I just read an article posted in Forbes Magazine by author, Kevin Kruse that cracked me up. As a writer, I can totally appreciate his list of recommendations to budding authors. Most of what I publish for myself and others is online, small writing projects, not actual books or novels. I’ve gone through several phases of learning while writing to be able to work for several hours at a stretch, recognize my avoidance tactics and disable them, and research material and images effectively. While Kruse directs his piece toward authors attempting to write books, this article is aimed more at today’s freelance writer segment and per-job contracts that are increasingly available due to the explosion of social media visibility.
What Makes a Good Writer
It is true that now is the best time to decide to be an author. Freelance writing is going through the roof. Many jobs being offered require no experience. Technology features can do basic editing for spelling and grammar if that is not your strong suit. There is more to copyediting than that, of course, but it is a start. You need to have an idea of what you would like to write about or, at least, an insatiable urge to write for your own entertainment or knowledge.
Kevin talks about how giving advice, teaching someone a task, or relating an event that happened to others, are tools for determining whether you can write. I wholeheartedly agree. If you can say it with authority and hold a person’s attention while painting a mental image of what to do, how to do it, and deliver a result or message, you just wrote something. You do need to know how to read and write, but your skill level will determine how much editing will be necessary when you are done.
There are online opportunities to write articles for websites and blogs, descriptions, profiles, and short stories. It does require some research to look for writing prospects, but a quick start for me was using content writing services like Textbroker and WriterAccess to get your feet wet and build a portfolio and skills. Once you feel confident, remove the training wheels by having your own website, blogging about different aspects of writing and working online to share your experiences and let potential clients find you directly. This is not your main source for new clients…read further.
The way I personally get new clients is with face-to-face networking with people in business. These people need writers for websites, documents, emails, articles, and subject matter research, in all industries. No business is exempt from an online presence if they want to exist and grow in the next few years. Despite the social media marketing takeover, when people and businesses want to hire a creative person, they want to meet them for coffee, check out their personality, and get a feel for what a writer does. Your website comes in handy for specifics.
Know your intended audience to whom your words are directed. Imagine their likes, dislikes, needs, wants, and personality. You will have to keep your client in mind and their target customer as well, but you will learn to make effective suggestions. Your personal style will likely reflect the type of reading you enjoy, but don’t be afraid to dabble as you talk to your prospective clients and other writers with different styles and talent. Be the sponge that absorbs new techniques and ideas within your peer group. Challenge yourself through your work.
Your Online Portfolio
Be prepared for people to ask to see your work, explain the circumstances of the assignment and whether you prepare text only as opposed to having other online computer skills in SEO, keyword or link use, design and coding, creating or curating images, and embedding video. I recommend starting with text only at least in the beginning. Pricing can get more complicated and the more you offer, the longer it takes to complete the project. Have a list of other people you know who have these related skills you can recommend that don’t conflict with what your writing business offers.
Published writing, no matter what form, is the gift of legacy. You are forever documented in hard copy or digital print. The story of “you” as you write can be found and referenced forever. This should sound exciting, not daunting. The purpose of writing is not perfection, but creativity that inspires emotion and understanding. Throw your “stories” out there and wait for feedback, both good and bad. You will learn every time. Learning is growth and that is exciting. Eventually, you will write about who you are and what you have learned with real enthusiasm.
Be warned that you will often read more than you actually write. Good writing ideas come from reading and researching about everything related to your intended text. This ensures details will be authentic in both fiction and non-fiction writing. You need to love what you do for a living and the passion for doing it will come. “Life is about making an impact, not an income. And writers who know what they’re doing make both,” explains Kruse.
The following is a list of writing advice and tips from Kruse:
- Have a great title to grab curiosity immediately
- Create a wonderful cover or header image for visual interest
- Generate and share a large number of positive reviews online through various media platforms
- The description of your article, especially larger projects is critical and the first step in engaging your reader for longer than the quick title and cover ‘scan’.
- Your front matter or first few lines of the first chapter are the clip of text or ‘quick view’ in searches
- Focus on the quality of your writing, always improving and learning
- Your larger works will publish with at least one typo regardless of the number of times it is copyedited
- Writer’s block is laziness and avoidance
- One book Kevin recommends on writing is “On Writing”, by Stephen King
- Keep writing
Using Social Media
Interestingly enough, social media is not the best way to find readers, but it is a good way to keep current fans of your work connected as you publish more new material. It is also a good place to connect with peers and influencers in the writing community.
On your professional writing website (the one you put together with your portfolio and blog roll as you were writing for a service or broker), you have activity dashboards displaying the sites analytics on the site or through Google. Take a look at the numbers of visitors, likes, shares, and comments to the blog articles you’ve been posting and boost your day. Your talent is valuable. Many people are amazed to know someone can write for a living. You have a skill they don’t have. Make sure your ‘About’ page tells who you are and how your passion for writing developed. Give visitors a day in your life as a writer.
Making a Living
While making a living full-time writing a book is difficult, it is much easier to write for several small clients and evolve into a niche that you find you are specifically drawn to and skilled at over time. Your income will start out small, but if you continue toward your goal, it will steadily increase until you wake up one day and realize you have the ultimate job for mobility and flexibility in a time where our experience in life and work are quickly going global.
In the beginning, you may need to supplement your income with other small income streams. Take a look at these flexible options than can be done from home, online, and only requiring a laptop or smartphone: Gig and Share Economy Opportunities, Direct Selling Opportunities.
If you are a budding writer or just curious about additional part time income, contact me at ScribeSyndicate@gmail.com and I will help you get started. Visit my website at ScribeSyndicate.com for a simple example of what a writing website might look like and the content it provides.
Kruse, K., 2016, 50 Writing Tips From My 15 Years As An Author, http://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2016/03/22/50-writing-tips-from-my-15-years-as-an-author/#332d51613904