So, you want to become a freelance writer or full-time content writer, but you don’t know where to start.
It feels like everyone is already far ahead of you and there’s no chance you’ll catch up.
You’ve heard that being on social media is crucial, but it seems daunting.
You may not have many work samples to show potential clients or employers, and not sure how to get some.
It all feels like…just a lot.
Let’s fix that.
Let’s get down to the basics. Starting a writing career is hard work, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. The three essential elements of creating a strong foundation to a writing career that have worked for me are:
1. Build a portfolio.
Your resume can only say so much about your actual skills—and it’s better to show your skills rather than just say them, so you’ll need a strong portfolio you can turn to when you need to show off what you’ve got. Plus, freelance clients may never ask for a resume so you’ll need something to show them.
And the good news: you don’t need to use samples you’ve been paid for or hired to do, you can create samples on your own! There are plenty of different pieces you can make, and I actually go more into detail with this in my free guide. Check it out!
2. Have a simple website.
Once you have a few pieces in your portfolio that you’re proud of, I suggest creating a very simple online portfolio. I put off making one for the longest time, but once I did, it was SUPER convenient. Some reasons you’ll want to make a simple website include:
- When someone asks you for examples of your work, you can just share the link to your website and everything they need is in one place.
- It’s free! Website builders like WordPress and Wix allow you to make your own website for free using their pre-made templates where you simply plug in your content and colors, and you’re all set.
- It makes you look more professional. People will appreciate how you took the time to showcase who you are as a writer and that you’re serious about your career.
- With a clean, simple website, you feel more empowered in who you are as a writer. Just wait until someone asks about what you do and you can be all like, “Here, check out my website!” It’s totally validating.
Read my blog post on how to create a simple online portfolio below!
3. Create an email address.
By this point in 2022, most people probably have an email. But if you’re a freelance writer, you may want to create one just for your work.
Having an email will make it that much easier to communicate with current clients, pitch to prospects or reach out to hiring managers, and will make you look and feel more professional.
Besides, you may want to expand your business one day if you’re a freelance writer by creating a newsletter and it will be super handy to have a professional email address to turn to.
Side note: make sure to include your email address or a contact form that sends messages to your email on your online portfolio!
4. Choose at least one social media platform.
Ok so this is where a lot of newer writers may start to get nervous. You may have questions like, what platforms should I create an account on? What do I even post about? Why would anyone care what I have to say as a newbie? Do I have to be on every social media?
Have no fear. The best way to approach social media is to simply choose one platform that you like the most and work on building a presence on that one first. There’s no sense in creating an account on a million platforms if you won’t keep up with all of them. Start small and once you become more comfortable, start adding more (and don’t forget to include links to your social media accounts on your online portfolio!).
Some reasons why having an online presence via social media is important for writers include:
- It’s a great way to network. You’ll be surprised how many people from all over the WORLD you can meet just from social media and engaging with others.
- It’s a great way to learn from other writers.
- You’ll become top of mind if someone has an open position or project they may want to hire you for.
- It’s an easy way to showcase your skills and your work as you progress in your career.
Once you’ve created a solid portfolio, published a simple website, and have at least one active social media account, you’ll want to:
- Define your niche.
First of all, you don’t have to choose just one and stick to it forever. I strongly encourage writers to experiment with different niches when just beginning to discover what works the best. In my time of being a content writer, I have written in at least eight different niches and I’m so glad I did! I learned something new with each one and continuously discovered what I liked the most. This can be you also!
Eventually, you’ll want to consider choosing one so you can really hone in on that as a specialty. That way, you’ll become known for it and viewed as an expert in that field/niche.
2. Create original, valuable content.
Once you’ve chosen your social media platform(s) to build your personal brand, you’ll want to create content that people will care most about. Always think about your audience and how your can create content that:
These are three qualities of great content that will ensure that you are always offering value. That way, people will remember you and want to follow you for more—and you’ll be on your way to building a strong following!
You may also be thinking how you can create content that nobody’s seen before if it seems like it’s all been said before…I got you covered 😉
3. Publish content on a regular basis.
Don’t be pressured to create a ton of content per day from the start if it feels like too much. Balance is key. Even if you start with one social media post per day and one blog post every other week, that is a great start.
It’s truly up to what works best for the stage you’re at and once you get the hang of things and get into a rhythm, start to add more posts to your social media calendar each week and see what you can do!
Also, creating regular content for your website (whether that’s blog posts or just updating something within the site in general) will tell Google that it is an active website and may boost where your website appears in search results. Who wouldn’t want that?
4. Build relationships.
The truth is, it’s unlikely that you’ll be hired simply because you have the skills. A great way to gain new clients or catch the eye of hiring managers is to build relationships. Make this whole thing a two-way street. Some ways you can do this are:
- Respond to other people’s posts to add to what they have to say.
- Encourage conversation in your own posts. So when someone responds to something you’ve shared, make sure to respond to them and keep the conversation going.
- Once you’ve interacted with someone for a little bit on your profile or theirs, reach out to them in a DM and tell them how you appreciate connecting with them.
- Actively follow people within your niche or industry to broaden your network and set yourself up for meeting more people in the future.
You don’t only want to build relationships to get people to know you, you want people to trust you. Once you have that trust, you could open so many doors.
Think about it: when was the last time you bought something from a brand you didn’t know just because they told you they had something to sell? Even if it was something you may want, you may be hesitant to make the purchase. But if it comes from a brand you’re familiar with, making the buying decision is that much easier.
The same goes for your work. You are the brand. If people don’t trust you, they may not want to hire you.
Fellow writer shout-out
I’ve recently met a fellow freelance writer who also knows a ton about what it takes to create a strong writing foundation, and her name is Vishakha. We met on Twitter and actually just hosted a Twitter Space last week together where we talked all about what you’ve just read above. She is a wealth of knowledge and such a motivated person! Check her out on Instagram and Twitter to learn more about what she’s all about.
Keeping it simple
Building the foundation of your writing career includes four things to create in order to begin with the most confidence:
- A portfolio
- A simple website
- An email address
- At least one social media account
Once you’ve accomplished the four items above, consider taking action by:
- Define your niche (at least what niche you’d like to start in).
- Create original, valuable content.
- Publish content on social media/your website on a regular basis.
- Build relationships.
It may feel overwhelming at first, but if you start with baby steps and take the time to build a strong foundation, you’ll be making progress in your career in no time. Always try to keep things simple, especially since writing is a lot of work—but always so rewarding.
You can do it. Best of luck to you!