My goal is to become a freelance writer, but most importantly, have my niche, type of writing, and portfolio website set up by May, 2022. This document will serve as a reference guide to what I’m required to do in the upcoming months.
My schedule to focus on my freelance writing business will be: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday (after cardio), and Sunday. I will spend approximately 2 hours per day learning how to do this, equaling up to at least 8 hours per week. On Sunday, aim for 4 hours, so you hit 10 hours per week.
I will start focusing on my business an hour after work ends, so aim to be on the computer at 5PM.
On Sunday, start at 9AM – 1PM.
Expectations When Starting:
– When I start out as a freelance writer, expect to write on boring topics. IMPORTANT: Do not be selective when it comes to landing freelance writing jobs at first. Like when I first became a software engineer, I didn’t choose where I wanted to live – but I still moved from Arizona to Wisconsin since that was the only option available at the time.
– Elna wrote a good Eckhart Tolle post – and that is remember to be mindful. Once my business starts generating income, I won’t think of anything else. Remember to drop thinking about freelance writing if you’re doing another activity. In my instance, this is most likely game or when I’m infield.
Harnessing the Solopreneur Mindset:
Most freelance writers do not succeed. This is a fact. In order to succeed you need to be your own cheerleader. Remember, every blog, every business needs a writer. There are many, many – endless, even – businesses which need one. This can range from startups to major corporations.
Another is to write goals for yourself for the day. For example, in my situ right now, finish four units on WriteTo1K before I end the day.
However, once I establish my business, it could be finish at least one client piece or blog post today.
And finally, IMPORTANT: grow from your mistakes. I will inevitably make mistakes. I’ll bomb an interview for a copywriting gig. I’ll squash any chances of a referral because I ended a gig badly. The list goes on.
Like pickup or learning how to program, use it as an opportunity to learn from and grow.
Create SMART Goals:
Create goals. Not just any goal – S.M.A.R.T. goals. What is a SMART goal? They are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented and Time-sensitive.
Looking forward, my initial goals are to quit my software engineering job by August, 2023 and travel the world starting from the Philippines to Eastern Europe.
My income goals are to save at least 20K, with a preferred amount of 30K, to a optimum amount of 40K before leaving my job.
From there, I wanted to make $500 per month by the end of 2022. Once I leave the US, I’m aiming for 1K a month.
Let’s look at S.M.A.R.T. goals:
Specific – What do I want to accomplish? What do I need to do?
Measurable – How will I measure my progress? How will I know I accomplished my goal?
Attainable – How can the goal be accomplished? What are the steps I need to do?
Relevant – Is this the right time? Do I have the necessary resources? Does this goal align with my bigger goal?
Time-sensitive – How long will it take to complete my goal? When is the final date? When will I have time to work on this goal?
Choosing Your Writing Niche (Return to this one; add more niches):
Before I land my first job, I need to figure out a niche to write about. As a freelance writer, I can have multiple niches, but typically, there’s one core niche I write on. In my situation, this would commonly be in the technology domain – specifically, SQA.
You don’t have to write about a niche forever. A niche does, however, make it easier to find clients and allows you to command higher rates and come up with content easily.
How does this work?
The more you focus on a particular topic or industry, the more of an expert you will become. This makes it easier for you to demand higher rates since companies are willing to pay for premium content from experts.
How do you choose your niche?
At the beginning of Elna’s career, she only write about what she knew. In her case, it was a psychology/personal development. However, the more she wrote learned about blogging and internet marketing, the more interested she became. So digital marketing because a new highly profitable niche for her.
IMPORTANT: In my situation, I’m going to niche in technology, but sub-niche in software quality assurance since I have two years (and growing) experience in it, accompanied by two certificates. I’m aware technology is a profitable niche, but in all honesty, is SQA? I will have to find out.
Maybe, a few months to a few years down the line, I’ll learn something new and niche in that domain. Only time will tell.
However, since I’m a brand new freelance writer, let’s see how one would typically find their niche.
- Use your hobbies and interests. In my case, it’s pickup artistry, self-development (including TRT), health, and to an extension, cryptocurrency.
