Freelance writing is a reliable way to get out of the nine-to-five routine, but it takes a lot of work to build a successful business. Passion alone won’t carry your career, so you need to learn the ins and outs of freelancing, publishing, and project management to reach your financial and lifestyle goals. Here are some tips to help boost your freelance career.
Know the Rules
Familiarize yourself with different style guides and formats so that you’re prepared when clients have a preference. Understand industry terms such as:
Look up terms and trend specific to your area of focus. If your freelance career is geared more toward newspapers and magazines, get the know the vernacular of the industry to demonstrate your competency.
Stick to a Routine
You can’t always wait for the muse to speak before starting a project. To be a successful freelance writer, you need to learn how to write on command at any time of the day. If you’re used to working on your own variable schedule, perhaps it’s time to develop a plan that fits around the times you’re most productive. Change isn’t easy, but if you want to advance in your career, you need to buckle down and develop a routine that lasts.
Learn How to Juggle
No matter what industry you’re writing for or what types of clients you work with, the key is to practice building strong relationships with the people who pay you. Some clients can be a pain, but it’s best to practice professionalism and composure in all situations. No matter how great of a writer you are, you need to develop exceptional people skills to set yourself apart from the competition and show publishers that you’re the writer they want to work with.
Cite Your Sources
Nothing says “amateur” like plagiarized statements and uncited sources. Oftentimes, writers don’t mean to steal other authors’ work; they just don’t understand the rules or how to properly write a citation. There are plenty of free web resources to help you check for plagiarism before you publish. However, don’t rely on technology to do all the grunt work. Review national and international copyright rules and popular citation formats. For extra help, USC provides some good tips on correctly sourcing written material and images.
Utilize Free Spaces
If you occasionally meet with clients or a team of writers, you don’t always have to meet at the coffee shop. Consider using free spaces like parks, business courtyards, and even lawns of government buildings that are open to the public. Your local library is another reliable place to check out. Libraries often have meeting rooms that you can reserve advance. For more ideas on how to maximize your usage of your local library, click here.
Learn to Take Risks
You’re going to make mistakes no matter how long you’ve been in the writing business. Why not branch out and try something new? Once you’ve established a solid routine and learned all the essential skills needed to freelance successfully, take the plunge and explore new territory. Challenge yourself and work on continuous improvement every step of the way.