Your blog may be just the right diving board to launch you into the freelance writing pool. If that’s of interest to you, you will want to understand the ins and outs of freelance writing. In today’s post, Beth Bauer (@JourneyofBethB), freelance writer, travel blogger, yoga instructor, and entrepreneur, offers her best practices for freelance blogging and writing.
Blogging involves writing. That’s why writers enjoy starting and maintaining a blog—and even blogging or booking their blogs. Additionally, if you’ve dreamed of becoming a freelance blogger or writer, a blog may be the first step toward achieving that dream.
A wonderful thing that came from my experience as a blogger was the opportunity to write for other blog sites, businesses, and publications and get paid. Plus, I like being able to pick my clients and projects.
However, just like most professions, there are “best practices” for freelance writers. These are standards of conduct or ways of doing business that are expected from most people in the industry. If you want to begin freelance writing, you’ll want to know these standards and make them part of your best practices.
It seems like just about every topic has been written about already, and you can find it online somewhere. If you can think of it, someone else has probably written about it.
Your client is paying you for original work, but it’s okay to research. Still, your writing needs to be original.
Don’t even plagiarize your own material. If you wrote about a topic for one client, don’t submit the same piece of work to another client. Even if it is the exact same subject, rewrite the entire article.
It’s easy to check for plagiarism in today’s technological world, and many companies have zero tolerance for plagiarism. Even Grammarly offers a plagiarism checker.
Diversify Your Portfolio
While you may want to show dedication to your first or biggest client, it’s essential for your professional growth to work with a variety of clients in an assortment of industries. I learned this the hard way when one of my biggest clients suddenly decided to bring all their work in house and stopped using freelancers. My revenue went down by 70 percent overnight!
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Through diverse projects and a variety of clients, you’ll gain new skills, experience, and connections.
Build Your Network
Growing and nurturing a strong network is crucial to your success. You want to develop repeat business and get word-of-mouth referrals.
It is not enough to initially reach out to clients, friends, family, and other professionals in your industry. If you want a steady flow of freelance writing work, take the time to meet with your contacts, check-in regularly, or simply express your gratitude for their support.
Timely and Accurate Invoicing
If you expect to be paid promptly, get in the habit of invoicing in an accurate and timely manner. Your invoices are a reflection of you and your work.
Make sure to send invoices that are correct and have detailed information on the services you provided. Also, establish some sort of system for tracking invoices to make sure they are paid.
This practice also requires that you develop a system for tracking hours spent on a project. You must have a way to tell if you have put in the hours agreed upon and to report to the client on how long the project took to complete.
Tracking hours also helps you bid on projects accurately. You’ll have a better idea of how long specific projects take to complete if you have kept a work log for similar projects in the past.
The legalities of freelancing can be a bit intimidating. Still, one of the best things you can do as a freelancer is to use contracts—and get comfortable with using them. Having a contract in place provides a foundation and safety net for ongoing business dealings.
It’s a good idea to sign a contract with all your clients. This keeps your billing and payment requirements clear. It also allows you to delineate the terms of service—and any conditions under which you would rewrite a piece, refund the client’s deposit (or part of it), or break the contract.
Have a Dedicated Workspace
Another best practice as a freelance writer is to have a dedicated workspace. You might see pictures of freelancers working from a lounge chair while watching the ocean waves crash gently on the shore. For the most part, that is unrealistic.
From a practical standpoint, the direct sunshine makes it hard to see your screen, the ocean is distracting, and there is no power outlet to plug into when your laptop battery runs low.
A dedicated workspace in your home is a much better idea if for no other reason than it allows you to stay organized and productive. However, it also helps you approach your freelance writing career in a professional manner. When a client calls, you won’t have to let them leave a message because you aren’t in the office or can’t hear well enough to have a conversation. Nor will you be tempted to speak to them with the wind, birds, and waves in the background, making it hard to hear and obvious you’re not in the office.
You want to come across as professional at all times. So set up your workspace in a manner that allows you to accomplish that goal. (Of course, you can go sit by the beach and work sometimes—it can be inspiring. Just don’t make it your common practice during so-called work hours.)
Develop a Brand
If you think that branding isn’t all that important for a freelance writer, you’re dead wrong. Creating and managing a consistent brand and social media presence is vital to your success. After all, you want potential clients to quickly discern what service you can provide and if you are the type of freelancer with whom they would like to work.
As a freelance writer, you are in business, and businesses must promote themselves. Be sure to keep your social media profiles up to date and consistent with the image you want to deliver to potential clients.
If you haven’t done so already, establish professional social media accounts that reflect your freelance business. Then, post articles, consistently, and highlight samples of your work.
Now that you know some best practices for freelance writers, it’s imperative to find what works for you. Just as with any business, it’s essential to adapt as needed—especially in these changing times.
Plus, you’ll want to learn more about developing a freelance writing career. Follow blogs about freelancing, like Carol Tice’s Make a Living Writing or The International Freelancer, and check out websites like Flex jobs, or Upwork to see what other freelancers offer. Take classes and workshops, such as those provided by the American Writers & Artists Institute, to keep your skills sharp and relevant. And do what is necessary to treat your writing career like a business, not a hobby.
Over time, you’ll become more successful and watch your revenue grow. Both these accomplishments will give you more confidence and make you a better freelance writer.
Have you used your blog to catapult a freelance writing career? What are you best practices? Tell me in a comment—and please share this post with another blogger.
About the Author
Beth Bauer is a freelance writer, travel blogger, yoga instructor, and entrepreneur currently working on her third novel. She has traveled to over 20 countries in just the last two years and enjoys life as a digital nomad. She is originally from the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.A., and when she’s home lives on the Long Beach Peninsula with her dog, Ozzie.