I quit my job last month to pursue a life long dream of mine, writing. I figured freelance writing was the best way to begin.
The freedom to do my own thing, my own way had me on cloud 9. But that didn’t last very long. A few days of being excited and enthusiastic about freelance writing gave way to a lot of days of soul-crushing fear about the sheer amount of work I’d have to put which, in turn, led to cluelessness about how and where to begin.
The first few days of freelance writing, or starting something new, for that matter, can be tough, fear-inducing and overwhelming.
Hence, it is very important to know exactly what needs to be done in those first few days to start off on the right foot in one’s freelancing writing journey.
Freelance writing, or any other new venture, is like running a marathon. It is a long journey and it is very important to begin well to be able to successfully complete the marathon.
Over the first few days of my freelancing journey, I focused on working on the following aspects and that helped me get clarity and build my confidence.
Create/update your portfolio and CV
Like any other corporate job, finding freelancing projects requires you to apply to potential clients. And before they talk to or interact with you, they look at your CV and in this case, portfolio.
Hence, this is the first thing that I set my sights on after beginning my career as a freelance writer. I re-created my CV and tried to make it more polished by making my skills and experience pop out (an infographic CV can go a long way in achieving that).
As freelance writing is a creative field, a portfolio is the next most important thing to create. But these were my first few days in the freelance writing waters and I didn’t have any project to talk about in my portfolio.
So, I took Ritika’s advice about creating a portfolio when you don’t have projects to highlight and focused on highlighting my blog, and all the writing and editing work that I have done as part of the organizations in my corporate stint and colleges. Here are some great (and free) platforms to create portfolios that one could use.
Get all the tools that will help you with your work
After the adrenaline rush of starting off on your own dies down, the sheer magnitude of things that you need to do as you start off your freelancing journey might leave you overwhelmed.
It is also possible that because you have all the time to yourself now and are your own boss, you might let go a bit and become lazy and lose sight of your goals.
Both of those things happened with me after the first week into my freelance writing journey. I realized that it is very important that you know exactly what you want to do every day, manage your time well and keep track of your broader goals.
This is where tools like Trello, Google Calendar, Toggl and Asana come in. In my experience so far, the tools that I feel every newbie freelance writer should use are:
for project management (Trello)
for creating and sticking to schedules (any calendar app that works on your phone and computer)
a timer app to keep track of time and a note-taking app to keep track of your to-dos and jot down ideas as they come.
Choose the ones that suit you and let them help you out in your freelance writing journey.
Reach out to friends and expand your network
In the corporate world, references are the tried and tested way to score jobs. And they work as well, if not better, in the world of freelancing. So, before you go looking for portals to apply for jobs on, activate your network.
Reach out to people through social media and check with them if they know someone who might need your services. As an added bonus, if you score a stint through a reference, the trust factor is already established between both parties and work gets done better.
That is what I have been focusing on for the last month. I have scoured my Facebook friends and LinkedIn connections and like I thought, reaching out to friends and connections is a faster and more efficient way to score stints that applying on freelancing portals. Plus, references don’t care if I have a 5-star rating on UpWork or not as they already know me and my skills.
- Make LinkedIn your new best friend
Speaking of social networks, LinkedIn – the professional social network, plays a huge role in the world of freelance writing. So, make sure that you spend a lot of time with your new best friend.
I updated my profile and scour the network to find and reach out to potential clients and mentors easily. I have also noticed that even if I apply to a stint from some other portal, the client will probably check my LinkedIn profile out first. Also, like references, LinkedIn is a faster and more efficient way to look for and apply to freelance writing stints than those job portals.
Don’t drown too much time on freelance job portals
Today, there are as many portals out there to look for and apply to freelancing stints as there are freelancing stints. And, like job portals for other corporate jobs, the success rate of finding stints through these portals is relatively low.
But, with the process of creating profiles on each, searching for jobs on each, determining whether it is a genuine job worth your time, applying to those jobs that you shortlist and then repeating the process all over, I feel that these portals can become a big time hog with little or no results.
Hence, especially in these first few months of starting off with freelancing, I have decided that it is better to decide upon and focus on a couple of such portals (UpWork is a good place to start at) and focus on expanding my network and actually doing what I started off to, write.
Bonus – Breathe
With these 5, and those other 200 things, in my (and your) to-do list as I begin this journey, it can get overwhelming very easily. I’ve found that it is very important to take a step back, take it easy and just breathe. I’m trying to not lose hope if things are not coming along at the pace that I expected them to; they usually never do.
Any new venture takes a long time and a lot of work to bear fruit. So, just focus on knowing what you are going to do everyday and keep doing it. You’ve begun this journey because you love what you are doing, remember that.
You are following your passion, something that very few people have the courage to do. Just keep doing your bit everyday and things will fall into place. As the saying goes, showing up is half the battle won.
I believe that these are the first 5 things anyone beginning their freelance writing journey should focus on for achieving that quintessential ‘starting off on the right foot’.
And this blog has helped me a lot in figuring out and working on these 5 aspects of my freelance writing journey. and I’m sure that it is a must-follow for anyone beginning their freelance writing journey. So, don’t forget to subscribe.