Is it possible in today’s global economy to make a good living with a portable career as a writer? That’s the question my friend Russell Ward asked recently. Here’s Part 2 of my response. (You can see Part 1 here.)
Yes, you can earn a living — a very good living — as a freelance writer. When thinking about this — or any — portable career, there’s a catch, though.
Make it Your Business
You’ll only succeed if you approach it your portable career as a business. That means you have to actively market your services.
Oh, I don’t mean you need to go knocking on doors or getting on the phone to make cold calls, though some do.
What I do mean is, you need to promote yourself and look for clients. You can’t rely on someone dropping work into your lap. So forget about Demand Media, oDesk, Freelance.com and those kinds of sites. If you get involved with them, you’re just a commodity and the only way you can compete is on price. That’s a dead end.
When you market yourself you actively seek out companies that need what you do, and are willing to pay for your valuable services.
The Five Steps to Developing a Successful Portable Career as a Freelance Writer
#1. Evaluate your skills, strengths, passions and desires.
I talked about this in Part 1 of this series.
You need to find the intersection between your skills, interests and passion. It’s counter-intuitive, but the narrower your niche, the more quickly you’ll succeed.
Here’s more information about choosing a niche.
#2. Brush Up On or Acquire the Skills You’ll Need
When I decided to create a portable writing career for myself, I went back to school.
No, not a formal, ivy-covered walls type of place. I scoured the internet for information about my chosen area, and I signed up for several programs online to help me refresh old skills and learn new ones.
Here are some suggestions. I’ve included a couple of photography links as well, because if you’re a travel writer or if you’re submitting articles to newspapers or magazines, they’ll often ask you to submit your own photos along with the article. Some of these are affiliate links, which means if you click through and purchase something I’ll earn a small commission (part of my own portable career strategy).
Websites and Blogging
#3. Build a Website for your Freelance Business
In the words of a successful blogger I know, “if you don’t have a website, you’re stupid.” Blunt, but true.
Your website doesn’t have to be fancy, but it does have to be clean and functional and show prospective clients that you’re in business.
The easiest way to build a site is with WordPress. If that’s new to you, jump on over to my WordPress Building Blocks site.
Here’s a program that will walk you through building a Freelance Website in Four Days’ Express
#4. Make an Initial Prospect List
Create a list of at least 20 — 50 is better — prospective clients for your services.
#5. Contact, then Follow Up With Prospects
Figure out a marketing method that works for you. Some people actually like picking up the phone and calling. Others would rather have a root canal. Email is a good contacting tool. Or actual mail, though that’s harder to do if your prospect is in another country.
Whatever your preferred method, create a marketing plan you can stick with. Set aside time each day and each week to add new names to your prospect list, and to contact them.
Ongoing Teaching and Training Membership Sites
There are three membership sites I visit regularly for ongoing training, ideas and community interaction. They each offer top-notch and up-to-date help with marketing.
Bloggers to Follow
Find blogs and other relevant sites you can tap for ideas and information about your chosen niche, and about writing and marketing yourself as a freelancer. Here are a few that I follow.
Bonus Tip — Write Every Day
If you don’t have a project in hand, write some samples. Write in a journal. Write a long letter. Write something every single day.
The more you write, you quicker you’ll find your unique voice. And that, more than anything else, is what sets your writing apart and what makes you valuable.
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