What I Learned in My First Month of Freelance Writing

Freelancing isn’t something I bravely stepped into, planned on, or prepared for much before the opportunity presented itself. It was a vague idea resting on the plains of somewhere and someday which rapidly turned into here and today one month ago. It doesn’t seem like a particularly lengthy period of time, but I have already learned so much in my first month of freelancing that I wanted to document it for you almost as much as I wanted to do so for me.

These are the basics, the things I want to come back to consistently when I make decisions about my work and business. I hope they can help you as you’re starting out, or considering a freelance business of your own.

Education is Number One

I recently listened to an interview with Tony Robbins, the top business coach in the United States. He wondered aloud why anyone would take decades to learn something that someone else already has and condensed into a book, course or seminar that is readily available to whoever wants it. In just this first month of freelancing, I have witnessed the power of education when it comes to every aspect of business. Here are a few of my favorite educational resources I have utilized throughout the first month of my freelancing journey:

  • The Freelance Content Marketing Writer by Jennifer Goforth Gregory. This book has taught me how to reach out to clients, interact with them, discover my niches and so much more.
  • The Goal Digger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher. This podcast is an amazing free resource for any and all business owners, entrepreneurs and women in general.
  • Elna Cain’s Blog. A freelance writer herself, Elna Cain delivers regular content to help other freelancers start and grow their businesses.

Opportunities are Caught More Often than They Knock

So, you’re a freelancer. You create a website, list out your services, post online that you’re open for business, and – crickets. What gives?

Too many people stick bait on the hook and expect the fish to jump out of the water for it. As a freelancer, you have to get comfortable reaching out. Go to small businesses and ask if they work with freelancers. Ask friends and family to keep their ears open and recommend you. Make business cards, put on your pants suit and head to networking events. Opportunities are already out there – go catch them.

Relationships Matter

Cold-calling is appropriately named because it feels cold. It is so much harder to reach out to people only to ask them to purchase the services you sell. This is why there is so much value in building connections and talking to people before they ever need your services.

The First Impression Shouldn’t Be Your Only Impression

You applied for a blogging job and never heard back. Someone reached out to you, you responded with your pricing, and again, you never heard back. This is not the time to shut your computer and quit. This is where you reach back out, as awkward as it might feel.

Follow-up will become your new favorite word in the world of freelancing because that’s where the work comes from.

Know What You’re Worth and Stick to It

Impostor Syndrome can cut creatives down like nothing else. Feeling as though you aren’t good enough to do the work you love doing, much less get paid for it, is common for those in fields like writing, photography and graphic design (and I’m in all three).

There were so many times when I undermined – and undercharged – myself because of this. “Well, I’m not as good as Jane over there,” I’d use as my excuse, neglecting to recognize that Jane has been in the industry for 20+ years.

The easiest way to sidestep that impostor syndrome is to take a hard look at expenses. Freelancers don’t have employers who provide for their taxes, health insurance, PTO or 401ks. Money is necessary for groceries, rent, savings, and the coffee I’m sipping on as I compose this. Freelancing is your job. If clients are reaching out, or responding to your emails, they recognize the value you can bring. Don’t be afraid to charge what you are worth.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s a free freelance expense calculator to give you an idea of what to charge per hour to make your goal for the year.

Create a Memorable Experience

There are thousands of freelance writers out there. You may feel the need to compete with all of them. You might follow them on Twitter and begin to sound like them in an effort to live up to their level.

Here’s the deal: you are the only person who has had the experiences you have. You have a unique perspective, worldview and expertise because of those. Infuse your personality into client communication. Don’t be afraid to talk about more than just “work stuff.” Be memorable by being yourself.

Are you a freelancer? I’d love to hear what you’ve learned in your journey so far! Let me know in the comments below.

This blog post contains affiliate links, meaning I may receive a small commission on products purchased through links at no additional cost to you. These are always products or services I have used personally and recommend based on my experience.

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