- Leverage your professional background. Many writers use their previous professional experience to help them land a gig. I’m a current software engineer with two years of experience. This will most likely help me in the short and long term.
- Your Previous Writing Experience. So far, I’ve written blog posts for my blog as well as contributed and edited technical documents for my job. This gives me the opportunity to become a technical writer with relevant experience as a blogger.
- Write on Different Topics. As I dip my toes in freelance writing, I’ll have the chance to write in different topics. This will help me greatly find what I’m passionate on writing about.
When it comes to the type of writing I’ll contribute to my niches, I’d say the most obvious would be blogging for a tech company, copywriting for a tech startup, and technical writing for tech product instruction manuals.
IMPORTANT: A very smart way to start looking for clients is to simply search for startups who specialize in tech related markets and offer to write for them.
IMPORTANT: Let’s say I want to dip my toes outside of SQA. One thing I can most certainly do is add a PDF doc listing all the niches I’m interested in.
|Tech/IT||SQA||Blogger – primary niche|
|Relationships||Pickup Artistry||Blogger, Copywriter for PUA products|
|Adult||Toys||Blogger, Copywriter for adult toys|
Different Types of Writing Services I Can Offer:
There are many, many different types of writing services you can offer to a company.
- Blogging. Blogging is by far the most popular type of content online. It’s also the easiest to find work for. Blog posts are generally between 800-1500 words and can include certain SEO keywords for ranking in Google, magnetic headlines to draw people in and a call-to-action at the end of a post.
Generally, blog posts are written in a conversational format and are written for the audience. You could write blog posts for individuals, small businesses or corporations.
Many businesses need blog content on a consistent basis. So, blog writing is a great recurring gig.
- Articles. Articles are more in-depth and journalistic in nature. They pay well, but they’re usually not reoccurring.
- Copywriting. Copywriting using the psychology of marketing to help businesses with promoting their brand and products.
You may write landing pages, web copy, sales pages, call-to-actions, marketing campaigns or any type of content used to convert a user into a customer.
Recently, Elna landed her first official copywriting gig – web copy – and she found it a new experience to grow from. The only downside to copywriting is that it’s not recurring and often is a one-time gig.
- Editing. Editing is an easy addition to any freelance writing business since I already have to edit my own pieces before I submit them. Generally, there are three types of editing you can perform for clients.
a.) Proofreading – this means doing a quick once-over and checking for any comma misuses, spelling errors, or incongruences such as sometimes not capitalizing PDF in the piece. It doesn’t require much re-writing.
b.) Basic editing – this is a little bit more involved than proofreading. On top of checking for spelling mistakes and punctuation mistakes you are also checking facts and basic syntax.
c.) Developmental editing – this is the most intrusive of all editing and the most expensive for businesses to hire out. With this type of editing, you’re changing entire sentences and paragraphs. You’re adding new concepts and ideas.
- Technical Writing. If you have a strong technology background, then technical writing would fit right into your niche. There’s a great demand for WordPress writing, coding tutorials, web development tutorials and much more.
Technical writers often also write manuals for companies, policies and procedure documents, technical guides and handbooks, evaluation reports, and research reports.
Typically, a business hires a freelance writer to make their dry and boring guide more user-friendly. So, it’s our job to bring a little conversational element to a business’ guide.
Technical writing can be a profitable writing service because there’s a high demand for this writing, but not a lot of freelancers supplying it.
- SEO Writing. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Its purpose is to assist websites in ranking high in the Google search results. This is a big industry and many companies hire SEO businesses to help them with this.
There are usually two types of clients seeking SEO content:
Ones that require short writing pieces with relevant keywords placed throughout the post. Clients often batch these assignments and offer a low rate. For example, they may want 30 short posts for $10.
The other client may give you the keywords they want you to use and it’s your job to know where to place those keywords in your content to optimize that post for ranking in Google.
These clients are typically good paying and value writing.
If you’re new and not sure if you’re ready to make the leap into having a legit freelance writing business, you may want to consider doing some fast and small jobs like SEO writing.
