Going Freelance for Beginners: How do you even become a freelance writer?!
So, at the beginning of the year, with the whole “new year; new me; new start” vibes going on, I decided to look into going freelance.
Going freelance seemed like the perfect option for me especially as it allowed the freedom and flexibility to work when I desired whilst living in Spain. It’s something that I’ve always seemed to fleet back to whenever I’m in between jobs but never something I’ve really given that extra push to do!
The term ‘freelance writer’ to most people just seems like an easy excuse to muck about. A lot of responses I’ve heard are “that’s nice for the time being, but what are you going to do after?” or “that’s not a real career though, is it?”. But since starting on this venture I can already tell you it’s more difficult than it seems. In this article, I thought I’d write about my experiences since I started to go freelance and some of my own tips along the way.
Finding the Right Freelancing Platform…
The first step to freelancing is finding the right platform. One of the things I would recommend doing is not just signing up to one platform but multiple. Being on more than one platform will give you the option of what work you’d like to take on as well as provide you with multiple streams of revenue!
There are many freelancing platforms out there. So much so that it can often lead to confusion when deciding which is the right one for you. Ultimately, if you want the honest truth, they’re all more or less the same!
It’s a growingly popular avenue of work (especially with students who want to earn that extra buck or young people who want to live the nomadic lifestyle). As a result, there are many freelancing sites to choose from. I’ve signed myself onto a few of the more popular streams such as:
Create a ‘Stand-Out’ Profile
As you can imagine, before you can even begin to put your name down for projects, you need to create your profile. Just a heads up – this doesn’t just involve putting your name, email, and CV on file. Nope (as if it was going to be that easy!). Just like any other job application, creating a profile on freelancing websites can be long and tedious. As such, you need to make sure you give yourself enough time to complete it thoroughly and to a good standard. You’re not going to be taken seriously if you have any spelling mistakes on your profile.
For most websites, creating a profile will involve writing a short description of yourself including what you do/what you can provide. You will most likely need to list your experiences including any jobs that would help towards your applications and bids, as well as any qualifications that you feel are worth noting will also need to be mentioned. Additionally, you will have the option of writing down your educational experiences which can help towards proving your ability for the jobs in question. On some platforms, these points might be separated into different boxes to fill out such as ‘describe yourself’, ‘what are your 3 main skills?’ and ‘what are your experiences?’
It’s a good idea to demonstrate examples of the skills you are providing online as well. It’s why on many freelancing sites you will find a section where you can upload a portfolio of your work. On Upwork you can also take tests to help towards building your profile and demonstrate that you have the skills necessary for certain projects.
Most importantly, if you want to become a freelancer you need to consider what your hourly rate will be. It’s more than just picking a number from the sky or going for the highest rate per hour. It needs to coincide with the quality of your work and the time you are willing to put into it. In layman’s terms, it’s what rate you feel your services are worth.
Things to remember when creating your profile:
- Create unique and eye-catching content. Diversify yourself from the other hundreds of freelancers out there who will be bidding for the same project as you.
- Be a little different. Add a quote from your favourite writer or something that helps you individualise yourself from everyone else. For an example (and as an idea), make a video profile. This allows clients to actually see who they’re working with.
- Remember to update your profile with any new work, experiences or qualifications.
And then that’s it, you’re ready to start submitting your proposals.
Be Quick on the Game
New jobs come in on a daily basis, and with so many freelancers out there you, you need to be quick if you want to snatch and secure the project you want. However, at this stage, and if you’re new to the game like me, I’ve found it useful to not go straight in at the deep end.
In the end, you don’t need to rush if new work is coming in on a regular basis.
Take the time to analyse the competition. Look to see what and how they are bidding as well as how many proposals have been received by that type of job. The more proposals the more competition you will have. Annoyingly, popular ones like these do end up being the best, but then that’s pretty understandable. Also, read through what’s being asked of you very carefully. Make a note of the rate and deadline of said project and see if it aligns with your goals as well.
What I’ve found most difficult having just entered the freelancing game is actually writing the proposal and knowing how much to bid at as well as how long I think I’d take on a project. So just take this time to see how to go about it before rushing in.
However, that’s not to say that if you do see something that is perfect for you to ignore it. Go with your gut. If you’re confident and you’re eager to get the work, then go for it. You can only learn from experience. The more you try, the more you’ll become accustomed to the type of work you can do, how long it will take you and how much you believe your services are worth.
Place your Bid!
I don’t know about you, but the idea of bidding and “selling yourself and your work” scares me. I’m not a confident person as it is so the idea that I have to put myself out there is a daunting one.
Unfortunately, that is the life of a freelancer. You have to have that confidence in yourself and that drive to get yourself seen if you want to make a living out of this line of work. So that’s what I’m doing.
But how do you bid? Whilst I haven’t actually placed a bid yet, I have looked at the screen where you make your proposal. If I’m honest, I struggled to get to grips with how to bid on some of these websites.
As you have already put down your hourly rate and profile details, you’d think it would be just as easy as highlighting why you want the job, how you stand out and clicking ‘submit’. What I found, though, was that I had to reassess how long it would take me to complete a project and manage my hourly rate to suit the project’s requirements and budget.
This was a lot to get my head around mainly because it was something that I just wasn’t used to.
On some sites, I swear they confuse you on purpose! It’s not clear how you’re meant to write down your rate per hour. I think the problem lies with the fact that the job advert provides a fixed price which is the total they would be willing to pay. Or, maybe I just find the wording completely confusing. Ultimately, you then have to work out how your hourly rate fits in with what’s been said and how long that would take etc.
On paper, this part of the application would seem like the easiest part. You are simply highlighting your hourly rate, how long it would take you to complete and any other additional information as to why they should choose you out of everyone else. It should be simple!
For me, it’s a whole ball of confusing mess that I still don’t really understand. However, I know I’ve got to keep reminding myself that I’m in my first couple of days so I’m still getting used to it all.
I think it’s going to be one of those things where I’ll have to keep guessing until I’ve got it right. My only worry is if I down sell myself. The more I analyse these sites though, the more I’m getting to grips with how to go about sending off a proposal. That’s why I urge people to take my guidance earlier and just get used to your surroundings before jumping in. You don’t want to be paid less than you expected just because you didn’t read the advert or write your proposal properly. This is especially true if you’re new to the game.
I’m just going to go for it. I’ll most likely have to guess how to write the application at first but I will submit proposals for writing jobs that I feel will fit me.
If I’m honest, that’s as far as I’ve got up to until now. I’m sitting in my chair, staring at my filled-out job proposal, mouse hovering over the send button…
Of course, that’s not the end of the journey to getting your first freelancing role. I can probably guess that the next steps will involve a type of interview stage where the client will want to get know me further, finalise payments and the time scale, but unfortunately, I’ll have to get back to you on that with clarification!
I’m crossing my fingers that I can really make a go of things as a freelance writer, so here goes nothing… Click! It’s sent…