Breaking Into The World of Freelance Writing

I’ve created the requisite profiles on freelance writing websites. I’ve scoured the “search jobs,” submitted my proposals, waited with bated breath for a reply…only to realize after a week goes by that another one bites the dust. It’s on to the next one, hoping and praying that someone is willing to give me a chance as a freelance writer.

It’s a tough nut to crack! The conundrum arrives in the form of writing experience. People want you to have experience with published writings/editing, yet, as a new freelance writer, it’s an area that’s sorely lacking.  So how does a newbie freelance writer/editor break into the freelance writing world? There are a few steps that every person wanting to break into the freelance writing world should follow.

1. Get Examples!

I could call this “get some experience” or “get some volunteer work,” but despite the phraseology, the first step is essentially the same: you need some kind of example to show a potential employer. You can’t put together a resume without an example, and there’s no use having a website or blog advertising your services without an example of those services. No matter who you are, what path you’re taking to freelance writing, or what kind of freelance writing you want to do, your number one step is to get examples.

So, how exactly do you go about that?

  • Volunteer for a writing project with a local  non-profit.
  • Write up your most perfect, flawless article on a subject that interests you (and then turn it into a nicely presented PDF).
  • Scrounge up a (short) paper from college, and make sure it’s perfect.
  • Use a piece that you’ve written for past employment.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local paper or magazine that is passionate and informative.
  • Start a blog.

Whatever you decide to use or write, make sure it’s as near to perfect as possible and fits in with the kind of freelance writing that you aim to do in the future.

2. Write Your Resume

A writer needs a resume. Some other experts in the area may not be so sure, but I believe that you need some kind of document that shows why you can write for pay. You may not use this document in the traditional job-hunting sense, or maybe you will, but putting one together will be a useful exercise in summarizing your strengths and it will serve you well in the next step. Here are some tips on putting together a writing job resume.

3. Flesh Out Your Portfolio

Writers generally use a portfolio to showcase published pieces, clips, and past freelance writing jobs. Remember the step above where you put together your resume? It’s already paying off! Use your resume to think of some pieces that you would include in a portfolio. For example, let’s say that you helped in writing the text for your previous employer’s website. With the employer’s permission, you could use some of that text as an example in your portfolio. Or, did you happen to write an incredible letter for your local PTA or Rotary Club? Pull out a copy, and use it to sell your powers of persuasion.

4. Take It Electronic

Yes, bite the bullet. You are going to have to get online. Many of the freelance writing jobs available are virtual, and you’ll need a webspace to send potential employers to view your portfolio.

Don’t panic! There are options available for the technologically challenged. One solution may be to start a blog. Another alternative is any number of websites specifically designed to host portfolios. Many websites, like Wix.com and Weebly.com, offer easy to build websites if you’re looking for something more advanced than just a portfolio space.

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