Do you love the idea of making a cool 4- or 5-figure income from home? But you hate the fact that it all seems so hard. What's the secret? Pooja Lohana is a successful freelancer and now she teaches other writers, step by step, how to make a major income - doing what they love and do best. Writing! In this guest post, she shows us three proven ways to take the first step towards our dream.
The thought of becoming a freelance writer has crossed your mind many times. In fact, you’ve been sitting on the fence for a long while, day-dreaming about the big world of non-fiction freelance writing.
You promise yourself that someday, very soon, you’ll take the plunge. Clients will line up to work with you. Magazines will love your pitches and commission juicy stories, earning you thousands of dollars a month.
Alas, it’s still a day-dream and you snap yourself out of it.
“Who am I kidding?” you think. “The idea of breaking into freelancing and making top dollar is simply too far-fetched. I don’t have a professional background, business cards, industry contacts, or relationships with editors...”
Before you go any further, put a brake on your thoughts.
Because here’s the truth:
To make money at writing, there are just three bare-minimum things you need:
- The ability to string sentences together
- The ability to convince clients
- The drive to keep going
From the three items, you already have number 1.
Number 2? It comes easily as your writing produces results for your clients.
Number 3? It happens as you write for more clients and publications. Just like an airplane that takes the most energy at the take-off, the start is the hardest. It gets smooth once you’re cruising.
Those are your three bare-minimums to start with.
By the way, freelance writing isn’t limited to writing for magazines and trade publications. That’s just one way to go.
There is another, much more lucrative field, where you write for other businesses. It's called
commercial freelance writing.
What is Commercial Freelance Writing?
Business competition is mushrooming everywhere you turn. In fact, more than 540,000 new businesses are formed every month in the US alone. And know what many are looking for?
Writers like you who can help them write content that brings in more customers.
What content is that? It includes:
- Website text
- Press releases
- Sales copy
- White papers
- Direct mail letters
What's content marketing?
It's what you read online. It includes blog posts, ebooks, reports, e-newsletters, autoresponders, lead magnets, landing pages, squeeze pages, and so on.
Personally, I prefer to write for clients such as online entrepreneurs and small businesses that are growing at a speedy rate.
Have I written for magazines in the past? Yes.
But, I choose commercial or content writing hands-down because…
the pay is much quicker, and usually the same as writing for magazines. (Unless, of course you’re writing for a magazine that pays $1 per word. But even in that case, you have to wait to see a paycheck because you may be paid only upon publication.)
Secondly, unlike magazines, commercial or content writing brings you retainer clients who keep sending you work month after month.
But the prospect of breaking into content writing seems so huge, doesn’t it? What do you do?
Here are three surefire ways, if you're a newbie, to start content writing:
1. Find a niche.
You’ve probably heard about this before. But what does it really mean and how do you find a niche?
I’ll be the first to admit that I started out as a “generalist” freelance writer. I didn’t have a niche five years back and I still managed to find clients.
So, my point? If you’re stuck at finding a niche, take up - first - what interests you and run with it. As you keep writing, you’ll peel the layers and come to a realization of what works best - for you.
That's the start of your niche! How do you refine your niche? Draw three circles for answers to each of the following.
1. What I know from experience/knowledgeThe intersection (orange) where the three circles meet is your niche.
2. What I’m passionate about
3. What’s in demand
I found my own niche that way. As a post graduate in marketing, I had good experience in marketing. I also liked to read other digital marketing blogs and I kept my know-how up to date because I was interested.
Lastly, I knew 'marketing' as a niche was in huge demand.
Tip: To find whether a niche has potential, go to Alltop.com and check out if there are any major blogs and publications talking about it. Next, go to iSubscribe.com and see if there are any magazines dedicated to the subject. Lastly, go to Amazon.com and see the latest books being written on that topic. Such research takes just a few minutes but it will show you if there's a good market demand.
Alltop.com – “Marketing” is a Hot Topic
2. Pick the low-lying fruit.
To gain entry and attract freelance writing clients, you need some 'clips' in the beginning. Clips are nothing but samples of your writing on relevant subjects (aka your 'niche').
That means if you’re a fiction writer, you’ll have to come up with new non-fiction clips that can act as samples. How can you create them?
Try this great idea…
Start writing pro bono for a local business or not-for-profit. They are always looking for quality writers and would appreciate your help.
“But isn’t that writing for free?” you ask, wide-eyed.
No, not really. First, you’re setting your foot in the door. Second, you don’t write anything unless you have an agreement as to what each party can expect from this arrangement. And that should include a testimonial or referral, plus permission for you to show your clips around.
You never know, they might love your work so much that they end up hiring you!
Pro bono or not, always produce your best work.
Other examples of low-lying fruit could be your local grocer or café, people whom you know and meet on a daily basis, and friends and family who own a business. Anybody who can gve you clips. And testimonials.
3. Employ social media to work in your favor.
By social media, I mean - for this purpose - LinkedIn. I’ve attracted many clients via LinkedIn and you can too.
Running a freelance business, I was too busy to go out and network in person. Plus, I cringed at the thought of those huge “speed networking” events that attract people from all types of background.
Don’t get me wrong – I love the concept of networking and it has gained me a lot. But it soon becomes a time-suck if you keep attending events which don’t attract your ideal target market.
One example of my target markets is tech-savvy entrepreneurs who realize the power of content marketing and engaging their prospects via a blog or social media. Another example is consultants and coaches.
But does a recruitment manager appeal to me as a client? No, at least not at this time.
So I need to be very clear about the events I go to. If they don’t attract my target clients, I cross them off my list.
You have to be ruthless in where and how you network and be very clear about your target market.
Lately, my in-person networking activity has been limited to the three Meetup.com groups that I run. Apart from that, I don’t need any more networking because platforms like LinkedIn have got me covered.
LinkedIn has helped me bigtime in finding ideal clients. I don’t have to step out of the house either. I can source new clients at the click of a mouse button. How do I do that?
Here is a true account of how I made over $7,500 with one LinkedIn email.
But for those who want quick tactics, here are three things you can do right now at LinkedIn:
- Start by creating a complete profile. Then, check in every day to see who’s looking at your profile.
- Shoot them a quick greeting and ask if they are looking for a writer. Always ask how you can help. Don’t worry about getting business at this time – think about how you are helping this prospect.
- Build a relationship and be genuine. If everything goes right, they will see how you can be of help and hire you.
Like a more detailed, step-by-step approach? Check out the post I’ve linked above. Yes, you can make a four or five figure income from freelance writing from your home. But to realize your dream, you have to take the first step!
What successes or problems have you met with, in earning an income as a writer? Why not share your thoughts here or pose a question for Pooja? Every comment is guaranteed a fast helpful reply.
Pooja Lohana has been featured on Entrepreneur, Firepole, JeffBullas, MarketingProfs, Hongkiat and other major blogs of the world. She teaches aspiring writers how to become self-employed, create wealth and live better lives by launching their online writing biz.
Steal her free mini-course here to make your first $1000 (and more) writing at home.
Posted by Pooja Lohana. Posted In : Guest Posts