It will certainly give you the skills you need to write posts and it will introduce you to invoices and online payment systems.
- B2B Writing. B2B stands for, “business-to-business” writing. When you write for a B2B client you are writing content to sell to other businesses. They typically have a larger budget for content writers and they don’t hesitate to pay four figures for small writing projects.
You might be writing about:
- The latest trends
- Systems and processes
- Tools of the trade
- Tips to help others in their business succeed
- Best recruiting methods
- Company culture
- Retaining workers
Typically, as a B2B writer, you write content that will not only be read by other bloggers but also marketers and small business owners.
I categorize B2B writing in two camps: the first is small brick and mortar businesses attempting to have an online presence or small online businesses. This can be your local auto insurance company or it could be a background security check firm. These small businesses usually hire ghostwriters to write for their blog or write their marketing content.
The other camp is online businesses that cater to a large online audience and customer base. For example, I was a B2B writer for OptinMonster. My content spoke directly to small online business owners such as entrepreneurs and professional bloggers.
Business to business writing is highly profitable and it is what has helped me make a living from writing.
IMPORTANT: With these seven types of writing services available (originally 20, but I chose the ones I liked most), if I had to choose the top three which interest me the most, I’d say first place comes freelance blogging, second copywriting, and third technical writing.
Should You Certify Your Skills?:
This is a section on Elna Cain’s WriteTo1K and in her opinion, it’s definitely worth it if you’re looking to get into a writing style like B2B writing, copywriting, etc if you’re unfamiliar with the craft. Other than that, certificates are nice to have, but don’t necessarily land you more jobs. What’s more important is honing your craft via writing for clients and boosting your portfolio.
Initial Start-Up Costs:
Everyone may have their own expenses at the get-go, but one thing I absolutely shouldn’t cut costs on is my own self-hosted website.
Yes, while I could save money with a free hosting provider and a URL, it will weaken my overall brand as a professional freelance writer. So Elna strongly suggests I invest in my own business right off the bat and pay for my own URL and hosting service.
For her, Elna spent $100 for her own URL and a year’s worth of hosting.
Other investments to your freelance writing business – at least in my case – would be an email provider. Elna uses MailChimp to distribute her newsletter. This is only if I’m interested in providing a service with providers.
Establishing Your Accounting System:
Accounting isn’t a fun topic, but if you have your own accounting system in place, it will save me a lot of time, money, and headaches.
Here are three ways to deal with accounting and some tips which go along with it:
- Set Up A PayPal Account. Before I start pitching and even before I start sourcing potential jobs, I should set up a PayPal account. This will most likely be my primary way of securing payments and issuing invoices to clients. Even though there are fees per transaction, it is a business expense that can be written off.
- Set Aside Money for Taxes. As a self-employed freelance writer, you are responsible for paying your own taxes. IMPORTANT: Since you’re a contractor (aka business owner), you must set aside 20-30% of your income.
You can write off most of your business expenses. So any hosting, domains, eBooks, courses, Facebook advertising, or online software can be written off and I can depreciate the assets like computers or office supplies.
- Have A Financial Tracking Sheet. When I first start freelance writing, I can use Microsoft Excel to track my earnings or expenses. I can also use it to track my client’s information, the project information for each client. However, once my business grows, my Excel spreadsheet won’t cut it anymore. A better option at that point will be Google Sheets.
I can customize Google Sheets or Excel to alert me – by a color-coded system – if a client hasn’t paid or if I need to pay a writer.
In Elna’s case, with Google Sheets, she can see:
– Which clients haven’t paid her
– Which clients she needs to invoice
– Whether or not she needs a writing piece edited
But since I’m starting out, all I need is a basic Profit and Loss sheet. On it, I can get a snapshot of what I’m making and spending in the year and I can break it down on a monthly basis.
I can use it to track my income, expenses, net income and taxes. This will help me see if my business is growing from month to month.
- Use an Accounting Software Program. I can also choose to use an accounting software program to streamline my accounting, invoicing, and billing into one program.
Elna personally uses PayPal invoices and Quickbooks.