Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Four Steps To Starting A Freelance Writing Business

This post marks the beginning of a new series of posts I'll be writing on the basics of freelance writing business as I have experienced it.  As an introductory message this will be old news to some of you, but I am sure there many would-be writers out there who have the skills needed to make a run as a freelancer, but lack understanding about what you need to do this.  Maybe you just want a little extra money or you want to build a viable alternative income from the ground up so you can escape your current job.  It doesn't matter what your reasons are.  The only think you might lack is some direction.

Sometimes the best direction comes from someone who has been where you are already and has discovered the steps needed to found a viable business.  There are some essential steps that I think are really important ingredients to any plan for establishing a business as an online freelance writer.  Let's look at four steps to starting a freelance writing business.

Step #1: Seizing The Opportunity

You may have already considered what it would take to be a freelance writer, but you haven't felt like there was real chance of anything happening. Right now, I am giving you that chance.  I think you should seriously consider what the potential benefits of this kind of business could be to you.  In other words, you must seize the opportunity.  It really isn't as hard as you think.  Your willingness to move forward and get serious about freelance writing is crucial.  All other steps depend on this first one.

Step #2: Sign Up To Get Work

Okay, now you're committed to the idea.  Now, you have to find the work.  As you've likely discovered, the internet is the place to go for this opportunity.  Your entire business can done from home while online.  There are so many options for freelance writers to establish themselves and get paying work.  One of the top ones is Elance.  (It's one that I've used exclusively in the past.)  Others include ODesk, Guru, iFreelance.  The list could go on.

Each network is different.  I will use Elance as the example, since I am familiar with the general structure.  First, you must sign up to get an account.  There are various account options.  You might start with a free account before moving up to one of their paid accounts.  With each account, you are given a certain number of credits or "connects" that can be used to bid on different types of projects in a variety of categories. Each project is assigned a certain number of connects based on its budget price.

You will bid on these projects alongside other writers (and writing teams).  This might be the most challenging part since you are in competition with these providers to secure a project.  It takes time to gauge the best approach to bidding.  You will have to be patient to see results.  Patience is crucial.

All business may be conducted on Elance's secured server.  All file uploading, payment processing, and discussions with the buyers can be done in one place.  You are able to establish a profile that outlines all of your working skills for potential client to browse when looking for providers to contract. Many writers like this structure and stick with Elance and others like them.  It's a good way to get started.

Step #3: Record Keeping And Lists

Once you've established yourself enough that you're getting work, you will want to keep track of all of those financial records.  You have self-employment income that must be accounted for come tax time.  How you do this may vary.  Some use professional programs to track their incomes, while others simple create spreadsheet or other document to record and add up their project totals.  You may want to experiment with different systems so you can maintain accurate and updated records.

Keeping records also involves making a list of the projects you've had as well as the names of the clients.  This allows you to contact them again at a later date for repeat project opportunities.  It may also serve you later in case you need sources for references.

Step #4: Expand Your Portfolio; Build Your Business

Now that you have a business (at least a part-time income, if not more), you probably don't want to stop there.  Maybe your goal is to change this side gig into a full-time job.  If' that's so you need to build up your client lists, engage in more focused project searches, and add relevant projects to your portfolio.

Now, in some instances, what sort of portfolio you have may be limited because of agreements you made concerning content, especially when contracted as a ghostwriter.  The best thing you can do is request the use of some material in a portfolio collection if possible.

The other aspect of this step is growing the business beyond your one income stream.  The more varied sources of possible writing jobs you have, the better your chances are of building up your business.  It also helps that you will gain access to better paying work the more time and attention you pay to finding clients and establishing relationship with other online businesses, including marketers.  You may know someone who knows someone who needs a job done, some web content or some blogs that need written.

You have to have the right mindset and you must be on the look out for these sorts of opportunities.

Get Started Already

Okay, there you have it.  I've given you the basics.  Now, take them a get moving.  You could be writing before you know it, and making a little cash too.  Take advantage of the opportunities that are at your fingertips. Thanks for reading...

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