning).
Find a mentor
Having a seasoned freelancer by your side will get you through this transition of going full time relatively comfortably than when you are sailing alone. It is because his words will be there to calm you and his insights will uplift your mood.
Therefore, learn to network, join freelance forums or groups and participate. It is possible, you may find an expert early on or later down the road, but nothing beats the advice and support from a mentor especially when you are treading in new waters.