Helping emerging writers build and sustain a career doing what they love, Creative-Bloc offers advice, tips, news, interviews and reviews.

So, you’ve decided to become a freelance writer? Great! Now what?

by Rachael Oku

Increasingly I’m learning via Creative-Bloc that even the most ‘together’ and career driven individuals are finding it hard to get ahead of the pack after transitioning to freelance careers.

Rather than boldly rehashing and bastardising some of the amazing tips I’ve read over the past few weeks, I figure it’d be more useful to provide an overview and link to each and every resource that has helped me. In short, if you follow these five basic and transferable tips you’ll be well on your way to a successful freelance writing career.

• Practice your pitch

Writing and sending query letters to prospective employers is a great way to practice summing up your ideas and thinking about voices and audiences other than your own. First though, you will need to research which publications pay their writers. Here is a list of six that has been compiled by Kyle Taylor to get you started.

In terms of the pitch/ query itself this article by Linda Formichelli is AMAZING. Not only does it give you examples of how to construct pitches for magazine editors, it also suggests some places one might look for work. If you’re not a copywriter or journalist, there are still some great tips in there which are easily transferrable.

• Read, read and read some more

To understand the industry you operate in it’s important to keep abreast of what is going on, but also to keep yourself motivated and filled with new ideas. Here are some sites that should help:

Wannabe Hacks
Ideas Mag
Red Lemon Club
Press Gazette
Daily Writing Tips

• Gain experience

While these are often few and far between, looking for paid internships is a great way to get some real experience in your chosen field. No amount of advice and study can be more beneficial than experiencing the real thing. A fantastic platform that we’ve just partnered with, Journo Grads, is great for compiling lists of current media internships. Media Muppet also has its moments.

If your main concern is making money, and you don’t need samples for your portfolio, write for as many people, and in as many guises, as possible. It’s by throwing yourself into unexpected situations and accepting work that takes you out of your comfort zone that you’ll learn just what you’re capable of.

If ‘experience’ to you translates as ‘more money’, Kristi Hines shares some great ways that freelancers can make money online, while Sian Meades wrote exclusively about making money from blogging for IdeasTap.

Global English Editing recently* published How To Earn Money As A Location Independent Writer, which provides the lowdown on how to find work and develop a sustainable writing career based on a strong WiFi connection.

• Promote yourself

Register with websites that can provide freelance work. Here is a GREAT list compiled by Shannon Cutts. Also register on websites such as People Per Hour (reviewed by Creative-Bloc member Annie Owen), where you can bid for work.

Learning how not to promote yourself is also integral to understanding where you might be going wrong. Check out this article by Alex Mathers of Red Lemon Club for more info.

For a master class on how to shout about yourself, Enterprise Nation recently published a fantastic guest blog by John W Hayes which is absolutely priceless.

Lastly, using social media to get your name, brand and work out to a wider audience is crucial. Read some great tips from author Ryan Casey and learn from the Guardian Small Business Network. Jason Boog’s Twitter cheat sheet is invaluable as is Caitlin Muir’s 44 Essential Twitter Hashtags. And of course, revisit Kate Moore’s article for Creative-Bloc; Social Media As A Marketing Tool.

• Get productive

Productivity is every freelance writer’s least favourite word. If you have trouble managing your time effectively, it’s time to learn the art of prioritisation. Natalie Houston’s Personal Productivity Rules are great, while Kevin Purdey emphasises the importance of the first hours of the working day.

If you have any advice or have read some fantastic articles in the same vein, please leave a comment!


*Updated July 2015

Taken in London, Uk. Property of Rachael Oku.
  1. Rachael Oku 12th Sep 2012

    Thank you Camilla!

  2. Camilla Harrison 11th Sep 2012

    so helpful! thankyou!

  3. Rachel Aspögård 4th Sep 2012

    This was a really informative article, thanks!
    Rachel A in Sweden

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