If you’re reading this article, I bet you’ve been thinking about writing as a freelancer. The internet has made it so much easier to seek out opportunities, to work with different people across the country or world and to transport your career no matter where the military sends you next.
Probably the scariest part of freelancing is getting started (I know it was for me!) because it seems tough to “break in.”
But truly, it can be done—and many military spouses are freelancers.
Here are a few things you want to take into account as you begin working as a freelancer.
Have a Blog or Portfolio
When I began my blog almost 3 years ago, I had absolutely no clue that it would eventually become a source of income for me…and a way that others would connect with me professionally. Every long-term freelancing gig I’ve had has come from the writing I’ve published on Jo, My Gosh!.
Your work will truly do the talking.
Make sure that your blog or portfolio demonstrates consistency in your professionalism and your work. Someone I worked with even told me that the longevity of my blog (at that time, it was about a year old) was a reason that they wanted to work with me—it showed that I could stick with something.
If you want to write for a living, people have to be able to read your work—so make sure you’re publishing it.
In my humble opinion, it is much easier to find freelancing jobs if you know exactly what niches you can write for. Once you know this, you can begin to meet people who work within that niche.
You want to keep in contact with your past clients as well—you never know when they may be able to recommend you to someone else or when they might have you in mind for a particular job or opportunity.
Use Social Media
If you know what niches you can write for, join Facebook groups and follow social media accounts that fit your niche. When you’re plugged into the community you want to write for, you will see opportunities begin to present themselves. I’ve applied for opportunities with small businesses and have been tagged by friends in other all-calls from different organizations. It really can open up possibilities for you!
Figure out a system of organization for all aspects of your freelancing and then stick to it. I keep a white board in my office that I’ve divided in half: one side is for upcoming projects and one side for projects with pending payment. I also keep an Excel sheet with all of my freelancing gigs, their URLs and whether or not they’ve been paid in full yet.
When it comes to the day-to-day, I keep a paper planner where I write every day’s to-dos and a Google calendar (which I keep to a monthly view) where I record the deadlines for all projects and set an alarm.
There are tons of writers out there, but fewer that can stick to deadlines. Be the person who can turn in on deadline.
You can talk a good game, but can you deliver? When it comes to freelancing, that’s one of the most important characteristics people are looking for. People want to work with people who are reliable and who do what they say they’ve promised, when they’ve promised to do it.
Being punctual on deadlines is just the beginning. You want to make sure that you’ve adhered to all of the guidelines and requirements for your piece too.
Go over your work and make sure you’re adhering to style guides and grammar conventions. Be more concerned about creating quality content than churning out articles. People will notice.
If you’re serious about adding freelancing to your streams of income, make sure that you include it in your LinkedIn profile. I’ve received job inquiries from individuals who have literally typed the phrase “freelancer” into the LinkedIn search bar. And, when you have freelancing on your profile, you can ask prior clients for recommendations too.
Before working with a client, do your research.
- Are they legit?
- Is their organization real?
- Is this person or organization one that you want to be professionally affiliated with?
Make sure that you’ve outlined your working conditions to your client. Will you expect a deposit on work before you begin? What’s the payment schedule? What work will you be doing exactly?
For instance, if you’re being paid for writing a piece, will you work with a client who wants you to revise it until they deem it acceptable? Will you be expected to edit your work or is that an extra fee?
You may consider purchasing a contract template that you can use with your clients as well.
Know what tax deductions you can take and what information you need to log and hang onto as you begin freelancing. Depending on your jobs, you may be required to turn in W9 or 1099s while other jobs may pay through PayPal, by check or by direct deposit.
Find a way to keep track of everything that works for you and seek professional guidance if you’re worried about tax and legal issues.
You will probably not get the first job you apply for. Or the second. As long as you continue to produce quality work and are persistent, doors will begin to open for you. It might take some time and you might not work jobs consistently.
But in our increasingly information-driven world, there is always a need to produce content, which means that freelancers will always be needed.
Don’t forget about your rights. You can sell your work to an organization for $25 and they they can turn around and sell it for thousands – and keep the rights indefinitely. If that is acceptable to you, that is fine. However, ask questions first.