Can you become a freelance writer? This quick test will help you determine if you can become a freelance writer.
If you can honestly answer ‘yes’ to these five ‘can’ questions, you are on your way to becoming a freelance writer. Make a couple of revisions to the questions based on what you want to do, and you could be on your way to becoming… an editor, a web designer, a corporate trainer… You name it.
Here are the questions, with a bit more information on each below the questions.
Can you write?
Can you write what clients need?
Can you do it at a price that clients can afford?
Can you do it often enough at a price you can live on?
Can you find clients or help them find you?
Can you write? A lot of people think writing is easy. It’s not. I’ve been writing for almost 30 years and there’s a lot of stuff I would not try to write. At the same time, I can write case studies, media releases, web and blog content, news articles, profiles, and so on. In short, writing is more than stringing grammatically correct sentences together. (Heck, I still make typos; that’s why I use editors. In fact, I should probably get a blog editor!) It’s knowing how to write specific documents, and being able to do so in an effective and efficient manner.
Can you write what clients need? You may be able to write fiction, and I love to read great fiction and poetry. And it’s possible that you can earn some money writing fiction. But that’s not what clients who hire freelance writers want. They have many document needs. You can see a list of what corporate clients frequently need here. If you want to earn a living running a freelance writing business, you need to be able to deliver the kind of documents that clients are buying. Do you know what a “white paper” is? If not, you will probably not be able to write one for a client.
Can you do it at a price that clients can afford? Budding freelancers often ask me: What should I charge for my writing? And they hate my answer: It depends. When it comes to freelance writing, there is no one-rate-fits-all. What you can charge depends on the type of client you are seeking and the type of writing you want to do. At the same time, you have to know what you are worth and what you want to earn so that you can accurately price your services. What’s the use of landing a gig and making McWages? You can find out more about how to price your services here and here.
Can you do it often enough at a price you can live on? It’s one thing to land your first gig; it’s another thing to land enough gigs to keep you working full-time (or part-time, if that’s what you want) as a freelance writer. Landing steady gigs requires marketing, which leads us to our final question:
Can you find clients or help them find you? There are five arrows you can include in your marketing quiver. They include
– networking your way to success
– generating repeat business
– advertising and promotion
– cold calling and direct mail
– online strategies (website, blog, and social media)
Having said that, if all you want to do is write for newspapers and magazines (not corporate clients), then you will need to know how to develop, write and submit query letters.
So take a look at the five “can” questions again. If you’ve answered “no” to any of them, it doesn’t mean you can’t become a freelance writer. It means you have some work to do. A little learning can go a long way. Take a course, buy a book, learn what you have to learn so you can become a freelance writer.
[Paul Lima is a freelance writer, business-writing trainer and the author of a dozen books on business and promotional writing, self-publishing and the business of freelance writing. Learn more about Paul, or read about his books, at http://www.paullima.com.]