When I tell people that I’ve been getting paid to write for the past year or so, they’re always curious: How do I do it? What do I write about? What does being a freelance writer even mean?
Truth is, I’m just making it up as I go.
Well, to be fair, that would be misleading since I wouldn’t say that I’m just winging it either. With my degree in advertising and public relations, I had quite a bit of knowledge in how to pitch properly, how to write clearly and concisely, and plus, I had a genuine interest in this stuff. So, while I am just figuring things out and learning from mistakes, I’m not just punching underwater, either.
So, I’m here to answer those questions and hopefully inspire you to try something new and follow your curiosity, even if you feel like the smallest fish in the biggest pond. It’s humbling; I’d recommend it.
How do I do it?
I found a platform. For my writing, I use Upwork.
Upwork is a website where people post jobs and the budget they have to work with and creatives bid on those jobs within said budget. You submit a cover letter and writing samples, then hopefully you get the job. Most of my writing has come from this process.
It’s been a fantastic launching point for my freelance business because even if I wasn’t making all that much money, I was getting experience, which was far more valuable starting out. Instead of being overwhelmed by pitching to blogs or publications without knowing if they even need a writer, it's been a good way for me to figure out where I fit in the landscape of writing, my value and what to charge, and now I have a bit of a portfolio.
Because Upwork takes a cut of my profits (for both supplying the job search and keeping your contracts safe, making sure you get paid) I don’t necessarily want to be using the platform forever. Ultimately, the goal is to write for notable, higher-paying publications.
Actually, the goal is for them to come to me. But I'm getting ahead of myself. For now, I’m incredibly happy with Upwork.
For those wondering about how much money I make, it's not much. I went from one type of starving artist to another (dramatic). At the moment, the lowest I'll charge is $0.05 per word which means I'll get $50 for an 1,000-word article.
The good thing about Upwork is that I'm able to bid on jobs and test the waters. Sometimes I bid way higher than I normally would and occasionally the client says yes. But they often say no, too. And so I was able to find a rate that worked consistently.
What do I write about?
For my clients on Upwork, I typically write blog posts and articles for their company’s website. I've written a lot of blogs about health and fitness and social media marketing, but I also have clients where I write about hardwood floors, coffee machines, and the military. It
I also consistently write product descriptions for an active wear line and post audition listings on a new website for dancers. Among other random tasks here and there.
I also contribute to Dance Spirit Magazine which I aim to write for once a month, currently focusing on notable dancers and what things are really like from their perspective. And, of course, I write here, on my own blog.
Check out my writing portfolio to see what I mean.
What does being a freelance writer even mean?
Well, it just means I get paid to write, but it also means I work from home, which comes with it's own set of challenges and benefits. Overall though, my goal lately is to write every single day.
Because think about it. How did I become competent as a dancer? Well, I danced every day for upwards of 15 years and then I danced professionally every day for like six more. If I want to be a good writer in any sense, I have to do it every day.
So, when I don’t have anything to write for clients, I write something here. It helps solidify my style and get some samples out on the internet I can share with clients.
Case in point: I got my first paid writing gig (with Dance Spirit) because of this blog. Then it just sort of spiraled.
But I spend my time in other ways, too. I’m also taking some online writing courses and working on better habits conducive to a writers’ needs – like eliminating distractions while working on a laptop and integrating workout habits since I’m less active than I was in my dance career.
Realizing what a huge selling point it is for me that I have a Bachelor’s degree in a communications field, I know that the more I can educate myself, the more legs I have to stand on – so to speak.
Among the countless Tasty videos I've been watching lately (more on my recent cooking obsession later), I try to learn what I can about writing and productivity from YouTube. You might be surprised how much valuable information is out there. Simply watching interviews featuring successful writers has been incredibly insightful.
Also, I’m currently working through Malcolm Gladwell’s writing course on Masterclass and later in the year I'll be doing a few Adobe courses through Udemy to learn about InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. With the internet, there’s really no excuse for not figuring out whatever it is you want to be doing.
Plus, just as important as writing is reading.
My non-ambitious goal for reading in 2019 is to finish one book per month. I’m doing pretty well as I finished two and a half books in January.
I’ve been reading tons of non-fiction lately but I certainly appreciate a good novel, as well. Whether I’m learning about how words get defined in Webster's Dictionary or reading a novel to notice the author’s style and flow, it’s all beneficial to my own writing.
To sum it up, I use Upwork to get clients, I write mostly blog posts and articles, and I spend the rest of my time honing my skills and reading.
There. Did I answer your questions?