Tired of commuting? Don’t like that 9-5 schedule? Wondering if you can make it on your own? If you’re a writer, have you considered writing website content for companies? Here are some things to consider on whether you can make it a go on your own.
Make connections. To get started, you need a network. You can network at your own job, with previous employers, at industry events, alma mater activities, and even in line at your favorite coffee shop. Getting that first, resume-building client can happen anywhere. Be ready by having a stack of business cards on hand and writing examples to share. If you haven’t had your work published yet, get started. With sites like WordPress and Blogger, you can create your own web presence and develop your own writing style without a paid job. After you’ve developed your business and created a cache of clients, you’ll need to keep making connections—this time with other writers because before you know it, you’ll be too busy to do all the work on your own.
Get your back office in order. Sure, you can work from the local coffee shop, perhaps even the one where you met your new client. But make sure you are organized with your work projects, whether it’s through paper files or online. If you’re a contractor, you’ll be working with contracts. Some clients will sign your contracts, others will make you sign theirs. Get a standard contract in order, look into your state’s tax requirements for freelance work, and be ready to answer these questions when you get the call, because companies will ask. Hire an attorney to create a contract template for you. Learn what is and is not a business expense and what you can write off each year on your taxes. Having your ducks in a row in advance makes tax preparation season that much easier.
Be deadline driven. When working on your own, you have to meet your clients’ deadlines. The second you don’t, they’ll find someone else who will. It sounds cutthroat, but it’s just the way work gets done. If the deadline is too tight or you’re overwhelmed with other work projects, be upfront and honest. Ask if you can push the deadline back a few days or see if there is another writer who can handle that project, then let them know when your load lightens up and you’re available again.
Add some sparkle. You don’t have to throw around pixie dust, but your work does have to stand out from all the rest. Depending on the project, add a creative twist to your writing, show your wit, and constantly remind your clients why they hire you.
Understand search engine optimization. You don’t have to be an expert at it, you just have to know it exists and how it affects your client. Get input from them on what keywords they need and how frequently they need to appear in your copy. Understand that those keywords change frequently, so you’ll have to ask that question again and again.
Know your client. Yes, keep your sparkle, and yes, know the SEO rules, but you also have to know what your client wants. Maybe one day you’ll be highlighting a client success story on how they set up an international tax agreement, and the next day you’ll author a feature story on the company’s pro bono program. You’ll have to adapt your voice and style to meet the client’s needs.
Ready to try it? Good luck!
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