Insider Tips for Successful Freelancing

If you’ve read the Contena blog before, you know that we have LOTS of positive things to say about being …

If you’ve read the Contena blog before, you know that we have LOTS of positive things to say about being a freelance writer.

For those of you who are new, welcome! (And if you want to know about why it’s great to be a freelancer, check out this post and this post. After you read them, you’re likely to start thinking about how to go about being successful as a freelancer).

Did you know that there are over 130 THOUSAND people who call themselves writers or authors? As their job? And, they’re making money at it?

It’s awesome.

Since we know a lot of our readers are here with the hopes of becoming successful freelance writers (whatever “success” means to you), we thought it would be helpful to hear from other working freelancers to hear their best advice for newbies.

Check out what these professional freelance writers have to say:

I would say develop a habit of prospecting for clients. Have time set aside each week where you do that and don’t get complacent or fall into the trap of thinking that you’ll always have the clients you have right now. The nature of freelancing is that it can change on a dime, and you need to have a good plan if/when it does. Katie Joll

Meet lots of people online. I can’t tell you how much work I’ve scored from someone I know just by telling them, “Hey, my schedule is open. Let me know if you need help with anything.” Join communities, forums, Slack groups, or whatever you can find and interact regularly, even if you can’t see an immediate benefit. Dennis Hammer

Don’t be afraid to aim high with your pitches. Some of my first published stories appeared in high-profile places because I submitted the right idea at the right time to meet the needs of that publication. Sharon Van Epps

Focus on an area of expertise, or at least areas of interest to you. What are the topics you know more than the next person about but want to know everything about? Being able to write from real-world experience and personal interest is huge in gaining momentum and enjoying your work. Corey McComb

The ability to write well is maybe 30% to 40% (max) of what will allow you to sustain a long-term, profitable career as a freelance writer. The other 60-70% is business ability – selling, marketing, networking, and positioning. Raj Chander

Best piece of advice I ever got: Save a percentage of each paycheck in anticipation of taxes. Pamela Toler

Keep an excel sheet of editor names from the publications you target and then look up their Twitter profiles to see if the publicly list their emails. Then scroll through their feed to see if they’ve made any specific calls for pitches. Lola Mendez

Good advice, right?

But, we want to give you more. Here’s what some of the members of the Contena team have to say:

I think it’s important to treat freelancing like a real business and not just a hobby. Schedule a specific time every day or week to work on your business. Hold yourself accountable (or find someone to hold you accountable) for getting things done. Register an LLC and create a dedicated email address for the business. Developing a mentality like this will help you to get more done, and build your client base faster. It’s important to focus on things that will actually grow the business and not just whatever you feel like working on that day. Kevin, Founder

Freelancing can be overwhelming starting out, so I found it extremely helpful to set small goals and stay as persistent as possible. Staying organized is also a big deal. Setting up a weekly calendar/checklist to follow will save your life. Ryan, COO

When you are starting out, not everyone may take your business seriously, and it is very important to set boundaries with family and friends from the get-go. If you work from home people may think you should be able to run errands for them, go out to lunch or chat on the phone whenever they want, babysit for them etc. You need to make it clear that this is a real business you are building and you need to focus on working. Avoiding distractions as much as possible is essential to building your business. Angela, Member Support

It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Whether you work with a coach, join a mastermind group, or venture into a co-working space, there are others who can help and who can also learn from you. Starting your own business can sometimes feel isolating but you always have the support of others who are cheering you on as well. Amanda, Contena Coach

Have a strong work ethic. It’s fun to think about working from home and on your own schedule, but the reality is you have to be more organized and more focused than working a traditional job. You’re responsible for yourself and getting your assignments done. Be the writer who is detail-oriented and turns in work on time- make sure your strong work ethic is apparent to those you work with. Don’t show off- simply be a hard-working professional. It will pay off. Me (Sara), Writer and Content Manager for the Community Blog

What do you think? Read anything in there that can help you as you start (or continue) your freelance writing career?

I’ve experienced many writers being supportive of other writers so if you find yourself in a Facebook group, a Twitter chat, or an IRL experience with another freelance writer, take the time to listen and learn. They probably have some great insight they might be willing to share with you.

And, if someone has given their time and their knowledge, don’t forget the power of a genuine thank you.

Or a Starbucks gift card (just me?).

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