The written word is becoming more and more common in the modern day. Increasingly, companies big and small are relying on the written word to reach their customers. Which means there is a great spot in the market for writers to benefit from these amazing skills. In 2018, whether you want to start it as a side gig or a full-time career, there are plenty of opportunities.
The broad market and flexible hours make this a lucrative and attractive career, even making some full-time positions hard to fill as a result. However, there are a few questions to ask yourself before setting out on this career path. Mainly: are you a skilled writer? Do you have the skills to do customer service? Have you got specialist knowledge which will make you a compelling writer to hire?
In that case, what can you expect if you choose to start a writing and editing business in 2018?
What do you have to earn in order to cover your costs for a month? Think in terms of rent, bills and food. It may be a lot less than you think. Earn that, then whatever more you earn above that is simply yours to play with. Despite the market being huge, there are not a lot of writers that actually make a living from freelancing because they don’t want to risk not having this a definite paycheck each month.
Yet, if you manage to sign clients and arrange for more long-term contracts, then this may not be as much of a problem. A lot of time it does depend on the risk you are willing to take when going full-time as a freelancer.
Perhaps the best method is to freelance as a side gig to a regular job at first, then make the move.
Do you hate dealing with people? Then a writing and editing business, or writing in general, just may not be for you. Yes, there are plenty of times where you will be doing nothing but sitting alone with your keyboard. But more often than not you will also have to deal with people a lot of the time. Something which many people find frustrating or unattractive.
Things will be different for each client, but it’s always best to set out the basic requirements before working with them. Such as their expectations of the work, whether you will talk over the phone, Skype or in person, and even when you should expect payment each month. Laying down these foundations can prevent frustrating moments in the future.
It’s always best to keep a signed copy of any agreement between yourself and a client on hand. That way, if there is a disagreement down the line, you can show this to them to remind them of what they signed.
Growing a business is always on the cards when you start out. Often, it’s best to plan for it down the line. Running a business can be stressful, but really worthwhile when all of the hard work leads to growth.
This often comes from establishing yourself as an authority in a certain niche. Once you do that, people start coming to you for your work instead of you having to reach out to them through marketing or cold pitches. Once leads start materialising with little effort, then you know your growth plans are working and you are carving yourself a piece of the industry.
As a writer, your schedule is pretty flexible. A fact which puts freelance writing at the top of a lot of people’s dream career list.
You won’t make a fortune if you can’t work out how to scale up your business. After all, if you work for sites like Fiverr and Upwork forever you may find yourself having to work 20 hour days to get by.
Top tip: flexibility means being able to work from anywhere. Which means that you can move to anywhere that suits your earnings, many writers live in Asia or smaller European countries for this reason, and get extra inspiration from your surroundings!
So, you’ve weighed up the pros and cons of a freelancing career. How do you actually get started? You may be surprised that the first step isn’t finding a client. It’s setting yourself down the path of your very own niche. These can include, but are not limited to, the following writing markets:
Commercial - slogans, PR, adverts and commercial campaigning.
Web content - personal blogs, company blogs, community bulletin boards.
Fiction - novel, poetry, plays and even short stories (submitted to literary journals).
Technical - instruction manuals, instructions and tech specification.
Business - plans, pitches and grants.
Mobile & Tech - scripts, tech articles, dialogue and more.
Reviews - product, experience, book, movie and more.
At the end of the day, there are almost too many areas of writing to get into. Choosing a niche can be the most difficult aspect of starting out your career as a full-time writer in fact. But, once you do it is a case of reaching out to similar niche publications and starting to build yourself a portfolio. Once you do this you will be able to start using your work to showcase your talents to clients.
With a portfolio and niche under your belt, the only thing to do next is to start outreaching to clients and getting paid for your talent. Something which is often easier said than done.
Cold pitching isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but it wins you business even when you might not expect to get anything back from it. Learn to write a good pitch in the first place and the results may surprise you. Other than that, a lot of the time winning a valuable client is a case of careful networking. Knowing the right people often pays.
Also, make sure that you protect yourself. Stuff like professional indemnity insurance may not seem very exciting, nor is it something you may even think you need as a freelancer. But, it could mean the difference between keeping your new business afloat and losing out; so be aware of it! In the same way, make sure you are paying your taxes. Not doing so can lead to legal trouble, not good news for you.
A Final Note…
Believe in yourself. If you are brave enough to make the leap, then you are already halfway there as far as starting your own writing business goes. Clients, projects and the like will all come and go. So it is important to always have that core belief at the centre of your freelancing writing and editing career.