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Want to become a successful freelance writer? Here's what you need to know

When you think about being a freelance writer, what comes to mind? Do you imagine yourself working from anywhere, as you put the final touches on an article for a client across the country? In many ways, freelance writing sounds like the ultimate part-time job. It’s flexible, in-demand, and easy to start. However, being a successful freelance writer requires more than excellent writing skills. It requires you to excel at various skills that have nothing – and everything – to do with writing. Being a freelancer can be frustrating, especially at the beginning. You will most likely respond to a wide range of project requests. You will write about topics that you don’t particularly enjoy, and you may encounter unreasonable clients. Although being a freelance writer can be challenging, it is a rewarding experience. Here are a few tips to becoming a successful freelance writer.

Build your portfolio.

The best way to attract new clients is to show them examples of your previous work. It can be challenging to invest in something and not know what type of quality or writing style to expect. Building a portfolio is like a writer's resume. You want to make sure you have samples on-demand and easily accessible to show potential clients a visual of what they would be getting if they hire you.

Choose a niche so that your business has a clear focus.

One of the worst mistakes that freelance writers make is trying to be everything to everyone, which can present several issues. Without having a specific interest in a project, how can you compete on anything but the price? If your reputation is not built with a niche or focus, how will your work attract your ideal clients? To determine your niche, think about your passions. Do you love to travel? Do you have a specific professional experience or skills? Are you passionate about a hobby? Is there a particular cause you are interested in or stand for? Determining your niche will help you to clarify the services you offer.

Build a website to establish your online presence. Building a website should be one of the first things you do after you determine your niche and focus. The name of your website or blog should stand out to others and inspire them to visit your site. Create a quality blog or website that readers will enjoy. Remember, your site is your representation. Take your time, and do not rush. Clients will see the time and effort taken to build your site, and this will speak volumes. Quality is a critical factor for clients that are looking for freelancers.

Promote your work.

To create a name for yourself, you can begin by thinking of a name you want to use for yourself. Promoting yourself can be done in many ways. You can start by guest blogging on other popular blogs. You can also use social networking sites to promote yourself, like, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Alignable, and several others.  Also, publishing your articles at accessible websites not only brings excellent exposure. It shows that you are experienced and can write quality content. Doing this will also allow direct potential clients access to view submitted articles so they can see what you are capable of. Getting your name out there will help clients find you. Just like promoting a business, advertising is key.

Determine your worth.

Setting your prices is a critical issue when you are a freelance writer. So many freelance writers do not charge enough. Many have the mindset that if their prices are less than another freelance writer, then they will land the job. However, this is not always the case. Cost does not equal quality. The key is to set a price that you feel you are worth and are comfortable with. Clients will be willing to pay the price if you can back it up with testimonials from other clients and samples of your work.

Identify your ideal client. Finding your ideal client is the first step to attracting that type of company. When freelance writers do not specify who they want to work with, they often end up taking low-paying jobs or unfulfilling assignments. Finding the right clients is the key to consistency and can often result in client referrals or new prospects.

Set boundaries. Create client contracts that specify your terms of service and payment policy.

Having a terms of service and payment policy is critical to a freelancer’s success. Creating written contracts that your clients must review and agree to before working with you provides clarity to all parties involved. It is easiest to create a standard contract for all clients, that can be easily customized for each project. Some essential elements you might want to consider include:

A detailed description of the client’s goals for the project

How your service will specifically meet each goal

The project deadline to include the date and time you will return the completed project

The number of revisions included in your price

Payment method options and when payment is due

The best way for the client to contact you if they have a question

When and how the client will receive a payment transaction receipt

The result of the client canceling the work requested after payment has been made but before the project is complete

The extra costs and or consequences that will incur if the client has an additional request that goes beyond the terms outlined

Network and build your support system.

Finding those who support you is detrimental to your success. Not only can networking amongst peers provide guidance, it can also be a great way to meet or connect with potential clients. Most websites have online communities you can join, or you can search professional groups on social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Alignable.

If you enjoy writing, there are plenty of freelance writing gigs waiting. Just follow these simple steps, and you will be on your way to becoming a successful freelance writer.

Have you already started your side business as a freelance writer? What has your experience been? What tips can you share with other writers?

Article by: Takiya Green, Creator of Divine Writing Solutions

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