Writing has always been a passion of mine and, for as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamt of making a living off of my favorite pastime. I think it is common amongst most writers to daydream of people choosing to purchase their book and enjoy the world and story they’ve created. Or, for our online writers, to dream of people choosing to subscribe to their blog and become avid followers. Yes, it would be living the dream of a writer to make enough money to simply live doing what we love.
Even in middle school I found joy in storytelling, but it was one of my high school English teachers who really helped me solidify my love for writing. She allowed us to invade her classroom after school so we could hold our “Writer’s Guild” meetings. This was where we would scribe, edit, and share ideas for our ongoing stories. It makes me happy to think about all of the worlds, creatures, and characters created in that classroom. Everything was handwritten to the best of our abilities, and to make a small change to one sentence would mean to rewrite the entire page. In full transparency, Mrs. O’Dwyer and our afterschool “Writer’s Guild” played a big part in me becoming an English teacher. I wanted to share moments like that with students who also enjoyed writing.
I’ve always found ways to alleviate my creative itch by writing the horror novel I started a few years ago, but have not managed to finish yet, or by creating fun posts for this blog. Along the way I have enjoyed the process of writing chapters and receiving feedback from the people helping me edit my book, and that is a project I will never give up on. I’ve also found happiness in writing short articles and answering comments from friends and strangers. This is also a connection I see myself continuing. But, along the way I’ve wondered what it would be like to make money writing similar pieces…but for somebody else?
This may be a good time to let you know why I haven’t written a blog post for The Novice in the past couple of months. And, while it isn’t an excuse I plan on using for here on out, I feel as though it is a good explanation for my absence. I have found some success in online freelance writing, and I haven’t been present on my own site because I’ve been writing for other people. Freelance writing is a side hustle I previously thought would be very difficult to break into. Although it does come with some challenges to get started, I feel as though it is more doable than people think! I am still considered to be a new seller in the world of freelancing, but I have picked up some helpful knowledge along the way. Here are 4 tips to help you start your side hustle, or one-day career, as an online freelance writer. These suggestions can also apply to almost any skill set you have that can be marketed online.
Pick Your Perfect Freelance Site
I cannot stress enough how important these freelance sites can be to your success. Think about it. They help you create an attractive profile which will be the foundation of your business. Then, they advertise your gig and even bring traffic to your profile based on the buyers’ needs and what you have to offer. These are all things that would be very difficult to do if you were to create your own freelance site and attempt to bring in customers all on your own.
When choosing a freelance site, consider how much money the average freelancer makes on that platform. In addition, it’s important to know how much the site will take from you as a cut for you using their services. All of these sites have procedures and rules put into place to protect both sellers and buyers. Before you create a profile you may want to look into these regulations to ensure you will be a good seller on that platform. I would suggest starting with the following sites if you’re interested in freelancing. Happy exploring!
Create a Compelling Freelance Profile
Your freelance profile is where you will really sell your expertise to any potential buyers. Those who are seeking your services will want to be reassured that you’re a real person, and there are some steps you can take to put them at ease. One of the best tips I have received from another freelancer was to add in a few different images of myself so potential buyers could see who I am. Add a personalized description to tell them who you are and why you’re highly qualified to write, design, speak, or whatever skill(s) you are advertising.
Think about the expertise you are trying to sell and what buyers will want to know about your experience with those skills. Within the first few weeks of being a freelancer, I was asked quite a few times if English was my first language. Although I believe, with enough practice, people can become wonderful writers in any language it seemed to reassure buyers to know that English was my first language. Try to predict what buyers will want to know about your experience and make a point to include that information on your profile page.
Only Offer Freelance Services You’re Skilled At
Really, I think this one should go without saying. Don’t oversell or offer services you may not be skilled at performing. Be honest with potential buyers about your abilities, and update your profile as you gain new skills. For example, I know at this point in time I am not an expert in photo editing. So, at this time I only have writing-related jobs advertised for buyers to purchase. I have quickly learned that the freelance market is already oversaturated with sellers, and it doesn’t help when some are selling false services. Not only does this take away business from freelancers who are committed to providing quality service, but it also creates an environment where buyers aren’t sure if they can trust what is being advertised.
The backbone of your business will be repeat customers and good ratings on your profile page. When a buyer approaches you, build trust by asking them questions about their preferences and expectations. And, if they request something you are not confident in doing, you can be honest with them about your lack of experience and offer them a discount to take a chance on you. Sure, they may choose to go elsewhere for that project. However, there’s always the possibility they’ll take you up on your offer. They will remember you as an honest seller and may return to you for projects more explicitly listed in your gigs.
Double Check Your Freelance Gig Description
Who wants to buy a writing service from someone who has a gig description riddled with typos? No one. Check over your gig description before posting to ensure your job offer is free of errors. It may even be beneficial for you to have someone else check it over just in case. Whatever it is that you’re selling, you don’t want your job description to give buyers pause when hiring you. For example, someone offering photo editing services probably shouldn’t include advertisements and a profile picture with low-quality images.
Unfortunately, freelancing can be very competitive and it may not take much to send a buyer running to another freelancer’s profile page. Thoroughly explain the services you’re offering, touch on the reasons you’re qualified, and address any questions you predict buyers may want answered. In addition, you may want to try to set your prices at competitive rates. This is especially important if you’re just starting out. It will be hard to pour your heart and soul into a piece you’re only going to sell for a few bucks, but this is an important step to gain reviews and experience.