Don’t let the title fool you even though it was intended to do just that, just to get you here. Alas, there is no speedy way to excel to lofty heights immediately in this coveted career, in fact, you better bring all of the patience you have. If you are fresh from a search engine having heard of an elusive, yet fabulously prestigious and adventurous new career that can be lovingly referred to by such titles as:
- Freelance Creative Writing Artist
- Independent Copywriter
- Grammar Guru
- Word Dynamo
- Anything that includes the words “writing” and “consultant”
You are in luck! The first thing you should do if you are seeking knowledge on how to get started in freelance writing is to immediately have the illusion above destroyed. If you really want to become a freelance writer, you should probably get more attuned to titles such as:
- SEO Junkie
- Current Content Destroyer
- Manuscript Manipulator
- Erroneous Word/Phrase Creator
- Deadline Breaker
- Where the H*ll is My Money?
At least to begin with. Sorry to have been so brutal, but someone needed to tell you. Even freelance writers with a list of incredibly valid, high-quality and digitally impressive links have little choice in how and where to get started freelance writing. At the bottom. (Unless they have a super-fantastic teacher like me, of course)
Why Am I Saying This Now?
You’re right, I should have said this a long time ago. The problem is that I run into so many people, on a regular basis, who should be doing this job and I can’t help but point this out to them. (I’ve got my eye on you, Justin!) Some are struggling, some are not, some don’t realize they even have the talent or the ability. Some just have a fantastic way with words, the ability to drag a viewer in for a read, kicking and screaming and such.
At one point, I thought perhaps hoarding my knowledge to myself to be an option worth considering. Well, that lasted about five minutes before I tossed up a content writing company website, hired 50 writers, and began to train others to do just as I had done for myself so many years ago. Back in those days, content writing was a bit more like an old game of whack-a-mole. You jumped on a topic and literally beat it into search engine submission until your beater broke or the time ran out. These days, it’s a bit more intricate than that.
What Did I Do?
I worked hard. I worked myself into a frenzy of carpal tunnel syndrome. I built my portfolio. I’ve shown this here before, so if you do not have one, even better, if you feel like you don’t need one, it might be in your best interest to just stop the delusion train right this instant and step right off. Although you should begin on sites like:
You should also plan to get away from them as fast as possible. Use them to build a steady base of clients. Use the resources available at sites like Odesk or Elance to educate yourself on the many elements of freelance copywriting. (Also, expect to pay for those services with percentages of yours and your clients money going to their system to keep them running.)
I studied. (Still do, every day, get used to it)
Once you step into independent mode and begin to create your own content, you should immediately get familiar with how social media is used to aggregate your work and bring your client’s, and your own, content right out into the dazzling sunlight of social sharing. When I try to explain to prospective writers the two most important things to do first, to get on the road to the most fantastic job you will ever do in your pajamas, I always tell them to:
- Get Familiar with SEO (And be prepared for what you learned today to mean zilch tomorrow. It is your responsibility as a content writer to examine all trending information when it comes to content creation. Google Algorithm Change Log is now your best friend and worst enemy.)
- Understand How Social Media Works for Content
I was patient.
Plan to spend anywhere from four to six months (most people who aren’t still living the illusion by this point will realize they probably shouldn’t go ahead and tell the boss where to put the old day job just yet) getting attuned to what it takes to be a:
- Website Copywriter
- Article Writer/Rewriter
- Freelance Writer
- Independent Writer
- Other Reasonably Sounding Titles without Divatude
By now, you have probably learned very little about the mass range of intricate details that it takes to be a professional freelance writer. However, I get the sense you may still be curious about the phrase that indicated the loss of money. It’s true. Most especially when you make the final conversion from aspiring writer on outsourcing websites to managing your own rowdy pack of roving clients. For that reason I leave you with a list of things a budding freelance writer should keep in mind.
Freelance Writer Resources
- How to Not Get Ripped off by a Client
- How to Avoid Catching on Fire While You Work (I mean burning out as a writer.)
- Never Stop Educating Yourself
- Don’t Forget the IRS (Really, don’t,)
Joy Lynskey is the Content Manager for DBMEI and the owner of JRL Solutions, a copywriting and content management company based in Bedford, Virginia. JRL Solutions hosts a Freelance Writers Education Blog that is managed by direct and guest posting. Joy is the Content Manager and Editor for Puglisi Consulting Group at Digital Brand Marketing Education. Joy regularly works in SMM via freelance consulting private clients with their social media campaigns. @joylynskey
About Joy Lynskey
Full-Time Freelance Writer and Content Manager for Puglisi Consulting Group, Joy Lynskey specializes in Technology, SEM, SMM, and other elements of Digital Marketing.