Even excellent writers doubt their abilities to parlay writing into a career. You may think you need an English or Journalism degree, or you may believe that there aren’t enough writing opportunities available. In short, there are numerous perceived barriers to becoming a paid writer.
The truth is that the internet has a voracious appetite for written content. The incredible scope of digital content has eliminated barriers to entry, opening up the possibility of starting a writing career (or side-hustle) to anyone – not just Journalism majors.
In order to engage potential clients, businesses and bloggers aim to produce exciting and meaningful content. Creating compelling content requires considerable time and energy, and not every blogger or company has the time or inclination to compose daily or even weekly posts.
So, what are some first steps for the aspiring writer?
Determine Your Areas of Expertise
Do you have a child with a dyslexia? You’re an expert on learning differences. Are you a personal trainer? You’re an expert on fitness. Do your gluten-free cookies rock? You’re an expert on baking.
Start by writing about things you know a lot about. These are your areas of passion. Write about these. Then, identify the fringe areas that you know a little about and would like to learn more. Begin writing about those too.
Ultimately, you will need to decide whether you will specialize in a single topic or become a generalist – writing on all sorts of different themes.
Write Every Day
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argued that, to become an expert, you need 10,000 hours of practice time. Though there is considerable disagreement over this number, there is no question that experience matters. How many hours of writing have you logged so far? If you haven’t already, you need to begin writing on a daily basis. The content doesn’t matter as much as the practice of writing. Enroll in a writing class. Start a blog. Begin a journaling practice. Produce words, sentences, paragraphs. Start working towards expertise now.
Look for Opportunities to Publish
You may need to start by offering your services for free in order to create a portfolio. Choose small projects and be sure to get a testimonial from your client. Then, branch out to businesses, magazines – whoever needs content in your area of expertise. You will need to learn how to talk to strangers – cold calling editors, and the ensuing courting process, is part of the gig.
Network with Other Writers
Networking benefits everyone for different reasons. Connecting with other writers will help you to learn industry expectations and best practices. It will give you a sense of what you could be earning. It will also Increase your job lead reach. Other writers may refer you to jobs that they are maybe unable or unwilling to do for some reason. Best of all, you will get support from people who understand your love for writing and the joys (and struggles) of being a freelancer.
Practice your pitch. Aspiring freelancers are always welcome to contact us with their ideas.