Most new freelance writers have a hard time finding work. Making ends meet is definitely the biggest challenge freelance writers face. It stems from the fact that some people will just jump aboard without doing any prior research. They think it is easy to become a freelance writer, and they don’t really know what to expect. Sadly, the wake-up call can be very alarming. Here is how to navigate finding work and making enough money to get by.
Finding your first client is a huge hill you have to climb. You will never forget that experience and the rush that comes from landing your first gig. Initially, you will be making pennies, but that is necessary to get the ball rolling. Before becoming a freelance writer, you need to secure additional sources of income. Don’t quit your day job just yet, at least not until you have a steady income. That can take a while, so get ready to juggle two jobs.
Luckily, writing jobs are in demand, so you can expect to land a gig pretty quickly. However, getting started is always hard. Here is how to find your first clients:
- Contact marketing agencies. Writing jobs can be done remotely, and you can work from pretty much anywhere in the world. Feel free to contact agencies online, even if they are from a different country.
- Talk to local businesses. Most of them haven’t considered their marketing needs; they will surely have use for a content writer. Approach them with a plan in mind and have a sales pitch ready.
- Look at online platforms. There are many websites like Upwork or Fiverr where freelancers of any kind can find work. Don’t neglect traditional job-seeking platforms like LinkedIn.
Negotiate a living wage
Most people say that you have to start small and have a humble beginning. While that is true, you also need to realize that desperation can be smelled from a mile away. Clients will notice your uncertainty, and they will try to haggle you down. Mentally prepare yourself for offers that are almost insulting. Even if they are paying you next to nothing, it’s okay for your first few jobs. After all, you need to earn experience as a writer and a negotiator. Why not make some money along the way? However, you will need to learn fast. No one wants to earn a beginner’s wage forever, so steel yourself for rejections and drawn-out price negotiations.
Steady work, or so you thought
Honestly, there is no such thing as totally stable work when you are a freelance writer. One of the biggest challenges freelance writers face is balancing unsteady earnings. Even if you have regular clients, your income is going to vary from month to month. You are up for a roller coaster ride of big paydays and long stretches of low income.
Consequently, an essential skill is going to be learning to manage your savings. Common wisdom is to save up for three to six months worth of expenses. I would argue that freelance writers need to put away a bit more just to be safe. A good estimate is six to twelve months of living expenses. Saving money is never easy, and that brings us to the next topic.
Keep your costs down
On account of unsteady work and low initial earnings, you can’t afford to be a big spender. Since freelance writing can be done from home, you might as well learn how to cook. Making your own meals will save you a lot of money, and it’ll keep you from eating junk.
Your most significant expenses are realistically going to be the rent and utilities. It’s a good idea to find a roommate to split the bills. Another option is moving somewhere that has cheaper rent. You can even plan your first international move and live in a foreign country that has a lower cost of living. If you are working as a freelance writer, you can work from anywhere in the world. The trick is finding a place where your income exceeds your expenses.
Find inspiration and write consistently
Fledgling writers have yet to learn the hardship of overcoming writer’s block. Working from home comes with its fair share of problems, and you’ll need to find a way to overcome loneliness. There are times when you need to connect with others, but that can’t be a constant excuse for procrastination. Sometimes you have to make yourself feel inspired and force yourself to sit down and write. There is no magic trick; you need to push through the bad days. Look up writing exercises and turn the biggest challenge freelance writers face into a routine task.
If you develop a routine for writing, things will go much smoother on a daily level. Do everything in your power to prioritize the time you devote to writing. Have a dedicated writing space where you do nothing except work. When you are working, you should remain focused, or writing will take more time than necessary. Do your best to block or remove any and all distractions from your work area.
Balance your daily life
Any form of freelance work is a slippery slope. Once good money starts coming in, it’s easy to catch yourself working longer hours. “If I just work a little more, I’ll make more money.” While that statement is true, it will lead you down a very dangerous road. You will quickly find yourself exhausted and burned out. Remember – you are in this for the long run, and life is a marathon, not a sprint. For the love of God, have some off days where you don’t do any work at all. Find your happy place; it doesn’t have to be exotic or expensive. It does, however, need to help you escape and recharge.
While there are many hardships to being a freelancer, the biggest challenge freelance writers face is finding work and overcoming that initial hurdle. It’s never going to be easy, but it does get better. You learn to roll with the punches and love all the ups and downs. Because, at the end of the day, you are a writer, and that comes with the territory.